The big energy companies are doing their own individual things at present with regard to rolling out the new AMR (Automated Meter Reading), meters. Commonly referred to as “Smart Meters” the government sees these as enablers to a lower carbon, and therefore more sustainable future for all of us, as well as to greater competition and lower consumption, and therefore costs. They will also lower the costs for network operators (suppliers to you and me), as they will have fewer billing queries and complaints due to the existing confusion caused by estimated meter reads. Of course the cost of actually reading the meters will drop considerably. As consumers in the domestic market and the small & medium business sector (thanks to OFGEM the industry regulator), we will all benefit from accurate bills, and better information to help us manage our consumption down. We should hopefully get increased price competition from new and smaller market entrants. Finally we should see more sophisticated and appropriate tariffs, using the accurate data.
All of this relies upon the smart meters or AMRs being operable by all suppliers. This requires a common specification for the new technology, and a central Data Communications Company (DCC), who access the data, and pass it to the suppliers. The common specification is loosely agreed, and will be finalised by April 2014. There will then be a mandatory roll-out over five years. So we will all be smart by 2019!
The question is should we have one now? The answer is of course unclear! Some of the issue yet to be resolved or clarified include:
- Remote disconnection or switching to pre payment for customers having payment difficulties
- As using the DCC is voluntary for suppliers, will we always be able to switch from any supplier, to any supplier?
- Will there be charges in future?
- Is the existing early roll-out mandatory?
This link is to an Ofgem Factsheet which might help, but if you want a specialist to manage all of this for you for free, give us a call.