Smart Meters – at last a breathing space

by Adrian Cook

The announcement in the Queen’s Speech of a bill to provide powers to extend the 2020 Smart Meter roll-out target, is very welcome.  It’s a common-sense recognition that implementation is having a real impact on energy suppliers’ finances and ability to respond.  Perhaps we shouldn’t make too much of the fact that the bill will also provide for a Special Administration Regime.  This Regime will provide “insurance for the national smart meter infrastructure in the unlikely event that the company responsible for it were to become insolvent”.

At the time of writing we don’t know exactly what this relaxation might mean.  It will be within the context of the Government’s manifesto promise that “smart meters will be offered to every household and business by the end of 2020”.  Of course there is also the promised consultation about fuel bill price caps.  But, however it turns out, it provides the breathing space that allows for the Quality Check we at Oakland have been advising.

Creating a Service Quality Blueprint

Too often the controls manufacturers take for granted when designing new products are simply not present when designing new services. Perhaps this generalisation is a little unfair when thinking about big outsourcing service providers. But for commodity businesses where “new service” often simply means a new tariff structure – we think it’s entirely justified.  Our White Paper suggests the impact of smart metering and associated services will be felt across the utility value chain.  We believe the smart meter programme needs the skills of Advanced Service Quality Planning ASQP providing a service quality blueprint. In exactly the same way motor manufacturers have been using for product quality planning.

If meters are not installed, if data can’t be collected, if call centres are flooded with calls, it’s going to be expensive to rectify. There’s also the media and parliamentary scrutiny that would follow.  The Queen’s speech announcement has provided a breathing space to get it right – to design the Service Quality blueprint.  But it doesn’t stop there. Building the capabilities of service blueprinting and design in-house will be even more valuable as we move into the future world of services such as Demand Response, Distributed Energy Resources, electric vehicles all enabled by Smart technologies.

For more information on the Smart metering programme and Advance Service Quality Planning click here