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I’m over the halfway mark of my new book, “The Digital Utility: How To Use Energy Data To Deliver Customer Value”.  I have been wondering how policy has such a profound effect on many people’s ability to innovate?

 I work with very smart people, from engineering or IT backgrounds, sometimes both.  So often I see them confine their ideas to what they know will fit within existing policy. They struggle to think outside the box unless given permission to do so.  Even then, they can find it difficult.

I don’t understand it because policy is created based on relevant information at a point in time.  We should feel comfortable challenging it, if it is the right thing to do.  I am not suggesting we disregard important areas such as health, safety or supply reliability.  I am suggesting we should be open to challenging policy that no longer makes sense.

I remember an occasion during a smart metering tender.  My team looked at the metering specifications.

One rule stated the meter must be able to display data such as energy consumption.  That seemed very outdated to me.  We were introducing smart meters that can be remotely read.  If meters had to physically be read, there was an optical cable to download the data. So why was there still a need for a screen to display the data?  Why spend the money for screens on millions of smart meters to meet an out of date policy?

Once I told my team to ignore policy and ‘get creative’ we started to see some incredible ideas coming through. For example, taking ideas from IT and ‘rack computing’.  Instead of having a server housed in a single casing, you have many servers in one casing and those servers share many components, such as power.  In places such as apartment blocks where you have several meters in one metering room, why not have ‘rack metering?’.  Many meters housed in a single casing, sharing common components such as power, communications, etc.  Significantly reducing the cost of the unit, and its physical footprint.

Some of these outdated policies are akin to the British law where it states it is illegal to die in the House of Commons. I’m sure there must have been logical reasoning at the time, but now it makes absolutely no sense.

Energy companies need to get comfortable challenging policy. They need to embrace, not stifle innovation with the disruption they are facing.  What other outdated policies are preventing us leveraging energy data to deliver customer value?



Contact me to find out how we help electricity companies use energy data to deliver measureable customer value.


In our book ‘utilidocs™, building blocks to a Digital Utility’ we describe how you can leverage energy data to deliver new and improved services.   Get your paperback or kindle version here.  All profits go to Solar Sisters.


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