In an older post I described the performance of Itron's Enterprise Edition Meter Data Management (MDM) Version 5.3 using SQL Server 2005. Today, you can read about Version 7 performance on SQL Server 2008 R2. The performance has increased to handle the volume seen with the largest utility companies in the world, the equivalent of 10 million meters. This is 11+% better than the old results.
This performance was done on commodity-grade server hardware demonstrating that performance does not come with the cost of expensive custom hardware. This low total cost of ownership (TCO) enables time-of-use billing to occur. Time-of-use is an essential requirement for the smart use of alternative energy. Many alternative sources of energy are expensive (or impossible) for a utility to store. A utility company that uses wind energy may have surplus power from winds at dawn and dusk. If this energy cost is priced low, than electric cars will recharge at these times. The same story applies to other alternative energy such as solar and tidal.
The low TCO of SQL Server contributes to utilities being able to implement this time-of-use approach without needing to ask regulators for rate increases to fund it. The consequences are fewer power plants built and better usage of our energy resource.