What the UK smart meter debate says about the rest of the world


Quick Take: More and more people are coming to agree that the regulatory model in the U.S. was well-suited for the 20th Century but is ill-suited to the 21st. Many observers believe the UK may point the way for other countries to follow. That's why recent developments in the UK bear close watching. I particularly like the way the plan specifically acknowledges the need to engage and support investors -- the people who will pay for all this modernization. -- Jesse Berst


The UK should rethink its current smart grid plans, according to the Conservative Technology Forum think tank, as reported by Metering.com. The government is currently rolling out a plan put forth by a previous regime. Instead, according to the think tank, Britain should use a "market-based approach."


That approach, they say, should start with clear business cases for both suppliers and customers. Next, it should allow the market to determine which customer segments to serve first. They believe that way of doing things will give suppliers more incentive to invest in improvements. And will create new export jobs.


The recommended approach is built on three pillars. The first is consumer engagement, which should encompass not just outreach and education but also support for vulnerable populations. The second is investor engagement. And the third is standards and security.


The plan emphasizes that it leans on lessons from previous successful technology rollouts over the past 20 years.


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Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.