Nine energy suppliers will be ordered to become Data Communications Company (DCC) users for Ofgem’s smart meter rollout. The UK energy regulator is currently consulting on issuing a final order for the firms to do so.
Ofgem says they are in breach of the requirement to be DCC users as all suppliers are required to do so. The requirement has been in place since 25th November 2017. They were supposed to become DCC users then or upon exiting the Controlled Market Entry process.
The requirement for suppliers to become DCC users was made to help the enrolment of first-generation smart meters. It would also drive the installation of the next generation of smart meters.
What is the Data Communications Company?
The DCC links smart meters in homes and small businesses with energy suppliers, network operators and energy service companies. They are needed to ensure everyone benefits from the full capability of smart meters. They will ensure that the smart metering system as a whole works smoothly. This will be especially important once many more millions of smart meters have been installed.
The DCC is operated by Capita PLC with a licence regulated by Ofgem. They are technically a monopoly service provider, so there is requirement for appropriate controls over their costs. They must also have an appropriate incentive regime that focuses on providing a good quality of service.
The nine companies yet to become DCC users are: Ampoweruk, Better Energy Supply, Daligas, Enstroga, Entice Energy Supply, Green Energy Supply, Symbio Energy, UK National Gas and Euston Energy (trading as Northumbria).
Until these nine suppliers become DCC users, any customers with DCC-connected smart meters will not maximise their potential. Any customers who switch to one of these nine could completely lose the functionality of the new technology. Then smart meters would then become ordinary meters, with the customers required to provide annual meter readings.
Ofgem is yet to confirm they are issuing the final orders. If, or rather when, they do, the nine firms would have to become a DCC user by 31st March this year. Failure to comply would result in a ban on taking on new customers. Ofgem are due to finish their consultations by February 3rd.
Smart Meter Issues Continue to Increase
A report by a price comparison service claims over a third of households with smart meters have reported having problems. That would likely put the number of reported issues at about four million.
The report claims nearly 40% of the issues are about the displays not working, with over 30% saying the devices went ‘dumb’. A further 13% claimed their smart meters had stopped working entirely.
Nearly 30% of households questioned say their smart meter has helped them cut their energy bills. A similar number say the device has made them more aware of their energy usage.
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