It was great to attend the Energy UK SMART Event last week. With the advent of more and more SMART roles, I really wanted to get a better insight about this topic and Energy UK didn’t disappoint.
With professionals from Ofgem, DCC, SEC, ENA, Energy UK, Citizens Advice, BEIS and Smart Energy GB attending, it became quite clear how high this is on every single energy suppliers’ agenda.
It became apparent that the SMART roll-out is a very complex process for energy suppliers – not only logistically, but also from a compliance perspective with a raft of guidelines and regulations to follow. Some of the information discussed was really technical, and I have to admit some went over my head a little bit!
However, I did learn a lot from the speakers about the challenges and the benefits of SMART:
- Engaging with and encouraging customers to switch, is difficult. Although the result of installing a Smart Meter will cut energy bills, the installation costs are paid by the consumer.
- Mobilisation of workforce – it takes 3 years to become a fully trained Smart Meter Installer and there is already a massive shortage in the UK.
- Complex technical issues. Some customers will have a straight forward installation, but for those living in a flat or house with a shared mains cable, this can become a complicated process in gaining access and permission.
- It allows customers access to real time information, so they can better manage their energy usage and hopefully lower their energy bills.
- Stops estimated billing – consumers will only pay for actual not ‘guess-timated’ consumption, and no more strangers knocking at your door for meter readings.
- It will become easier for customers to switch supplier with direct communication with the DCC, promoting healthy competition and empowering customers to find the best deals.
We also heard how energy suppliers need to be pro-active to ensure a smooth transition for their customers to Smart technology, with Customer Service and Communication, key. Processes have to be in place to handle installation issues and follow up support, making sure the customer is notified every step of the way. Energy Suppliers need to share best practice and work together to ensure all customers get the best service from these major system changes.
Overall, it was a very insightful day and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the challenges of the Smart Meter rollout. It’s never going to be straight forward, but events like this can only add value and support to the key players involved who are doing their best to make the rollout at smooth as possible.