Smart meters not an energy panacea, says report

Smart meters are not a cure-all for the utilities industry’s woes and there is a strong risk they will not deliver on some of their promises, according to a new […]

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By Kelvin Ross

Smart meters are not a cure-all for the utilities industry’s woes and there is a strong risk they will not deliver on some of their promises, according to a new report.

Analysis firm Ovum, part of Datamonitor, states that smart meter and smart grid investments help address some issues utilities companies face, there is a chance that smart meters could increase some costs.

The report’s author Stuart Ravens said: “The utilities industry is facing some tough challenges and pressure is coming from all sides: concern over CO2 emissions is high, billions need to be invested in infrastructure and resources are becoming scarce. In addition, the rising cost of fuel forces utilities to drive down operating costs, their workforce is aging rapidly and they are experiencing an increase in payment defaults due to the economic downturn.

“Smart grid and meter investments will go a long way to address these problems, but to extract the full value of smart energy, utilities will require further new technologies such as analytics, billing and customer relationship management systems.

“Furthermore, customers may struggle to understand the benefit from smart meters and may be confused by the additional complexity smart meters bring. There is a very strong risk that this increase in complexity will cause an increase in customer service costs.”

Mr Ravens added: “While these benefits are significant, they should not be overestimated and seen as the answer to all the problems the industry is facing. While they could make an impact, the reality is that there is also a possibility they will not deliver what utilities are expecting.”

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