AMI improves customer service – an interview with Hilbrand does


When and why did Oxxio start looking at AMI?

In early 2005 Oxxio developed a business case for smart metering for customers. There were two main reasons for this: to increase customer loyalty by offering better services and new added value services, and to have more control over the meter-to-cash process. This was triggered by the strong dependencies of the local network operators who were strongly related by intercompany relationships to the energy supply companies and were therefore our biggest competitors.

We developed a business case based on a base level where the annual meter rental covers the initial investments and we gain the advantages in customer loyalty, reducing costto- serve, and attracting additional customers.

What has been Oxxio’s approach to seeking a solution and what is this?

We were looking for a proven working technology solution. The Oxxio solution is based on the technology used by Enel/IBM in Italy but we made some major improvements to the system to make it work for Oxxio. We introduced GPRS communications (instead of power line communications) to make it possible offer a smart meter to every Oxxio customer, regardless of their location in The Netherlands, and we incorporated dual fuel support in order to realise a (wireless) connection to a smart gas meter.

Based on this technology we developed a proposition to the customer based on the principal of “more value for the same price.” We offer customers a smart metering service with daily feedback of their hourly load consumption profile through a personalised website (See figure).

Oxxio’s smart metering solution

Oxxio’s smart metering solution

What has been Oxxio’s approach to implementation?

Oxxio customers can choose to have a smart meter installed. As soon as the existing meters have been replaced, hourly consumption profiles are read on a daily basis. The data is presented to the customer on a personalised web domain where they can see and compare their energy consumption on a hourly, daily, monthly or yearly basis. The web interface is used to encourage energy saving and provide greater energy consumption awareness.

Since the start of the rollout in 2006 we have up-to-now installed over 150,000 meters in more than 80,000 households. We have a flexible and well-trained partner for installation services, and we chose to outsource the entire AMM operations to IBM.

What results has Oxxio found to date?

The customer benefits from the insight in their energy consumption. They become more aware of their energy consumption and can act to reduce it. In specific target groups this leads to substantial energy savings, which is beneficial to the environment.

What has been the customer response?

Oxxio has experienced significant energy savings amongst a research population of the smart meter users, which indicates the energy efficiency possibilities. More than 10% energy savings have been measured in more than 17% of this population, indicating that smart meter data feedback can be very effective for specific energy consumer groups.

Using smart meters for specific target groups creates the best public business case by optimising the energy efficiency during the full smart meter rollout.

What are Oxxio’s future plans for AMI and a smart grid?

Due to the regulatory changes Oxxio will probably end the smart meter rollout by the end of this year, and is considering the possibility to request priority smart meter installations by the network operator. This will also lead to a transfer of assets to comply to the new market model.

The fact that the Dutch government is planning to roll out smart meters across the whole country underlines the success of Oxxio’s experience. Oxxio favours a large, nationwide smart meter rollout, in a target group approach. Such an approach will reduce the overall business risk by optimising the smart meter environmental and market process benefits. This outweighs the small additional efficiency advantages of a doorby- door rollout.

The smart meter functionality should primarily support data collection and connection control. The implementation of further energy management tooling in the home should be demand driven in a commercially driven environment and not part of a deregulated network operator domain.