Michigan utility company Consumers Energy announced plans to purchase millions of smart meters from Jackson, Mississippi-based SmartSynch, according to The Detroit Free Press.
The move toward smart meters has intensified over recent years as a better means of tracking electricity consumption patterns. These types of meters can effectively track the electricity usage of particularly devices in a house and, with the use of a cellular connection implemented by SmarSynch, can monitor usage data without the need for meter readers.
With a service area of more than 32,000 square miles, Consumers Energy will become the largest utility to adopt this type of cellular monitoring system. GreentechMedia reports that the decision represents a major shift for the electricity industry, as larger utilities have been hesitant to adopt the new approach.
"At the end of the day, building a smart grid over a cellular-based platform was best for Consumers Energy," Stephen Johnston, CEO of SmartSynch, told GTM. "The reason cellular was the best option in their view was that the cellular network will constantly get better."
These smart meters should reduce electricity rates themselves, but Michigan also offers consumers a choice of electricity providers, so the adoption of smart meter technology could introduce new competitive elements into the electricity market.