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UK Utilities and Government Brainstorming Smart Meter Deployment

08 Jun 2011

It was a meeting of the top energy minds when the UK’s largest utilities—British Gas, EDF, ESB, and RWE nPower—met with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to discuss the implementation of new smart meter deployment plans.

Anthony Pohl, the director of the annual Smart Metering UK & Ireland conference, says the confab was crucial for the successful roll out of 53 million smart meters being installed in 30 million homes and businesses across the country. The smart meters in the home will enable energy users and suppliers to have more control over usage and reduce waste.

Zoe McCleod, the energy expert for Consumer Focus, says smart meters can bring big benefits for the public if done correctly but the devices also pose potential big risks if done wrong. She believes the challenge was for industry to work with government and consumer groups to put the right protections in place and ensure that smart meters deliver for consumers.

Data privacy is absolutely crucial in the development of our smart society, says Richard St Clair, Managing Director of Elster Metering Systems UK. “The privacy question has to be answered to make smart metering a success and the acceptance of consumers is a main driver. Consumers need to be able to trust the authorised users of their data so new services and solutions that genuinely help people can be developed and delivered on a needs basis.”

He also says that the infrastructure created by smart metering “will enable a more dynamic relationship between supply and demand providing greater choice for consumers and the ability for energy suppliers to tailor tariffs and energy management solutions to specific customer needs. This infrastructure will further influence the way new technologies such as electric vehicles will integrate with society through home, work and public charging capability.”

St. Clair also notes there are many different aspects of data security and privacy. “Firstly, we believe that data that doesn't need to leave the home should stay in the home—there are many services and benefits to consumers from the provision of real-time information within the home. This information is straight forward to secure. Security and privacy are both paramount. Once data is to be transmitted outside the home then both security and privacy need to be best in class to provide the trust necessary to build all the potential benefits of a smart society.”