Energy suppliers have a licence obligation to take all reasonable steps to install smart meters in homes and microbusinesses by the end of 2020. When installing meters, suppliers must comply with the Installation Validity Periods (IVPs) set out in the Smart Energy Code. They specify when meters complying with the various versions of the Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications
(SMETS) should be installed.
The end date for installing meters compliant with the first version of the specifications – SMETS1 – passed on 5 December 2018, although some meters could be fitted until 15 March 2019 by suppliers with derogations or if installed for prepayment customers.
Second generation SMETS2 meters are designed to be enrolled in the national smart metering network run by the Data Communications Company (DCC), allowing interoperability issues to be overcome. Within the SMETS2 “family” itself, there are a number of sub-versions, each with an associated IVP. While the separate versions do not alter functionality to the extent that the jump from SMETS1 to SMETS2 did, suppliers will still need to ensure that compliant devices are being installed during the correct periods.
In line with the latest dates set by BEIS in July, suppliers can currently install SMETS2 v2.0 and SMETS2 v3.1 meters until 27 October 2020. One of the key differences between the two versions is that SMETS2 v3.1 supports the use of Dual Band Communication Hubs. Home Area Networks created by Communications Hubs provide the gateway for smart meters to connect with other devices and ultimately the DCC, but the single band solution only works in around 70% of properties. The use of Dual Band Hubs should extend this to around 96.5% of homes, offering coverage in buildings such as blocks of flats or those with thick walls.
BEIS has recognised that some suppliers intend to move directly from SMETS2 v2.0 to SMETS2 v4.2 and, as a result, has set the installation start date for the latter at 7 November 2019. As well as providing Dual Band functionality, v4.2 will also introduce new arrangements to resolve several issues with emergency credit for prepayment customers.
Cornwall Insight provides regular coverage of the smart metering programme.
For more information contact Rowan Hazell at firstname.lastname@example.org