Monday, 8 June 2009

Smart Metering – A Trojan Horse For The Utilities?

This may be a little controversial but my sound-boarding conversations in the sector of late have led me to ask questions and draw some interesting conclusions. Where is the product development going – and indeed who is in the driving seat – and really … what are the measurables of the 10-year metering roll out plan?

Are the meter supply companies ready to meet the rapidly evolving demands of today’s wireless savvy and iPod-style green consumer – will they even try or are they focused on serving only the demands of their masters in the Utilities?

Are the meters they will be supplying truly going to serve the Government purposes to educate and influence energy reduction? Are they merely being used to serve the Utilities as platforms for yet more aggressive cross-sell and up-sell opportunities – and contribute to even more consumerism that will actually negate all that energy reduction activity in the first place?

Are the Metering and Utility companies falling into the trap of “one size fits all” in terms of product development? Will Mr & Mrs Blogs in Harpenden really use their smart meter in the same way as Single Mum Jane in Brixton with 5 children under the age of 7?

Will the Utilities – in the effort to control the supply chain seek ever complex ways of controlling the data from the Smart Meters …?

Picture the future – your own smart meter – (I’d like a choice of model and functions thank you!). Something that will intelligently SMS you when the kids have left the heating on for more than 4 hours. A meter that talks to my freezer and switches it to low peak electricity. Something that automatically gets the washing machine going at 2am rather than when I go to bed and my smart meter needs to tell me how much my solar thermal panel has saved me that day and how much renewable energy I’ve generated … is that too much to ask do you think?

Well a cursory glance at some of the products on the market recently has led me ponder on how this sector needs to develop and cope with what seems like opposing and conflicting needs of the various stakeholders!

… ah I forgot, I’m having a flashback, it’s local loop unbundling all over again, only this time the local loop unbundling goes right back to the consumer – control of their own power generation!

By Debby Lloyd
Managing Director, EcoSearch

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