Customer Training Available Throughout 2021

Last year, Itron launched several virtual, instructor-led training sessions for our customers. These were well received, and as a result, we are excited to continue these offerings into 2021.

Our trainings are aimed at personnel responsible for various customer functions, including, but not limited to administration, back office, installation and configuration. We also welcome anyone who wants to learn more about our products to register for a training session.

These classes are led by Itron’s technical trainers and are hosted virtually via a web conferencing tool (e.g., Microsoft Teams or Webex). Costs vary by course and are based on whether you register for an entire course versus taking modules a la carte.

Check out the links below for more detail, including class descriptions, dates, times, cost and how to register:

I hope you will join us as we look to make 2021 a year of learning!

Joining the Age of Automation with Consumer-Enabled Data Collection

Rapid technological advances are the norm in the 21st century. Entire industries have become obsolete in the wake of smart phones, digitization, online commerce and “remote everything.” We upgrade phones, cars, televisions and other household devices every few years, but in some parts of the world, the basic non-communicating meters at our homes have been there for decades.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Itron Idea Labs team learned – through a combination of interviews with utilities and consumers – that some utilities had begun to ask residents to help out by reading their own meters. In a small global survey conducted over the summer, we found that 76% of our respondents (130 of the 160 surveyed) had been asked to read their own meter — by mail, phone, text, email and a variety of other methods.

And as these consumers responded, some utility staff found themselves overwhelmed with a host of manual tasks required to make the submissions into a usable billing index. Emails had to be opened, images had to be viewed and stored. Reads and other identifying data had to be extracted from the image, verified, and entered into a spreadsheet for ingestion to billing. These manual tasks add labor and expense for utility customer service teams.

In the midst of this challenging time, the Itron Idea Labs team – in partnership with members of the Itron Bangalore team – developed a mobile app to automate read collection by consumers. The Consumer Collect app streamlines what could be a manual seven-step process into a single step by employing machine learning, optical character recognition, usage validation algorithms and accuracy verification at multiple levels. The consumer simply points their mobile device at the meter, and the Consumer Collect application captures the meter serial number and the read. The captured data is automatically transported to Itron’s system, where data management algorithms verify the accuracy and send the read on to the utility’s billing system. In essence, the Itron Idea Labs team has eliminated the costly and labor-intensive elements of the manual process where error and fraud can be introduced.

Early field trials with the Consumer Collect solution included experimentation with machine learning algorithms developed by our Itron team and a variety of third parties. Following the field trials where we evaluated multiple vendors, Itron Idea Labs decided to collaborate with Anyline for continued development activities. The beta solution is now available for utilities to pilot. With Consumer Collect, Itron Idea Labs makes it possible for utilities who still have a large install base of non-communicating meters to join the age of automation.

I Get by With a Little Help from My Friends, and Google

It almost goes without saying that most utilities have seen a noticeable deviation in their electricity sales in 2020 due to the pandemic. But the question remains, how long will the deviation persist and what does the path ahead look like? Load forecasters the world over are peering into their crystal balls to try to figure this out.

A big part of the challenge is finding a driver that forecasters can use in their models to help capture the variation in sales due to behavioral changes from various COVID-19 mitigation policies. And if you do find a driver, with any luck you can forecast it without too much heartburn. Coincidentally, Google has been publishing daily anonymized COVID-19 Community Mobility Data that shows deviations from baseline location data by state, county and country from users who have turned on their Location History setting on their mobile devices. A few of my colleagues and I have leveraged this data in our forecast models, and the results have proven quite favorable.

The comprehensive dataset is available for download in CSV format on Google’s mobility data website, free of charge. Just scroll down to “Community Mobility Reports” and click on the “Global CSV” option to download the CSV file. The file is quite large (about 240 MB and counting) with too many records to fully load into Excel, and so I recommend opening it in something like Notepad or Notepad++ and copying and pasting the relevant data into a spreadsheet. You’ll have to do a little wrangling to get the data in a useable form, but surprisingly not much.

This data represents the percentage change in people’s visits to – or time spent – in six categories of places relative to the defined “baseline day,” or median value for that day-of-the-week from the period of Jan. 3 – Feb. 6, 2020. The categories are retail and recreation, grocery and pharmacy, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential. To give you a visual, here is what the data for the state of California looks like:

From this visual, we can see there’s a positive percentage change in the residential category and a negative one in workplaces as people shift to spending more time at home and little to no time in their place of work. Retail and transit are also down as people are shopping less and not taking public transportation. Grocery and pharmacy is down as well, but not as much as other categories because people obviously still need to buy food and medications. These percentage deviations appear to have stabilized since June, which makes forecasting this data a little less intimidating.

One thing that pops out from looking at the data is there’s a well-defined day-type pattern (i.e., weekend vs. weekday) for the residential and workplace categories. That is, there’s less of a change on weekends because people were already home and not at work before the pandemic took off. The large spikes are for holidays, as those days reflect a significant change relative to Google’s baseline. Retail also has a day-type pattern, albeit a little less well-defined. For this reason, I found the retail, workplace and residential categories to be the most applicable and useful for predicting loads in this COVID-19 world. And since the data are of daily frequency, you can leverage them in a daily model, or run them through billing cycles and incorporate them into a monthly SAE model.

Going with the latter approach, I started with a “business as usual” Residential SAE model (i.e., one that’s estimated with data through February 2020 so the COVID-19 period data does not influence the model coefficients). What the model shows is that residential use per customer has been higher since April relative to where it should have been subject to the actual weather that occurred.

But incorporating Google’s mobility data into the model helps to close this gap. Moreover, forecasting what we think the percentage changes in the relevant categories will be gives us a better projection for how the rest of the year might shake out.

Undoubtedly, this data is not perfect. For example, the baseline days probably aren’t representative of the true baseline, and Google is aware of this too. And using them certainly won’t remove all of the wrenches this pandemic has thrown into our forecast models. But they just might help to tighten things up and yield a more reasonable load forecast.

Google states that the data will be available for as long as public health officials find them useful, but who knows how long that may be. I don’t think I will try and forecast that. But with any luck, that will be just long enough.

Shout out to the folks in the Operational Forecasting Team at AEMO for calling this data to our attention!

2020: Our Year in Review

Despite the challenges of 2020, Itron continued its work toward our mission to create a more resourceful world. With steadfast resolve, our employees banded together to serve our customers – to improve the quality of life, ensure the safety and promote the well-being of people around the globe. This mission is more important than ever as COVID-19 continues to test our infrastructures, economies and humanity.   

Taking a look back at this unprecedented year, we made a number of accomplishments, and this positive momentum will carry us into 2021 and beyond. Here are some examples of how we continued to work toward our mission.

Addressing COVID-19
Since the onset of this global pandemic, Itron has remained committed to ensuring customer success, protecting the health and wellbeing of our employees, and supporting the communities where we live, work and play. Itron President and CEO Tom Deitrich stated that while there is no business as usual during this unique situation, we will continue to deliver the highest level of support and service possible to our customers and partners. To this end, we put processes in place to support business continuity while ensuring the health and safety of our essential team members in production and field operations, we revamped our project start/restart process to include additional precautions, and we saluted our customers and partners who are making an impact during this time.  

Making an Impact: Gas, Electricity and Water
Itron continued to provide even more value for our customers as they dealt with unprecedented storms, wildfires and a global pandemic. Our multi-application network platform supported diverse outcomes across AMI, grid management, smart streetlighting and smart communities. New Brunswick Power announced they will deploy Itron’s multi-purpose solution, including an IoT network and more than 350,000 Measurement Canada-approved distributed intelligence-enabled smart meters, to modernize its electricity grid. Itron and EDMI Limited, a global smart metering solutions leader, will collaborate to develop and launch a SMETS2-compliant gas meter for the United Kingdom, addressing the growing demand in the region by bringing to market a complete solution to safely and reliably manage natural gas delivery. New York State Public Service Commission affirmed its consent approval of the 550G Gas Encoder Receiver Transmitter module for use by the state’s gas utilities.

We also expanded our robust partner ecosystem, as demonstrated by the announcement of the completion of the first phase of our deployment of a wastewater management solution with Miami-Dade County Water & Sewer Department to mitigate regulatory issues, prevent sewer overflows, improve water quality and ensure safety for the public. Additionally, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power took a step to improve grid awareness and reduce operating costs, harnessing the power of intelligent connectivity at the edge by deploying Itron’s Industrial IoT network and Distribution Automation (DA) solution in order to modernize its grid.

Creating Smarter Cities
Cities around the world face significantly tighter budgets due to unexpected revenue declines as a result of the pandemic. Although budgets are shrinking, cities still need to provide services and economic opportunity as they begin the recovery process. These factors combined created a need for innovation.  Itron and Key Equipment Finance introduced a financing program for cities, helping alleviate financial barriers that prevent cities from investing in much needed technologies as they face budget shortfalls. Itron is driving innovation with CPS Energy, the City of San Antonio and other partners in a Smart Streetlight Technology program that will unlock efficiencies and build a foundation for smarter city services, while improving the quality of life for all residents.

Delivering Added Value to Customers
Itron is enabling utilities and communities to evolve distribution grid operations and enhance the customer experience with distributed intelligence (DI) through proven, innovative applications that are managing the active grid of today and tomorrow. Through multiple virtual DI lab tours with customers, we showcased use cases and applications in real-time, such as theft detection, high impedance detection, residential neutral fault detection, load disaggregation and location awareness. In the field, we are deploying DI applications on hundreds of thousands of endpoints. We also continued to expand the way we support our customers through Outcomes and value-added services. This includes expanding our Itron Private Cloud presence into Australia and Canada and growing our footprint in Europe and the United States.

Introducing the New Sales Channel Partner Program
Developed to empower a diverse group of channel partners, we unveiled the Itron Engage Sales Channel Partner Program. With this program, new and existing partners have access to tools, training and support for Itron’s solutions, which will equip them to extend the reach of Itron’s technology to the markets they serve around the globe. The program features a variety of increasing benefits, and rewards partners who exhibit both expertise across the entire portfolio and exceptional, consistent performance. Itron Engage is currently available in North America, and will roll out to Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa in late January, and to Asia Pacific in late Q1 2021.

Environmental and Social Governance
This summer, we released our 2019 Environmental Social Governance (ESG) Report, which highlights the company’s new framework for reporting on sustainability goals and commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Featuring expanded content and information on key policies, the report provides insights into Itron’s ESG practices in 2019 and plans for future initiatives. This is an important part of our reinvigorated ESG strategy, built around four key pillars: Environmental and Operational Stewardship; Solution Impact and Community Involvement; Diversity and Our Human Capital Pledge; and Effective Shareholder Advocacy.

Awards and Recognition
2020 was not without its celebrations – done virtually, of course. We were honored to be recognized for AMI Leadership in Asia-Pacific and received a 2020 IoT Evolution Product of the Year Award. Itron was selected as the winner of the “Public Safety Solution of the Year” award for the second consecutive year in the annual IoT Breakthrough Awards program – this year for our jointly developed  natural gas detector with New Cosmos and Con Edison. We were also named the winner of a Gold Stevie Award in the Industrial Products & Services category in the 18th Annual American Business Awards.

Our customers were also recognized for their innovation and commitment to creating a more resourceful world. We awarded the second annual Itron Innovator Award to Australian energy utility Western Power for its Smart Lab in Perth, Western Australia, and Frost & Sullivan announced CPS Energy and BRK Ambiental as the recipients of the fifth annual Excellence in Resourcefulness Awards.

Itron Utility Week Went Virtual
With the safety of attendees in mind, we decided to host our premier, customer-focused event, Itron Utility Week, virtually for the first time ever. Through the online format, we were all still able to connect, share ideas, learn from one another and empower innovation virtually – while celebrating record registration! Following the conference, we announced the new name for our event moving forward: Itron Inspire. You can still expect the same great industry connections, thought leadership and valuable insights that you’ve come to expect from this event in the past.

Itron is grateful for the opportunity to do the important work we do to serve our customers and their communities. I look forward to an innovative (and hopefully somewhat normal “business as usual”) 2021.

Happy New Year!

November 2020: Trends in Estimated Load Impacts of COVID-19 Mitigation Policies on European and North American Electricity Consumption

March through November 2020

As previously discussed in the first of this blog series on April 13, as lockdown policies are enacted to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Itron Forecasting Team is leveraging publicly available hourly load data for most North American Independent System Operators (ISOs) and a select set of European countries to build a picture of the load impacts by region. To assess the load impact of COVID-19 mitigation strategies, actual loads when many of these policies began are compared to baseline loads without COVID-19 policy impacts.

Across Europe and North America, the biggest estimated load reductions occurred in April with an estimated reduction in average daily load between -12.3% and -7.2%. In both Europe and North America, November marked a slight uptick in the load impact, reflecting renewed lockdown activity driven by a new wave of COVID-19 cases.

For a detailed summary of the estimated load impacts, go to the forecasting website to download the latest COVID-19 Load Impact memo.

The Itron Forecasting Team will continue to post updated summary blogs and corresponding memos on these trends.

Subscribe to our blog to be notified of new posts. Contact us at if you have further questions.

Do Solar Panels Need to be Cleaned?

It seems like my solar photovoltaic (PV) panel monitoring service, Enphase, started sending more emails recently. Or maybe because I recently wrote a blog (Residential Lighting Efficiency Really Does Make a Difference) during my PV true up period, I probably had solar on the brain. I just received an email recommending that I wash my panels before winter, and it made me start to wonder – my car is parked outside and gets filthy super quick, so do I need to climb up on the roof and clean the panels or hire someone to do it? Living in San Diego, it is true that there’s not much rain and the panels have been up there for four years now without a proper bath. It totally makes sense that general dust, dirt and fire-related ash would make them less efficient, right? But why would I do it before winter when it rains more? How on Earth do you wash them? Will I fall off the roof? All of this is a little counter-intuitive to what the dollar amount on my latest true up indicated, and although I looked at my lighting efficiency, I didn’t really look at the solar production over the years. I never considered that there might also be losses due to grime.

Some research indicates that cleaning your solar panels leads to small improvements in output, yet others say you should clean them twice a year. One site even suggested a 35% loss after two years, but it turns out that all of the cleaning recommendations tended to be from solar panel cleaning companies or from quoting stats via cleaning companies. Then I stumbled on a study by the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD that made me feel much better about not having given my panels any attention since they were installed. According to their research, due to the angle that the panels are mounted and being on a roof, they found that rain did a fine job of cleaning the panels as long as there are no bird droppings.

Again, having been part of the forecasting team for so long, I also had to look at the data and graph it:

Surprisingly, there has been a slight annual uptick in production (is that global warming?!). In any case, I definitely agree that my data and the research available are in alignment. I’m good with not cleaning my solar panels. If I wanted to increase my production a smidge during the summer, when there isn’t any rain in sight, I could clean them. But I don’t think it’s worth the effort, and hiring someone definitely would not offset the cost.

Are Customers Ready to Leverage Distributed Intelligence?

Distribution grid operations are evolving. Having the insight to accurately control and manage the grid, gain value through additional consumer services/support and embrace a partner ecosystem by enabling the applications you want is critical to empowering innovation. Fortunately, this can all be achieved through distributed intelligence, providing proven, advanced applications that are managing the active grid of today and tomorrow. But are customers ready for this next step?

Itron recently worked with Zpryme to survey 75 utilities regarding their strategies around distributed intelligence, including their:

  • Use of customer-generated power and behind-the-meter energy efficiency,
  • Plans to create value for customers and
  • Preparedness to support transactive energy platforms.

We collaborated with Zpryme to conduct this survey as a way to get a better pulse on how utilities are approaching distributed intelligence, what outcomes and applications are most important to them, and how behind-the-meter generation and transactive energy plays a role.

Here are a few of the trends we found:

  1. 70% of respondents report that grid edge technology is critical to their utility’s future.
  2. 59% of respondents are already using customer-generated power and behind-the-meter energy efficiency as part of their integrated resource plans.
  3. While utilities are moving forward with distributed intelligence, they are not fully prepared for transactive energy platforms. Most feel they are somewhat prepared, but there is more work to be done to leverage distributed intelligence to support this technology.

For a full look at what utilities are saying about their strategies around distributed intelligence, visit our interactive infographic.

To learn more about developing a strategy that leverages distributed intelligence and grid edge technology to create customer value, visit

Itron Appoints Ben Huggins as Senior Vice President of Customer and Market Experience

Today, Itron announced Ben Huggins has joined the company as senior vice president of Customer and Market Experience (CME), effective immediately. Ben will succeed Mark de Vere White who is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.

Ben brings over 20 years of diverse experience from the military, aerospace and industrial markets. He has served in leadership roles within the maintenance, manufacturing, supply chain, general management and sales functions. Ben’s expertise includes selling products, systems, software and outcome-based solutions across a broad range of global markets.

Prior to joining Itron, Ben worked with Honeywell for the last 15 years, serving in a variety of leadership and sales roles, most recently as the global vice president of sales for the Process Solutions business unit. Prior to Honeywell, Ben was an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“Ben joins Itron with a wealth of global experience in sales and general management. His diverse background and experience selling comprehensive solutions will benefit Itron and our customers,” said Tom Deitrich, Itron’s president and chief executive officer.

Ben added, “I’m excited to join Itron and help utilities and cities innovate the way they manage energy and water. Building on Itron’s legacy, together we’ll progress toward the most important infrastructure priorities of the 21st century. I look forward to working with the CME team, the broader Itron organization and our customers and partners toward this purpose in the months and years to come.”

Join Our Brown Bag: Community Choice Aggregation Load Forecasting

The last Itron Forecasting Brown Bag of 2020 is on Tuesday, Dec. 8 and is entitled "Community Choice Aggregation Load Forecasting." During this free webinar, Andy Sukenik will present some background on Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) and will discuss tips on how to create forecasts for the short and long term.

Participation is free, but prior registration is required. Each seminar lasts approximately one hour, allowing 45 minutes for the presentation and 15 minutes for questions. Seminars start at noon Pacific time. If you cannot attend a seminar or if you missed one, don’t worry! Your registration ensures that a link to the recording will be sent to you automatically approximately one week after the seminar date, plus you will receive a link to watch any of this year’s previous webinars.

Register today at

Itron’s Forecasting group has conducted webinars on a variety of forecasting and load research-based topics for many years. All of our past webinars were recorded and are available in a YouTube library.

October 2020: Trends in Estimated Load Impacts of COVID-19 Mitigation Policies on European and North American Electricity Consumption

March through October 2020

As previously discussed in the first of this series on April 13, as lockdown policies are enacted to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Itron Forecasting Team is leveraging publicly available hourly load data for most North American Independent System Operators (ISOs) and a select set of European countries to build a picture of the load impacts by region. To assess the load impact of COVID-19 mitigation strategies, actual loads when many of these policies began are compared to baseline loads without COVID-19 policy impacts.

Across Europe and North America, the biggest estimated load reductions occurred in April with an estimated reduction in average daily load between -12.3% and -7.2%. In recent months, the combination of reduced lockdown restrictions and weather has led to no apparent load impact in Europe. In contrast, North America loads continue to fall below expectations that are not adjusted for prevailing weather.

For a detailed summary of the estimated load impacts, go to the forecasting website to download the latest COVID-19 Load Impact memo.

The Itron Forecasting Team will continue to post updated summary blogs and corresponding memos on the trends.

Subscribe to our blog to be notified of new posts and contact us at if you have further questions.

Residential Lighting Efficiency Really Does Make a Difference!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 4 years since we installed the solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on our house. As a solar customer in the San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) service territory, we don’t get monthly bills, just one true-up bill on the anniversary date of your start date. We are on a November to November true-up period and just received our fourth true up bill and I was a bit surprised.

I wrote a PV blog after our first year of the solar journey, but here’s a quick overview. We live in San Diego in a 1,500 square foot house and my son likes to keep our house at freezer-like conditions. In 2015, our annual electric bill was about $2,700 (9,000 kWh). Summer bills were in the $400-500 range (800-900 kWh) and always hit tier 2 rates. We ended up with a 7.25 kW system with 25 panels and were able to get into the NEM Successor Tariff (Schedule NEM-ST, NEM-ST or NEM 2.0) where non-bypassable charges are assessed. There was a nominal interconnection fee and we were grandfathered into the tiered rates for 5 years after our system went live. We have 1 more year before we need to move to the TOU rates, which will probably prompt another set of blogs.

In 2017, our first solar year, we owed $48 and we added an electric vehicle (EV) to the mix in December. In 2018, we owed $258 which included a $500 SDG&E EV climate credit (EVCC) and I started using a free EV charging station by the office in October. In 2019, I was doing the majority of my EV charging at work and receiving an $850 EVCC from SDG&E, and we ended up with an $800 credit overall. The latest bill had no EVCC and was only $101.26.

I’m not complaining, but I was surprised it wasn’t higher. I have been working from home since March, so there is additional electric load in general; my son added a larger TV to his room that seems to be on all of the time, in addition to his computers; almost all of my EV charging has been at home, albeit less driving in general due to the pandemic; and, it was a really hot summer in San Diego so the air conditioner ran way more than normal, hitting tier 2 rates a few times.

Working with Itron’s Energy Forecasting Group (EFG) residential sector and end-use data for so long made me a little curious about our usage. What had changed? During our remodeling project toward the end of last year, we installed a bunch of new LED canned lights in our main room, replacing a beam of incandescent lighting that is now hardly used. The adjacent kitchen lights were almost always turned on.

This is our beam of incandescent lighting, and you can see one of the new LED lights on the ceiling.

When you add up all those cute little incandescents, it turns out that the beam uses 663 watts. Adding in the old kitchen lights and using a conservative estimate of 6 hours of use per day, translates into roughly 1,600 kWh/year. Holy cow! They looked so cool when we put them up and I knew they would suck a bunch of energy, but I didn’t do the math. That’s more than 4 new refrigerators! Our new set up has 20 new LED canned lights which are rarely all on, but if they were, that would only be 438 kWh/year. Our tier 1 rate is 28 cents per kWh, so that is a minimum of $310 savings for the year.

It is good timing on this analysis because one of our next home projects is to replace our original single-paned windows. The residential geek in me was planning to replace them with overpriced, super high energy-efficient low U-Factor ones with whatever gas inside. I already have a few quotes but I am now reconsidering the efficiency level needed because just switching to more energy efficient lighting has brought us pretty close to break even with the EV. The ENERGY STAR program was founded in 1991, so ANY new window will be an improvement in efficiency from the current windows that were installed in 1986.

Watch: Short-term Load Forecasts that Account for COVID-19 Mitigation Policies

During last week’s virtual Itron Utility Week, did you miss the forecasting team’s presentation from Frank Monforte entitled Short-term Load Forecasts that Account for COVID-19 Mitigation Policies? Frank discussed learning how to improve day-ahead and intraday forecasts in the face of existing lockdowns and the future re-opening of economies. His presentation ties in with the continued COVID-19 mitigation blog series that you may have been following throughout the last few months.

If you missed this discussion, you can still register to watch the session and any of the other great Itron Utility Week presentations available on demand.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog to be notified of new posts. Contact us at if you have further questions.

I agree to have my personal information transfered to AWeber ( more information )
Opt in to receive notifications when a blog post is published. Don't miss the thought leadership, insight and news from Itron.
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.