CopenhagenBy Jonathan Spencer Jones, Copenhagen, Denmark

Smart metering is a worthwhile goal to continue to pursue, delegates to Metering, Billing/CRM Europe have agreed, with 86% supporting this view and only 14% opposing it.

Moreover, more than half believed that smart metering is in an emerging adoption phase, with rapid innovation and changing technology. And 83% envisaged that there would be widespread rollout of smart metering in their region – i.e. to more than 50% of residential customers within the next ten years with as many as 11% expecting this target to be reached as soon as the next two years.

In an interactive keynote session to the event, which opened in Copenhagen, Denmark yesterday, delegates provided their views on a number of key questions associated with smart metering. Demographically almost half of the participants were from Western Europe with the majority of the remainder from other parts of Europe. 34% were from utilities, 29% were vendors, 19% were consultants/service providers, 9% government/regulators and 5% associations.

Who foots the bill?

One of the key questions under debate is “who should pay” for smart metering. 41% felt that customers should pay for its introduction, while 59% disagreed. Ashley Pocock of EDF Energy, one of the speakers at the session, is of the opinion that it will inevitably be the customer who pays, whether through tariff increases or additional services.

In terms of the perceived benefits of smart metering, the top ranked was the reduction in meter reading and process costs, while the least important was the identification and reduction of theft.

Participants also felt that energy savings could be substantial, with 35% saying a 5% consumption reduction could be achieved, 39% saying a 10% reduction could be achieved, and 14% saying the reduction could reach or exceed 20%.

Some 70% of participants also agreed that regulations to support an effective commercial proposition for smart metering were required for its widespread use.

Delivery challenges

However, almost half also felt that the wide variety and ongoing development of smart metering technologies would present the key delivery challenge, while the ongoing cost of operations, e.g. maintenance and communications, was regarded as the least important challenge.

On pricing, participants were divided, with 28% saying that the installed cost per residential end-point would be 100 euro, 22% saying 150 euro and 24% 200 euro. Participants were also divided on what information should be provided to customers and whether trend information is more important than immediate actual usage.

But an overwhelming 70% were of the opinion that customers would not want to add more than 0.1% - the cost of a beer – to their energy bills for smart metering, or would want a reduction.