I have come across a number of press articles recently that focus on the negative smart meter experiences of several home and business owners. Essentially, these articles replay the experiences of disgruntled customers who have had issues with smart meter installations and their ongoing operation; such as inaccurate readings and over billing. I’m sure everyone agrees that poor customer experience is a bad thing, for both the customer and the energy provider’s reputation, however the focus of these articles is so often on the negatives as opposed to the positives of smart metering.
Worse still, and this is where I think the press is lacking a fundamental understanding, is that the authors of these articles do little to distinguish between existing independent smart meter implementations and the National Smart Meter Implementation Programme (SMIP). There is therefore a tendency to damn the SMIP rollout, long before it has yet happened, based on the issues of a number of existing smart metering implementations. And with it, the messages these journalists put out is one of fear that every implementation will bring nothing but misery to your home!
The SMIP provides policies and standards covering devices, connectivity, message protocols and, most importantly, security. Sure, the SMIP is complex, but implemented correctly it will benefit not only the energy suppliers and network operators, but also the energy consumers through improved accuracy and real time information on energy consumption, pricing, and easier supplier switching.
So, how do we educate the press? Well, taking on the tabloids is probably a head-bashing loss-lead! Perhaps the answer lies with the Government to ensure that they push out the correct messages to educate the public directly, and highlight how the roll-out of SMETS meters under the DCC differs from existing smart metering initiatives of individual energy suppliers, and how the two shouldn’t be judged together (and to be fair to those existing initiatives, I believe their is only a small number of negative cases anyhow!).
Fortunately, Smart Energy GB was formed to take on much of this role. It acts as the national campaign for the smart meter roll-out, and is charged with the task of helping the public understand smart meters, the national roll-out and how to use their new meters to get their gas and electricity under control. It has carried out a ‘Smart Energy Outlook’ research, interacting with the British public, and the findings of this show that those who have smart meters already feel more in control as energy consumers than those who have traditional gas and electricity meters. This alone may be enough to counter the negativity of the press, however their work will only be complete once they have educated and convinced the whole British public – a tall order and a thankless task perhaps, but one that we at Aprose fully support.
Ultimately, only time will tell how successful the SMIP will be, and it will rely on a complex network of different organisations to deliver their obligations successfully. One thing is for sure, at Aprose we guarantee we will be meeting the high standards of service that we have promised; we aim to be part of the smart meter success story, and we hope we can take you on that journey with us!
Ase-i Delivery Lead