What is Smart Meter?
The term Smart meter often refers to an electricity meter, but it can increasingly also mean a device measuring natural gas or water consumption.
Similar meters, usually referred to as interval or time-of-use meters, have existed for years, but Smart Meters usually involve a real-time or near real-time sensors, power outage notification, and power quality monitoring. These additional features are more than simple Automated Meter Reading (AMR). They are similar in many respects to Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters. Smart meters are also believed to be a less costly alternative to traditional interval or time-of-use meters and are intended to be used on a wide scale with all customer classes, including residential customers. Interval and time-of-use meters are more of a legacy technology that historically have been installed to measure commercial and industrial customers, but typically provide no AMR functionality. Smart meters may be part of a smart grid, but alone do not constitute a smart grid. There is some debate as to whether smart meters are actually needed for smart grids. The installed base of smart meters in Europe at the end of 2008 was about 39 million units according to analyst firm Berg Insight.
AMS provides higher granularity of meter interval data. Also, voltage levels, and power events can be tracked and logged across the entire customer base. From a customer standpoint, AMS will allow customers to see their own utilization which may assist them in reducing consumption. From a cost standpoint, AMS is projected to reduce the staff required to read meter data across the customer base. From a business standpoint, AMS will allow more accurate settlement and billing, potentially alleviating operational pressure in reporting to ERCOT. Finally, this level of data can be mined for smaller peaks and valleys to help in capacity planning, which may assist in securing lower cost peak generation, or in devising procedures to reduce peaks more cost effectively.
Since the inception of electricity deregulation and market-driven pricing throughout the world, utilities have been looking for a means to match consumption with generation. Traditional electrical and gas meters only measure total consumption and as such, provide no information of when the energy was consumed. Smart meters provide an economical way of measuring this information, allowing price setting agencies to introduce different prices for consumption based on the time of day and the season.
From a consumer perspective, smart metering offers a number of potential benefits to householders. These include a)An end to estimate bills, which are a major source of complaints for many customers b)A tool to help consumers better manage their energy use - smart meters with a display can provide up to date information on gas and electricity consumption in the currency of that country and in doing so help people to better manage their energy use and reduce their energy bills and carbon emissions. Some more progressive countries also recognise the potential social benefits of smart metering - for example, the potential for telehealth and social care services that can help to reduce the burden on government health services and enable consumers to live independently for longer. There is also the opportunity to target assistance at vulnerable and low income consumers more effectively and end disconnection for electricity customers.
Electricity pricing usually peaks at certain predictable times of the day and the season. In particular, if generation is constrained, prices can rise from other jurisdictions or more costly generation is brought online. It is believed that billing customers by time of day will encourage consumers to adjust their consumption habits to be more responsive to market prices. Regulatory and market design agencies hope these "price signals" will delay the construction of additional generation or at least the purchase of energy from higher priced sources, thereby controlling the steady and rapid increase of electricity prices. There are some concerns however that low income and vulnerable consumers may not benefit from intraday time of use tariffs. Smart metering offers many potential benefits but there are concerns that many of the consumer benefits will not be realised.
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Date : 08/06/2011
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