Historically, energy metering has largely served a revenue-measurement function for the utility service provider. With the advent of low-cost digital metering technologies, the ability to collect, store and analyze a wide variety of information has made it possible for the energy consumer to understand and optimize their energy purchase and use within a facility.

This, combined with deregulation of electricity and natural gas markets, has changed the position of the commercial and institutional consumer from simple price taker, to having discretionary control over energy costs. Referred to as Energy Management Information Systems (EMIS), the core technology consists of individual intelligent digital sub-meters that are connected over local or distributed communications networks. The meter information is sent to a database software programs that are dedicated to the purpose.

The ability of an operator to sub-meter a facility from very high levels, all the way down to individual electrical loads, in real-time, and to store this information, provides a wealth of data that can be used to identify problems, trend operations, or provide load profile data for use in the procurement process. Longer term, the information system acts as an accounting tool for the facility owner/operator.