Energy Insider Blog

M2M and Telecom.. Making Energy Management Profitable and Effective

Posted by Dennis Vegas on May 23, 2013 7:00:00 AM

In the 1960s, the Jetson’s was a Saturday morning cartoon staple that included a robot butler, flying cars, and an automated house.  Some fifty years later, flying cars and robot butlers are not quite here, but the ability to fully automate a house is coming to fruition as a result of machine to machine (M2M) technology relying on the vast mobile network which has sprung up in the U.S. and around the world. 

In today’s environment, M2M offers both residential and commercial consumers the ability to monitor and control their energy usage, enabling the implementation of more sophisticated timely conservation, data management and energy risk management strategies.

What is M2M?

M2M, in this context, stands for machine to machine communications.  Essentially, this technology allows the appliances in your home or business to communicate with each other in real time and to share data and information.  This technology also allows the end user to control multiple devices through a smart phone, computer or tablet.   Basically, through internet and smart energy meters, end users are able to use the existing telecomm infrastructure to view increasingly granular and real time data about energy consumption. This increased level of data, once it can be converted to actionable information, creates the opportunity for more sophisticated and detailed energy management strategies, especially for large commercial users.

Knowledge is Power (and can save both money and power)

The increased availability of data and power to control energy consuming devices, such as chillers, provides some benefit.  However, the real bang for the buck can be achieved when the data collected is turned in to actionable information. 

Some examples of actionable information that can be obtained via smart meters employing M2M technology include:

  • Increased opportunities for economic demand response—economic demand response programs are being rolled out nationwide and allow customers the option to curtail their usage during times of peak consumption and high energy prices and to sell that energy back in to the grid at a profit;

  • Improved efficiency in operations—the data provided through an M2M smart meters can alert an end user when there is an unexpected spike in demand from a piece of equipment.  This increase may indicate that the equipment has a mechanical issue and is on the verge of failure.  By providing this information in real time, end users can take action quicker and decrease downtime and potentially prevent damage to equipment and systems.

Where does Telecomm Fit?

In order to take advantage of this information, there is a need for it to be easily recoverable and transmittable.  This is where telecomm companies like AT&T come in to play.  In mid-2012, seven telecomm firms joined together to focus on the future of M2M and there is an effort underway to create a standardized protocol for communications.  The most important function that the telecomm firms can play in the development of smarter energy usage through M2M deployment is to act as the reliable integrator of command and control technologies, improved network reliability, security and real time data processing.

M2M and Energy Risk Management

It is axiomatic that more information leads to better decision making.  For end users with sophisticated energy risk management strategies, the data and control available through M2M deployment gives them just that—more information enabling better decision making.  In addition to the benefits highlighted above, namely the ability to participate in economic demand response program and near real time alerts to potential equipment failure, M2M offers the ability to create a more detailed analysis of the consumer’s energy usage profile and to potentially shape the usage profile to mitigate energy price risk to themselves and their suppliers.  The benefit of this reduction in risk will be lower energy prices because the lower the risk worn by the supplier, the lower the cost of energy provided.


The continued explosion in technology and data collection and dissemination is creating new opportunities for more efficient energy risk management, especially in restructured retail electric markets.  The continued expansion and deployment of smart grid technology, including meters enabled with M2M capability creates opportunities for cost savings as part of an effective energy procurement strategy.   As the telecomm industry builds out the infrastructure necessary to support M2M technology, the possibilities for increased efficiency and sophisticated energy risk management strategies should grow.  This will enable savvy end users to reduce their overall energy costs and put more money on the bottom line.

Download our white paper on M2M Security

Topics: energy risk management, energy management consulting, energy reliability, Telecommunications, M2M


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