SMART METER - Useful OR Latest Fad???

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With all the warm talk going on about "Smart City", "Smart Billing System” and so on, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share some information about smart meters in this blog. This discussion is equally valid for other smart devices as well.

The first question that pops in our mind when we hear the phrase "Smart Meter" is that "HOW A METER CAN BE SMART???".

A smart meter is usually an electrical meter that records consumption across various time periods and communicates that information back to the utility for monitoring and billing purposes. Smart meters enable 2-way communication between the meter and the central system where the meter can be remotely operated (reads, disconnects/reconnects, etc.) and can gather the data for remote reporting.

The benefits of Smart (Advanced) Metering deployments have been quantified in many different ways by established business cases from major Utility companies. But, has the industry been able to reach a state where we can measure the true benefit realization from Smart Metering deployments? It is interesting to note that adoption of Smart Metering by the utility companies is primarily intended to change the way consumers perception about their Utility company as a mere provider of electricity to someone who provides innovative products and services. .

By deploying the smart meter at the customer premises, we can help them understand the difference in the cost of using electricity at peak versus non-peak hours. With this information in hand, customers can lower their usage during peak hours and in turn reduce their electricity bill. This has helped the utility company in conducting their business in a much more cost effective and environment friendly manner.

But is this really helpful to the end consumer? The question which I want to ask directly to the consumers is "Are they really changing their consumption behavioral pattern based on the new services being provided by different utility companies such as online usage analysis, alerts to energy savings programs such as Demand Response, etc.?"

- By Ashish Gupta