What is in a Meter? A Qualitative Exploration into the Implementation of Electricity Metering Across Mumbai Communities Using Normalisation Process Theory
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Metering is fundamental in the efficient operation of electricity networks, as meters facilitate controlled usage and improve health and well-being. However, across the Global South, meters have often been found to be lacking or not fit for purpose. Therefore, this study sought to determine residents’ perceptions and access to electricity metering across a community in Mumbai, with the goal of developing recommendations to support the implementation of meters in the future. Fifty semi-structured interviews were conducted by phone, with participants from different areas and socioeconomic classes, within Greater Mumbai. The sample consisted of 20 low-income, 20 middle-income, and 10 high-income participants. The Normalisation Process Theory (NPT) was used to inform the interview schedule and to organise the thematic analysis. Meter accessibility and location was variable across the participant groups, as was the education and awareness of metering technology. Socio-political factors were found to directly affect the use of meters, specifically in the low-income group. The high cost associated with metering was a prominent finding; with a preconception that introducing meters would only increase utility expenditure. Future work should focus around ensuring meters are easy to use, practical and accessible to all residents and supporting education programmes around how to use a meter and how they can reduce utility expenditure. The cost of meters should also be investigated, to establish that the costs, associated with introducing new meters, are not passed disproportionately to consumers.