December 11, 2009 – Assessing the intelligent grid opportunity for North American electric utilities, market research firm IDC found increased interest in smart grid technology, predicting spending to grow more than 15 percent, reaching $17.5 billion, by 2013.

To gauge investments, IDC surveyed more than 80 utilities in the U.S. and Canada, providing a forecast of spending and adoption of the technology across a variety of segments.

Marcus Torchia, research manager for IDC Energy Insights, Intelligent Grid Strategies emphasizes a broad and growing interest in smart grid technology that can be partially attributed to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “Research activity in the smart grid has caught fire this year,” he said “With the ARRA, a lot of money has been allocated to the utilities industry to help update the electric grid.”

Intelligent metering projects in particular are functioning as a springboard for business process transformation and investment, according to the report (“North American Intelligent Grid Utility Spending Forecast”).

“The projects are garnering the vast majority of funding from ARRA and other investments. Even before the bill was passed, smart metering was the number one projects,” said Torchia. “Smart metering gives rise to other investments. It’s allowing utilities to get a piece of infrastructure in place that allows them to experiment with new technology.”

That infrastructure is key as utilities look to technology to support business process change that will allow them to prepare for a carbon cap-and-trade framework or market for carbon credits, according to Torchia.

IDC’s study found a pronounced increase in pilot project activity.

That said, the investor-owned utility segment in particular is leading in information and communication technology spending on intelligent grid technology, according to the report.

Click here to access IDCs full report.

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