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Smart Meters: Lessons Learned from Rollouts in Texas, the UK and France

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This paper highlights how three jurisdictions (Texas, the United Kingdom and France) have rolled out smart meters over the last decade. Conclusions are drawn based on the success of these distinctive rollouts rather than quantitative benefits of the programs.

 

Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 20, 2020

It looks like the three examples chosen were in less regulated energy markets-- was that intentional, and how might the takeaways changed in more regulated areas? 

Charles Cameron's picture
Charles Cameron on Oct 20, 2020

You are correct. The Texas, UK and French retail markets are deregulated, which makes the task more difficult. However, even in these energy markets there is a government regulator that oversees that the rules are respected and that customers are treated fairly. These regulators have substantial power that can be used when needed.

In a fully regulated market, the task is easier as there are no competeting companies to align, but it remains critical that customers understand why this is being done and that their data is safe and secure. 

Daniel Duggan's picture
Daniel Duggan on Oct 22, 2020

Some years back my family lived in a house with dual electricity metering; night rate was less, and day rate more than the standard rate.  The washing machine, dish washer, tumble dryer and even the electric shower were operated only off-peak, but despite our diligent efforts to move as much consumption as possible to the off-peak hours, we did not save even one cent as the additional cost of higher peak rate consumption always cancelled-out the savings made on the off-peak rate.  So when I was contacted recently and offered a smart meter, my answer was “no thank you”.  

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 22, 2020

Do you think there's a structure or program that would ever get you to try it again? As one example, I've heard of utilities who recognize the skepticism of some customers offer to implement optional TOU rates for customers and simultaneously track what the costs would have been if the customer hadn't changed and if, after a year, the customer ended up losing money they would be cut a check for the difference. 

Daniel Duggan's picture
Daniel Duggan on Oct 27, 2020

I've decided to wait a few years and learn from other customer's experiences before considering making a change to a smart meter, once the change is made, it’s a one-way-street with no return to an analogue meter allowed.

Smart meter negatives for the consumer could include a higher overall bill due to increased price at times when it is very difficult to avoid using power, and meters recognising when an EV is connected then charging a significantly higher tariff which includes taxes to offset lost petrol/diesel tax (over 60% of fuel price in European countries).  Our day/night meter experience demonstrates that low kWh rates at off-peak times offer little compensation, as there is a finite amount of consumption which can be shifted.  Another aspect is the reliability and long service life the traditional analogue meter will not be matched by digital meters which like all digital devices will be obsolete shortly after installation, will suffer software issues, and will be at end of life and requiring replacement within 15-years.

Positives which outweigh these negatives may emerge, whether the customer benefits will be dependent on national and state energy regulators, only time will tell.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 27, 2020

Thanks for your thorough follow up, Daniel.

meters recognising when an EV is connected then charging a significantly higher tariff which includes taxes to offset lost petrol/diesel tax (over 60% of fuel price in European countries).

This was one I hadn't heard before-- is this strategy to charge more for EV charging than other power uses already in place anyway, or is that more speculative because of how straightforward it would be to do? 

Daniel Duggan's picture
Daniel Duggan on Nov 20, 2020

Speculative, but highly probable.  

Paul Korzeniowski's picture
Paul Korzeniowski on Oct 27, 2020

Good point. The meter is one element in a business process. If the system is not easy to use and does no offer the consumer an easy to understand benefit, they will spurn it, no matter how elegant the technical solution is. 

Charles Cameron's picture

Thank Charles for the Post!

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