New Digital ‘SMART’ Meters – An Update!

New European regulations require the introduction of SMART Meters to “encourage consumers to play an active role in the electricity market and thus improve energy efficiency”! To comply with the relevant Spanish regulations, Real Descreto 1110/2007, Endesa Distribución inaugurated its SMART Grid Operations Centre in October 2010 and between 2011 and 2018 will be replacing an estimated 13 million electricity meters in Spain, for consumers with ‘potencia contratada’ (contracted power) of 15 kW or less.

SMART Meters monitor and control electricity consumption and facilitate other ‘operations’ remotely thanks to the SMART Grid, a state-of-the-art communications system developed jointly by Endesa and Enel who together boast the largest number of SMART Meters installed on a countrywide basis, estimated to be in excess of 38 million.

I originally posted an article on SMART Meters in October 2011 when I first learnt that pilot trials began in Spain that year, with SMART Meters installed in Málaga. Today I know Endesa are in the process of notifying consumers and replacing electricity meters locally in Alhaurín el Grande, Coín, Cártama and Álora, and no doubt everywhere in Spain, for residential consumers and commercial customers contracted at 15KW or less. Be warned, there are implications, see my advice below in reponse to some recent customer enquiries!

SMART Meters

The new “SMART” Electricity Meters are replacing traditional electro-mechanical electricity meters, two models: Single-Phase (1x 230 Volts) shown on the left and 3-Phase (3x 230/400 Volts) on the right, not to scale

Read on for more information on the SMART Grid, watch the video and read my answers to some important and frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

The SMART Grid uses ‘telemetry’ technology to send data on electricity consumption from your SMART Meter back to the supplier via the electricity supply network cables. The SMART Grid project not only involves the replacement of millions of electricity meters, it also relies on the installation of Data Concentrators at over 140,000 sub-stations and transformers across the county. The data is collected at the local substation and sent from there via the internet to the various billing companies.

With a SMART Meter installed you will never again receive an estimated bill, nor will you see the Endesa (Cobra) meter reader, he is now ‘en paro’! See the Enel video below for an interesting overview of SMART Grids.

Another VERY IMPORTANT integrated function of the SMART Meter is the control and automatic overload protection of your ‘potencia contratada’ (contracted power in KW’s). This was previously controlled by your Interruptor de Control de Potencia (ICP) fitted and sealed in your fuse box. With a SMART Meter installed, if you exceed your contracted power the supply will be disconnected at the meter. The supply can only be reconnected by following a simple procedure at the main fuse box.

And now for some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) and my advice:

Q. Endesa changed my neighbour’s meter but have not changed mine, is there a problem?

If Endesa intend changing your meter they will notify you in writing to confirm the date when they will change your meter. If you receive your electricity bills then you may receive a letter in due course. If your billing address is incorrect and you do not receive electricity bills then you will not receive the meter change notification letter if Endesa send it.

Endesa are currently replacing meters for all consumers with contracts of 15KW or less. This includes all single-phase customers, as the maximum power available on single-phase is only 11,5KW and 3-phase customers below 15KW. If you are contracted at 15,1KW or more you may already have a digital ‘MAXIMETRO’ which will not be replaced.

Q. I have received a letter from Endesa about changing my electricity meter, do I need to be concerned?

Potentially yes, the installation of your SMART meter poses a huge problem if you do not have an ICP fitted and your ‘potencia contratada’ is not sufficient for all the appliances in your home. If you do not have an ICP fitted then you have previously been able to draw more power through your supply than you are contracted for, you are now likely to experience regular power outages with your SMART meter, due to overloading.

If you do have an ICP fitted, assuming it has not been tampered with, and it has not tripped regularly in the past then you should not experience any problems with your new meter installed.

Check your last electricity bill and confirm your ‘potencia contratada’, if it is very low your only option is to upgrade your installation and increase the power contracted with your supplier.

Q. I recently had a new digital meter installed, now my electricity keeps tripping OFF, can I upgrade?

One of the other ‘operations’ managed by the new SMART Meters is the ability to make contract changes remotely. Requests including potencia upgrades, tariff modifications, connections and disconnections communicated via telephone or internet, can be implemented within 24 hours, your electricity provider will reprogram your meter remotely without the need to send an engineer.

However potencia upgrades will only be permitted up to the maximum power specified in your Boletín. If you are already contracted at this maximum amount then you will need to present a new Boletín, this may involve a lot of work on your electricity supply and electrical installation to ensure it is compliant with the latest wiring regulations in Spain.

If you are concerned or have any questions regarding your electricity supply, contact me to arrange an inspection, audit and load-test of your installation. If necessary I can prepare a quote to upgrade your supply and provide a new boletín in order to upgrade your ‘potencia contratada’ before your new Smart meter is installed!

Contact me via email (address at top of page) or telephone +(34) 659 862 691.

6 February 2014