The anecdote goes like this: Utilities currently read meters once a month, and that information gets stored and of course processed in order to deliver a customer bill.
With automated metering infrastructure (AMI), meters are read far more frequently. Gas meters may be read twice a day, but electric meters are read every hour or even more often. That means that instead of 12 data points annually, electric meters will have 8,760 or more data points associated with them in the future.
For utilities with millions of accounts, that's a big increase in data and associated processing, no matter how you slice it. In the end, utilities will need more data storage and IT capacity, and data center capacity to house it.
In it he cites Idaho Power and Xcel Energy as not having a problem handling AMI data loads, at least not yet. Dave Harkness, the CIO of Xcel, notes that financial institutions and telecomm companies handle far greater information flows than utilities will even after AMI deployment.
Still, as an IT growth example, AMI remains a compelling one in my mind, particularly to give utility industry people a sense of what is happening with data centers. And contrary to the second portion of the article, I don't think utilities have shown any leadership whatsoever in building and operating energy efficient data centers.