Britain’s smart meter rollout should switch to market-led approach, think tank recommends


London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — March 25, 2013 – Britain’s smart meter rollout should be changed to a market-led approach, addressing consumers’ concerns over cost and giving suppliers the incentive to invest before the rationing processes (when demand outstrips supply), implicit in the current approach, have to be used, according to a new paper from the Conservative think tank, Conservative Technology Forum.

Smart metering in Britain has reached a crossroads. The government is implementing a plans dictated by the previous government, but since then (2006), several factors have changed, not least the establishment of a coalition government with a skewing of many of the pre-election policy initiatives.

The paper, Power to the people, says that while supporting the rollout of smart meters and believing that a successful rollout will bring positive benefits to consumers, suppliers and the government, policy should be changed to deliver:

  1. Clear and certain business cases for consumers and suppliers
  2. Market-led rollout that targets those segments where the benefits are highest
  3. Contributes to our export-led recovery through jobs and new business.

To achieve this it sets out three policy objectives that are crucial to the success of the smart metering program – consumer engagement, investor engagement, standards, data and communications and smart grid, and security and resilience.

For consumer engagement the key elements include building confidence in the benefits to the consumer, demonstrating and communicating the benefits received by early adopters in terms that are meaningful financially and technically, ensuring that vulnerable and low income consumers benefit, providing user control, making devices easy to use, and offering coherent financial incentives (to both user and supplier).

For investor engagement key elements include reviewing the communications strategy in the light of the evolving and changing investment opportunities and priorities, encouraging early investors, and dealing with churn.

For standards, data and communications and smart grid, key elements include supporting interoperability standards, secure two-way data and communications, and smart grid assessment.

For security and resilience key elements include a full IT security risk assessment, along with the provision of mitigating approaches and baseline protection recommendations.

The paper concludes saying that it presents a market-led approach which will lead to a full rollout. It provides a method for ensuring that smart meters reach the population in a way that is most likely to bring the bulk of them with the program. It copies tried and tested technology rollouts that have brought positive changes to both consumers and enterprises over the past twenty years, amongst which are the internet, mobile telephony and email as some examples. It also answers the needs of investors for surety in investing in the technology.