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Paying for energy the smart way

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1 Author(s)
Cowburn, J. ; Strategic Technol., Siemens Metering, Oldham, UK

A new approach to prepayment schemes could make it easier for UK consumers to shop around for the best value gas and electricity. The proposed approach to smart prepayment uses the same building blocks as a traditional budget scheme. For each day of the week, the meter records the energy used in each half hour period and calculates average usage over a specified period which can be monthly, quarterly etc. The majority of consumers will fall into a small number of profiles, so matching the consumption pattern to one of a number of preprogrammed profiles downloaded from the vending system via the smart card or communications channel would take up less storage space. When the customer wants to top up their gas or electricity credit they visit a vending machine which uses the consumption data stored on their card to allocate a tariff and calculates how much energy to offer the consumer for their money. A multi-supplier machine could even compare the different tariffs available to a customer with a particular profile and offer the cheapest. Once the transaction is complete, the card is credited with the amount of energy purchased for downloading to the meter. The meter would be capable of interrupting the supply when credit has been used, although there would probably have to be an emergency credit facility-paid back at the next transaction-to provide a period of grace

Published in:

IEE Review  (Volume:47 ,  Issue: 4 )