We Need To Be Honest About Smart Meters
by Jonathan McBrien
The UK’s smart meter roll-out was introduced in 2009 by then Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband. The vision was an ambitious 100% coverage making the UK a shining beacon of success and, we assume, make Ed a national hero. With consumption data we’d all make better informed energy usage (saving money) and passively contribute to climate obligations.
At the helm of the PR project is Smart Energy GB. It’s done well to balance its coverage, offering practical advice for households to lighthearted touches like Ainsley Harriott feeding bodybuilders. The project’s even got some mascots as its approachable, cuddly faces.
The thing is, the smart meter roll-out was never about accurate bills and automated readings. The UK is just one of the many EU nations obliged to undertake a smart meter roll-out. Given its well publicised rising cost, it’s understandable that so many are suspicious of the rollout’s true motivations and whether it would enable suppliers to ‘spy’ on or control household energy. We all know that such actions would be suicide for any supplier that attempted to do so.
It doesn’t take long to get a sense of that mistrust, the efficacy of the technology and its use of radio communications. I believe that the energy industry should be fully transparent about the smart meter roll-out. Tell customers how availability of actual consumption data can inform more intelligent Demand Side Response decisions. Then, the resulting opportunities for ‘behind the meter’ technology and energy efficiency will become clearer and perhaps people will be more willing to invite smart meters into their homes.
Ultimately, we need to be a single voice on how this could contribute to decarbonisation of the UK’s economy. That may have been a harder sell back in 2009, but this transparency will resonate credibly with today’s climate and energy-conscious consumer.
We know there are many great choices of supplier beyond the big names nowadays. Customer experience is becoming as important in choice as price is in some cases. Surely being competitive and clear about smart meters is yet another way to bring differentiation and innovation to this crowded market?
And finally, the sales bit… should you be interested in finding out more about how we at Gilmond can help with your smart meter ambitions. Our extensive experience of smart meter security, CIO auditing and DCC is in our managed, API-centric DCC Adapter. So get in touch and see how we can help you.