'Smart metering deployment must not be bungled' warning

UK utilities must do more to ensure that smart meter deployment is managed efficiency and co-operatively, if it is to avoid looking “foolish” in the eyes of its customers, audiences at the Smart Metering 2010 were told yesterday.

According to Jim Macdonald (pictured), commercial director of the retail consumer arm at integrated electricity and gas company E.ON, the energy supplier sector has got to use the smart metering experience as an “opportunity to change the customer perceptions”, and ensure that it does not rebound negatively on utilities companies before the 2020 UK target of 50m smart meter deployments is approached.

“We have to find new and innovative products and ways of customer engagement,” said Macdonald speaking during a panel discussion at the influential smart metering conference. “It’s not just about the meter itself.”

Smart meter implementation is “one of the biggest opportunities to improve its relation with its customers that the energy industry has had for over a decade. Macdonald insisted, but it is crucial that those involved work together to ensure that the opportunity is not bungled, he warned.

“What I would hate us to do – because we don’t have the best image with out customers right now – is that we get to a situation [where] down any high street in the UK, and one premises has its smart meter implemented in 2012, the one next door gets its smart meter in 2016, and the next neighbour along gets theirs in 2018,” Macdonald said. “As an industry we will look foolish in the eyes of our customers.”

Macdonald continued: “There is a huge element of responsibility on all of us to make sure that we do co-operate in the terms of the implementation, and also that in the eyes of the customer we are seen to have our act together”.


View the full debate online: 

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