Utility Week

UTILITY Week 27th January 2017

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The Topic: Smart metering SMART METERING THE TOPIC 10 | 27TH JANUARY - 2ND FEBRUARY 2017 | UTILITY WEEK All smart meters Electricity smart meters Gas smart meters Marks the inclusion of other large suppliers to the series Q3 Q4 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Overall installations Number of smart meters installed (000s) 900 0 QUARTERLY DOMESTIC INSTALLATION ACTIVITY FOR LARGE ENERGY SUPPLIERS I n 2009 when then-energy secretary Ed Miliband announced that the UK would be embracing smart meters, he said: "Smart meters will empower all con- sumers to monitor their energy use and make reductions in energy consumption and carbon emissions. They will also mean the end of inaccurate bills and estimated meter readings." Eight years later, and the mass rollout of smart meters in the homes and businesses of the UK has yet to build up a head of steam. However, aer all the delays the programme can begin in earnest now that the essential Data Communication Company (DCC) net- work is live. Meters on the wall Smart meters are being installed to replace old, dumb meters which have to be read by the consumer or a meter reader. They use the DCC network, and the home area network, to send information to the supplier, as well as showing the bill payer, via an in-home dis- play, how much energy they are using. All of the energy secretaries, from Ed Miliband, Ed Davey, Amber Rudd and now energy minister Nick Hurd, have sung the praises of smart meters. Most recently, Hurd told MPs that "the rollout is unequivocally a good thing" and that the government would press ahead towards the 2020 target. However, not everyone believes the roll- out in its current form is the silver bullet the sector needs. Citizens Advice has raised concerns that suppliers may abandon vul- nerable customers with the meters, failing to explain how to use them and how they can benefit (see column). Suppliers need to step up their efforts to increase smart meter education to vulnerable customers, allow- Smart metering is on the brink of becoming a reality ing those who can benefit most to enjoy the advantages the technology brings. Energy retailers have been tasked with fit- ting the meters. This differs from the method used on the continent, where distribution networks have been given the job. While the debate about how the rollout should be conducted has largely died away, in its place have come concerns about the workers needed for the project and the effi- ciency of the supply chain. With the industry already in the grips of a staffing crisis, the National Skills Acad- emy for Power and Energy Utility & Skills have estimated that an additional 7,600 engineers will be required at the peak of the programme, and that the latest timetable changes will drive a requirement for an addi- tional 2,200 engineers. This could push up the cost of the £11 bil- lion programme. Water While the roll out of smart meters is pre- dominantly focused on the energy sector 4.04m 2.35m 1.69m Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Many networks believe that callouts will rise, however over half admit that there maybe a staff shortfall Source: Utility Week Transforming Relationships Study April/May 2016 33% 58% 8% As a result of the smart meter rollout, will the volume of callouts change at all (net)? 58% Yes, the volume will increase 33% No, the volume will stay broadly the same 8% Yes, the volume will decrease Source: BEIS

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