Smart meter deployment is essential, even if the devices are still useless
image credit: Photo 146812143 © Mike Taylor -
There were high hopes when utilities first started to deploy smart meters in earnest at the beginning of last decade. The gizmos would revolutionize the way customers consumed electricity, saving money, reducing our carbon footprint, and allowing power companies to more easily navigate high-demand periods—or so we hoped. It wasn’t long after the first mass installations that the failed report cards started coming in. The smart meters were having little to no effect. Here are some excerpts from an article summing up one such study done at Keele University last year:
“Keele University has recently released the findings of a study they conducted on England’s smart meter rollout. The research team found that the public’s awareness of energy efficiency strategies are not much better than when the rollout began, about a decade ago. The study also revealed that its participants, although not unconcerned with the environment, largely believed their own energy consumption habits were unlikely to make a difference in the fight against climate change.
“Professor Fan said this study contributes to the ongoing debate about the effectiveness of smart meters and in-home energy displays, adding that little appears to have changed in the perception and experience of energy feedback in the decade since the programme was launched.”’
Yet despite such miserable feedback, the proliferation of smart meters continues unmitigated. That’s because utilities understand that the potential of certain technologies often take time to materialize. The tech bust happened in the early 2000’s when investors realized all the lofty promises from the 90’s wouldn’t materialize soon. But the potential those promises were based in was very real, as we now see in 2020. I predict something similar will happen with smart meters: They will continue to be superfluous for a few more years until they aren’t, at which point we won’t be able to get by without them.