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The advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) (also referred to as automated metering infrastructure)[1]

[is a] system for measuring individual customers’ electricity consumption at intervals of an hour or less and communicating that information at frequent intervals to the distribution utility.[2]
represents networking technology that enables two-way communication between meters and a central system. These meters are referred to as "smart meters" because in addition to remotely collecting consumption data they can, in near real-time, report outages and power quality data.[3]


It allows utilities to collect, measure, and analyze energy consumption data for grid management, outage notification, and billing purposes via two-way communications.

AMI is the primary means for utilities to interact with meters at customer locations.[4] In addition to basic meter reading, the AMI consists of the communications hardware and software and associated system and data management software that creates a two-way network between advanced meters and utility business systems, enabling collection and distribution of information (such as energy usage, price, and control signals) to customers and other parties, such as competitive retail suppliers or the utility itself. AMI provides customers real-time (or near real-time) pricing of electricity and it can help utilities achieve necessary load reductions.

Advanced metering infrastructure has had a significant impact on the nature of interactions between the electricity consumer and the electric system, allowing two-way flow of both electricity and information and enabling the integration of assets behind the meter into the larger electric grid.[5]

AMI provides consumers with the ability to use electricity more efficiently and provides utilities with the ability to detect problems on their systems and operate them more efficiently. AMI can be leveraged to provide consumers with historical energy consumption data, comparisons of energy use in similar households, dynamic pricing information, and suggested approaches to reducing peak load via in-home displays.

AMI enables consumer-friendly efficiency concepts like "prices-to-devices" to work like this: Assuming that energy is priced on what it costs in near real-time — a Smart Grid imperative — price signals are relayed to "smart" home controllers or end-consumer devices like thermostats, washer/dryers and refrigerators — the home's major energy-users. The devices, in turn, process the information based on consumers' learned wishes and power accordingly. The house or office responds to the occupants, rather than vice-versa. Because this interaction occurs largely "in the background," with minimal human intervention, there's a dramatic savings on energy that would otherwise be consumed.

This type of program has been tried in the past, but without Smart Grid tools such as enabling technologies, interoperability based on standards, and low-cost communication and electronics, it possessed none of the potential that it does today.


  1. AMI differs from traditional automated meter reading (AMR), which uses one-way communications to accomplish meter readings primarily for monthly billing purposes.
  2. Massachusetts Inst. of Tech., The Future of the Electric Grid, Glossary, at 261 (2011) (full-text).
  3. The Smart Grid Collaborative Report to the Michigan Public Service Commission, at 8.
  4. The primary function of AMI is to "combine interval data measurement with continuously available remote communications" to increase energy efficiency and grid reliability, and decrease expenses borne by the utility and consumer. Electric Power Research Institute, Advance Metering Infrastructure (AMI) (2007) (full-text).
  5. Transforming the Nation's Electricity System: The Second Installment of the Quadrennial Energy Review]], at S-6.

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