London, U.K. --- (METERING.COM) --- October 28, 2009 - Updated operational framework requirements of the minimum functions/features that define a smart metering system for the United Kingdom have been released.

This will allow energy suppliers to build more detailed requirement specifications for both electricity and gas smart metering systems.

Two aspects that are considered are how a metering system is physically configured as a collection of components, and how components may be “shared” by individual smart meter installations. The final position and requirements for both of these have yet to be clarified.

With regard to the physical configuration, there is no anticipated maximum of the number of devices that could be combined to deliver a smart metering system. An example of a multiple box approach could be a meter with a separate communications component to deliver the full set of requirements. Retrofitting to existing meters is another example of a multiple box approach.

With regard to the “sharing” of components there are two options for how the systems might be installed or configured within individual premises to optimize the number of WAN modems required for a national implementation. These are one WAN modem per system or per premise, with the latter preferred currently.

On the principles for metering systems, smart meter design must take account of the following principles:

  • Smart meters will be ergonomic, accessible and user friendly to the widest range of customers.
  • The user interface of the meter will be simple to use and navigate.
  • The design of the user interface must meet the requirements of the customer first, with technical, diagnostic or “meter worker” interface activity made separate from customer activities.
  • Navigation or screen display order will be common across all smart meters for an agreed minimum set of initial customer facing processes, and similarly for meter worker/engineer screens to enhance interoperability for field operations.
  • Wherever possible, and without unnecessary constraints on the innovation of meter manufacturers, all smart metering systems will present customers with a similar user interface/use of symbols/screen design.
  • Smart metering systems will be adaptable to future conditions, capable of upgrade and adaptation so they can accommodate, to a large extent, technology advance.

In the case of gas meter functionality there is a consensus position that there is a positive case for the universal inclusion of a valve.

Other system requirements on which developments are ongoing are meter construction and design, energy measurement, sensors, meter communication, meter display, memory, security, diagnostics and alerts, meter operations, time/clock management, and debit mode operation.

The document, which was produced by the Supplier Requirements of Smart Metering (SRSM) project of the Energy Retail Association (ERA), is an update of an earlier version and is expected to undergo further development.