All British homes to get smart meters by 2020


Lord Hunt,
U.K. Energy &
Climate Change Minister
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — December 3, 2009 – Approximately 50 million smart electricity and gas meters will be rolled out to all British homes and most small businesses by energy suppliers by the end of 2020, Energy and Climate Change Minister Lord Hunt has announced.

In addition, suppliers will be required to provide a stand alone display to residential consumers to deliver real time energy consumption information in a readily accessible form.

“A global climate deal in Copenhagen needs all countries to make the most ambitious commitments possible, but it will also require all of us to change how we lead our lives and how we generate our energy,” commented Lord Hunt. “Smart meters will put the power in people’s hands, enabling us all to control how much energy we use, cut emissions and cut bills.”

In its response document to its consultation on smart metering the government says it has concluded that a “central communications model,” under which energy suppliers will be responsible for purchasing and installing meters, and communications are coordinated centrally, offers the best model for Britain’s smart meter roll out. In particular, this model combines strong incentives for energy suppliers to deliver a high quality service to their customers, with wide scope to simplify and improve industry processes, making it easier to switch between suppliers. The model also is expected to minimize the time and risk involved in preparing for rollout, since it avoids changing the disposition of responsibility for metering services.

However, a considerable amount of further design work is now needed to establish how this central communications model should best be delivered, and this will be a significant piece of work under the implementation program. The work on communications will need to cover a wide range of issues including regulatory, competition, commercial, technical issues, as well as develop the related market rules. An important first step will be to establish the overall communications requirements.

The response lists the functionalities that all smart meters will be required to have as remote provision of accurate reads/information for defined time periods, two way communications to the meter system, home area network based on open standards and protocols, and support for a range of time of use tariffs. In addition the electricity smart meters will be required to have load management capability to deliver demand side management, remote disablement and enablement of supply, exported electricity measurement, and capacity to communicate with a measurement device within a microgenerator.

Initially also the inclusion of a valve in gas meters for remote enablement/disablement of supply was proposed, but the government says further work is needed to assess some of the technical issues and that it proposes to commission expert analysis to assess further the options, and their practical implications, before reaching a final decision.

For the non-domestic sector, i.e. small and medium businesses, the government proposes that these should be supplied with smart electricity and gas meters on the same timescale as for domestic sites, but with exceptions under certain circumstances. These are where advanced meters have been installed before April 2014 and the customer wishes to retain the existing meters, where advanced meters have been installed after April 2014 under pre-existing contractual arrangements, and where there are technical constraints on the achievement of smart functionality.

The reason for this is that advanced metering is already being rolled out in this sector and it will enable its continued installation and the benefits of early energy and carbon savings, while moving over time to ensure that the level of smart functionality is maximized in this sector, according to the response.

The government says the implementation of smart metering will be the largest and most complex change-over program in the energy industry since the switch to North Sea gas in the sixties and seventies. A major central implementation program is required to design and implement new cross-industry arrangements, in coordination with the change programs which industry participants will need to implement themselves.

To this end a strategic program board will be set up by to manage the first phase of the project, which will comprise the development of a prospectus defining the scope and key principles of the smart metering solution. In particular the prospectus will set out a statement of design requirements covering how the key systems and processes necessary to support smart meters will operate, a commercial and regulatory framework setting out the arrangements that will cover the development, installation and operation of the smart metering solution, including the communications approach, and the phasing and timetable for smart meter introduction.

The board, under the chairmanship of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, will provide the necessary strategic oversight and direction to the program, while the regulator Ofgem will manage and ensure its effective delivery.

This phase, which also will include a program plan for the remaining phases of the program, is anticipated to be completed by the summer of 2010.