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The BIG Question: Charles Morris Chief Executive Officer at Cognyst International (Qatar) Are smart meters living up to their promise? The answer is simple really. No domestic consumer is going to turn their lives upside down for savings that amount to nothing more than dinner out at a mid-scale restaurant once a year. There simply is no real benefit to the domestic consumer. The real benefit of Smart Meters lies with the generators, transmission, network (distribution) companies and very large commercial and industrial consumers who have the ability to significantly alter usage patterns The hype has been driven by manufacturers and commentators who simply have little to no idea of what drives change in domestic consumer markets or lifestyles. Best example I have is: Way back, last century, when the New Zealand electricity industry decided that it had to shift load it created night rates that were half (yes half, not a miserable 10% difference) the regular tariff. The industry decided to use the clothes dryer as an example of savings and developed very expensive advertising campaigns showing that drying your clothes at 2am cost 50 cents rather than a dollar. Fantastic!!! A huge saving... but the campaign did not work. Why? Simple. Jim Horstman Principal Consultant at Strateture Solutions Most consumers, especially residential, just don’t care that much to spend the time to look at the information from their meter. If they haven’t already replaced their light bulbs, bought energy efficient appliances, etc. they aren’t likely to be looking at their meter readings. The industry did not understand that those who could afford clothes dryers wanted their designer jeans dry NOW! Not at 3am in the morning. The campaign designers simply did not carefully examine the market makeup. Those that have, are already being energy efficient and so don’t need to. And how many people are going to go out and spend money to put in thermostats so that the Big Brother utility can control them without a demand response or interruptible rate. The second very real and growing issue is that of privacy. This is exacerbated by the major internet players’ use and misuse of data gathered, and simply adds a genuine concern about who has access to data gathered by smart meters. In a few countries, it is clear that the data belongs to the CUSTOMER regardless of who gathers it. In a typical scenario there is an implicit agreement that as a part of the supply contract the utility will collect the data and use it for billing and its own planning purposes. What the meters will allow is the use of TOU rates which are still not in major use. They will also provide the data for better energy audits for those customers who ask for them but having the meters in place is probably not making more consumers request an audit. The industry has simply not been able to show clear benefits (because there aren’t any real and tangible benefits to the domestic consumer) nor has it done enough to clarify what it will do with data gathered. The industry has to stop fooling itself by thinking that households will turn their lives upside down for nothing more than an extra beer (or glass of wine) a week and concentrate on industrial and large commercial consumers, who have a real vested interest in achieving savings on the bottom line and have the ability to change their consumption pattern to make this happen. Smart Meters are not the silver bullet many seem to think they are. Smart Meters are not the silver bullet many seem to think they are” 60 Today’s smart meters are a bit like the first BlackBerrys at the dawn of the smartphone era. They can do one or two things well – which is really just automated meter reading. The question is: “how long will it take for utilities to start innovating at the consumer edge?” A bit like moving from the BlackBerry era to the iPhone era – giving people what they want, before they know it. Stephen Powell Marketing Director at Freestyle Technology METERING INTERNATIONAL ISSUE – 1 | 2015