Perspectives

Next-generation smart metering and energy equity

Five ways AMI 2.0 can promote energy justice

While high-income households enjoy savings and quality of life afforded by investing in energy-efficient technologies, lower-income households are left to carry the fiscal and environmental costs, exacerbating the wealth and health divide. But next-gen smart metering has the potential to flip the switch—and improve energy equity for all.

Understanding the relationship between inequitable access and energy justice

A lack of energy access can pose severe consequences for households, deepening existing inequitable distributions of wealth, education, employment opportunities, and healthful living conditions. In 2020, the Biden administration recognized the deepening divide in access to clean energy and signed Executive Order 14008, known as the Justice40 Initiative. In it, the federal government makes it a goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments, including clean energy, flow to communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.

Energy inequality is also being recognized as the inability for a consumer to benefit from emerging technologies such as solar panels, electric vehicles (EVs), programmable thermostats, and battery storage systems connected to home energy management systems (HEMS). Collectively, solar, home storage batteries, EVs, and programmable thermostats fall under the category of “distributed energy resources” (DER).

A major hurdle to offering subsidies for cost abatement or receiving DER equipment is identifying eligible households. According to Donnie Mendoza from Austin Energy, LMI customers frequently use more energy than affluent customers because they often rent units with less efficient appliances and have multigenerational families in a single unit. It is imperative, therefore, that utilities use a variety of methods to identify eligible candidates to receive benefits, including reviewing data from federal or state assistance programs and contacting customers who are frequently in arrears. Still, they aren’t perfect, and not all eligible customers are identified.

Read the full report  to learn how smart metering and AMI 2.0 can help solve our complex energy equity issues while fostering the development and growth of renewable energy and electrification.

Five ways smart metering can promote energy equity

A new generation of smart metering has substantially more advanced capabilities than its predecessor from just a few years ago. AMI 2.0 meters can perform analytics in real time, observe and report energy use anomalies, and disaggregate consumption to identify which devices are using energy as well as when and how soon they will be able to control DER without additional equipment. These AMI 2.0 capabilities can play a critical role in promoting energy equity through the identification of households that should qualify for assistance programs by providing personalized information on how to save energy and improving system planning to better identify where DER is needed to maintain the grid and reduce pollution. To understand how AMI 2.0 smart meters can help identify customers who should be eligible for discounts or have access to subsidized DER, Deloitte has identified five categories that are very likely to help locate why and where lapses in energy equity exist.

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