The smart meter is the essential element of Endesa’s remote management system, which is basically comprised of two different components.
First, there is the digital meter equipment with remote management capabilities, with which you can remotely access the active and reactive energy consumption data and with which you can also control the demanded power, increase or reduce the contracted power, modify the hourly breakdown, in addition to connect or disconnect supplies, among other functions. The technology that it uses to transmit this information to the concentrator is the PLC (Power Line Communications), which transmits information throughout the electrical distribution grid itself. The PLC communication emitter from the meter is normally located outside of the users’ home.
Moreover, the other component of the remote management system is the Concentrator, usually located in the electrical transformation centres. It covers a certain area (a street, neighbourhood, etc.) and stores the data of each one of the meters connected to it within this area; allowing its management from the Central Remote Management System through mobile communications from the operator (GPRS, 3G, etc.).
This system, co-developed by Endesa and Enel, is based on the proven and trusted solution from Enel and the experience provided by Endesa. Endesa has adapted it to its business requirements and the Spanish legislation. The technology developed by Enel is already used in more than 33 million meters throughout the world and is already a reference in the world for its efficacy.
Endesa is the leading and pioneering company in remote management and currently has the most smart meters installed throughout Spain and whose system has been operating since October 2010. Endesa’s remote management plan not only implies replacing mechanical meters with new digital ones, but also the installation of concentrators in the transformation centres.
Why are the traditional meters being changed for new smart meters?
Ministerial Order ITC/3860/2007, of 28 December, stipulates the following: “All meters in electricity provisions with a contracted power of up to 15 kW must be replaced by new equipment that provide an hourly breakdown and remote management before 31 December 2018”.
The objective is to reduce emissions by 20%, generate 20% of renewable energy and improve energy efficiency by 20% for the year 2020, in addition to adapt the distribution grid, develop it and convert it into a smart grid in order to adapt to society’s needs.
What advantages do the remotely managed meters provide customers?
The new smart meters with remote management capacity provide a series of benefits to consumers, including:
- They allow for a more efficient management of consumption, and as a result, reduced bills.
- By providing energy efficiency, it contributes to reducing CO2 emissions.
- It avoids estimated readings, given that the meter directly provides real readings to the Remote Management Operating Centre.
- It improves service for incidents. It reduces the times of service interruption due to breakdowns, given that it is easier to identify the problem, and therefore, resolve it quickly.
- The contractual modifications (additions, subtractions, power changes, etc.) are more streamlined, given that they can be done remotely and without a technician needing to come.
- In most cases, remote operations can be carried out in less than 24 hours.
- Total transparency: the meters are monitored from the Operating Centre and cannot be manipulated.
- Optimised functioning of the equipment. In case of an incident or error, the alert is transmitted automatically and immediately to the maintenance staff.
For all of these advantages and qualities, the remote management meters are considered as a key element of the new energy model, based on efficiency and sustainability, they allow developing smart grids, integrating renewable energy and making the demand more flexible.
Electromagnetic Fields and Health
In some circles of public opinion, there is a concern related to the hypothetical effects that the smart meter equipment of the remote management system could have on health, especially because of generating electromagnetic fields.
Several studies carried out by Spanish and European organisations show that these meters are harmless to health. In addition, they have the pertinent quality guarantees and licences required by the European Community for their use and installation, as per Article 8 of the Unified Regulation of Metering Points RD 1110/2007 BOE 18-09-2007, and comply with the metrological controls of the State for metering equipment with remote management functions established in ITC Order 3022/2007 BOE 18-10-2007.
The Ministry of Health and Consumption, in its report titled “Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health: Technical Report Prepared by the Committee of Experts”, concludes that maintaining the exposure to electromagnetic fields within the limits recommended by the Council of Health Ministers of the European Union is a sufficient guarantee for ensuring the protection of the population.
At Endesa, we have also prepared reports to corroborate the ones mentioned earlier, through the Technological Institute of Energy. The reports conclude that the values of electromagnetic and electrical fields of the smart meters are significantly lower than the limits indicated by the regulations.
The field that the remote management meter can generate has the corresponding component for electricity (50 Hz), as well as PLC communication (3 KHz-95 KHz)
Both frequencies are very low in the range of non-ionising radiations. In fact, they are 4 or 5 times lower than those emitted by most home electronics, such as a radio, television, microwave or hair dryer, which is verified by the criteria established in the World Health Organisation (WHO).
If in addition to the previous information, we consider that the PLC emitter, in most cases, is not inside the home and the wave is diluted over distance, the exposure to these fields is greatly reduced.
The Remote Management Replacement Plan
The customer does not have to do anything to change the meter. The distributor company will replace them, giving the customer proper notice before the date of changing them or by agreeing upon a date with the operator and customer, if the meter is inside the home.
If the customer does not respond to any of the legal communications that the Distributor makes to replace the meter, or refuses to replace it, the regulations oblige the electrical distribution company to suspend the supply by the deadline set to complete the transition (31 December 2018)
In any case, during the process of replacing the mechanical meter for a remotely managed digital one, it will proceed to briefly cut the service for a few minutes so that the technicians can work safely.