Category: Smart meters

Why does a real person come to read my Smart Meter?

A few days ago, I was surprised to get a visit a home from a meter reader, who had come to read my gas and electricity smart meters. Both meters had been replaced on behalf my utility company – Ovo Energy last March 2015 – with smart meters that take readings every 30 minutes!!

So why does a real person have to come to read my smart meters?

smart meter

After some investigation with the very helpful Ovo Energy Customer Service Team, I have now discovered why. After all it would seem pointless installing expensive smart meters and then employ someone to visit the house to take the meter reading. Ultimately, I as the consumer would be paying more. And the current UK government – energy efficiency policy – appears to be focused on encouraging the Utility companies to charge consumers less.

It appears that under current legislation, utility companies as part of their licence conditions to operate have an obligation to supply energy have to:-

  • check for evidence of deterioration that might affect the safety or proper functioning of the meter,
  • check for evidence of tampering or theft, and
  • take a physical meter reading to ensure accurate customer bills.

Ofgem produced a consultation paper and invited comments during a consultation period which closed in September 2015. Their position was:-

“that health and safety obligations in legislation and industry codes, and recently enhanced theft detection and billing accuracy supply licence obligations, are more effective and proportionate ways to achieve the desired policy objectives of meter inspections. We expected repealing the licence conditions would improve competition in the retail energy market. We also thought that repeal would have the greatest potential to enable cost savings from smart meters.”

Ofgem’s preferred option is to:-

“repeal the meter inspection supply licence conditions. This is because we think other regulations and policies, including safety obligations and recently enhanced theft detection and billing accuracy obligations offer more effective and proportionate protections for consumer interests.”

The full Ofgem original Consultation paper can be found here and the final consultation paper here.

These modifications would come into effect on 1 April 2016, subject to appeals made within 56 days from the date Ofgem publish the decision notices.

So home consumers with Smart Meters will no longer get a visit from a Utility Meter Reader – and perhaps bills might go done a bit?

Peter Bates

PS The Meter Reader that came out did not know how to read the Smart Electric Meter!! So how easy is this for consumers? Ovo Energy then sent me the details of which button to press to read the data collected. It turns out that this is quite comprehensive. It’s a pity their current display readers , don’t show all this information! However, Ovo Energy admit they are not as good as they expected and there are plans to upgrade these devices.

What’s so smart about smart meters?

According to veteran environmental campaigner Jonathon Porritt, replace your old gas and electricity meters with natty new digital ones and you could be helping to tackle "the biggest single challenge that humankind has ever faced" - global warming. This is quoted in an article by - which addresses the question - What's so smart about smart meters?


Wall argues that smart meters are not just about saving a few quid on your gas and electricity bills to save people money but are being rolled out in many developed nations around the world to promote more competition, more innovation, and change the way the global energy industry works.

The aim of the UK government is to install 53 million of them by 2020 in homes as well as businesses. Smart meters will increase competition by making it easier for new suppliers to enter the market, says Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Smart Energy GB, the body responsible for publicising smart meter roll-out.

Read the full BBC article

Smart grid technology could save £19bn pounds to UK’s electricity infrastructure upgrade

Smart grid technology will cost £27 billion to develop and deploy, but sticking to conventional technology to upgrade the UK’s ageing electricity infrastructure between now and 2050 will cost £19 billion more.

Those are the findings of a major new piece of research commissioned by the UK’s smart grid industry and written by Ernst and Young, which concludes Britain could see major economic and carbon reduction benefits from the development of smart grid. However, it warns that there is a “decreasing time window” for the UK to be a world leader in the technology, because of competition from abroad, and that failure to deploy smart grid will push up domestic electric costs and could mean the UK misses its carbon reduction targets.
But the report, commissioned by SmartGrid UK, founded by the UK’s leading smart grid companies including British Gas, BT, Cable & Wireless and Oracle, warns that although the UK is currently well placed to become a world leader in smart grid technology, there is a “decreasing time window to do so” with other countries, notably South Korea, China and the USA all developing smart grids.
Full article in Greenwise

30 million UK homes and small businesses will have smart meters by 2019

According to the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), 30 million homes and small businesses will have smart meters by 2019 enabling all consumers to have access to accurate information and bringing an end to estimated billing.

Energy and Climate Change minister Charles Hendry recently said:

“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 programme. That is why today we are proposing tough guidelines on installation, which will minimise inconvenience and help people to make the most of their smart meters to save energy and save money.

“In addition, I want to be absolutely clear to consumers that they will be in control of their energy consumption data. So apart from where it is required for billing or other regulated purposes, it will be for consumers to decide who can access their data.”

Key conclusions set out on 5 April 2012 include:

  • there should be no sales during the installation visit
  • installers must provide energy efficiency advice as part of the visit
  • they will need the consumers permission in advance of the visit if they are to talk to them about their own particular products; and
  • all households will be offered an in-home display allowing them to see what energy is being used and how much it is costing


Key proposals set out in the consultation documents include:

  • consumers will have a choice about who has access to their data, except for data which is needed for billing and meeting other regulatory obligations, typically on a monthly basis
  • a model for centralised communications activity to help all consumers understand how to use smart meters to better manage their energy consumption and expenditure; and
  • proposals to ensure that vulnerable and low income consumers can benefit from the rollout

Mike O’Connor, Chief Executive of Consumer Focus said:

“We welcome the banning of sales during installation and that marketing will only be allowed if the customer agrees. This shows the Government has listened to consumers. We support the proposals to address consumer concerns around the privacy of information. But, to make this work, people must be aware of their rights and the choices available to them on how much information is passed to suppliers.

“It is also welcome that the Government has recognised the need for a much stronger and better co-ordinated strategy to engage consumers. Smart meters will only help people to become more energy efficient and cut their bills if they are able to easily understand and use the new technology. We hope this move will pave the way for a support scheme for vulnerable customers to ensure everyone gets the benefit of smart meters.”

Christine McGourty, Director of Energy UK, said:

“Smart meters are set to transform how consumers understand and manage their energy use at home, and today’s publications are an important milestone in this exciting national programme. Energy suppliers are working closely with DECC and other stakeholders to ensure that smart meters deliver real benefits to people in homes and businesses around Britain, and to ensure that protections for customers are robust. We also welcome the opportunity to continue to contribute to the consultation on the consumer engagement strategy, which has a crucial role to play.”

As the programme gears up for the beginning of mass rollout in 2014, the Government is consulting on proposed frameworks for consumer engagement and data access and privacy. These proposals will give greater clarity to suppliers and consumers about how that rollout will take place.

The Government has also confirming that suppliers should develop a code of practice covering a range of key areas around the installation process.

The Government is also publishing an update to the Smart Meters Implementation Programme, consultations on the Smart Energy Code and the Data and Communications Company licensing conditions, the Government Response to the Rollout consultation, and updated Impact Assessments for the domestic and non-domestic sectors. It is also publishing the Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications (SMETS), which will enable suppliers to install smart meters during the Foundation Stage that will satisfy their rollout obligations.

DECC Press Release and Smart Meter consultation documents

Ten Smart Meter Facts

  1. Consumers will have near real-time information to help understand and manage energy use, thereby helping them to save money and play their part in reducing carbon emissions.
  2. Smart metering will open up new products and services, such as the provision of tailored energy efficiency advice and more innovative tariffs.
  3. Suppliers and networks will be able to receive alerts if a customer goes off supply and when supply is restored – this will enable corrective action to be taken sooner, thereby minimising disruption to consumers.
  4. The remote functionality of smart meters will allow switching between payment methods and will open up additional payment channels for prepayment customers (i.e. top up over the phone, via the internet or ATMs).
  5. Data can be communicated between the meter and the energy supplier or other authorised parties.
  6. Meters can be read remotely by the energy supplier allowing for accurate and timely billing.
  7. The ability to connect devices to the meter, such as a telephones or computers.
  8. They will support ‘time-of-use’ tariffs, which offer different levels of charges, depending on when the energy is used.
  9. Equipment that has been linked to the meter can be turned off automatically by a business at particular times to benefit from varying pricing levels.
  10. Where electricity is generated at the site (such as through a wind turbine or solar panel), any excess electricity exported can be measured, to give an accurate calculation of Feed-in-Tariff (the premium paid to a consumer by its utility)


Source: Make it Cheaper