More Information on Smart Meters and Data

Smart meters will be fully operational in 2021. Until then we are preparing our communications network and IT systems. In this section we explain what data smart meters record, how they communicate and how we protect your data.

Unlike traditional meters which only recorded your electricity consumption, your smart meter will record details of your electricity consumption, any electricity export onto the grid, events, alerts and instrumentation data related to the power supply at your premises, each data category is explained in more detail below.

 

Each day, your meter will record the total amount of electricity consumed and exported over the previous 24-hour period. This is referred to as Register Data.

 

The meter also records a more detailed breakdown of the electricity consumed and exported in up to 30 minute periods. This is referred to as Interval Data and includes the recording of electricity consumed during the Day, Night and Peak periods. The Day period is from 8am to 11pm but excludes the Peak Period which is from 5pm to 7pm. The Night period is from 11pm to 8am.

 

In order to ensure the meter is working properly, the meter records diagnostic information about the meter itself. This is referred to as Event Data.

 

The new meter also has the capability to provide diagnostic metrics relating to power quality on the network in the vicinity of the premises.  These metrics will allow ESB Networks to remotely assess customer supply issues (such as low voltage) which often currently require the visit of a Network Technician and the temporary installation of additional on-site metering. This is referred to as Instrumentation Data.

When activated, the smart meter will communicate remotely with ESB Networks over a secure 2G network using technology like that used to send text messages. Your meter will create the equivalent of an encrypted text message and send it to an IT system called a Head End System (HES).

 

Any data collected from the meter is then stored securely in a central Meter Data Management System (MDMS) managed and operated by ESB Networks.  Each day, normally around midnight and via a secure 2G mobile network, your meter will send ESB Networks the total amount of electricity consumed and exported over the previous 24 hour period. If you have chosen to provide your Day, Night and Peak electricity consumption to your Supplier this will also be sent from the meter at midnight.

 

Each smart meter will activate itself approximately every two hours to check its integrity and connection to the network, it will send details of any electricity exported onto the network and if it finds any problems it will create another encrypted text message and send it to us.

 

If you have chosen to provide your 30-minute electricity consumption data to your Supplier this will also be sent from the meter to the MDMS every two hours.

To ensure your data is secure, access is tightly controlled and we employ multiple layers of cyber security on our IT systems and business processes.  For example, a SIM card is embedded in all meters and there are security protocols in place to ensure only approved SIM cards are permitted to join our secure and encrypted 2G communications network operated by Three Ireland Ltd. The meter has been independently tested from a cyber security perspective and our IT systems, which are protected by multiple firewalls, are also subject to regular independent testing and review.

Between now and 2021, ESB Networks will be building IT systems and a new operations centre, all necessary to support the launch of new smart services from electricity supply companies. As explained below, we will be building more functionality as the project progresses.

 

Commencing remote operation and management of meters (July - December 2020)
We have begun connecting smart meters to our secure 2G network operated by Three Ireland Ltd.  At this point your smart meter will send ESB Networks details of the energy consumed and exported since the meter was installed as well as other data about the functioning of meter itself, no other data will be collected from the smart meter. Data will be collected for the following purposes:

  • Establish and prove ESB Network’s new Smart Meter Operations Centre
  • Meter security and cyber security functions
  • Meter diagnostic functions including monitoring for meter tampering
  • Proving the robustness of the communications network to improve its performance as necessary
  • Establish and monitor the regularity of communications for each meter point to determine the types of smart services that can be delivered to customers.

The meter readings taken at this stage will not be used for billing and will not be shared with your electricity supply company or any third party. A meter reader will continue to call to your home to read the meter as is the case today.

 

From 2021 – Remote meter reading
From 2021, ESB Networks will commence remote reading of meters which will significantly reduce the need to use estimates for billing purposes. The meter readings collected will be shared with your supply company to allow them to prepare an accurate bill as they do today.  There may still be occasions when remote meter readings are not able to be captured which could result in an estimated bill.

 

Also in 2021, supply companies will start to offer new energy services and tariffs.  If you agree a new tariff with your supply company then your smart meter will send the necessary usage data.  You can change your preference by getting in contact with your supply company directly when smart services become available.

 

Remote meter readings will also be used to improve the final reading and billing process for those customers who change suppliers or move premises.