Conference: Smart Metering West Coast 2006
Location: San Fransisco
Presenter: Jeffrey H. Michel
Abstract:Presented by Jeffrey H. Michel at Smart Metering West Coast 2006. Electricity invoices in the USA contain easy-to-understand, usually graphical comparisons of monthly power consumption. This Energy Star Billing procedure has increased customer awareness, reduced utility operational costs, and lowered average power demand by several percent.

By contrast, most European countries have neglected to adopt such techniques despite the pressing need to diminish CO2 emissions in fulfilling their obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. However, the EU Directive on Energy End-Use Efficiency and Energy Services of December 2005 now prescribes that final customers of electricity, gas, district heating and/or cooling “be provided with competitively priced individual meters that accurately reflect the customer’s actual energy consumption and actual time of use”. The appropriate smart metering technology analyzes continuous data on power consumption, enabling individual use profiles to be established for households and small businesses.

The introduction of real-time pricing will stimulate participation in strategies of energy conservation, while promoting the use of automatically controlled appliances for improved load distribution. The EU Directive nevertheless stipulates that the incurred costs be “reasonable in relation to the volume of consumption and savings potential”. This latitude of implementation could exclude many European households from the benefits of advanced power metering because of low power consumption levels. However, adequate investment payback can be achieved by including data collection for heating and water consumption.

Further cost benefits may be realized by adding intrusion and fire alarms, communication services, emergency health messaging, and cell phone alerts. The power meter then functions as a home gateway for managing these aggregate tasks. The costs of realization can be compensated by accrued resource savings, reduced home and health insurance premiums, and enhanced household operating efficiency.

In Germany, the efficiency gains can not only help reduce CO2 emissions and fuel import dependency. They also afford the opportunity of diminishing the extent of domestic lignite power generation, for which vast expanses of landscape are currently being excavated by surface mining. The general adoption of smart metering capabilities is therefore being propagated by the village of Heuersdorf, an eastern German community threatened by mining devastation, and by leading environmental organizations.