GE Chief says installation the key challenge for smart metering

Europe still lags behind the US in terms of smart meter technology, but with each new product, as with the SGM1100 launched this week in Bilbao, that focus on meter security has been that bit more sharper. And the company is attempting to make strides with installation too.
Smart Grid technology
Power Engineering International this week spoke to Luís Maria Pérez, Regional GM for GE Digital Energy, Energy Management, as the company’s Centre of Excellence in Bilbao celebrated the launch of the latest in GE Smart Metering technology.

The SGM1100, a PRIME (Power Line Intelligent Metering Evolution) PLC compliant smart meter is designed for global utilities following IEC (International Electrotechnical Com mission) requirements.

The availability of such high end technology is of immediate importance in particular to Spain, who have expressed a commitment to finalise the introduction of smart meters nationwide by 2018.

There has been much comment recently about the resilience of smart metering technology in ability to ward off cyber attack. Perez concedes that Europe isn’t quiet at the level of the US yet but with each new product, the continent’s smart meters are getting up to American standards.

“Our colleagues on the other side of the Atlantic, in the US, are more advanced in this regard. They have already been working on Smart Grid security for a few years and they have come up with some standards. Right now Europe is lagging in that regard so as part of the communication aspect to the meter there is going to be more and more stress on cyber security requirements so for each specification that comes out there is more import being given to this.”

So what separates the latest GE smart metering offering from previous incarnations? Two things mainly, there’s more of everything and the company has also emphasised ease of installation.

“I would say this is a brand new platform. So we have had put more processing power, more memory. We have built in the communications port on the main port so what we have the now is the prime modem inside the meter” says Perez.

“We have applied our know how to make it more robust and more reliable and we have spent quiet a lot of team with the people installing the communications, those who physically connect the meters on location and we have tried to make it very easy to install it.”

This is a single phase meter for residential and small businesses but we will have the three phase meter coming out that will be aimed more at industrial customers.

Perez is particularly keen to stress the company’s focus on installation of the meters, as it has posed problems in terms of rolling out the technology up to now. It’s an issue that GE have anticipated and a barrier to progress they wish to remove.

“The European market is complex in that every country is different, with questions about who owns the meter, who pays for the installation, there are different answers in different countries. With smart metering in general the utilities recognise the need for it and customers are happy to use technology that allows them to reduce consumption and electricity bills. I would say the only resistance, if you could call it resistance is that question of who will pay for the installation, who is in charge of it.


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