Ed’s note: The next 172 years of metering


When going over our readership statistics for the most read stories over the last seven days, I was surprised to see that three of the top four were all related to meter rollouts. As the industry, and our content, has evolved, it seems that the spotlight has shifted from meters and metering and moved to a myriad of devices and offerings.

This is, of course, natural in the evolution of any industry, especially one as diverse as the utility power, water and gas sectors. What it did make me reflect on was the longevity of the central role the meter has played in the utility business. I got to wondering how this role will change – or remain – as the industry continues to evolve.

Since the first meter was developed, meters have served as a way for utility companies to measure and subsequently, bill, for usage of electricity, water or gas. In the History of Metering Series, we shared that the first meter was Samual Gardiner’s (USA) lamphour meter, patented in 1872. Thus for 172 years, we have appreciated the value of measuring the resources delivered to consumers.

As global rollouts of smart metering continue in countries as diverse as Japan, Germany and even South Africa (albeit in a stop-start manner), and in some countries, second-generation rollouts are in progress, I wondered: With the rapid increase of distributed generation and the promise of blockchain to remove third-party facilitation from energy sharing – what is the meter of the next 172 years, or even 50 years, likely to look like? Will it still be located in people’s homes? Will it become a central, but integrated part of a home management system? Could sensors or smart circuit breakers fulfil a similar role?

Or will they remain a key element in the utility/home interface, delivering more services and options – perhaps eventually becoming the fully integrated home management platform I mentioned previously?

I’d love to hear what you think!

Until next time

PS: Due to the uncertainty around BREXIT, we have decided to postpone our own Brexit coverage and will be postponing our webinar, scheduled for 27 March until further notice.

Our next webinar will take place on 24 April and will examine the business models for the utility of the future.

Join us as we consult with leading experts and consider the utility business model of the next decade.

These changes are unavoidable, but leading the way in terms of new services such as consumer energy monitoring, residential and commercial energy storage, smart street lighting, electric vehicle charging or telecoms and related services could be game changers for utilities across the globe.