In the West Indies, the public electric utility for Grand Cayman confirmed this week it is halfway through a rollout of more than 27,000 smart meters in a bid to introduce time of use pricing.
The Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) in 2011 started deploying 27,560 throughout the island, the largest of the three Cayman territories, as part of a US$5 million program, reported local newspaper Cayman Compass.
The utility is installing meters supplied by Sensus and General Electric Digital Energy to its residential and businesses customers.
Both suppliers have trained local crews in installation, troubleshooting and “meter configuration,” the utility says.
Smart meter failures
A spokesman for CUC confirmed that the utility had experienced meter failures during the rollout “not unlike many other utilities”.
“CUC has experienced failures of a small number of meters.
“In most cases, investigations indicated that the meters were damaged due to heat building up in loose connections on the customer’s meter base or water intrusion into the meter base causing the electronics in the meter to short circuit.
The spokesperson added: “Sensus has upgraded its meters to resolve these issues.”
The utility has installed 12,500 meters throughout Grand Cayman’s five districts, the cost of which will not be charged back to the customer, the report states.
CUC also reports that no customer have opted-out. “CUC hasn’t had any such requests; on the contrary, customers are becoming aware of the benefits to them, and CUC has received requests for exchanges to be made sooner,” the spokesperson said.
Smart meter data security
On the subject of connectivity and data security, CUC concedes that it’s isolated network using wireless transfers instead of internet protocols could be targeted by hackers to manipulate consumption data.
The spokesperson said: “CUC recognizes this risk and has mitigating systems in place.”
Grand Cayman smart grid?
James Whittaker, chairman of the Cayman Renewable Energy Association and founder of the Greentech Group, voiced the need for smart meters to be used “to their maximum potential and for the right reasons”.
“Are we going to build a smarter grid and adopt cleaner and more stable sources of clean energy for the long-term benefit of the country and our consumers? Are we going to use these technologies to reduce their [CUC] costs and then pass those savings on to the consumers?
Mr Whittaker said: “Whether or not this is a good thing comes down to how effectively it’s used as a tool to benefit consumers and the country as a whole, versus improving the internal efficiencies and/or profits of the power company.”