Examination of Witnesses

Part of Smart Meters Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 21st November 2017.

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Dr Sarah Darby:

I am not sure we can yet say that there is a prototype smart grid. The beginnings of smart energy tend to be different in every country and smart metering in this country is different from smart metering anywhere else. In fact, more attention has been paid to the consumer engagement side of smart metering in this country than anywhere else. This is the only country where a fairly intensive effort is put into customer engagement at the time of roll-out of the smart meter, when everyone is offered an in-home display, and all the installers are trained in communication skills to explain what is going on, what can be done with the display, what the smart meter is about and how customers can use it as a tool, if they wish to. This country is a bit special in that way, and we are seeing, on average, modest positive effects.

In the US, where smart metering is widespread, the emphasis has been very much on using it to try to control peak demand, and as an instrument to introduce time-of-use pricing and whack up the prices at peak times to keep peak demand down. They have special problems there, particularly in the hotter states, with air-conditioning in the summertime and very high peak loads, which is an expensive problem for them to manage. The earliest roll-out of smart meters was mostly, in my understanding, to overcome serious problems with fraud.