Smart meters are electronic devices that track and record electricity use in a customer’s home or business. Due to recent technological advancements, electric utility companies have been replacing old analog meters with a new & high-tech smart meter. These smart meters automatically capture information about electricity consumption and transmit it back to the electric company.
Smart meters provide quick and accurate measurements of electricity use while eliminating the need for estimated monthly bills or home visits from meter readers. This may seem like the smart thing to do, but there are concerns about violation of user’s privacy.
Advantages of Smart Meters
Smart meters have numerous advantages, these advantages benefit not just the electric company but the consumers and the environment too. Smart meters have the following advantages to electric companies:
- Eliminate manual monthly meter readings.
- Monitor the electric system much more quickly.
- Make energy use more efficient.
- Provide real-time data which is useful for balancing electric loads while reducing power outages.
- Promote dynamic pricing, which raises or lowers the cost of electricity based on demand.
- Avoids the capital cost of building new power plants.
- Helps to optimize income with existing resources.
Advantages for Electricity Consumers:
- Smart meters provide a more detailed feedback regarding energy use.
- Helps consumers adjust habits to lower electricity bills.
- Smart meters can help reduce power outages and system-wide failures.
Advantages for the Environment:
- Prevents the need for new power plants that produce greenhouse gases that substantially creates pollution that creates health risks
- Helps curb existing greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants
Disadvantages of Smart Meters
All technology has its benefits and drawbacks. While smart meters accomplish a lot, they also present challenges to electric utilities as well as customers. However, the vast majority of these disadvantages are short term, and currently, there are no disadvantages to the environment.
Disadvantages for Electric Companies
Smart meters present the following challenges, and costs, to electric companies
- The cost in terms of personnel training and equipment development and production to transition to a new technology and new set of processes
- Managing negative public reaction and acquiring customer acceptance of the new meters
- Making a long-term financial commitment to the new metering technology and the related software involved
- Managing and storing vast quantities of the metering data collected
- Ensuring the security and privacy of metering data
Disadvantages for Electricity Consumers
- It’s hard to verify that the new meter is accurate
- There’s no way to protect the privacy of the personal data collected
- There is an additional fee for the installation of the new meter
Other disadvantages include the reality that smart meters put human meter readers out of work, which hurts the economy. To date, hundreds of individuals have lost their jobs and most won’t find new ones based on their esoteric skill-set. In addition, while it was anticipated that smart meters would save consumers money, consumers rarely check their meters because the system is so complex. Consequently, customers are unable to make energy consumption changes.