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Change in guidance on unmetered supply of electricity offer a more pragmatic approach to metering

Change in guidance on unmetered supply of electricity offer a more pragmatic approach to metering

24 August 2012

The National Measurement Office (NMO) have now issued Guidance on the practical application of the Electricity (Unmetered Supply) Regulations 2001 (SI 2001/3263) which can be accessed here and customers are strongly encouraged to read it in full. The Guidance encourages a pragmatic approach to the Regulations and if customers are able to give confidence to DNOs that the accuracy of their inventories will facilitate accurate billing for the energy actually consumed, then many of the problems previously associated with the Regulations should now fall away.

The following summarises some of the content from the Guidance.

The Regulations make provisions for where an unmetered supply may be given. The Regulations do not state that an unmetered supply must be given. Where a customer is to purchase electricity, the default position is that a meter will be used. The onus is on the customer to show why an unmetered supply would be permitted.

The circumstances in which an unmetered supply of electricity may be given to a customer are as follows:

• the load must be predictable and either less than 500 W; or

• it is impractical for the supply to be metered either technically, financially or for legal reasons (for example, under Health and Safety law).

The NMO considers that ‘predictable’ means a load that can be consistently understood throughout its usage period, so that billing can be correctly estimated or accurately calculated based on pre-defined operational profiles or based on event records.

The Regulations do not define where the 500 W “limit” is to be measured – i.e. at the load point or at the supply point. For the purpose of the guidance the following definitions will apply:

“Supply point” – means the point of connection to the authorised distributor’s network.

“Load point” – means the point at which the load of the equipment consumes electrical energy.

The NMO position is that the 500 W is measured at the load point and is the maximum operating load of the equipment. A common example of this would occur where a number of lamps may be situated on a single column so that the total wattage exceeds 500 W but the individual lamps are below this limit, or where a number of lighting units of predictable load are fed from a single point of supply which, when aggregated, exceed the 500 W limit. So the aggregated load from a series of columns fed from a single supply point may also be considered for an unmetered supply provided they also meet the definition of “predictable”.

Regulations allow predictable loads above 500 W to be unmetered where the cost of metering would be significantly higher than usual for the load. Metering costs should include any provision necessary on a particular site to enable the meter to be read safely such as suitable access, a parking area, etc. Any decision on the practicality of installing a meter will need to consider issues such as safety, accessibility, infrastructure upgrade and the technology available. It may, for example, not be practical to install a meter in the centre of a busy roundabout or the size of the meter may physically prevent it being installed in a traffic signal controller case, etc.

The location of electricity meters on motorways and high speed roads may expose those reading and inspecting meters to risk, and the need for appropriate traffic management to create a safe working environment must be considered both under ‘operation of law’ and ‘metering costs’. Alternatives routes to access a meter at the side of motorways should not extend to requiring persons to cross private land, involving securing access rights from the landowner, etc.

A properly maintained inventory is essential to accurately predict consumption and ensure accurate billing and NMO expects all customers with unmetered supplies to provide any such information as may be reasonably required to enable the quantity of electricity supplied to be suitably determined i.e. they must keep an accurate inventory.

Following the guidance will normally be enough for organisations to meet their legal obligations.

Dave Johnson, Member of the UK Lighting Board said "Publication of the recent guidance by the National Measurement Office is good for Distribution Network Operators, Energy Suppliers and Customers alike. DNOs now have clear parameters within which unmetered supplies may be given without fear of breaching licence conditions. Suppliers and Customers should be relieved of much of the significant burden of managing meters at unoccupied and remote locations where the load is entirely predictable and can be accurately accounted for by other means.

The NMO are to be congratulated for engaging so constructively with all parties before finalising the guidance, which should normally be sufficient for all parties to meet their legal obligations related to unmetered electricity connections."

The full web address to access the Guidance is http://www.bis.gov.uk/nmo/gas-and-electricity-meters/Unmetered-supplies-of-electricity
 

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