Britain’s Midlands best for smart meters, study finds


Aylesbury, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — November 18, 2011 – Based on the potential for smart meters to benefit consumers by reducing electricity consumption and household bills, the British Midlands city of Nottingham emerges as the country’s No 1 “Smart Meter City,”

The study, by geographic information systems (GIS) provider Esri U.K. in partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research, found a concentration of potential Smart Meter Cities in the center of the country, from which two key zones can be identified as smart meter hotspots – the Midlands Hub and the Trans-Pennine Corridor.

The Midlands Hub comprises Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Leicester, Coventry and Stoke-on-Trent. The Trans-Pennine Corridor spans from Liverpool to Hull and includes Manchester, Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield.

Conversely, London, at a city level ranking number 20, isn’t expected to benefit from smart meters as much as the other cities, as energy consumption and bills appear to be more manageable relative to disposable incomes.

The study was aimed to help the public understand the benefit of smart meters in reducing household electricity bills, and to show where utility companies should invest time and resources in the smart meter rollout.

The Smart Meter City ranking is based on the relative importance of energy consumption and price sensitivity in the rollout of smart metering.

“Smart meter technology is one of the steps along with wider energy efficiency measures which will help consumers make better electricity consumption decisions, so they can reduce their bills,” said Peter Mingins, sector lead for Utilities and Telecoms at Esri UK. “However, smart meters won’t appear overnight and our study has identified the cities and local authorities that have the biggest potential benefit from smart meters.”   

Among the other findings of the study were that for 90 percent of the Top 20 cities, price sensitivity rather than energy intensity is the determining driver for saving money through smart metering. This is because the impact of rising electricity prices is higher on households, due to monthly electricity bills being bigger relative to disposable incomes in the majority of those cities. Therefore, smart meters will play a major role in reducing consumption and bills.

Further, cities where there is a high proportion of lower income inhabitants stand to reap the most benefits as Smart Meter Cities, as these consumers are more likely to be receptive to new flexible tariffs offered by energy suppliers that will be enabled by smart meters.

In the case of London, due to its large socio-demographic diversity, the overall ranking only reveals part of the picture. Investigated on a more granular level, unlike the rest of Britain where cities with a higher proportion of lower income households would get the most potential benefit, the findings suggest that London authorities with the higher income households would have the biggest potential benefit from smart meters.

On the basis of the results the two companies suggest that utility companies and the government should adopt a city-by-city approach, rather than by region, in the rollout of smart meters to Britain’s households.