The Data Communications Company was this morning celebrating the 20 millionth smart meter to be connected to the UK’s secure national network.

An unspecified account in Brighton, East Sussex, hooked up three minutes before noon yesterday, 4 May by pay-as-you-go specialist supplier Utilita Energy, broke the 20 million tape in the race to boosting Britain’s meter intelligence and bi-directional power networks.

As recently as December 2020, at the height of lockdown, Britain’s smart meter installed base was exactly half of today’s peak, a mere 10,000,000 boxes.

The DCC, a division of outsourcing leviathan Capita, holds the monopoly for digitising and converting the nation’s power meters.

Ofgem licenced the management company in 2013, granting a national monopoly which expires in 2025.

Last year Ofgem reviewed the mega-project’s remit, seeking to ensure its goals and delivery remain fit for purpose to meet network data collection needs up to 2040.

Around 60 per cent of the smart meters now in use are second generation, or SMETS2.  – see illustration.

Overseers of the vast national upgrade calculate that the 20 million clever boxes now save around 580,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent every year.  That’s the emissions total of a city the size of Manchester.

Coincidentally, Manchester is the DCC’s operating base, and home to its 24-hour monitoring of “last-yard” power flows to UK homes.

Data Communications Company CEO Angus Flett pointed put that the 20 million meters had been wired in in less than four years.

“We’re delighted”, he said. “Credit for this achievement goes to everyone involved in the smart metering roll-out, particularly our customers, the energy companies and network operators, who’ve worked really hard with us.

“This network is the backbone of a new digital energy infrastructure in Britain, as we transform our energy system”, Flett added. “Crucially, the data we carry from these 20 million meters enables the best possible use of renewable energy sources, which everyone wants.”

Messages and other signalling data carried over the DCC network are rocketing upwards: last month alone, 897 million messages were relayed between smart meters and suppliers.

Herz of England

Towns and communities in the English Midlands have been fastest to take up second generation clever boxes. The DCC provides these numbers, as of April 2022;

Community County Smart meters, as share of all accounts
North Kesteven Lincolnshire 61%
North West Leicestershire 59%
Harborough Leicestershire 59%
South Derbyshire 58%
Rugby Warwickshire 57%

North Kesteven’s households are reducing carbon emissions by an estimated 1,300 tonnes of CO2 every year. That’s the volume of 290 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Yesterday’s laureates Utilita claim that high-tech metering and constant, web-delivered visibility of costs means their account holders use on average 11% less energy than Britain’s households.

Bill Bullen, the supplier’s founder and CEO, said: “After installing the UK’s first ever smart meter in 2005, we are extremely proud to be part of this latest milestone..

“To have 20 million smart meters connected to the Data Communications Company’s (DCC) national network in less than four years is a remarkable achievement.

“It builds on Utilita’s history of being at the forefront of the smart meter rollout and investing in technology to address the needs of customers.”

Note:  “Ten to the power of seven” = Ten million. But you knew that, didn’t you?

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