PwC ‘very concerned’ about smart meter rollout

Deployment of smart meters could experience "huge problems" if large-scale testing is not carried out, PwC has warned.

The consultancy firm said it remains “very concerned” that, as deployment of smart meters increases, the system will face “a lot of problems”. 

Speaking at a smart metering conference in London, PwC global leader for smart energy Steve Mullins said: “The way I see it we still have a long way to go before we can be confident that we’ve actually slayed that dragon. In my experience, you only see these interoperability challenges when you are hanging the meters on the wall…

“At that point you start to see all these strange things happening that disrupt the system like the meter going offline and not coming back in the same state it was, meters operating intermittently, or data coming in in the wrong sequence. The whole stack from the meter to the customer bill has to be able to cope with all of those different service scenarios that are going to happen.

“The thing you can be really sure about is that because of the volumes of meters, a lot of the scenarios you can dream up, and probably a lot you could never dream up, are going to happen and potentially cause a lot of problems.”

Mullins added that he would need to see a structured field trial with high volumes of at least 100,000 meters over a period of 12 months to “feel comfortable” embarking on mass deployment. 

“My main concern is that there is no planned test of that sort of scale in the programme… I think it carries a lot of risk not to do that,” he added. 

His comments come after full rollout begun at the beginning of this month when the smart meter network operator. The Data and Communications Company (DCC) missed its final contingency deadline at the end of October after multiple delays since it’s original go live date in December 2015.