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A smarter plan? A policy comparison between Great Britain and Ireland's deployment strategies for rolling out new metering technologies

Jennings, Mark G.
Energy Policy 2013 v.57 pp. 462-468
cost benefit analysis, electricity, issues and policy, markets, tariffs, Great Britain, Ireland, Sweden
The Irish and British governments have recently mandated the replacement of domestic gas and electricity meters with smart meters. Their deployment strategies differ based on the extent to which deregulation of the gas and electricity market has been successful. A broad debate has been held on the various assumptions justifying the cost-benefit analyses and the permutations of these assumptions. What has been paid less attention is to what end is a smart meter being employed towards. A corollary research question is whether the deployment plan is targeting the correct sector.If the purpose is to introduce automated meter reading across the housing sector then a better strategy would be to legislate for accurate monthly bills, as in Sweden. Allowing suppliers to have greater flexibility will likely reward rather than stifle the design of competition. If the purpose is to manage demand then it may be that it's working with complex tariffs and not the meter per se that counts. The high consuming end-use categories and profile classes would be better placed for that exercise. Innovation theory also supports the targeting of new innovations to larger consumers, allowing metering innovations to proceed along historical trajectories.