Utility companies face significant challenges in the coming years, not least of which is the the need to increase revenues while helping customers reduce their consumption.
One trump card they will have is the data from their smart meter rollouts. This will enable them to offer energy services around the data which would not previously have been possible.
Simple examples of this are the ability to alert people if their consumption is about to tip them into a higher tariff band or, for people with holiday homes, a notification if the lights turn on when their property is supposed to be unoccupied.
These would be quite basic offerings – but with a little bit of thought one can imagine other higher value options.
Consider that according to the US Census Bureau:
The world?s 65-and-older population is projected to triple by midcentury, from 516 million in 2009 to 1.53 billion in 2050.
Further, there are currently 30 million solo-single households in the United States (more than the number of households containing married couples with children) and about one-third of these solo singles are men and women 65 years of age and older. The percentage is even higher in Europe.
Now, if I have an elderly relative living alone, wouldn’t it be a very useful service if I could receive a timely message from their utility company if there are deviations from the normal patterns of energy usage (if the lights aren’t turned off at 11pm or the coffee machine/kettle isn’t powered up at 8am)?
This kind of service should be quite straightforward for electricity utilities to provide once they start receiving the detailed energy usage data which smart meters will deliver. This will enable utilities to transition to becoming suppliers of energy services and open up entirely new revenue streams for them.
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Tom the problem I see is electric utilities are not willing to take on the risk of owning energy use information about an elderly indvidual that lies beyond the meter itself. This is a wonderful idea, do you know of any utilities willing to take on the risk ?
Tom Raftery says
Thanks for dropping by and commenting – great point!
I haven’t spoken to any utilities about this idea but I imagine with a service like this they wouldn’t claim any responsibility for the individual, but rather sell it as a ‘notifications for deviations’ type service where this would be one way it ‘could be used’ if they were nervous about it.
Christian Arnold says
Hey Tom, Steve,
good point. Forwarding you my experience of the german utility market it´s been quite difficult for german utilities seeing any potential in this direction even though it’s been law since Jan. 2010 (installing smart meter). Tom you actually go a step further then smart meter, you are talking about Smart Home, Smart Living, etc.. And I really like your perspective on that. I think there is a huge potential addressing this market. But….there is one big habit utilities in german have to face, over time being a Monopolist and focusing on infrastructure they lost the costumer perspective. Becoming a service provider means tremendous changes (in business modell and organizational structure) approaching this market. They currently don´t even see the value in owning all the data base! There is still a long way to go. I’am not quite sure (for germany) if this market will be dominated by utilities anymore in future. There are a lot of cool Innovators out their who will compete in this market bringing further pressure on the traditional Business Modells for utilities…And there is a lot more to say about it 😉