What’s a Well-Designed Smart Meter Pilot?

July 10, 2009 at 4:39 pm

While we all know a large body of literature already exists, utilities have spent a lot of money on AMI pilots with good reason. One reason, of course, is to validate that consumers respond to dynamic electricity prices by reducing peak demand and sometimes total consumption. Another reason, equally valid, is to obtain the buy-in from stakeholders into the deployment of AMI. Utility boards, regulators, and consumer advocates are all better able to pass judgment on an AMI after seeing a program in action locally and participating in or at least closely observing its design and operation. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t believe pilots are always needed – but pilots help a lot in building the stakeholder consensus needed to move forward with rollouts.

In this context, a key factor in experimental design is testing pricing plans and participation rules that reflect what might actually be implemented in a rollout. If regulators won’t adopt mandatory dynamic pricing, then there’s not much value in testing it. In the end, both good scientific and good practical design are essential. As the Queen of Hearts might say, “Good means a pilot design that leads to credible results that support a rollout.”

– Chris King

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Entry filed under: Chris King, consumer benefits, Energy regulation, Smart Grid, smart grid benefits.

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