Thursday, December 9, 2010

Post # 53 - New Perspective Down Under

I have previously discussed the on-again/off-again smart meter roll outs in Australia, where there has been some strong consumer push-back, particularly in the state of Victoria (see here and here). A new report now indicates that the Australian utility industry is concerned that the opposition to smart meters is standing in the way of smart grid development down under -- and now recognizes that consumer empowerment will be a key factor.

This is borne out by the 2010 Australian Smart Grid Study recently released by the Asia-Pacific division of Logica, the UK-based international IT and management consultancy firm. Logica surveyed thirteen of Australia's major electricity generation, transmission and distribution companies, each of whom provided one or more interviewees. The study provides a view
of industry strategies and the status of individual programs, and is well worth a read by anyone interested in Australian smart grid development.

But I want to focus here on a key report finding: according to the survey, the "Smart Grid will not happen without consumer involvement." The report goes on:
There has been an increased awareness [among the surveyed companies] of the importance of the customer in the development of the Smart Grid. This represents a significant change from last year, when Smart Grid pilots and thinking tended to be more technologically oriented and focused on the grid.
Logica concludes that much of this new attitude is directly attributable to the consumer revolt in Victoria and the negative press it created nationwide. As a result, according to the survey, companies are now trying to involve customers in the process, and distributors in particular "are closely aligning consumers with their Smart Grid planning." Logica concludes that "a significant portion of the Smart Grid benefits will ultimately be driven by consumers."

Of course, the smart grid jury remains out -- in Australia and everywhere else. But the Logica report is one more example that smart grid proponents, and industry groups in particular, are waking up to the key role consumers will play in any successful smart grid implementation.

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