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Scripting the electricity consumer in the meter – an exploration of the French smart meter dispute

Abstract : This paper is concerned with the coming into being of a new type of consumer in the electricity sector which we choose to name “responsive consumer”. ‘Responsive’ echoes to ‘demand-response’, a term used by actors in the electricity sector in order to point at the possibility for the electricity demand - so, for the electricity consumer - to become reactive to price signals. This reactive consumer is a consumer amenable to price incentives, to contributing into peak load shading by shifting his/her demand and uses in time, so taking part into the balancing of the electricity grid. “Responsive” also echoes to “responsible” which refers to the integration of an environmental concern that translate in a certain care towards one’s energy consumption. The responsive consumer might thus also respond to other non-price signals such as grid congestion signals, non-wind generated, polluted electricity signals, etc. "Smart grid" is, in the energy sector, the key techno-economic object that supports the construction of the responsive consumer. Important investments have been undertaken by governments, energy companies and manufacturers on smart grids in Europe and in the United States. “Smart grid” designates a bi-directional grid, conveying both energy flows and real-time information both in top-down and bottom-up directions. The smart grid thus opens up new possibilities for grid management. In the field of smart grid, a key dimension that has emerged since 2011 in EU policy documents is the construction of the future consumer, as a new entity that has to emerge in order for smart grid to become a viable technology. The construction of this future user of smart grids is at the heart of the visions about these grids and of the emerging business models around them. In France and the EU, these visions are operationalized through what is called “demonstration”. At the intersection of technology and politics, the demonstration aims at bringing R&D results on smart grids at the “industrial scale” in an effort to develop market out of research. While “demonstrators” are the sites whereby the processes to make up this new consumer take place, this making up is embedded in the broader RTD “demonstration” policy style and settings. The contribution is a work in progress. It is an attempt at proposing an analytical framework which allows us to follow the construction of the responsive consumer through the situated processes of material agencements – the demonstrator sites - while accounting for the broader embedding of these agencements in the EU demonstration technopolitics. The paper proceeds in three steps. The first part of the paper will present our material and analytical framework. The second part turns to analyzing the consumer / demonstration articulation in both EU and French smart grid techno-politics. The third part focuses on one specific demonstration space where a controversy arose around the scripting of the responsive consumer into one smart grid device (the meter).
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Contributor : Alain Nadai <>
Submitted on : Monday, December 21, 2015 - 5:25:54 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, August 5, 2020 - 3:14:48 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-01247349, version 1


Catherine Grandclément, Alain Nadaï. Scripting the electricity consumer in the meter – an exploration of the French smart meter dispute . EGOS conference, session "Devising Markets and Other Valuation Sites", EGOS, Jul 2015, athenes, Greece. ⟨halshs-01247349⟩



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