GB Smart Metering Implementation Programme

The Challenge

The Smart Metering Implementation Programme (SMIP) is responsible for the rollout of smart gas and electricity meters to all domestic and small business premises in Great Britain and for arranging the provision of the supporting data and network infrastructure required by energy suppliers and others to access devices installed in consumer premises nationwide.  All of this needs to be achieved in a safe, secure and affordable manner within tight time constraints.

Whilst SMIP as a programme was initiated by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) it is unusual because responsibility for implementation and roll-out lies with the energy industry rather than with DECC.  SMIP is a large, complex and long term programme.   The Impact Assessment (business case) predicts the total costs for smart metering rollout under the programme to be £12.1Bn with corresponding benefits equivalent to £18.8Bn.

The SMIP programme needed to provide strategy, guidance and expertise to direct the efforts of the industry and to ensure that stakeholders’ views (across a spectrum of interests) were adequately taken into account.  DECC recognised that it did not have internal resources available with the technical knowledge and large-scale programme experience necessary to deliver the required technical architecture and infrastructure products.  Having considered its options in September 2011 DECC asked ASE Consulting to build a team at the core of the programme to provide technical leadership and to manage the development and agreement of a range of key programme deliverables relating to technical architecture, security, testing and assurance.  The team remains in place today.

Our Approach

ASE recognised the collegiate nature of the SMIP programme and in particular the absolute need to ensure that internal and external stakeholders were appropriately involved throughout the lifecycle.  As most of the work to rollout the programme’s smart metering solution would fall to the industry (in particular retail energy suppliers) it was vital that they were comfortable that proposed equipment, infrastructure, integration and processes were workable and efficient.  In addition stakeholders representing other constituencies whose interests would not always naturally align with the industry’s should also be fully involved such as those representing consumers (including the vulnerable) and the regulator OFGEM.

Therefore the leadership, guidance and expertise that we provided and the programme deliverables that we produced were all set within the context of meeting the core needs of the programme whilst taking into account the requirements and interests of stakeholders to ensure that the optimum overall position was reached in each case.

Deliverables produced for the programme by ASE included:

  • definition of technical architecture and solution design;
  • design of the Smart Metering security scheme (in collaboration with government security specialists and industry experts);
  • development of the Target Operating Model;
  • heading the team to develop the Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications;
  • development of test strategies and engaging with industry to plan test activities;
  • support to the production of the Smart Energy Code – documenting the rights and obligations of all organisations participating in GB smart metering;   and
  • provision of technical requirement content and evaluation to the procurement and licensee competition for data and communication service providers for the smart metering national infrastructure.

The Results

ASE has worked with and been supported by many other individuals and teams from within the SMIP programme and external organisations to make our contribution to the continued success of the programme.  This collaborative and committed approach from all involved has enabled an enormous amount to be achieved in a relatively short time.

Our contribution has been pivotal in the programme achieving a number of outcomes that are critical to its success and therefore, in turn, the roll out of smart metering.  These outcomes include:

  • a comprehensive end-to-end technical solution has been developed that takes into account constraints and potential threats as necessary whilst supporting the achievement of the programme’s agreed objectives;
  • a security regime that will protect smart metering as an element of Critical National Infrastructure and safeguard consumer’s personal information has been developed and agreed;
  • the roles and responsibilities of the various players in relation to the implementation, operation and maintenance of all elements of the national infrastructure required to support smart metering, from energy provider’s own back-office systems to the equipment installed in consumer premises has been agreed;
  • the technical solution is a key influencing factor in the programme’s business case because the technical solution has to combine conformance to requirements with scalability and crucially affordability – this has been achieved;
  • the approach to assuring that equipment meets the necessary minimum functionality and interoperability requirements have been developed and agreed with stakeholders;
  • the main elements of the smart metering technical solution have been the subject of a formal government consultation and hence have been open to consideration by the widest possible audience – and have met this challenge;
  • service providers have been identified and appointed to provide the national data and communication services required to support smart metering;   and
  • the credibility of the programme with stakeholders, particularly from the energy supply and equipment provision industries, has been greatly improved.

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