Briefly put: Significant changes are needed in order to engage the market and enable smart meters to deliver their full potential. Consumers must be motivated and new business models implemented so that we can protect the environment against increased usage of a precious commodity.
Smart meters monitor energy consumption at regular intervals and transmit that information to the utility companies. This allows utilities to introduce more flexible payment methods and also eliminates the need for periodic trips to each physical location to read a meter. The first key consumer benefit is the provision of accurate, up-to date billing information, which in turn allows utilities to introduce more flexible payment methods. The second benefit should come from the addition of in-home displays (IHDs) that allow consumers to monitor and better control their usage of electricity.
However, these displays represented a significant cost that consumers are reluctant to pay; therefore mass adoption requires a subsidy from the utility or the government. So far this hasn’t happened and the energy-saving features are not realized – even today the public has a limited understanding of the benefits of smart meters.