The latest issue of Metering & Smart Energy International devoted two pages to utility industry specialists answering “The BIG Question: Are smart meters living up to their promise?”
The featured story was prompted by the Washington Post report in January that while more than 50 million smart meters were deployed across the United States, the technology itself is failing to live up to the high hopes that proponents had advertised.
Somewhat surprisingly for a “metering” and “smart energy” magazine, the majority of responses were negative towards smart meters having any residential consumer benefits. There is acknowledgement of benefits to the utilities and commercial or industrial customers.
The most detailed write-up was from an executive with Cognyst International, a portion of which is reproduced below [bold font added for emphasis]:
“The answer is simple really. No domestic consumer is going to turn their lives upside down for savings that amount to nothing more than dinner out at a mid-scale restaurant once a year. There simply is no real benefit to the domestic consumer.
The real benefit of Smart Meters lies with the generators, transmission, network (distribution) companies and very large commercial and industrial consumers who have the ability to significantly alter usage patterns.
The hype has been driven by manufacturers and commentators who simply have little to no idea of what drives change in domestic consumer markets or lifestyles. …
The second very real and growing issue is that of privacy. This is exacerbated by the major internet players’ use and misuse of data gathered, and simply adds a genuine concern about who has access to data gathered by smart meters. …
The industry has simply not been able to show clear benefits (because there aren’t any real and tangible benefits to the domestic consumer) nor has it done enough to clarify what it will do with data gathered.
The industry has to stop fooling itself by thinking that households will turn their lives upside down for nothing more than an extra beer (or glass of wine) a week and concentrate on industrial and large commercial consumers, who have a real vested interest in achieving savings on the bottom line and have the ability to change their consumption pattern to make this happen.
Smart Meters are not the silver bullet many seem to think they are.”
Here is an additional response from a consultant for Strateture Solutions:
“Most consumers, especially residential, just don’t care that much to spend the time to look at the information from their meter. If they haven’t already replaced their light bulbs, bought energy efficient appliances, etc. they aren’t likely to be looking at their meter readings.
Those that have, are already being energy efficient and so don’t need to. And how many people are going to go out and spend money to put in thermostats so that the Big Brother utility can control them …”
Another response from an AMI specialist:
“There is no evidence that customers are willing to pay for the limited incremental functionality of [smart meters] [sic]. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. Industry studies show that only 46% of customers are aware of the concept of ‘smart metering,’ and of that percentage, 33% associate smart metering with higher customer bills, invasion of privacy and health concerns. …”
Note: SkyVision Solutions notes that the above response is actually an excerpt from a written submittal filed with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities by Northeast Utilities in 2014. In that filing, Northeast Utilities documented reasons as to why: “There is no rational basis for … mandated implementation of [smart meters].”
So, could we please stop with the propaganda from the smart grid industry “fact sheets” and pamphlets on how smart meters are intended to “empower” consumers to save money? Not even the actual smart grid industry specialists believe it.
To see the link for the featured article in Metering & Smart Energy International and the full write-ups for respondents, refer to: http://spintelligentpublishing.com/Digital/Metering-International/issue1-2015/files/62.html