For many utilities, smart metering is a launching point for Smart Grid implementations, and is a means of increasing operational efficiency and energy savings. It can also have numerous benefits for stakeholders across the industry. Here are just a few examples.
Network operators. A broad deployment provides network operators with accurate information on actual consumption and feed-ins for particular sites, which can support cost savings. In addition, system-wide benefits can be realized through optimized distribution operations, enhanced network reliability, and faster detection and restoration of outages. Security can also be enhanced through faster fault location and restoration, and better voltage quality monitoring. Likewise, with smart metering, customers can quickly be connected or disconnected remotely.
Through more accurate crew dispatching associated costs can be reduced. Revenues can be boosted by linking actual network reliability with quality standards, penalties, and incentive schemes. Smart metering also generates real-time, accurate, and comprehensive distribution network information for improved maintenance and planning. Through customer-focused programs, energy consumption can be shifted to reduce peak demand times, network capacities, and the need for investments.
Smart metering facilitates easier detection of previously unmeasured consumption that has bypassed the meter. Furthermore, more accurate information can be provided regarding locations of losses and theft. Meters can also be fitted with anti-tampering devices for automatic alerting when manipulation is attempted.
Suppliers. Smart metering benefits suppliers by reducing the likelihood of incorrectly read or entered meter data, which impacts costs and customer satisfaction. Through data processing and invoicing automation, meter-to-bill operations can be optimized and costs reduced. Remote and instant customer disconnections can help reduce the risks of payment defaults. Through smart metering, suppliers can offer new tariffs and services that provide accurate, detailed usage statistics to customers regarding their consumption habits, which can ultimately lead to greater energy efficiencies. In addition, suppliers can offer customized contracts, such as time-of-use, for individual users. Load profiling, based on actual statistics, can help more accurately predict customer demand at specific times of day, reducing wholesale purchasing costs.
Customers. Through smart metering, customers can receive detailed insight into their own energy consumption behaviors for specific periods throughout the day. This can be shown on a computer screen or an in-home display for easy viewing. When paired with price signals, smart metering data can show customers the costs associated with their usage behaviors, allowing them to more easily see the impact of their choices, specific devices, and more on their bills. Additional details, including the environment impact of their consumption can help support greater awareness and spark changes in usage behavior.
Society. Smart metering, in conjunction with other factors, can benefit society as a whole by increasing energy savings. Through improved demand response and load control, demand can be reduced, which can help lower wholesale prices and better manage the costs associated with energy generation, transmission, and distribution. Increased energy efficiencies and reduced carbon emissions are possible, allowing smart metering to help mitigate energy’s impact on climate change and the environment.
Likewise, through the deployment of smart metering infrastructure, local economies and employment opportunities can experience positive effects. The quality of supply regulation can also be improved as it offers regulators more exact, detailed statistics on reliability and performance.