Smart meter installation continues to meet resistance in the US, particularly in California where the Marin County Board of Supervisors has voted to ban their installation for a year. Concerns mainly focus on health and privacy, as well as the cost. But the ban is little more than a gesture, since the California Public Utility Commission has the final say, but it does seem to reflect a lack of communication between utilities and consumers.
By contrast, there seems (at the moment) to be more acceptance for the limited installations that have taken place in Europe.
For example, According to a survey by the Emden public utilities (on the north coast of Germany) electricity customers are very interested in smart meters: 88% of the 195 respondents favoured their use. The Emden energy provider asked customers what they thought of the meters, what they already know about them and whether they had concerns about data security, which seems to be the primary concern in Europe.
It’s stems from a Deutsche Telekom installation of 100 households in a new housing development with the infrastructure for intelligent gas and electricity meters. The company provides the data link and installed the communications boxes in the households. Customers will be able to check their current usage on a secure Internet portal.
In addressing the security issue, Gabriele Riedmann de Trinidad, Manager of the Energy Group Business Area at Deutsche Telekom, pointed out that; “We do not use the customer’s DSL connections for the data transfer but are building our own, independent infrastructure and operating it.”
So things are currently looking better in Europe (at least in one small area), although it’s early days yet. In Emden the high approval rating has been seen by the utility company as a sign that they should further promote the installation of the new digital meters.