UK Government publishes plan for smart meter rollout

Whilst the Watcher was on holiday, the UK’s Department for Energy and Climate Change published a series of documents on 30 March:

As regular readers will be aware, a number of issues needed to be addressed for the UK smart metering program to proceed. The recent DECC documents go some way towards addressing these, conceptually falling into four broad areas:

1. The design of new obligations on energy suppliers to install smart meters to a timetable that best delivers the benefits for consumers. These will require all energy suppliers to install smart metering equipment meeting a minimum technical standard (see 2) by a specified date, envisaged to be 2019. These mandatory obligations will not apply until after arrangements to ensure technical and commercial interoperability and testing of equipment, systems and processes have been concluded – currently envisaged to be Q2 2014.

2. The definition of functions that each mandated smart metering installation must be capable of supporting – and the translation of this into technical specifications against which meters can be manufactured. The publication of the functional catalogue is a key milestone, which will facilitate open technical specifications, which in turn will permit manufacture of compliant smart meters in volume. However, security requirements are yet to be settled.

3. The allocation of responsibilities and capabilities to manage the large volumes of data from smart metering effectively, efficiently and securely. It is proposed to licence a new Data and Communications Company (DCC) to centrally manage communications and data. As a monopoly supplier it will be subject to Ofgem regulation, and its licence will be awarded following a competitive tender process. Competition will be introduced at the service provider level, with procurement via competitive process. The first service provider procurement process will be run by government in parallel with the licence award which may make licence valuation somewhat tricky. 

4. Consumer protection and engagement. It is proposed that installation will be subject to a licence backed code of practice and that data use will be subject to tight restrictions without explicit consumer opt-in.

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