Not getting P272 back on track is a "recipe for disaster"

James Murphy, P272 Analyst at Stark, believes that the introduction of P272 is in grave danger of coming off the rails. A huge collaborative effort is needed to get back on track.

P272 is an industry transforming change that will see 175,000 of the largest non half hourly (NHH) supplies being migrated to half hourly (HH) Settlement by 1 April 2017. Previously, consumption for these customers was estimated using average profiles. With P272, site specific consumption will be measured and used to calculate charges; just like the largest consuming customers today.

This ground-breaking shift will provide a wealth of benefits and opportunities including billing that reflects actual consumption patterns, powerful insights into energy usage, costs and new timeof- use tariffs. For the industry it promises better forecasting of demand and a more efficient settlement process, making the job of balancing the grid simpler.

That’s the idea at least. In practice, P272 represents an enormous challenge for the industry. It requires widespread scaling of systems and delivery of a complex change of measurement class process for a huge number of meters, all of which has to be delivered within extremely tight timescales.

The programme began in November 2015; we are now several months in and the strain upon the industry is clear. A recent Elexon paper suggests that by April 2016 the programme was seriously off track, with just 10 per cent of the mandated migrations complete, half the planned amount.

If this trend continues as the evidence suggests, many suppliers and their agents – the meter operators and data collectors who must deliver the changes – are struggling to cope. Some are collapsing under the volume of change required, others are simply unable to deal with the variety of meters that exist. If that wasn’t enough, migrations are highly concentrated around supply contract rounds in October 2016 and April 2017. This means that, alongside changes to metering, industry will be processing changes of supplier as well. This is a recipe for disaster.

It will affect everyone involved.

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