Responding to consumer concerns over smart meters

Michael Giberson

Smart meters have run into a bit of consumer resistance.  Some of us – no doubt crazed by the energy-econ-techno-lust possibilities – imagined that smart meters would be greeted by consumers with smiles and good cheer, and just maybe a tear or two of gratitude trickling down the consumers’ cheeks as they thank their electric utility for helping them out of the analog meter stone age.  At least according to various media reports, this scene has not been common (i.e. Consumer frustration grows over ‘smart’ meter bills; It’s come to this: Citizens against smart meters; PG&E customer revolt may threaten rollout of Obama’s smart grid (“Obama’s smart grid”? Huh??); etc.).

One response has been the recent formation of the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, a non-profit group aimed at understanding consumer concerns and finding ways to address the concerns.

In Texas, power distribution utilities Oncor, CenterPoint, and AEP Texas have joined with smart grid device and data management companies in a more direct response: a website at www.smartmetertexas.com intended to give consumers with the new meters easy access to basic information on their power consumption.  The thinking is, apparently, that helping consumers get a taste of the “information age” possibilities will aid consumer acceptance.

(HT NewsWatch: Energy and Texas Energy and Environment Blog)

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8 thoughts on “Responding to consumer concerns over smart meters

  1. I think people are right to be afraid of smart meters. Sure, smart meters can be used by to create a market driven world of energy abundance. But, they can also be used as instruments of social control.

    The current insane clown posse in Washington is no doubt salivating at the thought that smart meters could be used to limit consumption of electricity generated by evil fossil fuels and as a remedy for the inherent limitations of solar and wind power. Sun goes down? Wind dies down? No power for the grid? Easy. Use the smart meters to turn off consumption, everywhere but the houses of Al Gore, Tom Friedman, and the other folks on Arne Duncan’s list. http://pajamasmedia.com/richardfernandez/2010/03/24/its-for-the-children/

    I will consider smart meters to be a positive development after the last lawyer is strangled with the entrails of the last environmentalist. Until then smart meters are like guns and sharp swords in the hands of small children.

  2. Ahh, and now we see what the politics of demonization have given us. Even good ideas, because they come from your ideological opponent are to be resisted and mocked. If this is the environment that will persist we will never be able to get anything done as a people ever again. The proud people that developed interstate highways, railroads and airlines to pull our country together will withdraw to sit in our own filth as our infrastructure rusts around us and the rest of the world passes us by.

    If we continue to make it impossible for civic minded people to put forth programs that will benefit the entire country the only people who will bother to run for office are those who want to make themselves rich through corruption and get their ego stroked by the media.

  3. The interstate highway is great until it runs next to your neighborhood and cuts you off from schools and shopping. Maybe I don’t WANT to be “pulled together” by some smartass at the power company. Folks are objecting to the top-down nature of current smart metering. If the power company is in control of everything, a fancy meter is just so much window dressing.

  4. are we in red china or russia?did we have a choice if this is was what we wanted?thisis all about control which is being taken away bit by bit and we don’t even realize it ditch the meters with the house note and the triple electric bills I might as well live under the bridge.do you think that’s what the really want?

  5. There are many reasons for the utilities to upgrade the grid infrastructure and it will happen. But what is even more powerful is we know that consumers are becoming more engaged in their electricity consumption.

    We know access to better information – real time information can make a huge difference. There are many academic, utility sponsored and manufacturer sponsored research studies and the general conclusion is just better information alone can reduce consumption by 5-15%. For a family spending $100 – $250 per month on electricity that’s a big deal.

    The utilities will bring solutions to the market, but there are proven energy monitoring options on the market today. For as little as $100 families could gain access to this real time information and take control of this important issue.

    We have been in the business of real time electricity information since 2003 and it’s gratifying to see this momentum. Visit us at http://www.bluelineinnovations.com for more information.

  6. Most of the attention on the benefits of smart meters focuses on residential consumers, but commercial customers use far more energy during the hours of peak demand. One of the most significant benefits of smart meters is the ability for Utilities to communicate real time pricing to their customers. This makes it possible to implement time of use pricing on a larger scale. Commercial buildings already have the required energy management systems (EMS) in place enable reduced energy consumption when rates are at their highest. This technology allows a building engineer to control the operation of HVAC, lighting, refrigeration, and other energy-intensive equipment within the building. Because the concept of controlling equipment to achieve greater energy efficiency already exists within the commercial segment, and the technology to due so is already in place, the combination of EMS with smart meters will bring more immediate savings from this sector than from residential consumers.

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