Will low-cost Chinese meters eventually force out equipment made in the U.S. and Europe? Earlier this year, we saw China-affiliated Glen Canyon launch an inexpensive smart meter for the North American market. But most analysts predict it will take a few years – at the earliest – for Chinese meters to penetrate the staid and slow-to-change market here.

A more grave threat may be embodied in Monday’s announcement (see the press release) that Chinese giant Huawei is teaming with Landis+Gyr to attack the UK market. Most U.S.-based metering companies have long assumed that Europe would provide their next wave of growth. But European utilities may prove more willing to incorporate Chinese technology. At best, the North American companies will have to slash prices and margins. At worst, they could be priced out altogether.

Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com. He consults to smart grid companies seeking market entry advice and M&A advisory. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the US and abroad, he also serves on the Advisory Council of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Energy & Environment directorate.