“Until recently, the development of the smart grid in Europe was largely centered around the integration of the significant amount of large-scale and micro renewable generation that Europe is planning to install. Currently, 10% of Europe’s power is generated from renewable sources, compared to 2.5% in the U.S., and this share is set to reach 20% by 2020.
Utilities throughout Europe are now starting to roll out smart metering as part of a European mandate to have smart meters installed in 80% of European households by 2020. On the basis of ambitious plans announced by utilities and regulators in France, Spain, the U.K. and a gradual rollout in other European member states, GTM Research forecasts an additional 100 million smart meters will be installed between now and the end of 2016. However, so far, most utilities have used advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) more with the objective of reducing operational costs and non-technical losses rather than for empowering consumers through improved access to information about their power consumption.”
“Smart metering rollouts are not only about technology; they are also very much about the process of rollout and the level of engagement achieved with consumers. Denmark’s SEAS-NVE, for example, paid careful attention to this aspect, to the point of training installers in how to talk to customers in their homes. As a result, the utility’s complaint rates dropped significantly and customers now save an average of 16% on their power bills.
Rather than focusing solely on technology, the key to persistent and effective consumer engagement is the provision of clear, timely and detailed information and actionable advice, placed in the context of larger societal objectives. Lowering transaction costs for consumers and strengthening social interaction, norms and values around energy use are key levers for increasing consumer engagement that are largely underutilized by utilities and regulators. “