A new survey by the Institute for Electric Efficiency (IEE) shows that more than one-in-five households now have a two-way communicating digital electric meter, and that by 2015, more than half of the homes in the country will have one of the new smart meters. The IEE survey polled its member electric utility companies, who serve approximately 70% of the nation’s households, along with a number of large public power utilities and some rural electric cooperatives. The IEE survey focused on the current status of the respondents’ smart meter installations, as well as their planned and proposed deployments.

The survey results show that as of September 2011, 27 million of the digital meters — representing 23% of U.S. households — have been installed nationwide, and that approximately 65 million — 54% of all households in the country — are projected to be deployed by 2015. In the last year, 10 million smart meters have been deployed, adding to the momentum towards a smart grid nationwide.

In July 2011, an IEE white paper found that for a wide variety of electric utilities, the customer and utility benefits of investing in the digital meters and associated energy management technologies —which the power industry calls advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) — outweigh the costs.

Lisa Wood, IEE executive director said, "Although specific results will vary by utility, our study found that even with conservative assumptions regarding consumer engagement in technology, programs, and rate plans, utilities and their customers can expect positive net benefits from their AMI investment over the next 20 years."