Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Post # 41 - British Study Suggests That Smart Meters Are No Silver Bullet

Following up on my prior post on the recent smart meter study by the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, a new British study likewise suggests that smart meters may not necessarily deliver hoped-for energy consumption reduction.

The study, "Smart Metering: What Potential for Household Engagement," was prepared by Dr. Sarah Darby of the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute. Dr. Darby examined motives and outcomes to date of smart metering programs in California, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands, among others. She finds that there in fact is little hard evidence about smart meters can actually achieve.Her research shows that smart meters are being rolled out for different reasons in difference regions. In Italy and Sweden, for example, the focus has been on reducing fraud and providing accurate billing. In the Netherlands, Ireland and the UK, and to a lesser extent California, the intention is for smart metering to help users improve their energy efficiency and reduce demand. But in some of these regions, notably the Netherlands and California, efforts have been plagued by customer resistance to the gathering, monitoring and storing of personal data.

Dr. Darby believes that if the roll-out is not handled right, demand reduction will not necessarily flow from an improvement in information. In her judgment, what appears to count more than the smart meter itself is the message energy companies provide about energy use over time and trustworthy, relevant comparisons.

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