The ethical smart grid: Enabling a fruitful and long-lasting relationship between utilities and customers

G. Le Ray*, P. Pinson

*Corresponding author for this work

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The European Union is implementing ambitious programs to tackle energy efficiency, energy independence, and climate change challenges. To reach the 20/20/20 targets, the EU aims at modernizing power grids to make them ‘smart’ by collecting close to real-time data and subsequently operate grids more optimally. One of the smart grid purposes is to integrate a growing share of renewable generation while efficiently accommodating their variability and limited predictability through the actuation of consumer flexibility. Hence, the success of energy programs relies on customer involvement in altering their energy consumption through the use of analytics and incentive-based demand-side management. The rollout of smart meters throughout Europe should provide the necessary information to implement them. This is without accounting for a possible backlash of customers in response to bad practices of utilities when it comes to digitization and smart meter rollout, also associated with the potential distrust of digital products. Beyond legal binds and technical obstacles, the possible ways of handling the rollout of smart meters and metering, which defines the relationship between customers and utilities, are multiple. However, only the practices that exhibit ethical behavior of the utilities towards customers, and consider them as stakeholders in smart grids will lead to a fruitful and long-lasting relationship between customers and utilities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111258
JournalEnergy Policy
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Big data
  • Ethics
  • Privacy
  • Smart grid
  • Smart meter


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