Electric lines extend over the hills of Owen County on July 22, 2011, near Owenton, Ky. (Ed Reinke/AP)

Upgrades to the nation’s energy grid, which include the installation of smart sensors and nodes, are likely to have a fundamental effect on the way we monitor our energy usage.

The installation of these new technologies is leading to a “data tsunami,” according to the clean-technology market research and consulting firm Pike Research. But the industry is still in need of programs that can read the data and make it actionable for both energy producers and consumers. The emerging smart-grid data analytics industry is projected to generate $11.3 billion in revenue between 2011 and 2015, according to a Pike Research report.

Imagine being able to monitor your energy usage in real-time from your thermostat, or if your energy company could send you an e-mail when you’ve surpassed your previous month’s usage level? That’s to say nothing of the real-time alert capabilities energy companies could use to avoid outages. With real-time analysis of smart-grid data, this could be possible.

But the greatest benefit of being able to accurately read this data may not have been discovered yet. As GigaOm’s Katie Fehrenbacher writes:

Beyond the obvious grid and consumer management applications, it could be the data analytics that can create value from data in ways that utilities are not expecting that could have the most value.

It’s worth noting that Pike Research’s $11.5 billion estimate for the potential revenue value of smart-grid analytics technology is a marked increase from its 2010 estimate, which projected potential revenues for the 2010-15 period at $4.2 billion. And numerous companies, from Microsoft to Siemens, are making their presence known in the field.

(GigaOm, Pike Research)