While much of the attention concerning the build-out of the smart grid has focused on investor-owned and municipal utilities, rural and coop utilities do, in fact, serve more than 42 million people (and 17 million meters) across 47 different states in the U.S.
Clearly, these utilities represent a minority of the overall market, with approximately 10% of total generation sales, but they do offer compelling insights since they are not subject to the same regulations as their larger counterparts and, as such, can adopt new technologies faster if they so choose.
Figure: Electric Utility Comparison in the U.S.
(Source: National Rural Electric Cooperative Association)
Smart Grid Coop Utility Snapshot 2011 is a collaboration with the Rural Smart Grid Summit (RSGS). In the report, we present survey data from more than 70 different rural utilities. More than half of the individuals surveyed hold the title of President and/or CEO in their organizations, and 92% of those surveyed claim to be key organizational decision makers. With 85% of those organizations surveyed being exclusively distribution utilities, this is a fair representation of rural utilities in general, as they tend not to hold generation and transmission assets. To get a clearer sense of the size of these utilities, on average, each of the coops surveyed has approximately 20 substations and 25,000 meters.
In this survey, we ask rural utility executives about the extent to which they have deployed various smart grid technologies, including renewable energy and demand response. As one example, the following graph shows their interest in a wide range of smart grid solutions.
Figure: Coop Utility Interests (Number of Responses by Smart Grid Solution)
(Source: Rural Smart Grid Summit, GTM Research)