Are smart meters really smart?
Use of the phrase ‘smart meters’ when referring to advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is part of a trend to add ‘smartness’ to everything – from coffee pots to medical ID cards. And since advertising equates ‘smartness’ with low cost and high value, who would want to remain ‘dumb’ when you can be ‘smart’?
Smart meters for New Zealand
Utility Meridian Energy and subsidiary Arc Innovations plan to turn Christchurch, New Zealand, into the smartest city in the world by installing revolutionary metering technology in 112,000 homes. The new smart meters will read consumption automatically and transmit the information to the company for billing. Householders will be able to use the system to see how much power they are consuming, to establish periods of high demand, and defer using appliances to afterpeak hours.
Conference: Smart Metering West Coast 2006
Location: San Fransisco
Presenter: Jennifer Hassani
Abstract:Presented by Jennifer Hassani at Smart Metering West Coast 2006. In this paper Jennifer reviews the evolutionary paths of the telecommunications and electricity networks to apply the lessons learned in telecom to the rollout of advanced communications in the energy industry.
[Scott DeBroff][August 16, 2006] State Regulatory Commissions across the country are conducting inquiries into the benefits and potential requirements of smart metering and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems. Some states have been spurred into action because of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
Section 1252 of the Electricity Title of EPACT specifically sets out six basic requirements regarding smart metering and its use as a means of implementing demand response programs. This section amends existing law, and references the use of new technologies to provide consumer incentives for demand reduction.
Location: San Fransisco
Presenter: Hugh Patrick
Abstract: Presented by Hugh Patrick at Smart Metering West Coast 2006. Utilities today that are contemplating the deployment of AMI systems have a choice between systems that utilize dumb meters as endpoints and concentrate metrology functionality in head end software or those which utilize smart meters which calculate and store values in the meter. Factors which must be considered in deciding between the two include legal requirements for verifiability of meter data and whether meter data will be used by in-home devices such as displays, smart thermostats or home automation gateways.
By Jason Wiltshire
Auckland, NZ --- (METERING.COM) --- July 2006 – The slow uptake of smart meter technology and the apparent lack of incentives for existing market participants to implement this technology in New Zealand are a matter for concern, the country’s Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) has said in its latest annual assessment of the country’s Electricity Commission’s environmental performance.
Commenting on the importance of load management as a demand side option, the PCE says that smart meter technology is becoming more cost effective for customers with smaller loads, and that it is important that the technology is widely introduced in order to allow consumers to better manage their electricity use and respond to time of use pricing signals.
Other load management options include ripple control, which has a long history in New Zealand to manage supply to water heaters, and a load management advisory group has recently been established to determine the country’s optimal load management infrastructure, the report notes.
The PCE also expresses concern about the lack of effective competition in the provision of electricity by the retail market and notes that ownership of metering technology could become a barrier to competition, citing the case of the Commerce Commission’s prosecution of Bay of Plenty Electricity for allegedly refusing to grant access to its meters to other retailers within the region.
As such the PCE considers that it would be more logical for lines companies, independent meter companies or the consumer to own electricity meters rather than retailers. “This would eliminate the possibility of meter ownership being used for anti-competitive purposes,” says the report, noting that this issue is not significant for large users as their metering costs represent a smaller proportion of their total electricity costs.
The Commerce Commission is recommended to consider the impact of meter ownership on the operation of the competitive electricity market, while other concerns on competition, including electricity prices, retailer profits and customer switching issues, must be addressed for the market to operate efficiently.
Commenting on the PCE’s report Neil Walbran, director of Walbran Consulting, says that the recommendation on smart meters “make sense” as “load management, via smart meters or other technology, has significant potential benefits in the New Zealand context for delaying transmission and generation investment by better utilizing existing assets.”
Walbran says he also agrees with the PCE’s recommendation to investigate the barriers to widespread uptake of smart metering but suggests this is best done by addressing the barriers to consumers obtaining the benefits of demand response to prices, including the lack of locational transmission prices and barriers to retail competition.
While the latest proposed transmission pricing methodology is starting to address this issue, barriers to retail competition mean that even if consumers could manage their load, via smart meters, the incumbent retailer has little motivation to offer them a tariff that reflects this benefit as they face little competitive pressure to offer such innovative products, Walbran says.
“The main barrier to retail competition in New Zealand at present is the lack of a liquid hedge market. The Electricity Commission is making some progress here but it is painfully slow.”
Presenter: Jorge Nieto
Abstract: In this presentation Jorge Nieto discusses the following topics: Priorities in the operation of Electrical Systems; Reduce Operation Costs and Adequate distribution structures.