Survey says: smart meters not primary source of outage info
What we learned from the recent BRIDGE Energy Group Utility Industry Survey on outage and restoration management was interesting, if perhaps a bit unsettling — namely that despite all those smart meters, customers remain the #1 source for outage info, whether that outage is storm-related or “blue sky,” as we say. Even though over 80% of electric utilities have smart meters, those aren’t, apparently, being utilized as a primary very often — or even as a secondary source of outage info. (That award goes to the SCADA system.)
This survey result came as a bit of a surprise to even the surveyors, especially Forrest Small, vice president of grid reliability at BRIDGE.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about the pros and cons of smart meters,” he told us when we asked a few questions about the survey. “On one hand, there are those that see this technology as intrusive and expensive with an unproven value, while others embrace the ongoing utility industry transformation and realize how smart meters can play a key role. Smart meters can be beneficial, but they aren’t a panacea. As with all technologies, smart meters must be properly installed and integrated with detailed training, change management and communication for utility personnel and customers. Adoption success is dependent on effective change management programs that include: knowledge transfer programs, education & training, human factors and organization streamlining.”
In other words, Small sees success as an option for smart meters when it comes to outage notification, but we’re just not getting it to work together in quite the right way.