Smart meter data and equitable energy transitions–can cities play a role?

Jess Britton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability of smart cities to address multiple priorities is currently receiving a great deal of attention from governments, industry and academia; however, there are relatively few explorations of how smart cities will be enacted and the equity implications of various elements of the agenda. This paper aims to begin to address this by considering the case of smart meter data in Great Britain and reviewing the potential for public interest benefits to be realised at both a national and city-scale. In order to interrogate how societal benefits of smart metering might be enabled or constrained at different scales, both transition management approaches to understanding the intricacies of transforming socio-technical systems, and urban governance literatures which explore the problems in aligning “smart” and “sustainable” agendas, are engaged with. The case suggests that there is great potential for smart meter data to deliver public interest benefits and in doing so contribute to equity in energy transitions through promoting the accrual of benefits to collective rather than solely individual or commercial interests. Despite this, under the current smart metering framework city-scale actors are largely excluded from utilising smart metering data unless they partner with a large incumbent company. This suggests that the configuration of national smart metering arrangements could be further embedding a marketised approach to smart cities and demonstrates the complex interlinking of socio-political processes operating across multiple scales in energy transitions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-609
Number of pages15
JournalLocal Environment
Issue number7
Early online date9 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • equity
  • public interest
  • smart cities
  • smart meter data
  • socio-technical transitions


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