What is a smart meter?

Venkatesh Ganesh Mumbai | Updated on November 11, 2019 Published on November 11, 2019

Smart meters help consumers make informed decisions on electricity consumption

A smart meter is a digital meter that replaces old analog meters, which are used in homes to record electrical usage.

These digital meters can transmit energy consumption information to the utility (as it is connected to the internet) in frequent intervals, and can monitor consumption more precisely, thereby enabling more informed energy choices.

In India, the implementation of smart meters is at a very early stage, and is done only in select pockets of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka etc.

Also read: Over 5 lakh smart meters operational across India, says EESL

Here are five ways a smart meter helps

1. For consumers, smart meters help in monitoring and managing electricity consumption and save money. It can be like your mobile pre-paid connection. You can buy electricity for a fixed amount, and use it. After finishing, you can top-up, just like a mobile recharge.

2. It can reduce billing errors.

3. Smart meters help power distribution companies (discom) to conduct power-quality analysis in near-real time, taking into consideration factors such as maximum demand, voltage fluctuation, outage detection etc.

4. It helps discoms reduce peak power purchase cost, thereby improve business efficiency. This in turn reduces their debt, thereby helping the economy.

5. Smart meters also aids in the recovery of receivables, which has caused a huge stress on the system. Estimates say that Rs 1 lakh crore worth power was unbilled last year. So, it can help discoms plug leakages in the whole chain.

Are smart meters tamper proof?

Smart meters certainly are not tamper proof. The meters can be rigged.

Also, smart meters come with their own set of challenges, most notable being it prone to cyber attacks, which can cause power shutdown or steal customer information.

In the last few years, there have been instances of cyber attacks on the power grid, which caused power blackouts in California (US), Ukraine etc., though the utilities have to yet confirm whether the power grid was brought down due to a cyber attack.

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Published on November 11, 2019
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