Having read this thread I am totally gobsmacked at the lack of insight into how smart meters help us all. It isn’t only about what they can do for us right now but how they will facilitate the changes needed to make our use of energy more efficient in the future.
Of course, I agree that the greenest lifestyle of all is not to use non-essential energy regardless of where it comes from and so yes, if you want to life the greenest of lifestyles then you wouldn’t own a car at all, you wouldn’t fly anywhere, you wouldn’t use time-saving appliances like a washing machine/tumble dryer/dish washer etc and if you are happy making those choices then I take my hat off to you… but most people want these things.
So what is the answer? I don’t pretend to know that but what seems pretty obvious to me is that if we want to do all those energy-heavy activities then we need to do them in ways that don’t impact on our environment, or at least reduce that impact overall. Smart meters are a tool to help us do that.
Right now their functionality is rather limited as it is early days in the role out. Eventually though, having a smart meter in your house will mean that there is a much greater degree of control over how we use energy… control by us the consumer as we can then choose to use energy when it is cheaper and so reduce overall load on the grid, and control by the energy companies as they can turn off heavy users (such as charging electric cars, batteries etc but all with the customers prior permission) at times of high load so reducing the need to use the less green generators. Eventually, it might get to the point where all suitable homes have a battery system allowing for grid-wide storage of renewable energy that can be controlled by the grid and used when renewable generation is at a low and this may lead to a totally renewable grid.
I realise that this is not possible right now but the switch to smart meters is the first step towards us having a smarter grid and a smarter grid will mean a greener grid and a cheaper grid for everyone.