I have previously stated my ideas about what will be considered the ‘New Normal’ in our lives with pandemia in my article New Normal Covid 19 with the label YNC19. Now let’s look at what’s going to happen to the ‘New Normal’ when it comes to ‘Meter Reading Operations‘.
New Normal for Meter Reading Operations
Every day we hear on the news how COVID-19 will affect our lives today and in the future. What the new NORMAL will be like or the measures taken, un taken measures; what is going on in other countries, etc. are constantly being hosted in our homes in the evening news or post-discussion programs.
On some issues, covid-19 actually offers us new opportunities, unfortunately we can’t hear enough. It can offer us a fresh start for subjects that are constantly rejected or seen as distant, and will cause significant positive changes in our daily working life or consumption habits.
Covid-19 Meter Reading Operations in Turkey
Previously, many white-collar employees started or continued to work in their homes due to the epidemic while working at work places for at least 8–9 hours a day, in multi-storey work centers and campus areas.
Whether or not this causes serious and negative effects on the already available power grid and other utilities. The systems are designed, operated and offered to subscribers according to the laws that have been fundamentally set out for more than a century.
In general, the pre-epidemic residential electricity consumption has changed completely; whether it is partial street restriction or closed to the house due to changing working life. Many of the electrical appliances used by white-collar workers at work have been shifted to residential areas, especially due to the use of computers and modems. If there is more than one device in the house, it is much more intense. In our house, for example, everyone has a tablet or computer as well as a phone. With up to three clients per day, this number has tripled or even quadruped. In summary, due to the electricity distribution network COVID-19 is on its way to a completely different NORMAL.
EPDK’s Benchmark Billing Decision to avoid Meter Reading Operations
Let’s remember the beginning of April 2020 for Turkey. Epdk homes, because the meter reading processes pose a risk to both households and meter readers; KIYASEN BILL has decided, the consumption of electricity and natural gas meters for 3 months will be billed based on the consumption of past months. But they have to come all the way to the buildings to leave a bill. After a while, due to consumer complaints and excessive bills, it was subsequently resned. The interesting thing is, no decision has been made on water bills. It’s like they’re not in the risk group…
So, was the decision wrong or was it actually true? According to deloitte’s april 2020 study; household electricity consumption increased by 4% compared to the same month last year; but total consumption decreased (overall at 23%-25% as industrial consumption decreased). If the same months had been compared based on the data of the previous years; there would probably have been fewer complaints, in this way the yes decision is correct, the benchmark method is wrong. Of course, if there is no consumption, do not be billed, I agree with that.
Meter reading operations can first pose a risk to the health of those who read counters in terms of the location of the counters; because they have to come to buildings.
Locations of Meters
The counters for residents in large cities are generally outside households. In many parts of Anatolia; meters can be found either inside the house or on external walls or on electricity poles. Electricity meters are in the basement of the apartments, while water and gas meters are located on the floors.
Whether they come to buildings, enter floors or basements; or read the counter inside the home, counter reading workers are at risk in all cases and the risk can only be fixed by remote reading systems.
For today, in all cases, those who read counters should come to buildings; read and examine the meters on site, because there is no “Remote” or “Automatic Meter Reading system (OSOS)” for household consumers in Turkey yet. There are different reasons for this.
Why Are There No AMR in Housing?
Anadolu Agency reported on June 5, 2019 that the number of electricity subscribers has passed 44 Million, and the number of residential subscribers in this is 36 million. If a decision was taken today and everyone was told that a smart meter would be given, a very serious cost would arise.
The average known communication mono phase meter price is at €50 (a price that can be taken if millions of meters are produced). There is a cost of 1.75 Billion to 2 Billion € i.e. 10 – 15 Billion TL. Of course, operating expenses and so on should be taken into account (roughly €5 – €10 means additional expenses).
The price paid for reading the unit counter in Turkey; is impossible according to OLD NORMAL conditions because it is at a much, much lower value. Another obstacle is that it replaces the counters that are there, meaning it’s not attractive just for reading. If it is to be used for monitoring household consumption, shopping for energy, applying energy tariffs to the user, adapting voltage levels according to energy consumption, delivering household energy management solutions and so on, and so on, smart meters will actually open a whole new door for smart grid solutions.
Although it is in the public interest for all operators to be conved in one infrastructure because the administrations are different, since no agreement can be reached, three different systems are still being constructed for three services (electricity, water and gas), which is a serious waste. The solution must be the only infrastructure.
Smart Meters and European Union
According to the previous joint decision in the EU; the number of people who have implemented at least 80% in 2020 on the recommendation to implement smart meters is limited. According to Tractabel’s july 2019 report with Engie; countries such as Scandinavia, Spain, Italy and Estonia are at completion point, with France, Great Britain, Greece and Austria joining them by the end of 2020. Other countries are setting a date for 2025 and later.
The BBC reported in September 2019 that the smart meter switch, which is said to be finished in Great Britain 2019, has been postponed until 2024. The biggest reason for this is cybersecurity and the protection of personal data. Similar reservations are seen in other European countries and elsewhere in the world.
The issue of abstaining actually revolves around both the amount of investment and the protection of personal information.
Smart Meters and Other Countries
In North America, due to EU-like grounds and cost issues, the implementation of Smart Meters will be as long as 2024. A similar approach applies to other regions.
Smart Meters and Beyond
The smart meter is not only used to measure electricity consumption for today. It provides additional services to both the operating organization and many users. We’ll have to remember there’s a service point beyond the counter. Instead of re-sorting the benefits of smart meters here, I’ll try to summarize potential weaknesses.
Although digitization brings significant advantages, it also invites cyber attacks. Cyber attacks are inevitable, especially in structures that are not carefully designed. Based on the assumption that anything can be attacked, we’ll have to consider how to close it with the least damage. Unfortunately, only known attacks can be prevented, we can only set up trap-like (honey-pot) systems for new types of attacks.
Denial on service, virus attacks, replacement of counter software, infiltration, etc. are the attacks we know about today. Attacks such as “Notpetya” or “Stuxnet” showed that these were not enough.
Counter solutions must either go to a closed design, so that only physical attacks are allowed and they can be detected, or they will need to be designed to protect them from robust cyber attack.
New Business Opportunities
Smart meters also open doors for yen business areas instead of remote reading. Each apartment can be treated as a new shop and different business models can be offered.
Home Energy Management, Home Elderly and Care Service delivery to people in need, Renewable energy with “Producing Consumer” (ProSumer), Digital Home Solutions (Entertainment, Security, Comfort, etc.) and many more.
The question that really matters…
We need to ask the questions that are really important to these days when COVID-19 has shut us down and requires us to be more at the forely towards each other: What is the value of human life? How much monetary investment does one’s workforce and health resist? Investment and Money or Human Life?
These questions may bother you, but in many countries in recent years investors have always argued, “Labor costs and the costs paid by the government are cheaper than intelligent and remote reading solutions”!
To emphasize for the last time, it is important to remember that human life is worth more than smart investment per household.
May 2020 / Istanbul