Skip to main content Accessibility help

Making energy personal: policy coordination challenges in UK smart meter implementation

  • Sarah Giest (a1)


Governments are increasingly facilitating the roll-out of so-called “smart meters”, a technology for measuring energy consumption that are able to transmit and receive data using a form of electronic communication. However, implementation has been slow or even stalled. To identify some of the causes for this, the policy coordination perspective serves as a lens to unravel the different elements involved in smart meter implementation. The research adds the demand and supply dimension to account for market dynamics and public engagement challenges in the process. A case study of the UK finds that government efforts are challenged by the timely and coherent coordination of diverse stakeholders and regulatory measures.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) (2016) Annual Report on the Results of Monitoring the Internal Electricity and Gas Markets in 2015, Key Insights and Recommendations. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
Alskaif, T and van Sark, W (2016) D1.4 – Smart grid roll-out and access to metering data: state-of-the-art. PARENT (PARticipatory platform for sustainable ENergy managemenT) Initiative, (accessed 28 May 2019).
Ambrose, J (2017) The clock is ticking on the energy market’s smart meter revolution. The Telegraph, (accessed 17 March 2017).
Arvola, A, Uutela, A and Anttila, U (1993) Billing feedback as means to encourage household electricity conservation: A field experiment in Helsinki. Proceedings of the 1993 summer study of the European Council for an energy efficient economy, Rungstedgård, Denmark, June 1–5.
Barnett, M (2015) The £100 m campaign you’ve never heard of. Marketing Week, (accessed 6 August 2015).
Bekkers, V and Homburg, V (2007) The Myths of E-Government: Looking Beyond the Assumptions of a New and Better Government. The Information Society, 23(5): 373382.10.1080/01972240701572913
Belanger, F and Carter, L (2008) Trust and Risk in e-Government Adoption. Journal of Strategic Information Systems 17: 165176.10.1016/j.jsis.2007.12.002
Bergek, A, Jacobsson, S, Carlsson, B, Lindmark, S and Rickne, A (2008) Analyzing the Functional Dynamics of Technological Innovation Systems: A Scheme of Analysis. Research Policy, 37: 407429.10.1016/j.respol.2007.12.003
Borrás, S and Edquist, C (2013) The Choice of Innovation Policy Instruments. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 80(8): 15131522.10.1016/j.techfore.2013.03.002
Bouckaert, G, van Dooren, W, Verschuere, B, Voets, J and Wayenberg, E (2010) Trajetories for Mondernizing Local Governance: Revisiting the Flanders Case. Public Management Review, 4(3): 309342.10.1080/14616670210151603
Carlsson, B and Stankiewicz, R (1991) On the Nature, Function and Composition of Technological Systems. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 1(2): 93118.10.1007/BF01224915
Carter, L and Belanger, F (2005) The Utilization of e-Government Services: Citizen Trust, Innovation and Acceptance Factors. Information Systems Journal, 15: 525.10.1111/j.1365-2575.2005.00183.x
Colesca, S (2009) Understanding Trust in e-Government. Economics of Engineering Decisions, 3: 715.
Collinson, P (2017) Is your smart meter spying on you? The Guardian, (accessed 24 June 2017).
Committee on Climate Change (2016) UK climate action following the Paris Agreement. (accessed 28 May 2019).
Darby, S (2010) Smart Metering: What Potential for Household Engagement? Building Research and Information, 38(5): 442457.10.1080/09613218.2010.492660
Data Communications Company (DCC) (2016) Initial Enrolment Project Feasibility Draft Report, Consultation Document, (accessed 28 May 2019).
Davis, F (1989) Perceived Usefulness, Perceived Ease of Use, and User Acceptance of Information Technology. MIS Quarterly, 13(3): 319340.10.2307/249008
Delmas, M, Fischlein, M and Asensio, O (2013) Information Strategies and Energy Conservation Behavior: A Meta-Analysis of Experimental Studies from 1975 to 2012. Energy Policy, 61: 729739.10.1016/j.enpol.2013.05.109
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) (2016) Smart Meter Roll-Out (GB): Cost-Benefit Analysis, (accessed 28 May 2019).
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) (2017a) Smart Meters: A Guide, (accessed 28 May 2019).
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) (2017b) Smart Meters Statistics, (accessed 28 May 2019).
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) (2017c) Smart Meter Customer Experience Study 2017, (accessed 28 May 2019).
Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) (2012) Smart Metering Implementation Programme Data Access and Privacy, Government Response to Consultation, (accessed 28 May 2019).
Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) (2015a) DECC’s Policy Conclusions: Early Learning Project and Small-scale Behaviour Trials, Smart Metering Implementation Programme, URN 15D/085.
Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) (2015b) Fourth Annual Report on the Roll-out of Smart Meters, Smart Metering Implementation Programme, URN 15D/490.
Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) (2016) Smart Metering, A guide for Local Authorities and Third Sector Organisations, (accessed 29 May 2017).
Department of Energy & Climate Change (2016) Smart Meter In-Home Display Licence Conditions. (accessed 28 May 2019).
Dovers, S (1997) Sustainability: Demands on Policy. Journal of Public Policy, 16(3): 303318.10.1017/S0143814X00007789
Ehrhardt-Martinez, K, Donnelly, K and Laitner, J (2010) Advanced Metering Initiatives and Residential Feedback Programs: A Meta-Review for Household Electricity-Saving Opportunities. American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Report Number E105.
European Commission (EC) (2014) Report from the Commission: Benchmarking Smart Metering Deployment in the EU-27 with a Focus on Electricity. Brussels, COM(2014) 356 final.10.1016/j.tej.2014.11.002
European Commission (EC) (2016) Smart Grids and Meters. Energy Report, (accessed 28 May 2019).
European Communities Trade Mark Association (ECTA) (2016) Smart Meters: The Consumer View, (accessed 28 May 2019).
European Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on Energy Efficiency, Amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU and Repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC. Official Journal of the European Union, L 315/1.
European Directive 2009/72/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 Concerning Common Rules for the Internal Market in Electricity and Repealing Directive 2003/54/EC. Official Journal of the European Union, 55/112L.
Fischer, C (2008) Feedback on Household Electricity Consumption: A Tool for Saving Energy?. Energy Efficiency, 1(1): 79104.10.1007/s12053-008-9009-7
Giest, S and Mukherjee, I (2018) Behavioral Instruments in Renewable Energy and the Role of Big Data: A Policy Perspective. Energy Policy, 123: 360366.10.1016/j.enpol.2018.09.006
Greater London Authority (2016) Smart City Opportunities for London. Arup-GLA Smart City Opportunities for London Report,¬gla_smart_city_opportunities_for_london.pdf (accessed 15 March 2016).
Gregersen, B (2010) The Public Sector as a Pacer in National Systems of Innovation. In Lundvall, B. (ed.), National Systems of Innovation, Toward Theory of Innovation and Interactive Learning. London, UK: Anthem Press, 133149.
Hall, B (2004) Innovation and Diffusion. In Fagerberg, J., Mowery, D. and Nelson, R. (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Innovation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Heiskanen, E, Matschoss, K and Repo, P (2015) Engaging Consumers and Citizens in the Creation of Low-Carbon Energy Markets. In Conference Paper, ECEEE Summer Study Proceedings, Presqu’ile De Giens, France, June 2015.
Howlett, M, Ramesh, M and Perl, A (2009) Studying Public Policy, Policy Cycles & Policy Subsystems. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Jenkins, N, Long, C and Wu, J (2015) An Overview of the Smart Grid in Great Britain. Engineering, 1(4): 413421.10.15302/J-ENG-2015112
Kahler, M (1988) Organization and Cooperation: International Institutions and Policy Coordination. Journal of Public Policy, 8(34): 375401.10.1017/S0143814X00008679
Kaufmann, F, Majone, G and Ostrom, V (1986) Guidance, Control and Evaluation in the Public Sector. Berlin: de Gruyter.
Keohane, R (1986) The Study of International Regimes and the Classical Tradition in International Relations. Paper delivered at the 1986 Annual Meeting of the American of the American Political Science Association, August 1986.
Klopfert, F and Wallenborn, G (2011) Empowering Consumer through Smart Metering. Report for Beuc. The European Consumer Organisation, December 2011.
Kranz, J, Gallenkamp, J and Picot, A (2010) Power Control to the People? Private Consumers’ Acceptance of Smart Meters. ECIS Conference Paper Pretoria, South Africa, 7–9 June 2010.
Lehner, M, Mont, O and Heiskanen, E (2016) Nudging – A Promising Tool for Sustainable Consumption Behavior?. Journal of Cleaner Production, 134: 166177.10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.11.086
Leydesdorff, L and Ivanova, I (2016) “Open Innovation” and “Triple Helix” Models of Innovation: Can Synergy in Innovation Systems be Measured? Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity, 2(11), DOI 10.1186/s40852-016-0039-7.10.1186/s40852-016-0039-7
Lundvall, B (2010) User-Producer Relationships, National Systems of Innovation and Internationalisation. In Lundvall, B (ed.), National Systems of Innovation, Toward Theory of Innovation and Interactive Learning. London, UK: Anthem Press, 4763.
Magro, E, Navarro, M and Zabala-Iturriagagoitia, J (2014) Coordination-Mix: The Hidden Face of STI Policy. Review of Policy Research, 31(5): 367389.10.1111/ropr.12090
Martin, B, Nightingale, P and Yegros-Yegros, A (2012) Science and Technology Studies: Exploring the Knowledge Base. Research Policy, 41(7): 11821204.10.1016/j.respol.2012.03.010
McDaniel, P and McLaughlin, S (2009) Security and Privacy Challenges in the Smart Grid. IEEE Security and Privacy, 7(3): 7577.10.1109/MSP.2009.76
McKnight, D, Choudhury, V and Kacmar, C (2002) Developing and Validating Trust Measures for e-Commerce: An Integrative Typology. Information Systems Research, 13(3): 334359.10.1287/isre.13.3.334.81
Mengolini, A and Vasiljevska, J (2013) The Social Dimension of Smart Grids, Consumer, Community, Society. JRC Scientific and Policy Report, European Commission, Institute of Energy and Transport, (accessed 28 May 2019).
Naughton, J (2013) Why Smart Meters Might Not Be So Clever After All. The Guardian,¬meters¬uk¬hacking-electricity (accessed 18 August 2013).
OECD (2015) Aligning Policies for the Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy. Meeting of the OECD Council at Ministerial Level, Paris, (accessed 28 May 2019).
O’Leary, Z (2014) The Essential Guide to Doing Your Research Project. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
O’Toole, L and Monnoy, R (1984) Interorganizational Policy Implementation: A Theoretical Perspective. Public Administration Review, 44(6): 491503.10.2307/3110411
O’Toole, L (1997) Treating Networks Seriously: Practical and Research-Based Agendas in Public Administration. Public Administration Review, 57(1): 4552.10.2307/976691
Owaineh, A, Leach, M, Guest, P and Wehrmeyer, W (2015) Policy, Niches and Diffusion in UK Smart Grid Innovation. Surrey: Centre for Environmental Strategy.
Oudiz, G and Sachs, J (1984) Macroeconomic Policy Coordination Among Industrial Economies. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 1: 165.10.2307/2534275
Palmer, K (2015) 1.5 Million Smart Meters Won’t Work When You Switch Energy Supplier. The Telegraph, (accessed 7 June 2015).
Peters, G (2015) Pursuing Horizontal Management: The Politics of Public Sector Coordination. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.
Peters, G (2018) The challenge of policy coordination. Policy Design and Practice, 1(1): 111.10.1080/25741292.2018.1437946
Porter, M (1990) The Competitive Advantage of Nations. New York: Free Press.10.1007/978-1-349-11336-1
Pressman, J and Wildavsky, A (1973) Implementation. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Rogers, E (1995) Diffusion of Innovations, 4th ed. New York: Free Press.
Sabatier, P and Mazmanian, D (1979) The Conditions of Effective Implementation: A Guide to Accomplishing Policy Objectives. Policy Analysis, 5(6): 481504.
Sartorius, C and Zundel, S (2005) Time Strategies, Innovation and Environmental Policy. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Scharpf, F (1994) Games Real Actors Could Play: Positive and Negative Coordination in Embedded Negotiations. Journal of Theoretical Politics, 6: 2753.10.1177/0951692894006001002
Smart Energy GB (2016a) Latest Findings on the Impact of Smart Meters from Smart Energy Outlook, (accessed 28 May 2019).
Smart Energy GB (2016b) New Smart Energy GB Report: A Smart Route to Change, (accessed 28 May 2019).
SMICoP (2017) Smart Metering Installation Code of Practice, 28 May 2019).
Smithers, R (2014) Public May End Up Paying for Obsolete Smart Meters That Save Little, MPs Warn. The Guardian, (accessed 10 September 2014).
Sovakool, B, Kivimaa, P, Hielscher, S and Jenkins, K (2017) Vulnerability and Resistance in the United Kingdom’s Smart Meter Transition. Energy Policy, 109: 767781.10.1016/j.enpol.2017.07.037
Steunenberg, B (2006) Turning Swift Policy-making into Deadlock and Delay: National Policy Coordination and the Transposition of EU Directives. European Union Politics, 7(3): 293319.10.1177/1465116506066258
Stop Smart Meters (2013) OFGEM Confirms: British Gas Is Misleading Customers on Smart Meters,
Stragier, J, Hauttekeerte, L and De Marez, L (2010) Introducing Smart Grids in Residential Contexts: Consumers’ Perception of Smart Household Appliances. Conference Paper, Innovative Technologies for an Efficient and Reliable Electricity Supply (CITRES), IEEE Waltham, MA, USA, 27–29 September 2010.
Taylor, C (2007) Developing Relationships between Higher Education, Enterprise and Innovation in the Creative Industries. In Henry, C. (ed.), Entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries – An International Perspective. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
Tsebelis, G (2002) Veto Players. How Political Institutions Work. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.10.1515/9781400831456
Thompson, G, Frances, J, Levacic, R and Mitchell, J (1991) Markets, Hierarchies and Networks: The Coordination of Social Life. London: Sage.
Torriti, J, Hassan, M and Leach, M (2010) Demand Response Experience in Europe: Policies, Programmes and Implementation. Energy, 35(4): 15751583.10.1016/
Verbong, G, Sengers, F and Beemsterboer, S (2013) Smart Grids or Smart Users? Involving Users in Developing a Low Carbon Electricity Economy. Energy Policy, 117125.10.1016/j.enpol.2012.05.003
Vogelsang, I (2002) Incentive Regulation and Competition in Public Utility Markets: a 20-Year Perspective. Journal of Regulatory Economics, 22: 527.10.1023/A:1019992018453
Weber, K and Rohracher, H (2012) Legitimizing Research, Technology and Innovation Policies for Transformative change: Combining Insights from Innovation Systems and Multi-Level Perspective in a Comprehensive ‘Failures’ Framework. Research Policy, 41 (6): 10371047.10.1016/j.respol.2011.10.015
Wintjes, R (2016) Systems and Modes of ICT Innovation. JRC Science for Policy Report, JRC102047, European Commission, Brussels.
Zgajewski (2015) Smart Electricity Grids: A Very Slow Deployment in the EU. Egmont Paper 74, February 2015, The Royal Institute for International Relations.
Zhang, T and Nuttall, W (2011) Evaluating Government’s Policies on Promoting Smart Metering Diffusion in Retail Electricity Markets via Agent-Based Simulation. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 8: 169186.10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00790.x
Zhou, S and Brown, M (2017) Smart Meter Deployment in Europe: A Comparative Case Study on the Impacts of National Policy Schemes. Journal of Cleaner Production, 144: 2232.10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.12.031
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Public Policy
  • ISSN: 0143-814X
  • EISSN: 1469-7815
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-public-policy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed