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Gas and Electricity Data Flows

What are Data Flows and Why Do They Matter?

Data flows are the method by which suppliers communicate with one another and the wider participants in the electricity industry. They are particularly important in the change of supply process, the meter reading process and industry settlement (the process of working out which meters and therefore which suppliers have used how much energy and when).

Data flows are individually defined in the Data Transfer Catalogue (DTC) and are the integral communication flows within the all-encompassing Data Transfer Network (DTN). They are invisible to the end user customer but their impact is not. Below is a guide to the key flows whose effects a customer might feel during their energy supplier relationship.

Participants

Suppliers, Meter Operators, Data Collectors, Data Aggregators as well as the MPAS services all use the DTN as a crucial communications tool for efficient transfer of information regarding an electricity customer’s supply.

  • Distributor – the 14 regionally determined distribution networks that contain the meters of the UKs electricity customers. These areas can also be loosely termed as Grid Supply Points – where the transmission network delivers electricity to each of the 14 Distribution networks.
  • Data Retriever (DR) – the entity who physically reads the individual meters in a premise; this in the modern era can be as simple as a SIM card in a Smart Meter
  • Data Collector (DC) – the entity who collates the meter reading gathered from individual meters and attributes them to the correct metering systems, customers and suppliers
  • Data Aggregator (DA) – the entity who aggregates (sums) all the meter readings gathered in order to identify the demand levels in any combination of meters up to Distributor or Grid Supply Point level (GSP)
  • Meter Operator (MOP) – the entity which owns the meter installed in the premise, the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) and/or maintains the meter installed in the premise, the Meter Asset Manager (MAM)
  • Supplier – the entity that is the retail facing business that bills and services the end user customer

Key Flows

There are many data flows, all important, but most are completely invisible to the customer however some ‘events’ that the customer directly experiences are represented by data flows within the network and as such we will focus on these to demonstrate the service they provide. We can summarise these into two areas:

  1. Transferring Supplier, and
  2. Meter Readings & Estimates

1. Transferring Supplier

The ‘D Fifty Five’ is a simple but crucial flow that registers your chosen new supplier’s intent to register your meter to their portfolio (and conversely extract your meter from your existing supplier’s portfolio).

The D0055 is limited in its transmission between:

  • The ‘incoming’ Supplier and
  • The relevant MPAS area 

The incoming supplier is your chosen new supplier and the MPAS area corresponds to the Distributor area within which your meter is situated.

Though the distribution of the flow is limited, its content is absolutely crucial for the smooth flowing of the competitive market.

  • Change of Tenancy Indicator or “T Flag”. This innocuous sounding data item is crucial to ensuring freedom of movement for an energy customer who has moved into a premise and is uncontracted to a supplier as a result.
  • The S Number and other Metering Point Details

It is the receipt of this flow that triggers the commencement of the transfer process between suppliers and therefore is the crucial data flow in the competitive market.

The ‘D Fifty Seven’ is issued in the event that the application for registration of a meter point under the D0055 is met with a rejection by the relevant MPAS area because certain critical industry data does match that data as held by MPAS.

The D0057 is issued between:

  • The relevant MPAS area and
  • The incumbent Supplier

The D0057 contains the reason for the rejection in order to facilitate the necessary resolution. The following data items are therefore included in the D0057:

  • The MPAN Core
  • The Effective from Settlement Date {REGI}
  • Rejection Reason Code

There are 57 different codes reflecting differing reasons for rejection by MPAS, these include:

  • Meter Timeswitch Code Unknown
  • Supplier Not Registered At Metering Point
  • Registration Pre-Dates Previous
  • Objection Outstanding
  • Invalid Change of Tenancy Indicator
  • Invalid Data Collector Appointment Dates

All of the rejection reasons are in normal circumstances, relatively simple and speedy to resolve for the New Supplier and therefore do not represent a terminal failure of the application to supply the meter point.

The ‘D Fifty Eight’ is directly related to the D0055 in that the D0055 triggers this flow to the incumbent supplier to inform them that your chosen new supplier is intending to take ownership of the meter point on the date stated.

Like the D0055, the D0058 is limited in its transmission between:

  • The relevant MPAS area and
  • The incumbent Supplier

The D0058 contains the following crucial data items:

  • Change of Tenancy Indicator
  • The MPAN Core
  • The Effective to Settlement Date {REGI} for Old Supplier – the date from which the new Supplier expects to take supply of the customer’s meter

The ‘D Sixty Four’ is the flow that has the biggest impact on failed transfer of a business’ energy supply to their chosen supplier. The D0064 is notification that the incumbent supplier is ‘objecting’ to the transfer of the meter point to the new supplier.

The D0064 is raised between:

  • The incumbent Supplier to
  • The relevant MPAS area

The D0064 contains limited information extending to just:

  • The MPAN Core
  • The Effective from Settlement Date {REGI} for New Supplier – the date from which the new supplier intended to take supply

This limited provision of information and the low burden of proof for what the industry defines as “Rais[ing] an objection to block the specified metering point changing Supplier for a legitimate reason” is seen as one of the core failings of the competitive energy market.

This is in stark contrast to the clarity of information that underpins the principle of the D0057 Rejection of Registration flow.

In effect the incumbent supplier can submit an erroneous D0064 in order to frustrate the transfer, even however when an incumbent legitimately objects, the lack of information as to the reason for the objection is a core factor in the slow and often terminal process that follows the incumbent supplier blocking the transfer.

The ‘D Sixty Seven’ is the data flow sent to the new supplier to inform them that the incumbent supplier has objected to the transfer of the target meter point.

The D0067 is raised between:

  • The relevant MPAS area and
  • The new Supplier

The D0067 contains limited information extending to just:

  • The MPAN Core
  • The Effective from Settlement Date {REGI} for New Supplier – the date from which the new supplier intended to take supply

Similarly to the D0064 the opacity of the information provided is a core factor in the inefficiency of the competitive energy market.

Post the receipt of the D0067 the communication required to overturn the objection from the incumbent is entirely dependent on direct contact between the two suppliers and the customer to resolve the issues that may have arisen to cause the incumbents objection.

These can be:

  • Inappropriate use of the Change of Tenancy Indicator or “T Flag” / Customer still in contract at the point of The Effective from Settlement Date {REGI} for New Supplier
  • Debt remaining on the customer account with the incumbent supplier
  • Failure of the New Supplier to pick up all related MPANs

2. Meter Readings

The ‘D Ten’ is the flow that delivers Meter Reading from a customer’s meter to the industry.

The flow is sent in numerous directions to differing participants given the importance of the data it contains to the workings of the wider industry including

  • From the DR to the DC
  • From the DC to the Supplier
  • From the DC to the Distributor
  • From the Distributor back to the DC
  • From the Supplier back to the DC
  • From the MOP to the Distributor
  • From the MOP to the DC
  • From the MOP to the Supplier
  • And between the DCs themselves

The constituent elements of the D0010 include:

  • The Customer MPAN - The unique national reference for a Metering System
  • The reading type e.g. Actual, Customer Own, Estimated
  • The register readings i.e. each reading for each rate displayed on the meter

 

The ‘D Nineteen’ is directly related to the D0010 in that it is the flow that communicates the estimated annual consumption of a meter that has been derived from the latest D0010 sourced meter reading.

This information is crucial to a business energy customer as it represents the basis for a supplier’s estimates of their consumption against which they will be billed on a monthly or quarterly basis.

This flow has a much narrower distribution range than the D0010 in that the communication solely flows:

  • From the DC to the DA
  • From the DC to the Supplier

The constituent elements of the D0019 include:

  • The Annualised Advance (AA) i.e. and estimate of annual consumption for each rate displayed on the meter calculated from a meter advance derived from two readings
  • The Estimated Annual Consumption (EAC) for each meter, a weather normalized estimate of consumption over a full calendar year

Each fresh reading sourced via the D0010 will trigger a new D0019 therefore short term consumption and behavioural changes can be reflected in the out-turn EAC.

The ‘D Thirty Six’ is the flow that contains the meter readings, demand and advances of a Half Hourly Meter. Half Hourly Meters are confined to larger customers with around 200,000 installed in businesses around the UK. These meters do exactly what their name suggests – they measure demand through the meter for each and every half hour, 48 per day and 17,520 per non-leap year.

Like the D0010, the D0036 has a narrower distribution range, with it flowing:

  • From the DC to the DA
  • From the DC to the Supplier
  • From the DC to the Distributor
  • And between the DCs

The actual data items in the flow are actually very limited however the volume of the core data item is very large given the regularity of source data, the constituent elements of the D0036 include:

  • The Customer MPAN
  • The Period Meter Consumption – the demand placed on each meter in each half hour period

In effect the collated annual data for a MPAN under the D0036 will enable a bespoke profile of demand for that meter to be determined. As a result a supplier can more accurately forecast and provide a bespoke price for that customer’s specific supply needs. The advent of Smart Meters is designed to replicate this flexibility and accuracy for the entire market, whether a residential or business meter, and whether it was previously ‘settled’ on a Non-Half Hourly (NHH) profile or not. 

Data Transfer Network

Whilst this review of the eight flows provides a flavour of the importance of the Data Transfer Network to the competitive UK energy market it also underlines the fundamental flaws of the market with particular reference to the lack of information provision around supplier objections, the critical barrier to customer transfers.

Whilst Ofgem have belatedly become aware of the potential for even correct use of the Objection process to be a key obstacle to the competitive market, the recognition that the paucity of information provided, and the potential for misuse of the flow is a critical failing in the current market arrangements.

The key actions to avoid unnecessary obstruction to your business’ desired transfer are to:

  • Ensure you are not in debt with your existing supplier
  • Make sure you have an accurate end date for your contract with your existing supplier, and
  • To ensure your new supplier is fully aware of all the MPANs that are related to your chosen meter point

In doing this before your new supplier applies for your transfer you can expect a smooth change of supply process as if the Data Transfer Network was the invisible underpin that it was designed to be. Failure to do so could bring this otherwise hidden process to the fore and frustrate your business’ transfer to your favoured energy supplier.

Queries About Data Flows?

For more information about the change of supplier process and the options for you next business energy contract call us on 0800 051 5770, we’d love to hear from you.