The Government is calling for non-domestic energy consumers to participate in a further consultation on its proposal to remove the DCC opt-out policy, as well as invite feedback on the addition of two other smart metering policies which could have a direct impact on UK organisations’ energy and data management.

DCC opt-out: policy background

Back in 2011, the then Government introduced an opt-out policy for energy suppliers tasked with executing the non-domestic smart meter rollout, allowing them to use communications services other than those provided by the centralised Data Communications Company (DCC) for any SMETS2 meters they install at non-domestic premises.

Following industry engagement, the government published a review of its DCC opt-out policy in March 2015 and a further consultation in April 2016, from which it set out a “minded-to position” to remove the legislation.

Then, on 31 August 2017, the government responded to views expressed by stakeholders through the April 2016 further consultation, and concluded that the DCC opt-out is no longer appropriate, citing “no evidence of an alternative provider coming forward to deliver an equivalent service to the DCC” for SMETS2 meters.

Directly related to this, an end date has also been set for energy suppliers to install advanced meters at non-domestic premises, which currently stands at 21 January 2018 for large suppliers and 21 May 2018 for smaller suppliers.

After these dates, energy suppliers and metering companies like SMS Plc will only be able to install SMETS1 and SMETS2 meters in smaller premises, for which the communication to the meter and collection of data will not be done directly by us, but through the DCC. This will affect the replacement of any existing advanced meters in such premises.

What is being proposed going forward?

As well as seeking views from stakeholders on the draft legal text document for the removal of the DCC opt-out, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is also looking for feedback on two additional policy proposals designed to “better reflect the needs of non-domestic energy consumers”. These are:

• A proposed exemption to the non-domestic DCC User mandate for non-domestic only suppliers that supply a limited number of designated premises and do not have customers with SMETS2 meters; and

• A proposal to allow energy suppliers to offer large, multi-site energy consumers (with an aggregate annual consumption of greater than 3GWh) a choice between a SMETS2 meter and an advanced meter at premises covered by the smart meter mandate.

The deadline given by BEIS for stakeholder feedback is 19 October 2017.

The removal of the choice for energy suppliers to continue to install advanced meters will have significant implications for all non-domestic energy consumers, covering private and public sector organisations, as well as small shops, chain stores, small industrial units, schools, and many other business types.

Given the diverse nature of these energy users, BEIS is seeking responses from a wide variety of stakeholder groups.

How can stakeholders take part in this further consultation?

As the country’s leading smart metering service provider, we are heavily active in the SMETS2 marketplace, meaning we are able to install these meters for customers, as well as to then acquire and utilise their consumption data from the DCC and provide it to customers for energy management as we do now.

However, we also believe that choice is a critical part of the competitive market, and that such non-domestic consumers should be allowed to continue to take advantage of the benefits available to them through the provision of advanced metering and data services. As such we believe that allowing the continued deployment of advanced meters is the most flexible solution.

Any non-domestic energy consumer can take part in the consultation by accessing BEIS’ online survey here.

We would encourage you therefore to make your views known – in particular to support the proposal to allow energy suppliers to offer large, multi-site energy consumers a choice between a SMETS2 meter and an advanced meter, and to seek to remove or minimise the threshold at which this choice is provided.

How we can help

We would be happy to offer any non-domestic energy customers our advice on the consultation process and/or represent your views to BEIS as part of our own consultation response. 

Trusted by the UK’s largest energy suppliers to introduce smart meters nationwide, we currently own more than 1.6 million meter assets around the country. As a result, we have an integral part to play in the smart meter revolution which is underway, and an unrivalled knowledge of the industry and its developments.

More importantly, customers are at the heart of everything we do, meaning we want those impacted by the proposed non-domestic smart metering policy changes to have all the information and expertise they need to understand how the amendments will affect them.

If you are interested in collaborating with us in providing feedback to BEIS on the proposed non-domestic smart metering policy changes, call us today on 02920 739 500 or email us and we’ll get back to you.