SME customers struggle to see the benefit of smart meter installation

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1 February 2013, Electricity

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During H1 2012 Datamonitor conducted in-depth interviews with energy buyers at businesses of all sizes to determine the satisfaction of the customer experience throughout the smart meter installation process and to assess the benefits seen since installation.

Large power consumers responded with positive comments 57% of the time when asked about the benefits they have experienced after the installation of smart metering, while smaller consumers only gave positive comments 20% of the time.

Respondents provided positive comments (highlighting only benefits), mixed comments (no change in experience or seeing benefits and problems), or negative comments (highlighting only problems). SMEs' experience post-installation is still not conclusive, with mixed comments forming the majority. Although many feel that the units have not been installed long enough to judge, there is certainly an element of not being used to the technology and lacking full understanding. Technical problems, while rare, appeared to be catastrophic, with one SME reporting that its new meter "hasn't given meter readings as it can't get a signal."

MEU customers have a much more favorable view of smart meters, with 57% of MEU comments positive toward the technology. This statistic is higher due to these customers being more aware of usage before installation and being able to interact with the technology more effectively.

Datamonitor also asked respondents to assess any cost savings. SMEs are much more likely not to see a change in costs due to a lack of pre-installation information on usage and costs. Power MEUs, which are more reliable in judging cost savings due to better pre-installation information, averaged less than 5% cost savings, which is in line with domestic trials of the technology (circa 3% as reported in Ofgem's Energy Demand Research Project: Final Analysis, June 23, 2011.

The research found that during the installation process, SMEs spending less than GBP50,000 a year on power were much more likely to enjoy a problem-free experience. 89% of SMEs reported no problems with installation, while only 63% of MEUs spending more than GBP50,000 per year on power said this. This is due to 22% of MEU power customers reporting that energy supply was disrupted during the installation.

More detail is available in Datamonitor's B2B Smart Meter Roll Out: Analysis of Customer Experiences (January 2013, EN00009-019).

For more information contact the Datamonitor Energy team:
Twitter: @DatamonitorEN

Source: MarketLine

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