System can handle 55 million supply points and switch customers in seconds

The blockchain company Electron is developing a nationwide energy platform, which it claims can switch customers in seconds.

Speaking to Utility Week, company director and former Npower chief executive, Paul Massara, said 22 independent suppliers have expressed an interest in the system, which has been fully-scaled to handle 55 million supply points.

Massara said the company has been testing the system with dummy data and can switch customers in just 15 seconds.

“You can see a customer go through without any settlement,” he said. “This is not theory. We have a working model showing how we could do it.”

“At the moment, it takes 21 days,” added Massara. “What you really want is quicker and more accurate switching, with lower costs. Blockchain can do all that because it can switch suppliers with meter points, so you don’t have all the reconciliation issues. And you can put in smart contracts, so you can start flagging things like if a person is on the priority register service.”

The co-founder and chief operations officer of Electron, Jo-Jo Hubbard, said the system will also provide suppliers with more up-to-date customer information.

“Up until fairly recently, some of the independent suppliers were still receiving monthly DVDs in the post with the latest registration lists,” said Hubbard. “It’s a step forward from pre-internet technology.

“We’ve already built and scaled this system up,” she added. “Some of the suppliers we are talking to want to run tests on real production systems, so that’s the next step.

“We’ve heard from suppliers that one in 20 switches fails due to bad data. What’s exciting about the blockchain proposition is you can incentivise someone to clean data, so you get this self-cleansing data set, which you can’t do on any other system.”

Hubbard added the national blockchain platform could also be extended to include other utilities, such as water.

“If you look at the [Conservative] manifesto, they want to have quicker and better switching,” added Massara. “If you want smarter and better switching, then you need to have some form of blockchain capability. It’s tool and why wouldn’t you do it if you had that tool.”