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Tough Guidelines For UK Smart Meters

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A key milestone has been reached for the UK’s smart metering program, with the provision of further detail on the technical and regulatory framework for the rollout, including tough installation guidelines, according to the government.

Eight new documents have been published, among these are two consultation response documents where the government has set out it’s conclusions on the technical specifications for smart metering equipment ( SMETS) and a code of practice for installation.

The initial version has been developed to deliver the key functionalities that were confirmed in the Prospectus response in March 2011. It does not specify the communications technology to be used by the equipment, for the home area network for example.

HAN technology used by the suppliers must be based on open standards. In preparation for future consideration of the SMETS  a series of trials of different technology standards that could be used for the HAN are underway.

One of the key conclusions for the code of practice is that there should be no sales during installation of the smart meter, and installers should provide energy efficiency advice as part of the installation. They will need consumers permission before the visit if they are to talk to them about their own 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.

The smart meter rollout in the UK aims to install 53 million electricity and gas smart meters to around 30 million households and small businesses but 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.

Revisions to the impact assessments have been issued for the domestic and non-domestic sectors have been published that indicates that the rollout will involve a total present value cost of £11.5 billion over the net twenty years delivering total present benefits of £18.6 billion , and resulting in an overall net benefit of £7.2 billion.

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.

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