No-one ever said it was going to be easy.
In reality, it’s been more complicated than we could have imagined. But look at what the industry has achieved. Energy conversations with tens of millions of customers. A secure and future-proofed communications network from scratch. Huge business systems integration projects to pass data and to ensure accurate billing and remote vending. New industry governance to protect customers and improve customer experience across the board. Oh, and we’ve installed over 20m smart meters, with the 5 millionth SMETS2 meter installed just last month.
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>> Smart Metering Self-assessment Tool
At Engage, we’ve seen first-hand the intense effort that has been put in to nail down the technology, the supply chains, the customer installation journeys, and to get to scale on SMETS2. For many suppliers, even those which have been around for a good while, the challenge and complexity of smart rollout has been unprecedented.
No, we’re not as far down the road as we’d like to be. But given the obstacles we’ve faced, it feels like we’re finally getting there.
It’s crunch time. Is your smart programme really where it needs to be?
As with all mandated activity, the game is the same: how should I put to work my limited resource, maximising customer benefits and minimising compliance risk?
With the technical jigsaw puzzle now largely complete, suppliers are now in a position to give some real focus to this strategic question. And time’s ticking on. With a critical mass of smart customers achieved or within reach, the customer and commercial benefits are there for the taking. Are you leading the change in your customers’ relationship with energy consumption, or will someone else do so instead?
And as far as compliance goes, the ultimate test is now just around the corner. The road to all reasonable steps has been long, but by this time next year, Ofgem will be making its final judgement on the rollout efforts of each supplier – based on every decision made and action taken since the day the current rollout obligation was put in place.
We’ve already witnessed a few rounds of must try harder. It’s now a case of win or lose. Or in longhand: you did enough given the circumstances (but don’t expect a congratulatory high-five), or; you must now commit significant resource to explain why you didn’t meet expectations (and the quality of your answers is likely to affect the size of your fine rather than whether or not you get one).
So now is a time for prospecting and soul searching. Suppliers need to be looking forward to what comes next, and looking back at what they’ve achieved:
- Is your business already looking to squeeze every drop of potential out of smart meters – for your customers, your operations, and the UK energy system as a whole?
- Are you well prepared to pass the looming ‘all reasonable steps’ exam? There are no pre-defined answers, but we know that the bar is set high.
Have you left it too late?
No. There’s still time to change outcomes. What you do between now and the middle of next year will make a big difference. Simply being able to show a deeper understanding of your own performance could be crucial, as will the way you present your case to Ofgem. And everything you do and learn now will reap benefits when operating under the next set of smart rollout obligations, kicking in the day after the ARS obligation goes away.
Engage’s smart metering and industry experts have been instrumental in the operational and technical deployment of smart for over a decade. We know there is always room to improve, but that it’s not easy to pinpoint the best opportunities to improve outcomes in the short time that is left. To answer that, you’ll need to look across your whole smart rollout operation:
- Programme governance: Are you completely clear on your obligations and how they work alongside each other? To what extent can you evidence that they are being met, and do you have a paper trail of the decision making behind your actions?
- Consumer engagement: How have you decided to offer smart meters to your customers?How varied has your approach been, and how has what you have learned been used to improve booking processes and appointment success?
- Supply chain: Do you have clear deployment plans and the supply chain in place to support these activities? Do your third-party contracts allow you enough control over customer experience?
- Smart data: How are your customers interacting with their smart metering data? Can you access what you need to innovate and deliver commercial benefit?
- Commercial and contracts: Have you assessed your exposure to the potential higher rental charges on churned meters?
- Technical, maintenance and security: Are your systems operating within the overall technical and security requirements framework as required by licence? And what do you do when a meter has a fault?
Not sure where to start?
We have designed a ten-minute self-service health check to help you assess whether you are ready to demonstrate that you have taken all reasonable steps in your smart programme.
>> Click Here to give it a go. Or share the link with your team and take the conversation from there.
And of course, we’re aware there’s more to smart metering than licence obligations. If compliance isn’t your thing then look out for something similar in a few weeks, aimed at getting the best out of the smart meters you have already installed for your customers. Tell us here if you’d like us to let you know when it’s available.
Or you can have a conversation with us right now. We can provide immediate practical advice on ‘best in class’ smart metering optimisation strategies, in all the areas above and more. Our clients trust us to deliver and value our flexible, collaborative and benefits-driven approach.