Last updated: November 29, 2010 - 11:45am
PG&E, Cisco and General Electric are all betting that energy-monitoring devices will catch on in homes. Convincing consumers that they're a good thing is turning out to be a tough sell.
Power companies have traditionally relied on workers walking house to house to monitor electricity use. Smart meters are designed to give utilities a real-time picture of electricity consumption, eventually allowing them to create pricing plans that will encourage conservation during peak hours. About 43 percent of U.S. homes will have the new meters by 2014, up from 14 percent at the end of last year, according to Dallas-based market researcher Parks Associates. Even with $3.4 billion in US stimulus funds behind it, the race to install smart meters is starting to lose momentum. "The meters don't benefit the consumer; they cost a lot of money, and we can't opt out," says Joshua Hart, the California- based director of Scotts Valley Neighbors Against Smart Meters.
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