In this week’s readers’ Q&A session, Cameron O’Reilly (far left) and Steve Cunningham answer your questions. They are CEO and UK and Ireland chief, respectively, of Landis+Gyr, the world’s biggest maker of smart meters by market share.
In the first of two posts, they discuss what can be done with the data from smart meters, and how concerned the public should be about the use of this data.
In the second post, published later on Friday, they talk about how manufacturers and grid operators can work together on rolling out meters and how big the global market for the devices could be.
Now, over to Cameron and Steve:
Does the industry acknowledge that households must have consent on installation of these smart meters? And isn’t it true that unless the smart meter is integrated with “smart appliances“, then the smart meter’s ability to save consumers’ money is severely limited?
Tyson Slocum, director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program
Without a real focus on helping consumers to understand the critical role that the smart grid as a whole will play in ensuring that their energy supply remains affordable and becomes more sustainable, it’s easy for smart metering to become just one more technology exercise.
Sticking with the UK as a case study, the model is heavily focused on getting that engagement process right and on overcoming the difficulties that have beset some earlier network-led deployments overseas.
Creating a truly sustainable, reliable and clean smart energy system is a cultural as well as a technical journey. Smart meters represent a first step that is fundamental: they give consumers the means to measure and understand the energy they use for the first time ever.
So, even if the immediate benefit seen by home owners is the 2-3 per cent saving that the UK government’s model assumes, it is still a profoundly valuable exercise. Smart metering paves the way for the integration of smart appliances, micro-generation, large scale renewable energy sources, combined heat and power and electric vehicles – all steps that are implicit in creating a sustainable energy plan for the future.
But we seriously doubt that those conservative savings will be the best that the UK achieves. Landis+Gyr’s experience is that deployments which have focused on encouraging energy budgeting have delivered usage reductions of 10-15 per cent, even when they have had far less sophisticated capabilities than those planned here. Our energy retailers are some of the most innovative in the world – it would be a surprise if, in partnership with their customers, they couldn’t at least match those figures.
How important is data to the success of the smart meter rollout, both for industry and for consumers?
Maurice Cousins, Westbourne Communications
Knowledge is power! Some readers will remember when telephone bills looked like energy bills do today – no detail and no understanding of what drives spend or what I or my supplier could do to reduce that spend. But for anyone under 40 that probably sounds ridiculous: how can you manage how much you spend on phone calls if you have no idea how your actions impacted that spend?
The data that we as consumers gain from smart metering and the way we use that information to change our behaviour, together with the responses we get from our energy suppliers, will be critical. Utilities, consumers and policymakers are increasingly recognising the value of an integrated solution that facilitates customers’ connection to the grid. Our relationship with the businesses that generate, transport and sell us energy can and will change forever with smart meters.
The data that we as consumers gain from smart metering and the way we use that information to change our behaviour, together with the responses we get from our energy suppliers, will be critical
What can manufacturers do to assuage public concerns on the security of any data obtained by smart metering?
It is essential to engage with consumers so that they can understand what any export data will look like, what it could be used for and what the benefit to the consumer will be. Our systems are designed with a security architecture to meet the following objectives: keeping information private, ensure integrity and authenticity of information and avoid disruption or malicious use of the network.
The UK’s system, for example, is being designed to be amongst the most secure – and will certainly be as robust as most of the online or loyalty card transaction systems we are so accustomed to today.
The UK’s system, for example, is being designed to be amongst the most secure
Smart meters are designed to improve the efficiency and security of the energy distribution infrastructure by providing information and monitoring capabilities that enable rapid response to acts of nature and/or man-made disruptions that can and do threaten the reliability of power delivery.