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The roll out of smart meters is one of the largest infrastructure projects the energy industry is facing. Government targets expect energy suppliers to install meters to more than 26 million homes across Great Britain by 2020 and fit tens of thousands of smart meters to business addresses across the county.

In September 2015, the Data and Communications Company (DCC) started system integration testing of the central communication infrastructure which is needed to deliver interoperable smart meters against a revised plan.

Given the sheer volume and complexity of this roll out it is clear the energy companies are facing many operational challenges. In November 2015, Ofgem fined the energy giant E.ON £7 million for failing to meet a deployment target of 20,000 smart meters to its business customers by Q2 of 2014.

A spokesperson for E.ON said: “Installing advanced meters to tens of thousands of business customers across the country was always going to be a significant challenge and one that threw up a variety of hurdles for suppliers to overcome.” Whilst Anthony Pygram, Senior enforcement partner of Ofgem, said: “Customers have lost out on receiving better information about their energy consumption and the opportunity to control costs.”

Once installed a significant volume of information will be available to the energy companies around their customers’ behaviour and in turn they will have the ability to promote demand responses. This information is only powerful if the energy companies have the correct tools and systems in place to accurately analyse this vast stream of big data.

Being able to analyse the massive amount of data will allow energy companies to create pricing plans based on usage, target their customers with the most relevant marketing materials and offer incentives for high energy users to decrease their usage.

When customers are armed with more knowledge about their exact energy use customer behaviour is likely to change. Smart Energy GB, recently undertook a smart energy outlook survey which established: “79% of smart meter customers have adopted efficient energy use behaviour such as turning off lights and turning the heating down.”

With positive changes to energy consumption taking place on such a large scale it will inevitable reduce the load profile on the aggregated utility grid, and with the elimination of grid losses will be a significant step towards meeting the 20% energy reduction set by the EU.

In addition, by cutting the amount of energy wasted through inefficiencies it will in turn reduce costs for the energy companies and without the need to meet peak demands, their costs for capital investments will also be lower.

All of these things have an element of commonality and that is data and data management. Being able to understand and evaluate the data to is going to be key in the success of the smart metering roll out for energy companies.

When faced with savvy customers who hold their own information at their fingertips, energy companies will need to be equipped with the same information and have access to that data at the same speed as their customers.

To find out how we can help your company get smart meter ready through flexible systems with the ability to change, are scalable with large volumes of data and built with industrial strength at the core, contact Simon Smith at ssmith@grangersmithconsulting.com or visit www.grangersmithconsulting.com