ScottishPower has completed a major £50 million project to replace 340,000 ‘Token’ pre-payment meters with new, smarter, ‘Key’ meters across its entire network area - which includes the cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Liverpool. In total, ScottishPower made more than 1 million home visits to install the meters and discuss their operation.
Following a two-year installation programme, ScottishPower has become the first operator to replace all of the meters in their network area. As well as fitting over 300,000 new meters, the company has also carried out comprehensive information campaigns to ensure that all customers were aware of the upgrades and how to operate the new meters.
The upgraded technology will benefit customers in a number of ways. One of the main advantages of the new meter is that data can be updated remotely, meaning that physical access to the meter is no longer required beyond standard safety checks. A meter reading is also automatically recorded every time the key is re-inserted after adding credit, which greatly reduces the possibility of inaccurate bills.
A further feature of Key Meters is that they are programmed to ensure continued electricity supplies if credit runs out during the hours when it is difficult to purchase top-ups (6pm and 9am Monday to Saturday and Saturday at 6pm to Monday 9am).
Neil Clitheroe, Customer Services Director at ScottishPower, said: “Our engineers have worked hard to deliver this major investment in very good time. During the peak of the replacement programme, we were upgrading 3,000 meters every week.
“The new meters are more user friendly than their predecessors, and customers will see immediate benefits. Greater accuracy in recording readings and the ability to update information remotely will significantly reduce the possibility of billing inaccuracies. It will also reduce the possibility of debt being accumulated.”
Elizabeth Gore, Deputy Director, Energy Action Scotland said: “We welcome the news that ScottishPower has completed the upgrade to replace token pre-payment meters, as the move will benefit customers whose meters can now be updated more effectively and so avoid unexpected large bills. Importantly, the new meters will also be programmed to ensure that electricity is not cut off at night or over weekends when it can be more difficult to top-up payments.”
ScottishPower used a phased approach to introduce the new meters, carrying out the upgrades one area at a time. The first region to be fully upgraded was Dumfries & Galloway in January 2009, with the final areas of Glasgow and Caernarfon fully completed at the end of August.
The company also implemented a stringent communications plan to notify customers of the upgrade and ensure the operation of the new meters was fully explained. In total, Over 1 million home visits were made by the company to install the meters and discuss their operation.
Notes to editors:
Case Studies available on request.
ScottishPower made a commitment to Ofgem to replace all of its ‘Token Meters’ by the end of 2009. The project has been completed almost four months early.
ScottishPower remains the only UK energy company to set prices for prepayment customers significantly below standard cash prices.
Media Information: Paul Ferguson, 0141 566 4515 / 07702 665 924