A meter operator is a company that is licensed to install and maintain energy meters in businesses.
Why Do You Need a Meter Operator?
Businesses who are obligated to have a half-hourly meter as their peak usage is over 100kW will need to contract with a meter operator to get a half-hourly meter installed. The contract will not only cover installation but maintenance as well, it will also cover the meter’s communication equipment that allows the meter to transmit data to the data collector whose role it is to send the data to your energy supplier.
The meter operator and data collector can be the same company and could be your energy supplier too, or you can contract for a data collector separately.
What Is a Meter Operator Agreement?
The meter operator agreement is a legal document used for all half-hourly electricity meters. It covers the supply and install of the meter, ongoing maintenance, and the communications for transmitting meter data to the energy supplier through a data collector.
Businesses that have a peak usage of over 100kW are obligated to have half-hourly meters and will need to contract with a meter operator to install and maintain the half-hourly meter and ensure its communications work.
Businesses can get their meters from their energy supplier, but this is often more expensive than getting the meter direct from the meter operator as there is more competition in the metering market since it was deregulated.
If your energy supplier installs and maintain your meter they would probably bill for this charge separately and they would continue to bill you for the meter even if you changed energy suppliers as this is a separate contract that will last for a minimum of five years.
How to Choose a Meter Operator
When you are looking to choose a meter operator you will need to decide if you want to contract this service independently from your energy supplier, doing so could be cheaper.
You will probably want to select a provider-based on value for money. Meter operators must be accredited, and you can find a list of accredited meter operators on the Ofgem Approved Meter Installers (OAMI) list and Association of Meter Operators website also has a list of approved installers that are a member of their association.
When selecting a meter operator, it is probably worth checking that they work with all energy suppliers who offer half-hourly meter tariffs so that you have the flexibility of switching suppliers during your meter operator agreement period which is normally a minimum of five years.
Is There an Association for Meter Operators?
There is an association for meter operators called the Association of Meter Operators that was created in 1996 to represent the interests of gas, electricity, and smart metering in Great Britain.
Their role is to represent its member in debates, sit on consultative bodies, create a forum for industry issues, and promote best practice in the industry.
Do the Meter Operators Need a Licence?
Meter operators need to be approved by Ofgem to install energy meters and to gain approval they need to conform to at least one of the Code of Practices in terms of their meter installation.
There are several Codes of Practice relating to meter installations that vary on which code applies depending on the amount of energy consumed on the site. Ofgem publishes the approved installers in their Ofgem Approved Meter Installers (OAMI).
Can I Switch Energy Suppliers During a Contract Period with a Meter Operator?
Yes, even if you have contracted with your energy supplier for the meter operator agreement you can still change energy suppliers as it will be a separate contract, but you would still receive the bills for the meter from that energy supplier as the contract period is likely to be a minimum of five years.
Most data collectors should be able to receive data communications from all meter operators, but it is worth checking that the meter operator has full coverage before contracting them and when you switch energy suppliers check that they do work with your data collector.
How Do I Find Out Who the Meter Operator Is in New Premises?
If you move premises and do not know who the meter operator is, and it does not say on the meter you should contact the energy supplier who will be able to tell you who the meter operator is.
If you are unsure who the energy supplier is then you should contact the National Grid on 0870 608 1524 to find out who your gas supplier is and contact the local distribution network operator for the electricity supplier.
If you do not know who your distribution network operator is search on the Energy Networks Association website by postcode.