The utility distribution market is alive and well in North America. Returning from DistribuTECH 2012, attended by over 7,000 industry participants, and hosted by the city of San Antonio, I am coming to the conclusion that utility distribution companies have a lot going on, whether they are electric, gas, or water utilities. Granted the electric utilities have somewhat “hijacked” the event with the term we all are getting to know as smart grid (I didn’t count but must have seen the term on most vendor exhibition booths), there were still a healthy representation of gas and water utilities.
That’s right, Pre-Pay. While debated many times over the course of many years, Pre-Pay seems to be gaining traction among utilities and even some regulators. Last year’s DistribuTECH in San Diego released research pointing to Pre-Pay as a possible trend, and this year I heard rumblings (not the thunderstorm that rocked San Antonio Tuesday night) confirming it as a trend. While at DistribuTECH, Pre-Pay vendor PayGo Electric announced a pilot program with Georgia Power to study the commercial feasibility of providing the option of a prepaid electric service to the company’s existing and future customers. David Elve, recently hired smart meter expert, confirmed the interest from both utilities and regulators in a Pre-Pay option that resides in the smart meters.