Utility Week

Utility Week 4th October 2013

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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Operations & Assets Pipe up Paul Collins It would cost just £18 per property to fit an isolator with every smart meter – energy suppliers should do it. E it improved the scale of community benefit for new onshore wind projects to £5000 per megawatt per annum, split between a "local" and "regional" fund. If you have an asset or project you would like to see featured in this slot, please send your pictures and details of the project to: paul.newton@favhouse.com nergy firms have a once in a lifetime opportunity to address a number of customer service issues en masse with the smart meter rollout. The question is, will they be brave enough to invest just a little bit extra as a future investment in customer goodwill? One such issue surrounds property de-energisation – for example, if the consumer unit needs replacing or moving. There are 400,000 temporary de-energisations every year. To de-energise a property now, either the electrician or property owner has to call out the utility provider, first to remove the cut-out fuse and then at a later time to replace it. This often results in delay and typically costs the customer £35 to £45 per visit or £70 to £90 in total. There are alternatives, but only one is legal, which is to arrange for the electricity company to fit an isolator between the meter and the consumer unit so the electrician can de-energise the property. Such isolators are It is common generally fitted in new-build sense to solve properties but are rarely retrothis issue once fitted because you still need to call out the provider and pay and for all for the installation, which costs while utilities £130. have access to in the region ofto happen in What tends properties practice is that the electrician will remove and replace the cut-out fuse. This is potentially dangerous and also leaves the electrician or homeowner liable for prosecution for energy theft. The smart meter rollout provides an ideal opportunity to address the issue, given that energy companies will be visiting properties anyway. The Electrical Safety Council outlines four possible options: 1. ncorporate a manually operated single pole switch I in the smart meter allowing a competent person, such as an electrician, to isolate the supply. 2. Use the solution already used in new-build properties and install a separate double-pole isolating switch at the same time as installing the smart meter. 3. Introduce a system to authorise competent non- industry personnel to withdraw cut out fuses (expensive and endangers revenue, given wider circulation of sealing pliers used in cut out fuses). 4. Leave things as they are. It is common sense to solve this issue once and for all while utilities have access to properties. An existing proven solution already exists in option 2, so even if option 1 is discounted, it should be simple process and cost just an extra £18. The alternative is a lot of angry and frustrated customers. Paul Collins, technical manager, Hager UTILITY WEEK | 27TH SEPTEMBER - 3rd OCTOBER 2013 | 21

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