Realizing the benefits of smart meters.
Michael Henry Price is a smart-grid systems integration specialist leader at Deloitte Consulting LLP. Jim Thomson is a principal with responsibility for Deloitte Consulting’s smart-grid activities in the United States.
The voice of the customer—often passive, but always powerful—has been part of energy providers’ strategic planning and program implementation initiatives for years. Whether through new rate- plan pilot programs, focus groups, or boards of directors representation, customers have expressed their concerns rationally and emotionally about commodity-price fluctuations, rising commodity prices, relative lack of control over consumption, and demand for renewable energy coupled with less reliance upon petroleum-based fuel sources.
Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and smart metering hold the promise of tangible cost, quality, and service improvements, but to realize those benefits, the customer will need to accept a new role by not just speaking out, but engaging with the utility and taking positive action. End users will have to move beyond passive input and take an active role in defining requirements for new and improved services, influencing operational improvements, and participating actively in programs and services that lead to improvements—all of which requires a change in long-established patterns of behavior.