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Utility Week 18th April

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UtilitY WEEK | 18th - 24th April 2014 | 25 Operations & Assets Market view Flat out on metering If Ofwat's ambitions on water metering are to be realised, the thorny issue of flats will need to be addressed, says Andy Godley. I n coming years water companies will need to tackle "difficult cases" for meter- ing if they are to meet their metering pro- jections. Current penetration is around 40 per cent of homes, and water companies are allowing for that to increase during AMP6, such that around 57 per cent of homes will be metered by 2020. Ofwat, in its 2011 report on the costs and benefits of metering, expressed an ambitious desire that meter penetration should reach 90 per cent by 2030. One group of properties where meter- ing has typically been difficult comprises multi-occupancy buildings, such as flats and apartments. These are oen bulk metered, where there is a meter on the main supply but charges to individual tenants are allo- cated by the landlord or building manage- ment company. The benefits of this approach for the water company include there being only one bill payer, and that losses within the internal supply are captured in the meter read. However, disadvantages include the distant or absent nature of any relationship between water supplier and end-user, and between the end-user and their water con- sumption, together with uncertainty on indi- vidual consumption and night flows. Debts from failed management companies can also be large and difficult to recover. Water companies in the UK have been reluctant to meter individual flats, or sub- meter, although it is common in Europe and increasing in the US and Australia. In the UK, it has been argued, customers living in flats have less discretionary water use, pri- marily because of the lower levels of garden watering, and therefore the water savings on offer are correspondingly lower. However, a study in the US (Meher et al, 2004) showed that demand reductions aver- aging around 15 per cent were achievable by sub-metering because of the savings aris- ing from better identification of losses and greater awareness of water use by individual consumers. In some parts of Europe, such as Den- mark, it is compulsory to meter individual flats, and in places it is required to have sub- meters and a bulk meter to capture common use and internal supply losses. Waterwise in a 2007 report on sub-metering did not rule it out, but concluded that metering whole buildings should be the priority – and that sub-metering could then follow. Certainly, if metering penetrations anywhere near Ofwat's ambition are to be achieved, sub- metering will be needed. With most water companies now adopt- ing radio-read meters, the age old problem of getting access for meter reading has been overcome. However, flats present other chal- lenges that can make metering expensive. For example, many apartment buildings have multiple risers, meaning there may be more than one entry point for water into an individual apartment, and thus more than one meter may be required for each. In addi- tion, plumbing layouts can be complex and it is not always clear where the stop taps are. Ideally what is needed is a novel method of metering that is low cost – so multiple units are not an issue – and both non-disruptive and quick to install. Although such a unit does not yet exist on the market, WRc in conjunction with a group of water companies has developed an aspirational specification for such a device. Because the biggest component in the cost of installing a conventional meter is the labour, one alternative approach we have been exploring is quick and less disruptive ways of installing conventional meters. This might provide a solution while meter technologies develops. The final hurdle that will need to be over- come is regulation. A framework for applying the various regulations on metering to the sub-metering situation is required such that the rights and responsibilities of all parties concerned are clearly defined and under- stood. The relationship between tenant, landlord and water company can be com- plex, and the switch from bulk metering to sub metering will have its issues. Overcoming these issues now will allow companies to put in place sub-metering alongside conventional metering as there is a move to full-scale household water metering. Andy Godley, senior consultant, WRc plc ElEctricitY SSE to check Economy 10 meters SSE has launched a nation- wide campaign to find and fix faulty Economy 10 electricity meters following problems with some of their clocks. An identified manufactur- ing error means that the clock on an estimated 8,000 meters may be out by an hour follow- ing a power cut. A separate issue also affects about 8,000 meters whereby the off-peak time is set incorrectly for the customer's distribution area, meaning they are not benefit- ing from the lower cost of off-peak electricity. ElEctricitY Caerphilly solar farm approved Plans for a 13MW solar farm in Caerphilly have been approved by Caerphilly County Borough Council. The 57,408 panel solar farm will cover 28.7 hectares and, according to the council report, sheep will be able to graze the land beneath the panels. Aer its 35-year operational lifespan, the land would then be returned to agricultural use. ElEctricitY Post-2020 grid changes 'needed for wind power' Britain's electricity grid faces "many engineering chal- lenges" aer 2020 in order to cope with more than 50GW of installed wind capacity, according to research by the Royal Academy of Engineers. The report stated the electricity grid can "accom- modate" around 26GW of wind generation, which is predicted for 2020, but if higher levels of deployment are obtained in the following decade, significant changes to the way the grid is managed will be needed. Briefs

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