ESTA – Campaign to save the meter pulse output for Automatic Meter Reading AMR

Circulated to all ESTA MembersMonday 5 July 2010

We are alerting you to a situation that may have a direct affect now on your data collection and BEMS systems.
Metering, automatic meter reading systems and aM&T have been recognised by Government as key to energy and carbon management e.g. roll out of smart/advanced meters, CRC, Part L building regulations.  These capabilities are seen as essential to meeting the UK carbon targets.
In the longer term, metering systems will predominantly use bus based protocols and move away from the traditional pulse output – but not yet!  Many, many existing systems are based on receiving pulse outputs from the fiscal meters [electricity, gas and water] and using these directly in the energy management of the site.
But, current policies being pursued by Ofgem and the energy supply industry fail to recognise the importance of the availability of pulsed meter output to non-domestic consumers and ultimately UK plc.  When existing meters are replaced it is almost certain that any attached pulse output will be disconnected.  Indeed many of the new meters installed do not have facilities for pulse outputs.  Even when pulse outputs are requested by customers these are often being denied.
The conclusion we have reached is that Ofgem and the energy supply industry are totally focused on the supply issues and accurate billing, both valid issues, but NOT at the expense of demand reduction – ‘the simplest, cheapest and most effective’ way to reduce carbon emissions [and operating costs].
Ofgem has refused to take any steps to correct this issue despite their role as protector of customer’s interests.  Although the Ofgem Eserve project for the roll out of smart meters states that ‘consumers are at the heart of the project’ we currently see little evidence that this is the case.
Ofgem are managing the smart meter/AMR roll out for the UK.  Ofgem say this will take four years to get under way and in particular, for an advanced multi-utility, standard meter interface to evolve.  Unfortunately, Ofgem appear to have little comprehension of consumer based automatic meter reading systems, either past or present and the fact that these systems are widely used NOW.
There has never been a strong consumer representation at Ofgem, making polices or decisions focused on energy supply issues.  Even now that Ofgem has been given the management of UK smart meter roll out, it would appear there is no changed understanding or paths to recognise within Ofgem that, when automatically read, a main fiscal electricity or gas meter is a work horse for carbon management and this purpose of the meter is likely to take over the importance of it being used as a fiscal instrument.
Hence the policies and technical decisions by Ofgem appear to have little relevance or support for the Consumer.
Issue 1 – meter technical specification:
The various biased Ofgem/supply Industry committees, including the meter techies have, in their wisdom, started to exclude the simple pulse output from meter specifications when there is nothing yet universally available.  The COP 10 electricity meter is about to be ratified and it has no pulse output capability – manufacturers will be gearing up to manufacture these.  Other technical matters are being decided with out the pulse as at least the base output.
Issue Two: Ofgem are allowing energy suppliers to install new energy meters without providing a pulse output.  All this four years before Ofgem are saying we will have an alternative.  Unfortunately, with the current OFGEM regime the ‘pulse’ looks doomed before there is any alternative!
In our view meters should retain pulse outputs until viable alternatives are commonly available AND are being installed via the standard supply contract.
For the UK’s Carbon Programme, all effort must be made to change the ethos within Ofgem.  If we want carbon savings from consumer based AMR systems, we must ensure that the pulse is made available for customer AMR until there is secure, simple accessible, universal multi-utility meter interface alternative available.
ESTA has written an article to highlight this issue which will be published in water, energy & environment shortly.  Our proposal is to use this article to alert a wider senior audience including Government, Ofgem, DECC.
Download ESTA water, energy & environment article 
We would welcome your views:
Does this directly affect your customers?
What is your experience of meter swap outs?
Is there a commercially viable, technical solution available now?
What are meter manufacturers doing to meet demand?
How do our energy supply members view this situation?
Please forward your views to asap so that we can progress this debate.
  Best wishes Alan Energy Services and Technology AssociationPO Box 77, Benfleet, Essex  SS7 5EX T: 01268 569010   F: 01268 569737  E:  W:  A Company Limited by Guarantee.Registered in England No. 1630414   VAT No. GB348595214.Registered office: 252A High Road, Benfleet, Essex  SS7 5LA

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