Smart meter

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Example of a smart meter based on Open smart grid protocol (OSGP) in use in Europe that has the ability to reduce load, disconnect-reconnect remotely, and interface to gas and water meters.
Newer retrofitted U.S. domestic digital electricity meter Elster REX[1] with 900MHz[2]mesh network topology for automatic meter reading and "EnergyAxis" time-of-use metering.[3][4][5]
Each local mesh networked smart meter has a hub such as this Elster A3 Type A30, which interfaces 900MHz smart meters to the metering automation server via a landline.[6]
A very old and rusted box housing a smart meter as found near a Circle K supermarket along the main road in South Bali near Gianyar.

A smart meter is an electronic device that records consumption of electric energy and communicates the information to the electricity supplier for monitoring and billing. Smart meters typically record energy hourly or more frequently, and report at least daily.[7] Smart meters enable two-way communication between the meter and the central system. Such an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) differs from automatic meter reading (AMR) in that it enables two-way communication between the meter and the supplier. Communications from the meter to the network may be wireless, or via fixed wired connections such as power line carrier (PLC). Wireless communication options in common use include cellular communications (which can be expensive), Wi-Fi (readily available), wireless ad hoc networks over Wi-Fi, wireless mesh networks, low power long range wireless (LORA), ZigBee (low power, low data rate wireless), and Wi-SUN (Smart Utility Networks).


The term Smart Meter often refers to an electricity meter, but it also may mean a device measuring natural gas or water consumption.

Similar meters, usually referred to as interval or time-of-use meters, have existed for years, but "Smart Meters" usually involve real-time or near real-time sensors, power outage notification, and power quality monitoring. These additional features are more than simple automated meter reading (AMR). They are similar in many respects to Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters. Interval and time-of-use meters historically have been installed to measure commercial and industrial customers, but may not have automatic reading.

Research[which?] by the UK consumer group, showed that as many as one in three confuse smart meters with energy monitors, also known as in-home display monitors.[8] The roll-out of smart meters is claimed to be one strategy for saving energy. While energy suppliers in the UK could save around £300 million a year from their introduction, benefits to users of electricity depends on their using the information to change their pattern of energy use. For example, smart meters may facilitate taking advantage of lower off-peak time tariffs, and selling electricity back to the grid with net metering.[citation needed]

The installed base of smart meters in Europe at the end of 2008 was about 39 million units, according to analyst firm Berg Insight.[9] Globally, Pike Research found that smart meter shipments were 17.4 million units for the first quarter of 2011.[10] Visiongain determined that the value of the global smart meter market would reach US$7 billion in 2012.[11]

Smart meters may be part of a smart grid, but do not themselves constitute a smart grid.[12]

Brief history

In 1972, Theodore Paraskevakos, while working with Boeing in Huntsville, Alabama, developed a sensor monitoring system that used digital transmission for security, fire, and medical alarm systems as well as meter reading capabilities. This technology was a spin-off from the automatic telephone line identification system, now known as Caller ID.

In 1974, Paraskevakos was awarded a U.S. patent for this technology.[13] In 1977, he launched Metretek, Inc.[6], which developed and produced the first fully automated, commercially available remote meter reading and load management system. Since this system was developed pre-Internet, Metretek utilized the IBM series 1 mini-computer. For this approach, Paraskevakos and Metretek were awarded multiple patents.[14]


Since the inception of electricity deregulation and market-driven pricing throughout the world, utilities have been looking for a means to match consumption with generation. Non-smart electrical and gas meters only measure total consumption, providing no information of when the energy was consumed.[15] Smart meters provide a way of measuring this site-specific information, allowing utility companies to charge different prices for consumption according to the time of day and the season.[16]

Utility companies say that smart metering offers potential benefits to householders. These include, a) an end to estimated bills, which are a major source of complaints for many customers b) a tool to help consumers better manage their energy purchases—stating that smart meters with a display outside their homes could provide up-to-date information on gas and electricity consumption and in doing so help people to manage their energy use and reduce their energy bills. Electricity pricing usually peaks at certain predictable times of the day and the season. In particular, if generation is constrained, prices can rise if power from other jurisdictions or more costly generation is brought online. Proponents assert that billing customers at a higher rate for peak times encourages consumers to adjust their consumption habits to be more responsive to market prices and assert further, that regulatory and market design agencies hope these "price signals" could delay the construction of additional generation or at least the purchase of energy from higher priced sources, thereby controlling the steady and rapid increase of electricity prices.[citation needed] There are some concerns, however, that low income and vulnerable consumers may not benefit from intraday time-of-use tariffs.

An academic study based on existing trials showed that homeowners' electricity consumption on average is reduced by approximately 3-5%.[17]

The ability to connect/disconnect service and read meter consumption remotely are major labor savings for the utility and can cause large layoffs of meter readers.[18]

Implementation examples

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) reviewed more than 36 different residential smart metering and feedback programmes internationally. This is the most extensive study of its kind (as of January 2011). Their conclusion was: “To realise potential feedback-induced savings, advanced meters [smart meters] must be used in conjunction with in-home (or on-line) displays and well-designed programmes that successfully inform, engage, empower and motivate people."[19]

There are near-universal calls from both the energy industry and consumer groups for a national social marketing campaign to help raise awareness of smart metering and to give customers the information and support they need to become more energy efficient, and what changes they must make to realize the potential of proposed smart meters. Smart meters can help utilities assist homeowners as they plan for home energy upgrades.


In 2004, the Essential Services Commission of Victoria, Australia (ESC) released its changes to the Electricity Customer Metering Code and Procedure to implement its decision to mandate interval meters for 2.6 million Victorian electricity customers.

The ESC's Final Paper titled "Mandatory Rollout of Interval Meters for Electricity Customers" foreshadowed the changes to be implemented and contained the rollout timetable requiring interval meters to be installed for all small businesses and residences. The rollout commenced in mid-2009 and was completed at the end of 2013.[20]

The Commonwealth issued a Joint Communiqué at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra on 10 February 2006 committing all governments to the progressive rollout of smart metering technology from 2007.[21]

In 2009 the Victorian Auditor General undertook a review of the program and found that there were "significant inadequacies" in advice to government and that project governance "has not been appropriate".[22]

Meters installed in Victoria have been deployed with limited smart functionality that is being increased over time. 30-minute interval data is available, remote cut-off and start-up energization is available, and the Home Area Network were available for households in 2012.

In May 2010 it was reported that the program was expected to cost A$500 million more than originally estimated by proponents, with a total cost of $1.6 billion.[23]

In November 2010 the Victorian Labor Party was voted out of state government. The incoming coalition stated that the meter program would be reviewed and the Auditor General's recommendations implemented, specifically commenting on program governance, customer data protection, and cost recovery.[24] In January 2011 the Energy Minister, Michael O'Brien, said he was not ruling out a suspension of the program.[25] This review, delivered in December 2012 endorsed the continuation of the roll out, with minor changes.[26]

The Victorian Government after initially halting the planned implementation of Time-of-Use tariffs[27] for general consumers has now allowed their introduction from mid-2013.[28]

As shown in the chart below, Victorian metering charges increased by approximately $60 per meter per year after the introduction of AMI cost recovery from customers in 2010 and a projected increase to 125.73 by 2016-2017.[29]

By mid-July 2013, the first Smart Meter In-Home Displays were being made available to Victorian consumers.[30] At the beginning of 2014 there were three approved Smart Meter In-Home Displays directly available to consumers.[31]

Annual meter charge increases with smart meter costs in 2010 and projections to 2017 ($)

Distributor 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2015 2016 2017
SP AusNet 17.49 17.49 17.49 17.49 17.49 86.1 93.83 101.02 108.75 117.08 126.04
United Energy Distribution 6.60 6.60 6.60 6.60 6.60 69.21 89.18 99.57 107.62 116.33 125.73
Jemena Electricity Networks 12.87 12.87 12.87 12.87 12.87 134.63 136.7 155.84 159.86 162.34 164.88
Citipower 15.20 15.20 15.20 15.20 15.20 104.79 108.4 93.38 95.26 97.17 99.13
Powercor 17.20 17.20 17.20 17.20 17.20 96.67 105.35 92.72 93.91 95.12 96.34


The Ontario Energy Board in Ontario, Canada has worked to define the technology[32] and develop the regulatory framework for its implementation. The Government of Ontario set a target of deploying smart meters to 800,000 homes and small businesses (i.e. small "general service" customers under 50 kW demand) by the end of 2007, which was surpassed, and throughout the province by the end of 2010.[33] Notably, the addition of smart meters to the grid in Ontario has been financed, in part, by the Green Energy Act 2009 and the resulting tariff known as the Global Adjustment. This fee has played a major role in financing additional investments in the grid, such as smart meters and new high capacity transmission lines.[34]

BC Hydro in British Columbia, Canada supplied Itron smart meters to most of its customers by the end of 2012.[35]

Smart meter installations have been associated with several fires in Canada, but these were probably caused by pre-existing problems unrelated to the meters.[36] BC Hydro says that "the risk of a smart meter installation causing an electrical problem is extremely low", and it assists homeowners if repairs are necessary for a safe installation.

In November 2011, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities voted in favour of a moratorium to temporarily suspend smart meter installations.[37] The provincial government insists that installations will proceed, based on global standards.[37] As of May 2012, 39 municipalities in British Columbia have passed motions opposing the installation of smart meters. The utility company, BC Hydro, is not legally obliged to abide by these city decisions.[38] In September 2013 BC Hydro announced the Meter Choices Program, which lets customers keep their old meter or have a smart meter with the radio off. Both options have an additional monthly negative option fee in the range of $20–$33 per month, depending on specifics.[39]

Marijuana grow-ops, a major illicit industry in British Columbia, steal significant amounts of electricity. The installation of smart meters is part of BC Hydro's electricity theft reduction program.[40]


The world's largest smart meter deployment was undertaken by Enel SpA, the dominant utility in Italy with more than 30 million customers. Between 2000 and 2005 Enel deployed smart meters to its entire customer base.

These meters are fully electronic and smart, with integrated bi-directional communications, advanced power measurement and management capabilities, an integrated, software-controllable disconnect switch, and an all solid-state design. They communicate over low voltage power lines, without the need for WiFi, to data concentrators that communicate via IP to Enel's enterprise servers. Standards-based power line technology from Echelon Corporation is used.[41]

The system provides a wide range of advanced features, including the ability to remotely turn power on or off to a customer, read usage information from a meter, detect a service outage, change the maximum amount of electricity that a customer may demand at any time, detect "unauthorized" use of electricity and remotely shut it off, and remotely change the meter's billing plan from credit to prepay, as well as, from flat-rate to multi-tariff.


The Energy Conservation Center [42] in Japan promotes energy efficiency including smart metering. Public utilities have started to test metering with integrated communication devices. Private entities have already implemented efficient energy systems with integrated feedback methods such as alerts or triggers.

The Netherlands

The company Oxxio introduced the first smart meter for both electricity and gas in the Netherlands in 2005. In 2007, the Dutch government proposed that all seven million households of the country should have a smart meter by 2013, as part of a national energy reduction plan.

In August 2008 the roll out of these seven million meters was delayed for several reasons. Main reasons for the delay were that there was limited possibility foreseen to register small scale local energy production (e.g. by solar panels), and that there was uncertainty in parliament on future developments in smart meters.

On April 7, 2009 the Dutch government had to back down after consumer groups raised privacy concerns. Instead of a mandatory roll-out smart meters are voluntary.[43]

By the end of 2016 there were 3 million households (39%) with smart meters installed. The Dutch government aims for a minimum of 80%, but preferably 100%, of households with smart meters installed in 2020.[44]

New Zealand

In November 2005, energy supplier Meridian Energy introduced the usage of smart meters in the Central Hawkes Bay area with more than 1,000 households participating. By late 2006, over 6,300 smart meters had been installed as part of the initial trial. On June 28, 2007, the first roll-out began for households in Christchurch [45] and there were plans to install more than 112,000 smart meters by January 2009.[46] These smart meters are made by a Christchurch-based company, Arc Innovations,[47] which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Meridian Energy.

In June 2009, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment released a report[48] that was critical of the "lack of smartness" in the 150,000 smart meters installed in New Zealand thus far. Dr Jan Wright called for government leadership for this "infrastructure of national importance." Wright emphasised that the meters were capable of being smart, but that the failure to include the HAN chips at the initial installation meant that currently only the power retailers benefited, not consumers, nor the environment.

In 2015 the New Zealand office of the Privacy Commissioner raised concerns that smart meters recorded personal information including the time that homeowners were home or not, the office said "the [smart meter] readings undoubtedly contained private information, and power companies needed to be more upfront about their handling of the torrent of personal information gathered by smart meters".[49]

Nordic countries

Northern Europe became the hotspot for AMM (Advanced Metering Management) in Europe in 2003 when Sweden announced the decision to require monthly readings of all electricity meters by 2009. Soon activities spread to the other Nordic countries. Vattenfall, Fortum, and E.ON decided to deploy AMM in Finland as well as in Sweden, as the leading industry players in both countries at the time.

Developments in Denmark took off in 2004 with several ambitious projects being announced by the country’s largest utilities. Norway has taken a more cautious stance, but in June 2007 the Norwegian energy authority, NVE, declared that it would recommend new legislation requiring smart meters to take effect in 2013. As of August 2007, almost all of the DSOs in Sweden had signed contracts for AMM solutions. Norway was lagging behind with just 6 percent. Altogether contracts for nearly 8 million smart meters are still open in the Nordic region.


Information gathered from "SmartRegions" program.[50][51]

Spain is a country with 46 million inhabitants and approximately 26 million electricity customers. Three major energy players act in the country, Endesa, Iberdrola, and Gas Natural/Unión Fenosa, with a market share of almost 95%. ESMA (2010, 26-28) provides a good overview of the situation in Spain. By 2013, Endesa has replaced about 30% of meters (based on the Meters and More technology), of about 3.5 million customers.

Regulations existing in Spain related to implementation of smart meters:

  • RD 1634/2006: Order to the Regulator (Comisión Nacional de Energía, CNE) about a substitution plan including the substitution plan for all Spanish residential meters, criteria for the substitution and number of meters to install every year: percentage of the total equipment
  • ORDEN ITC/3860/2007: Publication of the criteria for the Substitution Plan, including that every distributor has to present its own plan and AMM system design
  • Based on the Royal Decrees a meter substitution plan was established with an obligation to install smart meters for all consumers under 15 kW by 2018; by 31 December 2010, 30% of the contracts from each distribution company below 15 kW should have the smart meter installed; distribution companies are responsible for the installation of the meters.

The Smart Metering obligations were established in December 2007 with the national meter substitution plan for end-users up to 15 kW. The aim is to support remote energy management systems. The plan is managed by the Ministry of Industry, with a deadline for the completion of the plan by 31 December 2018. All DSOs had to submit their substitution plans to the regional governments. A binding target of 30% of all customers was set for 2010. This initial target could not be reached by any of the DSOs, however, due to a late approval of the substitution plan (in May 2009), technological uncertainties in terms of system communication, alleged supply problems of certified meters that were available only in June 2010 and ongoing negotiations with the regulators about the level of cost acceptance.

United Kingdom


In August 2007, the UK Government held a consultation on improving metering and information about power consumption. The consultation attached the necessary draft regulations and proposed that, from 2008, domestic customers should provide comparative historical consumption data and electricity suppliers should provide a real-time display unit within time limits. For business customers, it was proposed that gas and electricity suppliers should install smart meters in those parts of the SME sector where it had been shown to be cost-effective.[52]

In December 2009, the United Kingdom's Department of Energy and Climate Change announced its intention to have smart meters in all homes in Great Britain by 2020.[53] The model is a competitive, supplier-led roll-out with a central communications body, called the Data Communications Company (DCC), which was established in September 2013. The DCC runs a central database that holds meter readings. As well as the DCC, the government established Smart Energy GB to lead the nationwide publicity for the roll-out programme.[54]

To decide whether or not to mandate smart meters, the government devised impact assessments to ascertain whether there was a positive business case for smart metering. These looked at potential costs and benefits to suppliers, network operators, customers, and Britain as a whole. DECC’s Impact Assessment, updated in January 2014, concluded that there was a positive business case overall for a smart meter roll-out of £6.2 billion of net benefits.[55]

After testing the time needed for the design, build and test phases of industry’s programmes, the Government reviewed the programme timetable in 2013. The consistent message was that more time was needed if the roll-out of smart meters was to get off to the best possible start and customers were to be sure of a quality service. In December 2013, the Government expected that the smart meter roll-outs would be completed by the end of 2020.[56]

Consumer groups such as Consumer Focus[57] and the Consumers Association raised concerns about the extent to which consumer interests are protected during the roll-out, e.g., protection from pressure-selling while energy representatives are in their homes fitting meters.[58] The Government banned sales activities during meter installation visits[56] and put in place a number of consumer protection measures, including ensuring that consumers have choice and control over how their energy consumption data is used, apart from where it is required for billing purposes.[59]

The 2015 manifesto of the Conservative government had implied a requirement for all consumers to have a smart meter by the end of 2020. The wording of the 2017 election manifesto was changed to promise only to "offer" one. After the Conservative Party gained the most seats of any party in 2017, it was explained that nothing had changed, the intention being to impose an obligation on suppliers but not on users, and that the government intended to "try and ensure there is a meter in every home" by 2020.[60]


The United Kingdom roll-out is considered to be the largest programme ever undertaken, involving visits to 30 million homes and 2 million small businesses to replace meters for both gas and electricity. Most households will have smart meters installed by their energy company before 2020.[61] At the end of 2013 there were 295,700 smart meters installed in domestic properties in Great Britain.[62] In March 2016, figures released by the Department for Energy and Climate Change showed that only 2.3 million smart meters had been installed in UK homes.[63] This was well behind schedule to hit the government’s target to have 50 million in place by 2020. As of August 2018, 11 million SMETS1 devices were functioning normally, with 637,000 in "dumb" mode, according to the government.[64] 42 million remained to be installed by the 2020 deadline.[65]

Until 2018, the vast majority of smart meters being installed were "first generation" SMETS1 types. If a user of one of these meters switches electricity supplier, the meter’s smart functions are lost, and it must be read manually.

SMETS2 meters allow easy switching and better remote reading, but as of February 2018 only 450 had been installed (80 in households); by June 2018 over 1,000 had been installed,[66] increasing to 2,000 in August.[64] As of January 2019, the Data Communications Company (DCC) announced that 250,000 SMETS2 smart meters had been installed and were operational on its network[67].

SMETS1 meters are not allowed to be installed after 15 March 2019.[68]

The Home Area Network is implemented using ZigBee.[citation needed] This is the network your appliances use to communicate with your controller.


Citizens Advice said in August 2018 that 80% of people with a smart meter were happy with them, but it had 1,000 calls in 2017 about problems, including first-generation smart meters losing their functionality, aggressive sales practices, and still having to send smart meter readings.[65]

Ross Anderson of the Foundation for Information Policy Research has criticised the UK's programme on grounds that it is unlikely to lower energy consumption, is rushed and expensive, and does not promote metering competition. Anderson writes, "the proposed architecture ensures continued dominance of metering by energy industry incumbents whose financial interests are in selling more energy rather than less", and urged ministers "to kill the project and instead promote competition in domestic energy metering, as the Germans do – and as the UK already has in industrial metering. Every consumer should have the right to appoint the meter operator of their choice".[69]

In a 2011 submission to the Public Accounts Committee, Anderson wrote that Ofgem were "making all the classic mistakes which have been known for years to lead to public-sector IT project failures" and that the "most critical part of the project - how smart meters will talk to domestic appliances so as to facilitate demand response - is essentially ignored."[70]

The high number of SMETS1 meters installed has been criticised by Peter Earl, head of energy at the price comparison website He said, "The Government expected there would only be a small number of the first-generation of smart meters before Smets II came in, but the reality is there are now at least five million and perhaps as many as 10 million Smets I meters."[71]

UK smart meters use the mobile phone network to communicate, so they do not work properly when coverage is weak. A solution has been proposed but was not operational as of March 2017.[71]

In March 2018 the National Audit Office, which watches over public spending, opened an investigation into the smart meter programme, which had cost £11bn by then, paid for by electricity users through higher bills.[72][73] The National Audit Office published the findings of its investigation in a report titled "Rolling out smart meters" published on November 2019.[74] The report, amongst other findings, indicated that the number of smart meters installed in the UK will fall materially short of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) original ambitions of all UK consumers having a smart meter installed by 2020.

Ross Anderson and Alex Henney have written that "Ed Miliband cooked the books" to make the case for smart meters appear economically viable. They say that the first three cost-benefit analyses of residential smart meters found that it would cost more than it would save, but "ministers kept on trying until they got a positive result... To achieve 'profitability' the previous government stretched the assumptions shamelessly".[75]

An economist at Ofgem who wanted to go public with his concerns about the smart meter programme was threatened with prosecution.[76]

United States


On July 20, 2006, California's energy regulators approved a program to roll out conventional meters retrofit with communications co-processor electronics to 9 million gas and electric household customers in the Northern California territory of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). These meters report electricity consumption on an hourly basis. This enables PG&E to set pricing that varies by season and time-of-the day, rewarding customers who shift energy use to off-peak periods. The peak pricing program began on a voluntary basis and the full rollout is expected to take five years.[77] The smart grid allows PG&E to give customers timing and pricing options for upload to the grid.

The largest municipal utility in the U.S., the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), has chosen to expand its advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) serving its commercial and industrial (C&I) customers. LADWP has already[when?] purchased 9,000. The utility's commercial and industrial customers may tailor their daily energy consumption around the data provided by the smart meters, thus creating potential for reducing their monthly electricity bill and, at a broader level, contributing to global energy conservation.

California's utilities had nearly completed the rollout of tens of millions of smart meters in 2012.[78] In January of that year they met strong opposition, including a moratorium in Santa Cruz[79][80] based on health and privacy concerns.


In spring 2012, Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) of Maryland began installing or upgrading approximately two million electric and gas meters in every home and small business in their service area. This process was to take about three years to complete.[81] The meters initially gave information to users on energy use. Some features, such as energy budgeting and tracking and personalized energy efficiency, were to be implemented by 2012, with further functions in 2013.


Austin Energy, the nation's ninth-largest community-owned electric utility, with nearly 400,000 electricity customers in and around Austin, Texas, began deploying a two-way RF mesh network and approximately 260,000 residential smart meters in 2008. More than 165,000 two-way meters have been installed by spring 2009, and integration with AE's meter data management system is underway. A previous project in 2002 exchanged approximately 140,000 mechanical meters for smart meters at residential apartments, condominiums, and other high-meter-density locations.[82]

Centerpoint Energy in Houston, Texas, deployed smart meters to more than 2 million electricity customers in the Houston-Metro and Galveston service locations. Estimated completion of CenterPoint Energy's smart meter deployment was 2012.[83] In October 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded a $200 million grant for use in deployment of Centerpoint Energy's smart meter network.[84]

Oncor Electric Delivery, based in Dallas, Texas, is deploying smart meters to more than three million customers in North Texas. Oncor’s full deployment was scheduled to be complete by the end of 2012. The Oncor Advanced Metering System (AMS) supports 15-minute-interval data, remote disconnects, and a Home Area Network (HAN) using ZigBee Smart Energy Protocol 1.0. The AMS supports text messages, pricing signals, and load control to home users through the Smart Meter Texas Portal, which is a joint project by Oncor, CenterPoint, and AEP Texas under the direction of the Texas Public Utility Commission.[85][86][87] This requires customers to register telephone numbers and computer addresses.

San Antonio, Texas-based CPS Energy has launched a pilot program with 40,000 smart meters deployed as of the summer of 2011.[88] CPS plans to complete installation of smart meters (electricity and gas) for all customers by the end of 2016.[89] Each meter reports data to CPS every 15 minutes over a wireless network, making the data available to the customer through the CPS website.[90]

El Paso Electric does not have any plans to implement Smart Grid meters as of April 2014.

Several retail electric providers including TXU Energy and Direct Energy introduced rate plans that encourage smart meter users to shift load to off-peak hours. Excluding TNMP (PNM Resources), smart meter conversion rates for commercial and residential customers in utilities open to retail electric competition were in excess of 99% as of January 2015.[91] Some utilities offer free electricity at night.[92]


Florida-based Florida Power & Light began installing smart meters in 2009 in the Miami-Dade area for residential customers. All customers were expected to be completed by 2013.[93] Individual counties are considering "opt-out" options, however, and to date,[when?] customers are being allowed to register on an "opt-out" registry in counties that have not begun.

Oklahoma and Arkansas

Six thousand end users in parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas are part of a program with in-home devices and automation systems conducted by the Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) company. The project costs $357 million, $130 million of which was funded by the federal government. The dynamic pricing program is opt-in and the data are also used to study consumer behavior.[94]

The city of Duncan, Oklahoma, conducted a smart grid implementation to automatically collect electricity and water usage data from 9,000 electric meters and 12,000 water meters. Duncan’s project was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and a 15-year, $14.2 million energy savings performance contract. Honeywell installed the smart meter network as part of a broader program mostly unrelated to smart meters. The program was purchased as part of an unusual $1.7 million savings guarantee.[95]

Imminent implementation

European Union

The European Union has certain directives on smart meters that each member state must implement in its own legislation. According to Directive 2009/72/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Directive 2009/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council "Member States are required to ensure the implementation of smart metering systems that assist the active participation of consumers in the electricity supply and gas supply markets".[96] There is a European Commission Web site, SmartRegions, promoting smart metering.[97]


A smart metering pilot project, called "Linky", is being conducted by Electricité Réseau Distribution France (ERDF) involving 300,000 clients supplied by 7,000 low-voltage transformers. In June 2008 ERDF awarded the AMM pilot project to a consortium managed by Atos Origin, including Actaris, Landis+Gyr, and Iskraemeco. The aim of the trial is to deploy 300,000 meters and 6k concentrators in two distinct geographic areas, the Indre-et-Loire (37) department and the Lyon urban region (69). This project affecting 1% of LV customers is a precursor to national deployment for 35 million clients in France. The experimentation phase started in March 2010. A key determining factor is the interoperability of the equipment of various suppliers. The general deployment phase, involving replacement of 35 million meters, started in December 2015 and continue through 2021.

From 2010, various cities as Paris, Lyon, and Grasse decided to install smart individual sub meters (using AMR technology) in each apartment belonging to the city. This project has to purpose to improve the efficiency of the water management. Regarding Paris's area, it represents around 150.000 smart sub meter that been installed. These installations are being conducted by C3E (Conseils en Environnement, Energie et EAU). Indeed, C3E is a unique consulting firm specialized in water system applications related to savings and management efficiency. Established in 2001, C3E is a pioneer in this sector and single reference in this field for nearly 10 years. C3E's customers include the largest communities in France, social landlords, trustees. C3E is also find as water engineering consultant in various international projects.


On 8 July 2016, the new “Digitisation of the Energy Turnaround Act” cleared the final legislative hurdle in the German Federal Council Bundesrat of Germany. The new law initiates the roll-out of smart meters and connected infrastructures in Germany and defines roles and tasks for market participants.

The new Act is based on the Third Energy Package introduced by the EU in 2009. The Directives of this Package require EU member states to equip at least 80% of consumers with intelligent metering systems by 2020, subject to a positive national commercial assessment of the roll-out.

The key objective of the new law is to facilitate the implementation of Smart meter and Smart Meter Gateway devices. In that respect, Germany implements the EU Directives 2009/72/EG and 2009/73/EG into German law. The Act introduces specific and detailed requirements for the design of the smart meter devices and for the transmission of data. The goal is to open up the energy market to digitalisation, while ensuring a high standard of data protection and ICT security[98].

The Smart Meters Operation Act (Messstellenbetriebsgesetz) sets out, in 77 sections, rules on the marketing and use of Smart Meters and Smart Meter Gateways.

The Act introduced new regulated market roles, particularly the role of the Meter Operator, responsible the implementation, operation and maintenance of Smart Meters, with specific legal obligations in that role. The responsibility connected with the roll out of the Meter Operator rests on the energy supply grid operator (Versorgungsnetzbetreiber). Using a special public procurement procedure, they can transfer this position to a third party service provider. Another role is Smart Meter Gateway Administrator, responsible for the correct allocation and security of the data collected and delivered by the Smart Meter Gateway.

The Act defines technical requirements, particularly the reliability and security of energy measurement and the transmission of data. Compliance with the new rules is controlled and supervised by both the Federal Office for Information Security (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik) and the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur).

The Act determines a roll-out plan regarding the installation of Smart Meters. The roll-out began in 2017 and continues until 2032. The process comprises different roll-out periods for different types of end consumers and plant operators, depending on the amount of energy consumption that they use and respectively input feed in. For some types of consumers and operators, the roll-out must be completed before the end of 2024.

The Act requires operators to equip consumers with more than 6,000 kWh yearly consumption, and plant operators with an installed capacity of more than 7 kW, with Smart Meters. Below these consumption levels, equipment is optional.

Manufacturers must supply the devices according to certification by the Federal Office for Information Security. The Federal Office for Information Security provides an overview of its current technical requirements on its website.


Upon the Green Party becoming part of the coalition government in 2007, Eamon Ryan, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, pledged to introduce smart meters for every home in the Republic of Ireland within five years. In an interview the minister said he envisaged a situation where smart meters would use plug-in hybrid cars as storage for micro-generated renewable energy by intelligently diverting the energy into the car.[99] A leading energy expert has expressed concerns that whatever system of smart metering arises in Ireland must give homeowners the possibility of automatically responding to fluctuating electricity prices by, for instance, buying electricity when at its cheapest, and selling micro-generated electricity from wind turbines or solar photovoltaic panels into the grid when the best price is available.[100]


Italy has already deployed smart electrical meters. Legislation forced gas utilities to deploy smart gas meters from large industrial consumers down to almost every residential customer by the end of 2016.[101]

Remote reading and management of smart gas meters must be fully independent of the existing system of smart electrical meters. The technology intended to be used is mainly radio-based. More information can be found on the webpage published by the authority.[102]


Smart Grid implementation is underway in Iran. FAHAM is the National Smart Metering Program. The functional, technical, security, economic, and general requirements of this project were published as a document after a longtime workgroup of various stakeholders including representative of grid operators, meter manufactures, communication providers, business layer software providers, domestic and international consultants. The procedure of producing this document was base on EPRI Methodology (IEC 62559). In these technical documents all of the business and functional use cases, the conceptual architecture, mandatory international standards for electric, water and gas metering systems(for all types of consumers), telecommunication requirements, system interfaces and security mandates are defined. The ministry of energy decided to perform a pilot project called FAHAM-phase1 to test the technical and implementation challenges for implementing smart metering for all of the approximately thirty million electricity consumer.


Malta is in the process of implementing smart meters in all commercial and private households. Enemalta, a governmental company responsible for electricity is responsible for the introduction of the smart meters. This occurred in phases and every meter in Malta was to be 'smart' by 2012. The cost was approximately 40 million euros, paid by the Ministry of Infrastructure, Technology, and Communication. The 'smart meters' being used in Malta are manufactured by IBM. A pilot project is currently underway and more than 5,000 are being installed.[103] The installation is paid for by the government, i.e. the taxpayers.



Communication is a critical technological requirement for smart meters. Each meter must be able to reliably and securely communicate the information collected to some central location. Considering the varying environments and locations where meters are found, that problem can be daunting. Among the solutions proposed are: the use of cell and pager networks, satellite, licensed radio, combination licensed and unlicensed radio, and power line communication. Not only the medium used for communication purposes, but also the type of network used, is critical. As such, one would find: fixed wireless, wireless mesh network and wireless ad hoc networks, or a combination of the two. There are several other potential network configurations possible, including the use of Wi-Fi and other internet related networks. To date no one solution seems to be optimal for all applications. Rural utilities have very different communication problems from urban utilities or utilities located in difficult locations such as mountainous regions or areas ill-served by wireless and internet companies.

In addition to communication with the head-end network, smart meters may need to be part of a home area network, which can include an in-premises display and a hub to interface one or more meters with the head end. Technologies for this network vary from country to country, but include power line communication, wireless ad hoc network, and ZigBee.


ANSI C12.18 is an ANSI standard that describes a protocol used for two-way communications with a meter, mostly used in North American markets. The C12.18 standard is written specifically for meter communications via an ANSI Type 2 Optical Port, and specifies lower-level protocol details. ANSI C12.19 specifies the data tables that are used. ANSI C12.21 is an extension of C12.18 written for modem instead of optical communications, so it is better suited to automatic meter reading.

IEC 61107 is a communication protocol for smart meters published by the IEC that is widely used for utility meters in the European Union. It is superseded by IEC 62056, but remains in wide use because it is simple and well-accepted. It sends ASCII data using a serial port. The physical media are either modulated light, sent with an LED and received with a photodiode, or a pair of wires, usually modulated by EIA-485. The protocol is half-duplex. IEC 61107 is related to, and sometimes wrongly confused with, the FLAG protocol. Ferranti and Landis+Gyr were early proponents of an interface standard that eventually became a sub-set of IEC1107.

The Open Smart Grid Protocol (OSGP) is a family of specifications published by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) used in conjunction with the ISO/IEC 14908 control networking standard for smart metering and smart grid applications. Millions of smart meters based on OSGP are deployed worldwide.[104] Numerous major security flaws in the OSGP protocol have been identified.[105][106]

There is a growing trend toward the use of TCP/IP technology as a common communication platform for Smart Meter applications, so that utilities can deploy multiple communication systems, while using IP technology as a common management platform.[107][108] A universal metering interface would allow for development and mass production of smart meters and smart grid devices prior to the communication standards being set, and then for the relevant communication modules to be easily added or switched when they are. This would lower the risk of investing in the wrong standard as well as permit a single product to be used globally even if regional communication standards vary.[109]

Some smart meters may use a test IR LED to transmit non-encrypted usage data that bypasses meter security by transmitting lower level data in real time.[110]

Data management

The other critical technology for smart meter systems is the information technology at the utility that integrates the Smart Meter networks with the utility applications, such as billing and CIS. This includes the Meter Data Management system.

It also is important for smart grid implementations that power line communication (PLC) technologies used within the home over a Home Area Network (HAN), are standardized and compatible. The HAN allows HVAC systems and other household appliances to communicate with the smart meter, and from there to the utility. Currently there are several broadband or narrowband standards in place, or being developed, that are not yet compatible. To address this issue, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) established the PAP15 group, which studies and recommends coexistence mechanisms with a focus on the harmonization of PLC standards for the HAN. The objective of the group is to ensure that all PLC technologies selected for the HAN coexist as a minimum. The two main broadband PLC technologies selected are the HomePlug AV / IEEE 1901 and ITU-T technologies.[111] Technical working groups within these organizations are working to develop appropriate coexistence mechanisms. The HomePlug Powerline Alliance has developed a new standard for smart grid HAN communications called the HomePlug Green PHY specification. It is interoperable and coexistent with the widely deployed HomePlug AV technology and with the new IEEE 1901 global standard and is based on Broadband OFDM technology. ITU-T commissioned in 2010 a new project called G.hnem, to address the home networking aspects of energy management, built upon existing Low Frequency Narrowband OFDM technologies.'s PowerMeter, until its demise in 2011[112], was able to use a smart meter for tracking electricity usage,[113] as can eMeter's Energy Engage as in, for example, the PowerCentsDC(TM) demand response program.[citation needed]

Advanced metering infrastructure

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) refers to systems that measure, collect, and analyze energy usage, and communicate with metering devices such as electricity meters, gas meters, heat meters, and water meters, either on request or on a schedule. These systems include hardware, software, communications, consumer energy displays and controllers, customer associated systems, meter data management software, and supplier business systems.

Government agencies and utilities are turning toward advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems as part of larger “smart grid” initiatives. AMI extends automatic meter reading (AMR) technology by providing two way meter communications, allowing commands to be sent toward the home for multiple purposes, including time-based pricing information, demand-response actions, or remote service disconnects. Wireless technologies are critical elements of the neighborhood network, aggregating a mesh configuration of up to thousands of meters for back haul to the utility’s IT headquarters.

The network between the measurement devices and business systems allows collection and distribution of information to customers, suppliers, utility companies, and service providers. This enables these businesses to participate in demand response services. Consumers can use information provided by the system to change their normal consumption patterns to take advantage of lower prices. Pricing can be used to curb growth of peak demand consumption. AMI differs from traditional automatic meter reading (AMR) in that it enables two-way communications with the meter. Systems only capable of meter readings do not qualify as AMI systems.[114]

Opposition and concerns

Some groups have expressed concerns regarding the cost, health, fire risk,[36]security and privacy effects of smart meters[115] and the remote controllable "kill switch" that is included with most of them. Many of these concerns regard wireless-only smart meters with no home energy monitoring or control or safety features. Metering-only solutions, while popular with utilities because they fit existing business models and have cheap up-front capital costs, often result in such "backlash". Often the entire smart grid and smart building concept is discredited in part by confusion about the difference between home control and home area network technology and AMI. The attorneys general of both Illinois and Connecticut have stated that they do not believe smart meters provide any financial benefit to consumers,[116] however, the cost of the installation of the new system is absorbed by those customers.


Smart meters expose the power supply to cyberattacks that could lead to power outages, both by cutting off people's electricity[117] and by overloading the grid.[118] However many cyber security experts state that smart meters of UK and Germany have a relatively high cybersecurity and that any such attack there would thus require extraordinarily high efforts or financial resources.[119][120][121]

Implementing security protocols that protect these devices from malicious attacks[122] been problematic, due to their limited computational resources and long operational life.[123]

The current version of IEC 62056 includes the possibility to encrypt, authenticate, or sign the meter data.

One proposed smart meter data verification method involves analyzing the network traffic in real time to detect anomalies using an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) By identifying exploits as they are being leveraged by attackers, an IDS mitigates the suppliers' risks of energy theft by consumers and denial-of-service attacks by hackers.[124][125] Energy utilities must choose between a centralized IDS, embedded IDS, or dedicated IDS depending on the individual needs of the utility. Researchers have found that for a typical advanced metering infrastructure, the centralized IDS architecture is superior in terms of cost efficiency and security gains.[123]

In the United Kingdom, the Data Communication Company, which transports the commands from the supplier to the smart meter, performs an additional anomality check on commands issued (and signed) by the energy supplier.

According to a report by Brian Krebs, in 2009 a Puerto Rico electricity supplier asked the FBI to investigate large-scale thefts of electricity related to its smart meters. The FBI found that former employees of the power company and the company that made the meters were being paid by consumers to reprogram the devices to show incorrect results, as well as teaching people how to do it themselves.[126]

Health and safety

Most health concerns about the meters arise from the pulsed radiofrequency (RF) radiation emitted by wireless smart meters.[127]

Members of the California State Assembly asked the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) to study the issue of potential health impacts from smart meters. The CCST report in April 2011 found no health impacts, based both on lack of scientific evidence of harmful effects from radio frequency (RF) waves and that the RF exposure of people in their homes to smart meters is likely to be minuscule compared to RF exposure to cell phones and microwave ovens.[128]

Issues surrounding smart meters causing fires have also been reported, particularly involving the manufacturer Sensus. In 2012. PECO Energy Company replaced the Sensus meters it had deployed in the Philadelphia region after reports that a number of the units had overheated and caused fires. In July 2014, SaskPower, the province-run utility company of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, halted its roll-out of Sensus meters after similar, isolated incidents were discovered. Shortly afterward, Portland General Electric announced that it would replace 70,000 smart meters that had been deployed in the state of Oregon after similar reports. The company noted that it had been aware of the issues since at least 2013, and that they were limited to certain models it had installed between 2010 and 2012.[129] On July 30, 2014, after a total of eight recent fire incidents involving the meters, SaskPower was ordered by the Government of Saskatchewan to immediately end its smart meter program, and remove the 105,000 smart meters it had installed.[130]

Privacy concerns

One technical reason for privacy concerns is that these meters send detailed information about how much electricity is being used each time. More frequent reports provide more detailed information. Infrequent reports may be of little benefit for the provider, as it doesn't allow as good demand management in the response of changing needs for electricity. On the other hand, very frequent reports would allow the utility company to infer behavioral patterns for the occupants of a house, such as when the members of the household are probably asleep or absent.[131] Current trends are to increase the frequency of reports. A solution that benefits both provider and user privacy would be to adapt the interval dynamically.[132] Another solution involves an energy storage installed at the household used to reshape the energy consumption profile.[133][134] In British Columbia the electric utility is government-owned and as such must comply with privacy laws that prevent the sale of data collected by smart meters; many parts of the world are serviced by private companies that are able to sell their data.[135] In Australia debt collectors can make use of the data to know when people are at home.[136] Used as evidence in a court case in Austin, Texas, police agencies secretly collected smart meter power usage data from thousands of residences to determine which used more power than "typical" to identify marijuana growing operations.[137]

Smart meter power data usage patterns can reveal much more than how much power is being used. Research has demonstrated that smart meters sampling power levels at two-second intervals can reliably identify when different electrical devices are in use.[138][139][140][141][142][143][144][145]

Ross Anderson has written about privacy concerns. He writes "It is not necessary for my meter to tell the power company, let alone the government, how much I used in every half-hour period last month"; that meters can provide "targeting information for burglars"; that detailed energy usage history can help energy companies to sell users exploitative countracts; and that there may be "a temptation for policymakers to use smart metering data to target any needed power cuts."[146]

Opt-out options

Reviews of smart meter programs, moratoriums, delays, and "opt-out" programs are some responses to the concerns of customers and government officials. In response to residents who did not want a smart meter, in June 2012 a utility in Hawaii changed their smart meter program to "opt out".[147] The utility said that once the smart grid installation project is nearing completion, KIUC may convert the deferral policy to an opt-out policy or program and may charge a fee to those members to cover the costs of servicing the traditional meters. Any fee would require approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

After receiving numerous complaints about health, hacking, and privacy concerns with the wireless digital devices, the Public Utility Commission of the US state of Maine voted to allow customers to opt out of the meter change at a cost of $12 a month.[148] In Connecticut, another US state to consider smart metering, regulators declined a request by the state's largest utility, Connecticut Light & Power, to install 1.2 million of the devices, arguing that the potential savings in electric bills do not justify the cost. CL&P already offers its customers time-based rates. The state's Attorney General George Jepsen was quoted as saying the proposal would cause customers to spend upwards of $500 million on meters and get few benefits in return, a claim that Connecticut Light & Power disputed.[149]

Lack of savings in results

There are questions whether electricity is or should be primarily a "when you need it" service where the inconvenience/cost-benefit ratio of time shifting of loads is poor. In the Chicago area, Commonwealth Edison ran a test installing smart meters on 8,000 randomly selected households together with variable rates and rebates to encourage cutting back during peak usage.[150] In the Crain's Chicago Business article "Smart grid test underwhelms. In pilot, few power down to save money.", it was reported that fewer than 9% exhibited any amount of peak usage reduction and that the overall amount of reduction was "statistically insignificant".[150] This was from a report by the Electric Power Research Institute, a utility industry think tank who conducted the study and prepared the report. Susan Satter, senior assistant Illinois attorney general for public utilities said "It's devastating to their plan......The report shows zero statistically different result compared to business as usual." [150]

By 2016, the 7 million smart meters in Texas had not persuaded many people to actually check their energy data as the process was too difficult.[151]

Erratic demand

Smart meters can allow real-time pricing, and in theory this could help smooth power consumption as consumers adjust their demand in response to price changes. However, modelling by researchers at the University of Bremen suggests that in certain circumstances, "Power demand fluctuations are not dampened but amplified instead."[152]

In the media

In 2013, Take Back Your Power, an independent Canadian documentary directed by Josh del Sol was released describing "dirty electricity" and the aforementioned issues with smart meters.[153] The film explores the various contexts of the health, legal, and economic concerns, and features narration from mayor of Peterborough, Ontario, Daryl Bennett, as well as American researcher De-Kun Li, journalist Blake Levitt,[154] and Dr. Sam Milham. It won a Leo Award for best feature-length documentary and the Annual Humanitarian Award from Indie Fest the following year.

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