Whatever Happened with ENEL, the World’s Largest Smart Meter Deployment?

October 2, 2009 at 10:25 pm

In the first half of this decade, ENEL deployed 30 million smart meters to all of its customers in Italy, yet we hear very little about the results.  The reason is that ENEL is still working on the software to get more benefits to consumers.

ENEL’s hardware does all the things we ask of smart meters: collect interval data, allow remote connect/disconnect, even have the ability to communicate with smart appliances in a home area network. So far, however, the main benefit has been in utility operations.   ENEL uses its system to read meters remotely, once a month, and to adjust customer power level subscriptions (in Italy, consumers pay rates that depend on the size of their circuit breaker; ENEL uses its system to adjust remotely the permitted power usage, thus saving on expensive manual field visits).  ENEL’s business case already succeeds.

But consumers do not have smart, dynamic pricing options, do not have access to detailed usage data online or via in-home displays, and do not have demand response choices.  The missing ingredient: software, such as eMeter’s EnergyIP and Energy Engage solutions, that enables these options.  Howard Scott of Cognyst Consulting summed up the issue in his blog post on Energy Central:

The key challenge is the word “smart.” No collection of meters or sensors or communication systems makes a system smart. The smarts come from software systems that collect and process the metering data in conjunction with other utility information. Some of the smarts are expected to come from systems that do not yet exist, but a greater challenge is the need to interface with most other software systems currently being operated by the utility. For almost all electric utilities, these systems are not commonly managed and networked.

With its huge investment in smart hardware, it’s time for ENEL to move forward on smart software!

Entry filed under: Chris King, consumer benefits, European Smart Grid regulation, Smart Grid, smart grid benefits, Time of Use (TOU) prices. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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