Smart Meters are not new but the purpose they have been put in place for will be – Information Scarcity.
Rolling brownouts and smart meters stand ready to enforce a strict policy of information scarcity such that these days of terabyte storage and smoking fast graphic cards become only a fond memory of things past.
Similar meters, usually referred to as interval or time-of-use meters, have existed for years, but “Smart Meters” usually involve real-time or near real-time sensors, power outage notification, and power quality monitoring. These additional features are more than simple automated meter reading (AMR). They are similar in many respects to Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters. Interval and time-of-use meters historically have been installed to measure commercial and industrial customers, but may not have automatic reading.
Research by Which?, the UK consumer group, showed that as many as one in three confuse smart meters with energy monitors, also known as in-home display monitors  The roll-out of smart meters is one strategy for energy savings. While energy suppliers in the UK could save around £300 million a year from their introduction, consumer benefits will depend on people actively changing their energy use. For example, time of use tariffs offering lower rates at off-peak times, and selling electricity back to the grid, may also benefit consumers.
The installed base of smart meters in Europe at the end of 2008 was about 39 million units, according to analyst firm Berg Insight. Globally, Pike Research found that smart meter shipments were 17.4 million units for the first quarter of 2011. Visiongain has determined that the value of the global smart meter market will reach $7bn in 2012.
Smart meters may be part of a smart grid, but alone, they do not constitute a smart grid.