Way back in 1972, while working for Boeing in Hunstville, Alabama, Ted Paraskevakos developed a digital monitoring system for fire, security and medical alarm systems. It was also capable of reading utility meters. The technology was derived from the automatic telephone line identification system, known today as Caller I.D.
Mr. Paraskevakos was awarded a U.S. patent for this technology in 1974. Three years later, he launched Metretek, Inc., the company that produced the first fully automated, commercially available remote meter reading and load management system.
Utilities had long been looking for a way to match energy generation with consumption. Traditional electrical and gas meters only measured total consumption and provided no information about when the energy was used. Smart meters, though, measure site-specific information, providing both consumers and electricity providers with valuable insight about energy usage. Smart meters can even measure surge voltages, which allows the diagnosis of power quality problems.