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Incorrect Billing of Customers with a Smart Meter

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Transparent
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Posted by: @bxman

I believe that the H H is used regardless of offsets when on a smart tariff with OE.

I will agree that there have been other software issues with Kraken, which is the 'internal' name for the billing system used by Octopus, and licensed to others.
That will always be the case during software development.

However, the particular issue discussed in this topic will only become apparent when the customer has different price-points being applied across the 48 HH periods of the day.

 

I now understand that R1 & R2, which you referred to earlier, are the 'names' shown on the L&G E470 display for two different rates within your tariff.

Yes, the Randomised Offset within a meter defines the delay between UTC (universal time) and the start of your HH periods.
I have several iterations of the Smart Meter specification here, and I posted the relevant section here earlier.

 

You shouldn't need to be exchanging 39 emails with a Supplier concerning a complaint.
Two is sufficient to trigger the point at when you take your case to the Office of the Energy Ombudsman.

  1. An initial email to present the evidence, which starts the clock ticking. Most Complaints Procedures state that you will receive a response within a week.
  2. A follow-up email to say that you disagree with their response, and supply any clarification.

They then have 8-weeks to find a resolution. If not, then the complaint is deemed to have reached 'Deadlock' whether or not they send you a letter stating that.

 

In your case, I strongly suggest that you provide the URL for this forum topic when you contact the Ombudsman.
We've presented clear explanations of what's going wrong, and in much greater detail than most end-users would be expected to understand!

I have also communicated on the Randomised Offset issue with the Commons Select Committee on Energy Security and Net Zero, and with DESNZ themselves.
The documentary evidence is available to the Ombudsman if they need it.

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(@judith)
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This is a very interesting thread. Our ashp is being fitted soon, and we’re going onto OE cosy and using our battery to charge up to get over the peak period.

At present in E7 we delay by 30mins to ensure our random delay does not give us day rate when charging the battery. It has no impact on how fully the battery will charge. BUT we can not put 30mins delay into the 3hour slot since our battery needs longer than 2.5hrs to fully charge . Background ramble over.

Has anyone successfully measured their random time? It implies so a page or so above, but the details escaped me. Please repeat the description. Thanks.

6kW PV south-facing roof 9.5kWh Givenergy battery. MVHR. Investigating ASHP


   
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Transparent
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That's a vital question @judith but there are a number of difficulties with measuring the Randomised Offset to the Tariff Table.

1: There is a SMETS command which could be sent that reduces the possible range of the Randomised Offset.
That would be a stupid thing to do because it reduces the effectiveness of a feature which prevents surges on the grid.
But history tells us that such stupid actions do occasionally occur!
It's possible that Suppliers who were faced with the problem of incorrect bills have found a way to send that command and hence extricate themselves from a customer complaint.

2: 50% of Smart Meters will have switched into the next tariff period by the eighth minute.
Most people won't be bothered to attempt a measurement because they adjudge the error to be small in comparison to the on-time of their grid demand.

3: A Minister at DESNZ has written to assure me that the errors are well within acceptable margins because Smart Meters comply with the Measuring Instruments Regulations (SI-2016/1153). That means he doesn't understand the difference between an error in the Smart Meter and an error in the Billing Software code.

4: The same Minister states that "the Randomised Offset only applies to meter register readings, and not the half hourly consumption readings".
He doesn't understand that the consumption is calculated by the Billing Software, based on the readings from those registers.

 

Anyone who has tried to address these issues will have been faced with similar obfuscation by Ministers and their officials who don't understand the Smart Meter Specifications approved by Parliament in 2013/14.

The one person who stands a fighting chance of having their voice heard is @korwraith because

  • such a high proportion of his consumption is during the low-cost period, thus amplifying the amount being over-charged
  • he has evidence in writing from EDF that they don't correctly handle the Randomised Offset

 

This post was modified 2 days ago 2 times by Transparent

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(@ianmk13)
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Out of interest, in the HomeAssistant world there is an application which aims to predict the home battery state of charge in the following 48 hours and to minimise energy bills by charging and discharging the battery at the optimum times. This formidable piece of software takes into account historic electricity consumption, detailed solar radiation forecasts and half-hourly tariffs, amongst other things. It's very popular but the randomised offset could significantly affect its performance if the user places too much emphasis on trying to squeeze the last drop out of the ToU tariff.


   
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Transparent
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I'm glad to learn that HA is attempting to manage battery charging using forecasts and data analysis.

And yes, the calculations will be incorrect due to the Randomised Offset.
You can only pick that up from the Smart Meter, so HA would need to running a secure version of Zigbee and be paired with the meter's Comms Hub.
That's where an Open Source solution falls short.

Each user would need to

  • be a Member of the Smart Energy Code
  • become certified as compliant with a range of security protocols
  • have an account with the Data Communications Company

It's not going to happen if the starting point is HA.

 

I'll also conjecture that the 'optimum times' you refer to are based on price.

I'm in Devon.
Suppose we're in 2028 and Hinkley-C is fully operational.

If my tariff offers a cheap-rate period starting at 23:30 is that rate decided because:

A: Hinkley's producing more output than can be passed onwards from the Grid Supply Point transformers at Taunton?

B: It's blowing a gale and the wind-turbines on the north coast of Cornwall are being constrained by Active Network Management (ANM) due to surplus generation?

C: The engineers running the gas-turbine plant at Langage (Plymouth) have artificially lowered the cost per MW because they want to keep the turbines operating in closed combined cycle?

The price declared by my tariff isn't the only factor I'd like to consider.

  • Perhaps I'm actively wanting to combat climate change, and therefore disinclined to use electricity from gas-fired turbines.
  • Is nuclear acceptable? After all, it makes claims of being zero-carbon if I ignore all the concrete and steel used in its construction.
  • How can I 'select' electricity from the wind-turbines connected to the 33kV distribution grid? Hinkley and Langage take precedence due to their direct connections to the 400kV Transmission Grid. If I increase my demand to recharge batteries, then the control rods in Hinkley-C No.2 simply get pulled out a fraction of a millimeter.

 

It's going to take a people's revolution to change the energy market to one which is based on anything but pounds sterling.

This post was modified 2 days ago 2 times by Transparent

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(@derek-m)
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@transparent

It is actually referred to as 'combined cycle operation' rather than 'closed cycle operation'.

We did have a system as you suggest, it was called the Central Electricity Generating Board.


   
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Transparent
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Indeed @derekm and the concept of CEGB is to be re-invented as Great British Energy, headquartered in Scotland.

As Ed Miliband MP made clear in the Commons last week, GBE is to be a generation company and not a supplier to consumers.

Rachel Reeves MP, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is preparing to invest £m in large-scale technology, seen as essential to the quest for Net Zero.
The first such project seems likely to be a liquid air energy storage (LAES) plant with an initial storage capacity of 300MWh.
Without government backing, other investors were unlikely to accept the risks.

That's a world away from the issues facing UK consumers.

Innovative storage technology is targeted at the perceived need to hold energy reserves for our electricity supplies, which will increasingly be derived from fluctuating renewable sources.

It facilitates consumers who still want to import electricity on demand, which is what drives the 'early evening peak'.

Irrespective of any political dimension, I believe that the better approach is to flatten the peak.
If consumers drew their electricity more evenly throughout the day, and implemented home-based storage, then we'd need far less commercial storage.

HomeBattery

That's what @korwraith and others here are trying to do.
But it's disheartening to be forging that path when the basic concepts of billing based on Smart Meter readings are improperly implemented.

When the national media eventually picks up this topic, it's going to infuriate the wider general public.
My hope is that they will become more aware of the strategy of domestic battery storage...
... but I fear that it will instead be turned into a quest to find a target against whom to vent their anger.

@korwraith and I have both involved our MPs.
I've additionally submitted evidence to the Commons Select Committee on Energy Security and Net Zero.

Those of us here who understand the problem need to be prepared to steer this issue of incorrect billing towards a positive outcome.

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Abernyte
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Posted by: @transparent

concept of CEGB is to be re-invented as Great British Energy, headquartered in Scotland.

Meh.....Scotland remembers Britoil. Same plan, new name.


   
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Majordennisbloodnok
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Posted by: @transparent

Irrespective of any political dimension, I believe that the better approach is to flatten the peak.
If consumers drew their electricity more evenly throughout the day, and implemented home-based storage, then we'd need far less commercial storage.

I’m still undecided on this point.

Flattening the peak requires, as you have mentioned, each home to have its own energy storage solution and that is largely limited to batteries. Those batteries require metals and other elements that are relatively rare, but at the same time there is a huge and ever-growing range of tech relying on battery power.

On the other hand, whilst few have a garden big enough or having the correct layout appropriate for hydroelectric storage and generation, such solutions are far more feasible as infrastructure elements supporting many households. That infrastructure approach, therefore, may not be the most efficient but may still reduce the reliance on scarce resources and therefore be a better practical approach overall.

Please note that I’m saying “might be” rather than “will be”; I don’t know. I’m just aware there a lot more considerations than I realise and the eventual answer will probably be a combination; better/worse rather than right/wrong.

 

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(@ianmk13)
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Posted by: @majordennisbloodnok

Flattening the peak requires, as you have mentioned, each home to have its own energy storage solution and that is largely limited to batteries.

Remember that demand will lead to research and development of alternative chemistries/technologies.


   
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Transparent
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Posted by: @majordennisbloodnok

That infrastructure approach, therefore, may not be the most efficient but may still reduce the reliance on scarce resources and therefore be a better practical approach overall

The 'inward investment' in British energy projects isn't being done out of any concern or benevolence towards us consumers.

In that article about LAES, the partners are stated as being Centrica, Rio Tinto, Goldman Sachs, KIRKBI and Mosaic Capital. They will expect a substantial return on that investment over many years. It's similar to building hospitals and schools using Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Those shareholders who own the assets will aim to extract a steady income from our energy bills for a couple of decades or more.

Moreover, did you notice where the LAES prototype plant is to be built?
It's to be at Carrington, south west of Manchester, where it will operate using "excess power".

Since when has the Manchester area had excess power, let alone a surplus from renewable sources?

Here's a composite map I've built from those on National Grid ESO's website, which shows the size and direction of major energy flows in England and Wales.
None of those orange electricity flow arrows originate at Manchester!

SouthFlowsMd

The regions which have surpluses are Scotland and South West England. That's because they have numerous sources of renewable generation, but lack the grid infrastructure to send enough of it to London, where it's required.

It will be the consumers in Scotland and North West England who are required to fund the infrastructure upgrades to feed into the LAES trial in Carrington.

 

Posted by: @majordennisbloodnok

batteries require metals and other elements that are relatively rare

That statement applies to the LiMNC cells, which are used in EVs.

But the LiFePO4 chemistry most commonly encountered in domestic storage now costs a third of what it did 5 years ago.
Such a price reduction wouldn't be possible if the elements were that rare.

We could also use Lithium Titanate (LTO) or thermal sand batteries.

 

Whatever the technology we use to store energy in the home, it still needs an accurate billing system.
It is a legal requirement after all !

This post was modified 1 day ago 2 times by Transparent

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