Who represents the energy consumer?

One of the biggest changes between the current energy system and the future smart, flexible energy system is the role of consumers.

Today, consumers are served by the system but are not part of it.  But this is changing. The solar panels, electric vehicles, heat pumps and energy storage systems we buy can, should, will, all become part of the energy system and connected to the local grid.

Instead of all grid assets being owned and managed by the energy industry, an increasing proportion will be owned by commercial, industrial and domestic consumers.

Yesterday a small group of us from Smart Energy Europe (SmartEn) met with senior members of the European Commission to discuss what follows the current “energy for all” package.  In the course of the discussion, Sami Andoura, Team Leader, Sustainable Development from the European Political Strategy Centre asked what the role of the European Commission should be in this brave new future. 

SmartEn represents a wide range of energy businesses:  utilities, manufacturers, aggregators, tech companies large and small.  What we realised though is that all of us represent the industry – nobody represents consumers, not even geo, although we do try to design for them!

Laura Sandys of Challenging Ideas is championing the idea of regulating from the perspective of the consumer rather than the industry.  Perhaps these things should come together.  Certainly, there is a definite willingness at the top of the Commission to do more for the consumer which has to be a good thing. 

Overall, I found the meeting surprisingly encouraging and reinforces Laura’s ideas. Government should represent and regulate for the consumer, not the industry.