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ASK US ANYTHING

We understand you may want to know more.

Below is a list of topics that frequently come up when we are talking to customers, suppliers, colleagues and other interested parties.

We will aim to complete the installation with the minimum of disruption to households and businesses, and with ample notice prior to our installation visit.

Consumption of electricity supplied by Manx Utilities requires the use of a meter; all meters fitted by us will be smart.

All old meters will be disassembled and their components reused, recycled or responsibly disposed of on-island or in the UK. Meter manufacturers have withdrawn conventional meters and they are no longer supported.

For SmarterPAYG customers, we will follow our current process. Supply will be disconnected in the event of your credit running out.

For billed customers, we will not be disconnecting without due process:

In line with existing procedures, we will seek to recover amounts due. In default, we may, at our discretion and by giving written seven full working days’ notice, disconnect the supply to your premise. The supply will not be reconnected until the amounts payable to date have been received by Manx Utilities in full, or an alternative arrangement has been made for the payment of the outstanding debt.

The only time that we will disconnect immediately, without any prior notice, is on safety grounds – if we deem in our sole discretion that your electrical installation is in a dangerous and unsafe condition - and it will be a physical disconnection. We will not reconnect until we are satisfied that the installation has been made safe.

For Manx Utilities’ conditions of supply please see here. 

We acknowledge that infrequently, in the initial period after the smart meters' installation, we may be identifying discrepancies between the consumption recorded by the old conventional and the new smart meter, and we may need to make bill adjustments. We are putting in place measures for potential tariff or billing issues to be flagged internally and resolved swiftly. As with current procedures, customers will be fully protected should it be identified that they have overpaid. Where an historic issue is identified with meter hardware accuracy or Manx Utilities’ failings, we will not pursue the recovery of monies underpaid, but will be invoicing instead an estimate based on prior periods. Please note that this protection is not available in cases of tampering or meter damage.

Issues surrounding the United Kingdom’s deployment of smart gas and electricity meters have been well publicised and the UK has missed its 2020 roll-out target. However, it is one of the few deployments combining both the roll-out of smart electricity and gas meters, and providing switching within a competitive market of over 60 domestic energy suppliers.

The proposed Manx Utilities’ smart metering programme is fundamentally different to that of the UK roll-out and not just because the UK deployment is supplier-led.

Similar to the rest of Europe, the roll-out in the Isle of Man will be managed by Manx Utilities as the sole network operator. Contrast this with the UK where there is no coordination of installations meaning, for instance, that a street of 50 properties could require visits from 50 meter installers, each from a separate company, to make that street ‘smart’. 

We are actively learning from the UK and other European roll-outs, with sustained improvement continually feeding into workstreams.

The installation will be at no additional cost for the householder and will be completed by Manx Utilities. Under current arrangements, consumers pay for the cost of the meter and its maintenance through their energy bills, and this will be the same for smart meters. In some cases your electric installation may not meet our requirements or you may have a purpose-built meter box not provided by Manx Utilities which does not allow enough access or space to install our equipment; if this is the case, we will advise what remedial work is to be undertaken, some of which may have to be completed at your expense.

A programme budget of £18.15m was agreed by Council of Ministers; it includes all operational costs for the next ten years. This budget should be viewed in the context of the cost of Manx Utilities’ normal meter replacement programme: for instance, in the last ten years we have purchased and installed over 40,000 meters at a cost of approximately £1.2m/year. The programme was essential in the procurement our new SmarterPAYG system and the budget includes its provision and deployment, replacing the current unsupported and progressively unreliable system, which costs around £200k per year to maintain. It also provides for the design and installation of a new communications system.

The ‘do nothing’ option just to maintain statutory compliance, including a replacement non-smart prepayment system, will cost approximately £16M over the same time period.

There is a large evidence base from countries at more advanced stages of smart meter deployment demonstrating that smart metering, combined with effective customer engagement, does lead to demand reduction. Based on trials, both the UK and Ireland have independently suggested a 2.8% reduction in energy consumption following their smart meter roll-outs.

Smart metering is synonymous with the concept of the smart grid. We are updating our grid to manage our energy more intelligently, enhance the potential of incorporating alternative energy sources, and support electric vehicle charging. The infrastructure we are putting in place is, if desired, able to accommodate future smart solutions like smart homes and street lighting, and traffic and parking optimisation.

No. Smart meters use an entirely separate, bespoke wireless system. You do not need WiFi in your home for it to work and it will not use your WiFi if you have it. Our smart meters are not reliant upon the mobile phone network and are therefore not affected by poor mobile signal. Your smart meter and the data management centre communicate via a secure national network which is solely for smart meters. 

Manx Utilities' dedicated team of highly-skilled and fully trained meter installers will complete the work. They will be wearing a Manx Utilities uniform, driving a Manx Utilities vehicle and will have a Manx Utilities photo id - please request to see it if required. Our standards are set in our Smart metering installation code of practice.

We will require access to your home if your meter is inside your property, and we will need to speak to you if you are using our prepayment system. For meters located outside, it is preferable that someone over the age of 18 is at your property at the time. We will, of course, contact customers well in advance of any planned visit.

Post installation, if you experience any technical or functional issues with your new meter or other Manx Utilities’ equipment, please contact us on 687687 or via email: enquiries@manxutilities.im. We will resolve technical problems, and will provide post-installation support.

The meter belongs to Manx Utilities. As with conventional meters, it remains at the property. All consumption data will continue to be associated with the premises throughout the retention period; however, the new occupant will not have access to it.

As these conventional meters are at their end of life, they will be disassembled and all their components will be reused, recycled or disposed of accordingly.

In a bid to provide a more efficient service and do our bit for the environment, we are looking to encourage customers to take up paperless billing (e-billing), as well as set up a direct debit. Did you know that you can save 50 pence per e-bill and if you set up a direct debit you can save a further £1 per bill?  As a prepayment customer, you also benefit from the prompt payment discount, so both payment options could save you money.

To receive a discount, why not sign up for electricity direct debit and e-billing?

If you are completely off-grid and not connected to our service, you do not need a smart meter. If you are self-reliant, but connected for emergencies, we will still need to replace your current meter.

Nothing changes. If you are generating your own electricity, and are selling back to us, you will still be able to feed into the grid. Smart metering will help us match supply and demand for you and other customers and allow more renewable generation to be connected.

Smart meters are currently being rolled out only for electricity.

A joint smart meter roll-out with Manx Gas was considered, and discussions were had between the two organisations; however, it is not always possible to align the strategic objectives, or the timing of their achievement, of two separate entities.

We are aware that there is a demand for, and interest in, water meters. That matter has been discussed at various instances in various forums (including Tynwald) and for the time being, due to the cost of building an entirely new national infrastructure, there are no immediate plans to introduce water meters for domestic customers. Manx Utilities will, of course, monitor closely and continue to review the situation on a regular basis. We see the potential for water meters to assist with our leakage identification, hence the preservation of this precious resource, and are, therefore, considering an early stage trial, which will not involve installations in domestic premises.

It is worth noting that the technology which the smart metering programme is introducing is capable of supporting additional utility metering if there is a requirement for it. Our communications and back office systems could eventually be used to collect data from different meters and the systems could also be used to enable smart street lighting, collect environmental data such as air quality, as well as several other potential uses. 

We are already looking to see how these new systems can further complement and assist the drive for a more sustainable, healthy, inclusive island society.

The prepayment service remains as an option, and will be more convenient and easy than ever. We are developing new solutions allowing remote payment or payment online, as well as low credit alerts and seamless changes between prepayment and credit service. All enhancements to the service will be communicated to you promptly; please read more about 'SmarterPAYG': this is the name for the replacement system.

The SmarterPAYG system will consist of a smart meter, the low-power comms system, the data centre, and the new Smarter Living app. The app will be free and downloadable from the Apple Store or Google Play for mobile devices. You can also top up via a web portal linked on our website if you use a laptop or PC. You will need an email address to use the app or the web portal.

As part of the programme’s preliminary research, we considered in-home displays (IHD) being an integral part of the bespoke Manx system; however, consumer research suggests that their use is short-lived and limited in effect. We have therefore decided to offer them as a paid-for optional extra. IHD work in conjunction with external access devices and operate outside of the bespoke MU's communications system. They will be available for purchase early next year.

We will be launching our new Smarter Living app, which will be free to download onto your smart phone or tablet from the Apple Store or Google Play, and you will be able to use this app to monitor in near-real time your electricity usage in pounds and pence or in kw/hour if you prefer. You will also be able to log into your account via a web portal linked on our website and monitor consumption via your desktop or laptop.

We will be offering more sophisticated solutions still, including a functionality on the app coupled with an external access device, which will be delivering instantaneous monitoring capability. We are hopeful that this optional extra functionality will give all our customers the data required to make informed choices.

Once you have downloaded our Smarter Living app and registered your account, you can see what is going on with your electricity use – anytime, anywhere. We will give you all the information you need to be able to do this. In near-real time, you can view your hourly, daily, weekly and monthly usage to keep on top of how much you are spending.

Work on installing the new meters will commence in the summer of 2021 and will take 4 years. We will be starting with the replacement of key meters and we hope to have helped our 8,000 key meter customers benefit from the new SmarterPAYG system by early 2022. We will then proceed with credit meter installations, and detailed plans for this will be made available in due course. 

We will be in touch a month or so ahead of your installation, letting you know when we will be in your area, and advising you of the steps you need to take to set up your SmarterPAYG account if you are currently a key meter customer. We will also send a reminder of your appointment closer to the date of our visit. The installation will usually take around half an hour and it is preferable that someone over the age of 18 is at your property at the time. Should the meter and our equipment be inaccessible for our installers, please contact our scheduling team in advance on 687688 so that we can discuss this with you. We have developed a video which tells you about the installation process: you can see it by clicking here.

Depending on where you live, some credit customers will not benefit from this change for three to four years, but we are doing everything we can to safely install this technology as quickly as we can.

Yes.

Your smart meter will work in the same way as other wireless systems like car remote keys or TVs, using low-frequency radio waves. The radio waves used by smart meters are classed as safe, with emissions considerably less than TVs and mobile phones. The level of radio waves produced by smart meters is very low (typically one million times less than internationally agreed guidelines), and their safety levels exceed every UK and EU standard.

A smart meter cannot ‘spy’ on you, any more than a traditional meter could. It cannot see or hear: it only takes measurements. Names, addresses and bank account details are not stored on, or transmitted by, a smart meter.

You will be getting a new smart meter to replace your existing key meter, as the existing system is increasingly unreliable. The key meters we have used in the past are no longer manufactured, and it is becoming harder to maintain them if there are issues. The in-store terminals on which you top up your key are also becoming unreliable; we do not think that customers are receiving the very best service or experience at present, so we are investing in a completely new ‘pay as you go’ system called SmarterPAYG to improve our service to you.

Topping up will become easier and much more convenient for most SmarterPAYG customers: you will no longer need a key to top up, and you won’t have to go to a shop to do this. You will be able to buy credit online anytime, anywhere, via an app on your smart phone using a credit or debit card.

Yes, you can top up by simply using your account number in-store; we will maintain a list of stores on our website, and will provide further detail locally when we begin to install.

Yes, you can give a trusted friend or relative the permission to do this for you via the app or via our website, you could also provide them with your account number to top up in-store.  However you decide to top up, your credit will go straight onto your account, which is associated with your meter, and there will no longer be a need to physically visit the meter.

Yes, there will be a feature you can select on the app which will allow you to set up an automatic top-up when your credit balance reaches a defined value, or a set top-up transaction to be made on a regular basis, e.g. each week.

The roll-out of smart meters will allow the creation of new and exciting tariffs. Some of the UK’s leading companies, such as Octopus, are creating tariffs that allow customers to make changes to their consumption behaviour and make savings. We are reviewing our current and future tariff proposals to ensure that all of our customers – regardless of their needs and financial capabilities – can benefit from smart meters.

The cost of the meter and its maintenance is covered in the electricity bill that each consumer is paying – and that will be equally valid for smart meters too. We cannot guarantee that other factors will not drive the electricity price up – for instance raw materials’ prices, inflation etc. However, the programme in its own right will not lead to increases in the price of electricity.

The unit cost of electricity is set under a five-year pricing strategy approved by Tynwald. After 2023, we are committed to preparing another five-year pricing strategy.

If you are a key meter customer, and do not have a bank account, you will still be able to use cash to pay for your electricity in a number of stores. If you are a credit customer, nothing will change for you either.

Please contact us as soon as possible: you will need to submit an electrical network enquiry (ENE) - click here to download the ENE form.

The meter and part number (Holley DDSD285-S16) shown in "What can smart meters do?" and in our brochure are a true representation. This particular model will be fitted for standard domestic customers. Customers with three-phase supply will get a three-phase model – DTSD585.

The meters that we are using have been specifically tailored for our market and communications needs. They are a variant of European/UK approved meter, meeting all safety and compliance specifications appropriate for whole current and current transformer (CT) metering systems. The meters have all the appropriate capabilities of a European smart meter or UK SMETS 2 meter, but we acknowledge the issues with the UK roll-out and have selected functionality and capability appropriate for our needs. 

The meters conform to the applicable standards and requirements in the UK, such as but not limited to: MID Directive, EN 62052-21/22, EN 62053-21/22/23 and EN 62056-6-1. Following Brexit, replacement standards are being agreed and we will migrate to these if appropriate to do so.

The majority of our present fleet of meters were manufactured in the Far East. Whilst some meter manufacturers are based in Europe, their meters – and indeed most of the world’s technology - are either sourced from, or wholly assembled in, China and the Far East. 

 The communications system used in Manx Utilities’ smart metering system is provided by a North American company and our other technology partners are based in the UK with all their systems hosted on the Isle of Man within government infrastructure. All our suppliers have been vetted by the UK smart meter roll-out, whose security is managed by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) - the intelligence and security organisation responsible for providing signals intelligence and information assurance to the government and armed forces of the United Kingdom.

While a cyberattack can never be discounted, our smart meters are designed with security in mind and will operate on a private secure wireless network owned and operated by Manx Utilities. All sub-systems also feature security by design and have had rigorous penetration testing.

There will still be a requirement for some meter reading activities in conjunction with safety inspections.

All staff affected by the changes that the programme will bring about have been consulted and according to their skills are being, or will be, retrained and redeployed in a different role or part of the organisation.

No job losses will occur as a result of the introduction of smart meters.

The meters are transmitting on 2.4GHz frequency, with a limited operating band within that licence-free area.

Frequency of transmission is subject to events and tariff requirements, as well as type of data. The meters will be recording data in half-hour blocks and transmitting to us automatically. Data collected by the meter is used for producing your bill, for allowing you to monitor your energy use and for discharging our duties in respect of the generation and supply of electricity, maintaining the network and dealing with faults, amongst many others. System testing has highlighted that the optimum frequency for consumption data readings is hourly. Operational data, such as the one associated with a power cut for example, will be communicated immediately. You can read more about the types of data we will be collecting and other aspects of this process.

We are using a technology called SecureReach which provides reliable, efficient, easy to deploy connectivity. It is a 2.4GHz Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) point to multipoint solution. RPMA technology is a low-power, wide-area channel access method used exclusively for machine-to-machine communication.

The communications system used in Manx Utilities’ smart metering system is provided by a North American company, Trilliant – please check their website for more information.

We know that congestion and interference could potentially be a problem in the 2.4GHz band – Bluetooth, WiFi, cordless phones and baby monitors utilise it, so there is a large amount of traffic running through this unlicensed area of the network. However, the nature of RPMA, our technology solution, gives us flexibility with our network, allowing it to cut through the clutter while still being a good neighbour.

Our network has been live for over 12 months now and we have not experienced any issues.