Rural energy cooperatives will account for roughly 10% of spending on smart grid technologies in the U.S. over the next five years, according to a GTM Research report, which estimates expenditures for the sector will top $4.1 billion through 2017. GTM says the bulk of the spending -- which is relatively small for a sector whose footprint accounts for three-quarters of the U.S. -- will go toward advanced metering infrastructure and distribution automation technologies.

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