British government to assume responsibility for smart meter rollout


Charles Hendry,
Minister of State
for Energy
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — December 14, 2010

The British government has decided its Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will assume direct responsibility for managing the implementation phases of the country’s smart meter program, given its scale and the importance of government accountability for its delivery.

This is among the conclusions of an open letter from Charles Hendry, minister of state for energy, and Lord Mogg, chairman of the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority (GEMA), presenting an interim report on program.

Up to now the first phase of the program, in which the smart meter delivery arrangements are being developed, has been managed by the regulator Ofgem’s delivery arm Ofgem E-Serve, on behalf of the DECC.

Proposals for the delivery, including design requirements, central communications, data management and the approach to rollout, were published in a smart meter Prospectus in July, and currently a review is under way of the responses to the consultation on this Prospectus.

The letter says that around 300 responses were received to the consultation, generally welcoming the key proposals of the Prospectus. In particular there was almost unanimous support for a code of practice for installation of smart metering, with broad agreement that the objectives should be to promote a positive consumer experience of the smart meter installation and help facilitate the longer term behavioral change necessary to deliver program benefits.

There was also strong support for the establishment of a central communications and data management company (DCC) as a body that procures and manages service providers to deliver the required communications, security and data services. Further, a very strong appetite is apparent in the marketplace from companies seeking to become the DCC or to become service providers to it.

Turning to the functional requirements, the letter says there was broad agreement on over 90 percent of the proposed requirements. However, there are a small number of areas where additional evidence has been submitted, specifically on functionality to alert suppliers and networks when the consumer’s electricity supply is lost and the proposed requirement to hold at least 12 months consumption data stored at the meter, and further consideration of these areas is now being undertaken.

The letter also says that Ofgem will continue to play a vital role, in the development and implementation of the regulatory arrangements that underpin the smart metering rollout. This will include working with the DECC on the design, licensing and regulation of the DCC, and on protecting the consumers’ interests in all aspects of the program.

“The response to the Prospectus consultation has been encouraging and the program team is working hard to analyze the comments and reflect on them in our response to consultation for publication in the New Year,” the letter concludes.