I have discovered several recently published articles and studies that provide profound insight on how the “smart grid” is envisioned to affect the consumer by those developing it and how substantial social implications of smart grid implementation are not being sufficiently addressed or publicly debated.
This article will explain who envisioned the smart grid and why smart meters are being deployed. Empirical evidence will be presented on how consumer interests and rights are being ignored and why smart meter opposition by the public is fully justified and necessary. Finally, this article provides possible solutions to correct some of the injustices being imposed upon the consumer.
Highlights and Key Points of this Article
- Because of the absence of transparency or public debate, the smart grid lacks “democratic legitimacy.”
- Smart meters are being introduced by a “network of actors” that I refer to as technocrats. These technocrats believe that the decision-making process related to smart meter deployments should be left to the experts and not be opened to public debate.
- The underlying and primary reason for smart meters being deployed is to facilitate the reduction in energy consumption by consumers.
- Consumers are viewed by the technocrats as “economic actors” with “knowledge, engagement, and moral deficits.” To compensate for these deficits, schemes are devised such as “dynamic pricing” as well as the promotion of home automation products and services.
- Smart meter deployments result in a conflict between what is perceived as being necessary for the “public good” by the technocrats versus individual autonomy for the consumers and citizens.
- “The role of the citizen as a consumer is often neglected by policy makers, as well as their opinions, attitudes, drivers and barriers towards the acceptance of the new energy system.”
- “Substantial social implications [of smart meter deployments], such as privacy, security, external control of appliances within private households, health-related issues, environmental perspectives and consequences for financially vulnerable households, are not being sufficiently addressed.”
- Rather than treating the consumers as deficit burdened subjects requiring behavioral modification, consider them as citizens with legitimate rights and concerns. Technocrats should consider interaction with concerned consumers and citizens as an opportunity to create a modernized electric grid that has both a high level of public acceptance and resiliency.