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Smart metering in the UK and you

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

New licence conditions for the supply of electricity and gas will be introduced on April 6 2009. These new conditions are an essential building block in the Government’s carbon reduction programme for the UK. Under these changes, all Profile Class 5-8 electricity meters, and all metered gas consuming over 732,000 kWh a year, must be replaced by smart meters.

The new metering standards for all Profile Class 5-8 meters will be CoP10 for whole current and CoP5 for CT meters. Customers have until 2014 to change their meters, but any smart meter installed as from the New Year must comply with this new metering code of practice.

Does this affect you?
To find out if your meters need to be changed, take a look at your electricity bill. This will contain an ‘S’ number that tells you which electricity Profile Class you are in.

According to BERR/DECC, the new meters must ‘store measured electricity consumption data for multiple time periods; and at least half hourly’ and they must ‘provide remote access to such data by the licensee’. BERR/DECC also state that ‘timely’ access to the data from the meter must be given to the customer. Government guidance is that ‘timely’ should be day + 1.

But, just because suppliers will now have to give you access to your meter data, it doesn’t mean they should let you have it for free.

Access to data
The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is advising the public sector not to sign up to a supplier contract where metering is conditional on the agreement. They believe this ‘limits competition and the ability to negotiate energy contracts in the future’.

Continuity of data is fundamental to achieving carbon savings. So, the best route is to go appoint an independent provider of metering and data services. This will allow you to change supplier without being bound by any metering and data service, and without losing any of your meter data during the supplier change over.

Interoperability
The Government believes proprietary metering systems are not good for market choice. Therefore, BERR/DECC are calling for open systems, so that any data collector can collect from any metering system – just like in the half hourly market. The benefit of having open systems is that it will greatly improve consumer choice.

Switch sooner rather than later
Mandatory smart metering by 2014 will affect around 170,000 electricity meters and 40,000 gas meters in the UK. If this includes your organisation, then it’s in your interest to switch to smart metering sooner rather than later, because the half hourly meter data you will have access to will enable you to see exactly where and when energy waste is occurring. It’s only when you have this detailed information that you can start to introduce effective measures to eliminate waste and reduce carbon emissions.

Will you be caught in the Carbon Reduction Commitment?
Currently, there are 110,000 meters in the half hourly market. The requirement for mandatory smart metering in electricity Profile Classes 5-8 and annual gas usage of 732,000 kWh or over means a tripling in the number of half hourly meters by 2014. Any organisation which has introduced half hourly metering and which uses more than 6,000 megawatt hours a year (or around £1/2m at today’s prices) will now be caught in the net of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC). So, if you thought your organisation was going to slip under the radar of the CRC, you may need to revisit this assumption.

As a reminder, the CRC is a mandatory carbon trading scheme that will be introduced in 2010. Its aim is to cut carbon emission by 1.2 million tonnes in the UK by 2020. You can find out more on DECC’s website: www.decc.gov.uk

The CRC will be a bonus and penalty scheme, with organisations in the top half of the ‘league table’ being paid a bonus. So, it’s not all bad news: with your smart metering system in place, you will be able to eliminate energy waste – which puts you in a much stronger position to win regular CRC bonuses.

Save up to 12% on your energy bills
If you think smart metering will increase your costs, reconsider. Smart metering has reduced in price significantly over the last twelve months and the difference between the cost of monthly manual reads and the cost of obtaining remote reads and online half hourly data has narrowed dramatically.

According to the Carbon Trust, introducing smart metering can actually save you money. Last year, they undertook smart metering trials and the results showed that smart metering, when combined with consumption data and energy-saving advice, gave potential average savings of 12% a year.

It’s in your interest to go ‘smart’

To sum up, if you are in electricity Profile Class 5-8 or you consume over 732,000 kWh of gas a year, your current meters must be replaced by smart meters by 2014. This is mandatory, so you will be obliged to invest in this. However, it is in your interest to do so, as there are significant energy savings to be made with smart metering. And the savings you make will all go towards meeting the UK’s carbon emission targets. All in all, smart metering gives you an outstanding return on your investment.