META Group, Inc. announced initial findings from its 2003 Energy Utility IT Spending Study, a comprehensive survey of the current spending habits within the energy utility industry. According to the results, while overall IT spending as a percent of revenue in the energy utility market was down 13 percent from last year, there are certain areas showing an increase in budgetary dollars.

"Overall, IT spending in energy utilities has decreased slightly over the past year, but there are some areas experiencing high rates of change that CIOs simply cannot afford to cut back on," said Rick Nicholson, vice president and director of META Group's Energy Information Strategies. "We are seeing an increase in spending on applications supporting wholesale power market restructuring such as energy trading and risk management systems, energy management systems and metering systems, and security."

In fact, 81 percent of energy companies increased security spending this year, while only 4 percent spent less. Budgets for energy trading and risk management systems increased 44 percent, while 30 percent of surveyed companies kept their spending flat and 11 percent spent less. Metering systems saw a spending increase of 33 percent, while 52 percent kept budgets flat and only 7 percent spent less. Of respondents, 33 percent increased spending on energy management systems (EMS/SCADA), while 48 percent spent the same and 4 percent spent less.

"These numbers validate our previous forecasts, which assumed that critical infrastructure protection and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's proposal to restructure electric transmission would be top drivers for technology investment," said Nicholson. "At this point, we expect IT spending in the energy utility industry to remain flat next year and return to growth in 2005."

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