Independent report finds strong investment case for smarter water meters in non-household market

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There is a strong benefit case for water companies rolling out enhanced metering technology to non-household customers, an independent research report has concluded.

The report, by Artesia Consulting, recommends that water companies planning to roll out ‘smart’ meters for domestic customers should include non-household customers at the same time.

The report also concludes that companies without large-scale meter investment programmes would benefit from upgrading or replacing selected non-household customers’ meters, particularly the largest customers and/or where businesses are in close proximity.

Claire Yeates, Strategic Director for Waterscan and sponsor of the workstream on behalf of the Metering Committee, commented on the report: “Accurate, timely metering data is critical in the effective management of this precious natural resource.

“The market cannot progress without improvement in this area – it is quite simply the right thing to do for customers, the environment and trading parties, wherever they may be on their technology journey.”

Commissioned by MOSL on behalf of the Strategic Panel’s Metering Committee, the report comes at a ‘critical’ time for the sector, as companies develop investment plans for the next Asset Management Period (2025-2030) and Water Resource Management Plans for 2025-2050.

Companies’ proposals will detail how they intend to meet the increasing demand for water when most regions of the country are now under “severe water stress” and the unusual weather events are becoming more severe and less predictable due to climate change.

According to the report, investing in metering will be at the heart of plans to meet these challenges. Timely, accurate and granular data from meters is vital not only to ensure customers’ bills are based on actual consumption, but also in providing data to help reduce leakage and improve water efficiency.

Water companies’ plans are expected to propose major investment programmes for household meters.

However, the picture for non-household customers is less clear and there remains a risk that companies may prioritise household investment – leaving the NHH market in the ‘slow lane’ – despite the majority of smaller non-household customers’ using water for very similar purposes to households.

Currently 73% of the non-household market’s 1.2 million water meters use traditional technology, which needs to be read manually.

Nearly a quarter (22%) use add-on Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) technology, which make meters ‘smarter’ by transmitting a reading to someone walking or driving past. Only 5% of meters use the latest ‘smart’ (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) meters.

The report recommends companies upgrade all sub-25mm ‘traditional’ meters to either AMR or AMI and all meters above 25mm to AMI. Artesia estimates that rolling out enhanced metering would cost the industry approximately £344m, with benefits of £943m (both based on 15-year NPV) and a potential return on investment of five years.

John Davies, MOSL’s CIO, added: “We are pleased that the research has highlighted such a clear business case for enhanced metering technology for non-household customers.

“We are also pleased that the report does not restrict companies’ choices on which technologies to adopt, focusing instead on the importance of adopting common data standards.”

More information about this announcement, along with the full report, is available on the MOSL website.