Water companies face an important choice around the type of water meters they choose to install on customers’ premises. This choice will influence outcomes including cost performance, customer experience, for meeting regulatory requirements and for the environment. In this report, we look at the choice between Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and less advanced options, including Automated Meter Reading (AMR). In summary, we learned that:

  • AMI presents significantly greater benefits than other forms of metering, including Automated Meter Reading (AMR), due to the completeness of the data it provides and that this data is delivered in near real time. These benefits include a much higher overall benefit-cost ratio, major operational efficiency gains, and the chance to adopt a more strategic and better-informed approach to customer engagement.
  • A rollout of AMI will deliver between £1.3 billion and £2.2 billion in net benefits across England and Wales, depending on companies’ level of ambition in their metering programmes. This compares to the £30 million to £0.3 billion achievable through AMR. AMI also delivers benefits faster than AMR.
  • AMI is a ‘low regret’ investment that is more resilient to high impact future scenarios. AMI shows greater adaptability than AMR – meaning that if the challenges of climate change and demand growth are more severe than expected, the comparative net-benefit of an AMI rollout increases further in comparison. • Evidence shows that there are likely to be major customer-facing benefits that result from investment into AMI – additional insights helping to drive better experiences, particularly for the vulnerable. Cost savings achieved, including through reduced water consumption and leakage and improved network management, can also lower household water bills.
  • AMI is also more likely to help companies meet or exceed the targets set by the regulator, who will continue to set financial and reputational incentives for the best performers.
  • The cost of delaying a decision to invest in AMI could be material. The five-year planning cycle that water companies work to means that a delay could significantly push back benefits realisation from AMI data for companies, customers, and the environment.

Read the report here

There is a CIWEM webinar to present and discuss the research on 13 June.

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