Nestled in the heart of Liberty Lake, Itron has changed the game of the utility industry for the past four decades.
The journey to be one of the world’s leading technology companies began somewhat informally, in Hauser Lake in 1977, when a small group of engineers wanted to build a more efficient way to read utility meters. Washington Water Power (now Avista) provided some seed money to create a portable device that enabled workers to walk up to an electric meter, type in the usage and print out a bill on site. This new development was followed by a series of innovative new products, including radio-based meter reading devices and communication networks, which served as the gateway for today’s smart grid.
Building upon its successful product introductions, Itron recently reported $2.0 billion in annual revenue, and currently employs 8,000 across the world.
While Itron grew steadily from its innovative products, the company was also able to provide countless consumer benefits along the way, including reduced downtime after natural disasters.
Some of the company’s newest equipment was put to the test in the widespread aftermath of Hurricane Harvey last year. With tens of thousands of homes without power in Texas, Itron’s customer, utility provider CenterPoint Energy, had the massive task of restoring electricity and services to Houston, Texas. Thanks to Itron’s smart connected technology, said Sharelynn Moore, Itron’s Senior Vice President of Networked Solutions and a member of GSI’s Board of Trustees, the company shaved millions of outage minutes off its response time, allowing customers to have power sooner.
“They were able to get their customers back up and running dramatically faster, reading meters, understanding who has power and who doesn’t,” Moore said. “When you actually know where people are out of power and who’s been restored, you can get your crews out to perform restoration much quicker than you would if you had to check every meter.”
The company has taken a modern approach to management, with leaders living throughout the world. As technology improves, the company continues to be more mobile and focused on digital connections with their teams. After growing through numerous acquisitions, the company has leaders throughout the U.S. in California, Texas, and South Carolina.
“It takes a plane ride or two for any of us to get together,” Moore said, emphasizing that the company’s culture allows them to be successful in remote locations.
At the heart of Itron’s service is a commitment to its customers. When someone sees the logo, it resonates with quality and service. Having worked with some of the world’s largest utility companies throughout its history, Itron has a wide footprint in both in geographic locations and technology.
“I think that allows us to get into new areas,” Moore said.
Constantly looking to the future, Itron is continuing its work to grow smart cities locally and provide socially responsible development efforts throughout the world. Backed up by its enduring commitment to innovation, the company consistently works to minimize its impact on the environment.
“By just better measuring, you can better manage,” Moore said. “It all goes back to purpose. We can help the world better manage energy and water. Every time we deploy a connected smart system, there’s a business case study of what they’ve done to improve. And we know that it matters. It makes a difference.”
Among its social contributions to global development is a pre-payment metering system for developing countries. This allows third-world citizens the ability to purchase power on an as-needed basis from a station near their village.
Another of Itron’s priorities is community investment and social responsibility. One example is a PlayPump project in South Africa where a water pump was integrated into a playground and allows children to both have fun at school while helping their community draw fresh water.
In addition to the company’s worldwide contributions in technology, Itron is actively investing in next generation talent and STEM education. The company encourages and provides opportunities for employees to engage with Itron’s mission and vision to “create a more resourceful world” and serve as STEM mentors for students, imparting skills their team has learned on the job. Callie Bendickson, Community Relations Manager, says it’s similar to an internship and allows students to work alongside Itron team members working in STEM-centric roles. Itron has also been actively collaborating on a number of educational outreach projects and partnerships that include a K-12 STEM curriculum, Resourcefulness and community engagement to inspire conservation.
Itron is involved in Spokane’s Urbanova project, which includes Avista, Washington State University, McKinstry, the City of Spokane, and the University District Development Association to create a smart city technology proving ground in the University District.
With its focus on developing for tomorrow, Itron is strongly rooted in social responsibility while ensuring the future looks bright through smart energy usage.
“At the end of the day it feels good to know that we can make a difference,” Moore said.
To learn more about Itron and its vision for the future, visit Itron.com.
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