Environmental Protection

Smart Meters Make U.K. Community More Energy-Efficient

GE smart meters played a vital role in helping the community of North Leigh, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom, reduce its energy consumption by 10 percent for three consecutive months. In recognition of this achievement, the village received a £20,000 award from U.K. utility Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE). The North Leigh project is enabling SSE and the government to determine the most effective methods of influencing consumer behavior to reduce energy usage, a key factor in helping the United Kingdom achieve its goal of 20 percent carbon reduction by 2020, part of the European Union’s 20/20/20 initiative.

For this project, SSE provided GE’s smart meters to the 800-home community, making the 2,000 villagers of North Leigh some of the first in the United Kingdom to have smart meters installed in their homes. GE’s smart meters gathered data in real-time and communicated that information back to the energy supplier. SSE was then able to present gas and electricity usage information to individual customers. This information was made available to individuals on a website, allowing them to view their energy usage and enabling them to make informed choices to reduce their electricity demand.

“GE’s smart meters made an important contribution to the overall success of the project providing reliable and accurate information,” said Andrew Monks, program manager, Scottish and Southern Energy. “With the help of GE’s technology, we are doing our part to help GB meet its goals for a cleaner, more efficient energy future.”

The results of the study are helping U.K. officials determine the ideal technology deployment strategy to empower consumers to maximize cost and energy savings.

“GE is committed to assisting the government meet its objective to have smart meters in every home by 2020,” said Keith Redfearn, general manager of digital energy for GE Energy in Europe. “Smart meters are a critical component in educating consumers by promoting energy-saving awareness and this trial deployment shows that smart meters will help the U.K. achieve its energy efficiency goals.”

The North Leigh project, branded “Challenge North Leigh!,” was part of a government-sponsored Energy Demand Research Project (EDRP) backed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the industry regulator, the Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets, known as OFGEM. Findings from this trial are helping to shape the government strategy on the roll-out of smart meters and carbon emissions reduction efforts, as well as to indicate how energy customers respond to better information about their energy consumption, through a variety of interventions.

The North Leigh trial used the ZigBee communication protocol, which is becoming an accepted standard for home automation. It delivers full communications between customers, meters and a centralized information storage server, demonstrating the communications capabilities of advanced GE metering without investing in specialized communications systems.

In July 2007, SSE adopted North Leigh as one of three national projects to motivate communities to reduce electricity consumption. The other two communities were located in Scotland and Wales.


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