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Time to move beyond Pilots

Created 8/26/2011 by Aaron James
Updated 8/26/2011 by Aaron James
26 views • 2 comments
To move from pilot programs to deployments means overcoming inertia and, possibly, a change in language and, thus, mindset to deliver the customer value promised by advanced metering infrastructure.The pilot programs that electric utilities launched over the past few years to introduce their residential customers to digital "smart" meters have been an important first step in realizing the full potential of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). These pilots have made it possible for utilities and their energy- and information-technology partners to test different pieces of equipment, examine communications protocols and create innovative, behind-the-meter services to empower and engage their customers.Today almost 20 million smart meters are installed across the country. Forecasts suggest that about half of the nation's households will have a digital smart meter by 2015. Yet, if you look at the number of customers who are taking advantage of the new home energy management technologies that the digital meters make possible, it is very small. So too is the number of customers who are participating in dynamic pricing programs.
Posted By: Aaron James 08/26/11 on 04:47 AM (Pacific Time)
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Comments (2)
Cedric Justice on 08/26/11 on 12:07 PM (Pacific Time)
"Customers are responsive to the benefits that AMI can bring about. And, the industry's technology and equipment partners are eager to move forward. What is needed is for electric utilities to take the lead in accelerating the AMI transition from pilot program to full-scale operation. "

Are customers really responsive to these benefits?

My issue with the vision of AMI and smart meters is the assumption that retail/end-use customers care enough to be really engaged and will put in the time and effort to actively manage these systems.  When it comes down to it, the energy-efficiency geek pool is small.  Most people treat electricity as an expense.  As I have observed, the so-called price shocks for the costs of gasoline have stopped being shocks.  People are now used to $4.00 a gallon and no longer complain as vociferously.  Humans are capable of a lot of adjustment.  A raising of rates won't change mentalities in the medium- nor long-terms.  If price spikes happen, then AMI technology needs to be ready to go at that point and get people to engage while they're still revved up about it--otherwise those costs will fade into the background in a few short years.

Time-of-use pricing is not attractive to a typical residential customer.  Simply put, it is one more task to add to people's plates, and that isn't attractive.

Over half of the US populace can't even be bothered to invest the time and energy into voting, let alone shopping around for (perceived) more-expensive energy-efficient products or understanding the economic problems with incandescent lightbulbs even. End-use people don't do total resource cost analysis or lifetime cost comparisons. Expecting them to be engaged in our primary issue (since we work in this space daily) is unfounded and will lead to disappointment.

What I see are truly automated systems that need to either be managed remotely by people who care/are trained or a system whereby customers are paid to have a contracted company manage their energy savings for them.

And that will truly be beyond the 'pilot' phase.
andrew miller on 10/07/11 on 02:16 PM (Pacific Time)
...an interesting twist in an otherwise Orwellian vision of the future - the populace are controlled by technology, but the state remains almost as it was in the 1970's.

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