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An update on our smart meter rollout

A decorative illustration of an In-Home Display

We’ve started installing second generation smart meters in members’ homes. This is an update on what’s been happening behind the scenes.

In August last year we explained why we were waiting to install the second generation of smart meters (SMETS2). A lot has happened since then and we’re installing SMETS2 meters now, so it’s time for another update.

We started installing SMETS2 meters in February 2019

Our aim was to roll out smart meters at the beginning of 2018, but industry-wide software delays meant this wasn’t possible. Every supplier waiting to install SMETS2 meters experienced the same issues.

Towards the end of 2018, we ran tests with willing members to ensure we could install and read SMETS2 meters successfully. As a result of the tests, we began our smart meter rollout in February 2019. By the end of this quarter, we expect to have installed around 10,000 SMETS2 meters.

If you’d like to sign up to the waiting list, you’ll be the first to know when we’re installing in your area. If you’ve already signed up and haven’t heard from us yet, we’ve explained the reasons why in our help centre.

We’re installing more smart meters in central and southern regions

Smart meters send readings to suppliers via a central network called the Smart Meter Wide Area Network. The network is divided to cover two broad regions: the Northern regions, and the Central and Southern regions.

So far, 500,000 SMETS2 meters have been installed across both regions by suppliers. But only 30,000 of those were installed in the Northern region.

We’ve experienced issues connecting smart meters to the Smart Meter Wide Area Network in the North. Looking at the difference in installation numbers across regions, we believe other suppliers are experiencing the same issues.

We think smart meters can help our members save money and reduce their carbon emissions. We’re keen to install them. But we also want our members to have the best experience, from booking to installation and beyond. At the moment, we’re inviting more members from the Central and Southern regions to book, because we’re more confident that the meters will work as expected once they’re installed.

When the issues we’re experiencing are resolved, we’ll install more meters in the Northern region.

SMETS1 installations are still happening, making it harder to identify and solve SMETS2 issues at scale

The government is asking energy suppliers to install SMETS2 meters. But last year, some suppliers were given permission by Ofgem, the energy regulator, to continue installing SMETS1 meters until 15th March 2019. As that deadline has only just passed, some suppliers are still installing SMETS1 meters now.

Collectively, suppliers are installing less SMETS2 meters. This means there’s less opportunity to identify and fix problems together. We’re hoping that as more suppliers come on board, the collective understanding will grow and issues will be identified and fixed faster.

We’ll be able to read SMETS1 meters in the future

The Data Communications Company (DCC) is the organisation responsible for linking smart meters with energy suppliers and network operators, via the Smart Meter Wide Area Network. They’ve recently announced plans to enable all SMETS1 meters to communicate through the same network by 2020.

This is great news. If you already have a SMETS1 meter installed, your meter will work smartly with every supplier in the market once this work is complete. This means there’s no need to spend money, and your time, replacing smart meters installed by other suppliers.

The upgrades are due to start in summer 2019 and will happen in several phases. Bulb will identify the SMETS1 meters that are upgraded through each cycle and contact members individually to let them know. When that happens, we’ll be able to read your SMETS1 meter automatically, and you won’t need to take meter readings any more.

We believe in smart

Smart meters are better for you, and they’re better for us too. They send accurate data about your energy usage to your Bulb account automatically. This means your monthly statements are based on actual usage, and you don’t need to take meter readings any more.

When smart meters are installed, you’ll also be offered an In-Home Display. This is a small screen that displays real-time information from your smart meters, so you can see exactly how much energy you’re using, and when. Many people find that knowing more about their usage can help them save. We’re big fans – our mission is to help you lower bills and cut carbon emissions, and understanding more about your usage is a big step towards that.

You can join the smart meter waiting list to be the first to know when were installing in your area. And as always, we’d love to know what you think. Join the conversation in the Bulb Community.