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The smart meter / prepayment combo that is revolutionising the consumer energy experience

6/01/2020

Gavin O’Neill, Managing Director, Generis

Historically, energy prepayment has attracted negative headlines and has been considered by some to be expensive and inconvenient.  However, there is a quiet revolution taking place as smart meters are now bringing enhanced prepayment features to transform the consumer experience.

Rapid decarbonisation is high on the political agenda with the roll out of smart meters handing greater control to consumers who are looking for ways to monitor their energy consumption and spend. Meanwhile, prepayment is transforming the way households buy and use gas and electricity, from new ways of topping up to cheaper tariffs, in order to save money and cut emissions.

All this goes some way to explaining why Smart Energy GB’s 2019 research found that more than eight in 10 smart prepay customers would recommend them.

And this is just the beginning. We’ve been very vocal about the need for energy suppliers to start expanding their range of prepayment tariffs, and the opportunities are endless; imagine being able to buy ‘packets’ of energy from Amazon for example. But the reality is it’s down to both existing and new energy suppliers to step up to the challenge and start innovating with a range of new prepayment options for consumers.

For example, using an app or other complementary software connected to your smart meter to prepay for your energy based on predicted use, which can also alert consumers when they are likely to run out of energy, enables them to purchase more quickly and easily. We know these technologies and services are valued amongst consumers, with over a third (37%) of smart prepay customers surveyed in Smart Energy GB’s research saying they closely monitor their energy usage every day using apps and their In-Home Display (IHD).

 

The future of smart prepayment

Ongoing developments in analytics and technology offer an endless number of exciting possibilities, from apps that predict usage and provide money back on innovative prepayment schemes to improving reliability at peak times by integrating the supply of renewable energy options back to the grid.

Vulnerable customers will also be supported, with intelligent smart meter and prepay technologies providing critical insights into usage and a self-configurable energy system that allows organisations such as the NHS and housing associations to ring-fence energy to ensure the power stays on.

The roll out of the new generation of smart meter is, undoubtedly, a significant leap forward in the journey to reduced energy consumption, with creative prepayment options sitting at the heart of this movement.

SMETS2 meters, along with enrolment of SMETS1, offer an exciting opportunity that will make it easier for consumers to switch suppliers and tariffs to get better deals, while having access to innovative prepayment options. These capabilities will empower households to get a full handle on their energy consumption and the associated costs.

The next step in realising the full power of prepayment is to switch on to the concept of incentivised prepayment tariffs. These will allow consumers to capitalise on flexible, cheaper tariffs while the utilities industry will benefit from the shifting use of energy from peak time.

Generis is part of Landis+Gyr and in 2008 established itself as a UK distributor and development centre for Advanced Metering Infrastructure solutions, specialising in Smart Metering software.  The company is one of Landis+Gyr’s key software development centres within the EMEA region.  It currently provides various Meter Asset Management , Industry Messaging and Industry Process Management solutions to major Energy companies in the UK, Europe, USA and emerging markets including Azerbaijan.