Energy Poverty

Protecting consumers in digitized and multi-source energy systems

Autor: Christopher Decker

2021 - Energy Sources, Part B: Economics, Planning, and Policy

Extract of the Introduction

Increasing numbers of consumers now have a choice about when and how they source energy including the option to access energy from sources such as standalone or community networks, behind the meter generation, or battery storage. Digitalization is also allowing more consumers to effectively control their purchase, and manage their consumption, of energy including through the automatic control of appliances and automated engagement with suppliers in real time. In aggregate these changes have substantial potential to “empower” energy consumers by allowing them to buy, manage, share, and sell energy in different ways (Brown, Woodhouse, and Sioshansi 2019; Cseres 2018; Lowitzsch 2019). However, the changes also give rise to new risks for some consumers that raise important questions about whether consumer protections originally developed for traditional energy products and services need to adapt to reflect this changed context. Among these risks are that consumers do not get the information they need to fully assess the suitability of the new unfamiliar products; agree to adverse contractual terms; or become locked-in to new long-term supply arrangements limiting future choice.