February 27th was a day marked to provide initiative to raise awareness on electrical inefficiency by turning off unused appliances in the home. At the same time, organizers of ‘E-Day’ and environmental groups call for smart meters to be introduced that can show the actual cost of energy consumed in the home.
Energy consumers need to be able to observe their energy consumption information in terms they can both understand and use to make better-informed decisions regarding energy consumption. Consumers need smart meters in the home that can display this information. These devices display live rates of energy consumption in monetary units that are easy to understand.
The latest smart meter technology gives consumers the ability to monitor their energy usage through a handheld reader, on a television screen, or on the web. Whichever way a consumer decides to monitor their energy consumption, the information provided details precisely how much money it is costing to leave lights on all day or the computer left on all night.
The Energy Retail Association (ERA), which represents interests of the British power industry, is strongly behind the smart metering concept. Britons have also strongly expressed their desire to reduce carbon emissions and reduce energy consumption when 73 percent of adults responded affirmatively to a YouGov survey.
Organizer of E-Day Mark Prescott praises ERA efforts to raise awareness of consumers’ energy consumption. Prescott said, “I hope that it will not be long before everyone can make much more informed decisions in relation to their energy use.”
E-Day, short for energy saving day, is an effort to measure the amount of energy Britons can save if they put forth the effort. Mark Prescott has been a vocal promoter of low-consumption light bulbs and comes from a scientific background. In an interview with BBC News, he said “I’m delighted by the way in which so many organizations from all sectors of society have been prepared to see what they can do to help tackle climate change. They have offered to set aside their day-to-day differences in order to highlight that they accept the available science, agree that saving energy is a good idea, and want to simplify and widen access to some of the other potential solutions to climate change.”
If the ERA proposal wins out, the government will establish a legislative framework to make smart meters available throughout the country. Duncan Sedgwick, CEO of ERA, said “It is only with a clear mandate that we can deliver this huge project in the most cost effective and efficient way.”
These talks of widespread smart meter distribution to the public come on the heels of the recently announced £41.6 million fine levied on National Grid for business practices contrary to market competitiveness. National Grid, which owns about 80% of the traditional utility meters in Britain, was found to be penalizing energy subcontractors when old meters were replaced with updated smart meters. The fine was ordered by consumer watchdog Ofgem after scrutinizing National Grid’s business practices in the natural gas industry.
Sir John Mogg, chairman of Ofgem, said “The abuse has prevented suppliers from contracting with other companies for cheaper metering deals and could discourage suppliers from installing smart meters.”
Ofgem investigated National Grid for a period of 32 months before announcing the fine this week. It was the largest fine Ofgem has ever levied. According to Ofgem, National Grid has choked innovation in British smart meter technology by enforcing ironclad contracts on energy suppliers that severely restricted just how National Grid meters could be replaced. These contracts, signed for periods lasting 20 years, have prevented energy consumers from installing smart meter technology available from National Grid’s competitors in their homes.