By April 2014, all Profile Class 05-08 electricity meters and all gas meters that annually use over 732,000 kWh must be replaced by a smart meter (AMR). Around 170,000 electricity meters and 40,000 gas meters will be affected by this UK legislation.
Businesses should take steps now to get smart meters in place rather than leaving it to the last minute. Making informed choices now not only avoids a last minute panic, but potentially also avoids businesses encountering some of the pitfalls attached to smart meters, particularly those offered for ‘free’. These could include paying four times as much for a smart meter solution, by not knowing which offers to take up and which to refuse.
However, businesses must remember there is no such thing as a free smart meter and there could be longer-term implications. Energy suppliers have to pay a metering company for the meter and recover the cost from the customer via the standing charge or unit rates. In reality, the customer may end up paying more than double the equivalent ‘purchase’ cost that the supplier pays.
Additionally, the customer may become locked into a contract with their energy supplier if they accept a free smart meter. The asset is owned by the supplier in this scenario and this could lead to problems if they wish to change supplier. Some energy companies may not take on other suppliers’ AMRs and there could be service issues. Some suppliers will not quote for new supply contracts if they have to take on existing smart meter liabilities. This reduces a business’s options within the energy supply market.
Some suppliers will also mark up the cost of providing data, not only passing on the charges that they incur from the meter operator, but also sometimes doubling them.
Other disadvantages are that the customer does not qualify for Enhanced Capital Allowances if their supplier owns the meter and any problems that they have need to be resolved by firstly the supplier and then the metering company, which can lead to delays in getting resolutions.
It is also more complicated to accept a supplier’s smart meter offer where there is a multi-site operation involved and where supply contracts may be in place with multiple suppliers at different sites operated by an individual company.
Visit the ENMAT Store http://www.en-mat.com/store for more information on our Smart Metering Solutions.