Feed In Tariff “smart” meter retrofit in the Hillhouse area of Huddersfield
In 2012 Kirklees Council was faced with the all too common dilemma of struggling to get access to these social housing properties to carry out visual quarterly meter readings in order to claim their Feed In Tariff. The provider had threatened to retain the revenue for an extended period of time if readings were missed.
Kirklees badly needed an automated smart meter and data processing solution. Energence were commissioned to solve the problem by project managing the retrofitting of smart meters to the 53 homes and four community centres and providing a user-friendly web-paltform.
The project was carefully planned with information letters sent to tenants in advance letting them know about the project, and what the meter installation was going to involve, when it was going to be done, and importantly, why it was being done.
Many of the Hillhouse tenants are Punjabi speaking and J Brand demonstrated patience and sensitivity throughout the installation process. Energence were ready with a language line service on mobile phones if required.
Interestingly, the tight knit nature of the community also helped the process as residents began talking to each other over the week the installation happened. This made accessing some of the homes easier than expected because residents understood the importance of the initiative and what was practically involved. Because of this the tenants really became true partners in the project, with some asking for a logon access to the web-platform to see how their PV array is performing.
The whole project was carried out ahead of schedule and below budget.
Lisa Herron, the coordinating environmental officer, is very pleased with the way this potentially tricky project progressed. She said, “It’s an excellent example of best practice partnership working,”
“We were impressed by how efficiently and quickly everything was completed considering the potential problems involved in such a project. It’s great to be able to see the properties up on the Energence platform, and know that all the kilowatt hour figures are being automatically added up each quarter. It’s also comforting to know that if any of the PV installations stop performing properly we will get an automated email letting us know.”
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The meter installations were done by J Brand, a national company specializing in highly complex IT and electrical services.
J Brand engineers Andrew Hobday and Michael Burke
Andy and Mike moved quickly and efficiently through the installation process, filling in key information into a spreadsheet as they went. If they were unable to get access to a particular house then they would pop a letter through the door and try to talk to a neighbour.
Each evening they emailed the updated spreadsheet to Kirklees officers and Energence along with a briefing on any issues they encountered during the day. This meant that if they were unable to access a particular property Kirklees officers would know immediately and be able to follow up with a call to that resident, or contacting community leaders who could help facilitate the process.
We were extremely pleased with the way things worked out – and seriously impressed with the J Brand engineers. “Andy and Mike and the whole J Brand team were truly amazing and highly professional. I couldn’t have asked anything more from them,” said an extremely grateful Adrian Hewitt..!! Adding, “Kirklees are a joy to work with. They’re an icon borough for sustainability and renewable energy – and it’s satisfying to be a part of it.”