Changes Proposed For Thames Water’s Business Smart Metering Policy

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Utility company Thames Water has put forward potential changes to its smart metering policy for its business retail customers, following an Ofwat investigation that was opened amid concerns that the firm had unfairly removed or limited access to water usage data used by retailers and third parties.


This data is essential for water leak detection, water bill accuracy and ensuring water efficiency.


But Ofwat had received complaints that smart meters were incompatible with data logging devices, that data logging devices belonging to other parties had been removed when meters were replaced with new digital smart devices, and that access to smart meter data had not been offered to retailers and third-party providers.


The investigation also found that the policy wasn’t clear enough and that the company needed to prove it would engage more with retailers and customers when replacing meters so they could continue using their logging equipment.


New commitments from Thames Water now include more details on how customer requests for loggable meters would be met. In addition, it would remove subscription charges for data services and pay compensation where logging equipment was damaged or lost when replacing meters.


Emma Kelso, senior director of markets and enforcement with Ofwat, said: “We’re grateful to those who highlighted concerns with the originally proposed commitments and are now pleased to see Thames Water addressing these in its metering, data and compensation policies.


“It’s crucial that those affected by Thames Water’s previous decision have confidence in these commitments and Thames Water needs to work hard to rebuild trust with those retailers and third parties through better engagement and the provision of services that meet their needs.”


Smart metering is just one of the strategies that can be deployed to help reduce the risk of water shortages in the future, which are expected to become more problematic over the coming decades in line with climate changes and global warming.


Research carried out by Frontier and Artesia, published in November last year, highlighted the fact that there is a strong social and environmental case for smart meter rollout for the water sector in England and Wales.


Key findings included that the cost of rollout would be more than offset by the savings made on leakage control and network management, as well as by avoiding the need for other water resources. Reduced carbon emissions would also be seen, while £4.4 billion in benefits to society would be delivered against costs of £2.5 billion – a net benefit of £1.9 billion.


The analysis also found that smart meter usage improved awareness of and action on saving water, a fact that underlines just how important smart meter rollout is, benefiting the water industry, individual households and society alike.


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