Smart Meters and Cities

We face an energy governance trilemma: of peak demand for electricity in cities; ensuring prices remain low; and addressing climate change with renewable technologies. And your home is right in the middle of this energy trilemma.

A Smart Electric Meter fitted to your home might just be the technology that pushes you into  a more data-driven, digitally networked and automated energy world. But what do smart meters mean for you, your household and your home?

“So the main benefit of the smart meter is that it can lower your electricity retail bill, and as we all know, we’ve seen significant increases in electricity prices”

Dr Sangeetha Chandra-Shekeran

We’re talking to Dr Sangeetha Chandra-Shekeran and Dr Jathan Sadowski about smart meters, energy governance, tech start-ups and privacy. They discuss the divergence between what smart metres promise electricity consumers and electricity managers, what they currently do, and what new data about electricity usage might allow in the future. These technologies might allow us to better manage energy, but there also other forces at play.

“The smart meter opens up a lot of opportunities for energy companies and particularly this emerging eco-system of energy tech start-ups”

Dr Jathan Sadowski

What is clear is that smart meters will create an uneven patchwork of costs and benefits for different actors in the electricity sector – an uneven patchwork that will impact you and me.


Dr Sangeetha Chandra-Shekeran is a Lecturer in the School of Geography and Deputy Director at the Melbourne Sustainable Societies Institute at the University of Melbourne. Sangeetha is an economic geographer with a focus on the political economic dimensions of change in large social and technical systems. Her research studies the challenges of deep decarbonisation and the complexities of the energy sector.

Read more about her research on smart metering in this report and at The Conversation.

Dr Jathan Sadowski is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Architecture Design and Planning at the University of Sydney. His research investigates how transformative technologies, that are data-driven, networked, and automated, shape societies and cities.

And here is a little Sadowski out-take treat!

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