Policy in the Face of Uncertainty: The Smart Meter Dilemma

by Victoria Plutshack

Smart technologies, which can communicate and share information, have been hailed as a panacea for a range of our energy problems. The possibilities for energy savings and greater energy efficiency are enormous. The first step in realizing the smart vision of the future is the humble smart meter, which is due to be universally available in British homes by 2020. However, the behavioural science behind the effects of an in-home energy meter is mixed. Pilot tests have returned a range of results, from energy savings to increased consumption and everything in between. Given that there is scientific uncertainty, how should policy makers respond? I argue that the Government must clearly prioritise its reasons for the adoption of smart meters in order to create meters that are most likely to produce a single desired result, instead of solving all the nation’s energy problems.

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