"Why smart meters matter" is an article published on The Guardian as part of the editorial partnership the online publication has launched with Enel. Its style appears almost preachy, but in an age in which everything is defined as smart, knowing the value, role and potential of electronic meters is one of the simplest ways to understand the very real changes underway in the electricity system and hence in the way we use energy and even lead our everyday lives. This is because smart meters act as a central gateway for smart grids and are essential to changing waste and cost reduction, energy efficiency, environmental protection and even the development of the Internet of Things from futuristic pipe dreams into a common, shared and consolidated experience.
A 40 percent increase in distribution efficiency and a 60 percent reduction in grid failures are two immediate benefits of the widespread installation of smart meters that are mentioned in the article on The Guardian. In countries like Italy, in which smart metering has resulted in 32 million devices installed already ten years ago, the benefits provided by this device in the daily use of electricity by an ordinary consumer are practically taken for granted. But for most countries in the world, including those with advanced economies, electronic meters are the turning point of a smart evolution that will take place in the near future or has just begun.
The electronic smart meter is the first important step towards making smart grids a reality. Enel took this step in 2001 when it launched the Telegestore project, and today, besides being a global leader in the field of smart fields, the Group is implementing electronic meters in different countries in which it operates, as well as providing its knowhow to other companies.
The Telegestión project in Spain, which was launched by Enel jointly with Endesa in 2008, is installing 13 million electronic meters for all Endesa customers in the country. Enel's smart meters are also at the core of the Group's smart city projects in Santiago, Chile and Bouzios, in Brazil.
The self-reading and consumption management enabled by smart meters result in a number of benefits for various kinds of users and for society as a whole. Individuals can save money and time by increasing their awareness of their consumption habits and have the possibility of remotely managing their contracts, while energy companies improve service quality, shorten the timescale for action and optimise employment of assistance personnel, while also avoiding CO2 emissions through efficient use of operational vehicles. On the other hand, the entire community benefits in terms of environmental and economic sustainability and is provided a tool on which the digital evolution of the electricity grid is based, and which is essential for the full integration of renewables into the system and for the spread of distributed generation.