‘Tough’ smart meter guidelines issued for Britain


Charles Hendry,
Minister of Energy
and Climate Change
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — April 10, 2012 – Britain’s smart metering implementation program has reached its next key milestone, with the provision of further detail on the technical and regulatory framework for the rollout, and the approach to consumer engagement and protection, including “tough” installation guidelines, according to the government in a new program update.

The update is one of eight new documents published. Among these, in two consultation response documents the government has set out its conclusions on the technical specifications for the smart metering equipment (SMETS) and a code of practice for the smart meter installation.

The initial version of the SMETS has been developed to deliver the key functionalities for the smart meter system that were confirmed in the Prospectus response in March 2011. At this point, it does not specify the communications technology to be used by this equipment, for example for the home area network (HAN). However, HAN technology utilized by suppliers must be based on open standards. Giving suppliers the freedom to select communication technologies will help support a productive foundation stage, believes the government. In the meantime, and in preparation for future consideration of the SMETS, a series of trials of different technology standards that could be used for the HAN are under way.

Among the key conclusions pertaining to a code of practice for the smart meter installation are that there should be no sales during the installation visit and that installers must provide energy efficiency advice as part of the visit. However, they will need consumers’ permission in advance of the visit if they are to talk to them about their own particular products.

All households will also be offered an in-home display allowing them to see what energy is being used and how much it is costing.

“In less than three years energy suppliers will begin the mass rollout of smart meters across the country and I am determined that consumers are at the heart of this ambitious program,” commented Energy and Climate Change minister Charles Hendry. “That is why we are proposing tough guidelines on installation, which will minimize inconvenience and help people to make the most of their smart meters to save energy and save money.”

Britain’s smart meter program aims to rollout 53 million smart electricity and gas meters to approximately 30 million households and small businesses by the end of 2019.

Following a consultation, it has been decided not to introduce exemptions in relation to early installations of domestic smart-type meters that do not meet the technical specifications. The publication of the initial technical specifications will facilitate moving quickly to start installing compliant meters, the government says. Furthermore, the introduction of any exemptions would have risked a poorer consumer experience and created additional complexity and cost for the overall rollout.

At the same time several further consultations have been published:

  • Consumer engagement strategy: The rollout is supplier-led, but benefits are seen in some supporting centralized engagement to build confidence in benefits and provide reassurance on areas of consumer concern as well as to deliver cost effective energy savings and to ensure that vulnerable and low income consumers can benefit from the rollout.
  • Data access and privacy: This consultation document seeks views on the proposed approach to smart metering data access and privacy. The central issues addressed include how to enable consumers to easily access their own energy consumption data, what access energy suppliers and network operators should have to consumers’ energy consumption data, and how to enable consumers to share their own data with third parties.
  • Data and Communications Company (DCC): The DCC will be responsible for the smart meter data and communications services and a set of draft license conditions are set out.
  • Smart Energy Code: The Code will primarily govern the arrangements by which energy market participants will access and use the services of the DCC and the consultation sets out the proposed content and governance arrangements.

Revised impact assessments of the domestic and non-domestic sectors have also been published indicating that the smart metering rollout will involve a total present value cost of £11.5 billion over the next twenty years, delivering total present benefits of £18.6 billion, and resulting in an overall net benefit of £7.2 billion. Taking into account all costs and benefits, the average dual fuel household should see bill savings of £25 per annum by 2020, rising to £40 by 2030. For small and medium businesses, bill savings are expected to be approximately £190 by 2020, rising to over £200 per year by 2030.