Regulatory change is coming that will affect all UK energy suppliers and their customers. The reform will require electricity suppliers to settle based on half-hourly time intervals of electricity consumption, which aims to improve the accuracy of electricity usage and accounting.

The Market-wide Half-hourly settlement (MHHS) programme will only affect the UK mainland (England, Scotland, Wales) and not Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. It has already been approved and directed by Ofgem and will come into effect from April 2025. Not all the details are known yet, but here’s the information we have so far.

How is metering changing?

First, let’s bring this into context and explain half-hourly metering vs. non half-hourly metering.

Half-hourly (HH) meters automatically send meter readings to your supplier, (funnily enough) every half an hour. Non-half hourly (NHH) meters either require you to manually submit meter readings when your supplier requires, or, if they are smart meters, automatically submit readings once a day or month, depending on your settings.

In the next few years, all electricity supplies will be measured and billed on a half-hourly basis. This means switching every single home and business to meters which are capable of gathering half-hourly data. The UK currently has around 30 million meters operating on a non-half-hourly basis, and all those that do not already have the ability to record data half hourly will need to be upgraded/exchanged.

The industry term for the changes is market-wide half-hourly settlement (MHHS) and it will make manual meter readings a thing of the past.

Why move to Half-Hourly Settlement?

The migration is more than just a technology upgrade. It signifies a move towards a more adaptable, responsive, and sustainable energy framework. By giving consumers more control, promoting innovation, and encouraging collaboration, this reform sets the stage for a future where achieving net zero isn’t just a goal but a tangible reality.

Importantly, this overhaul gives consumers newfound awareness and authority over their energy consumption. With the introduction of smart meters and the innovative time-of-use tariffs they enable, consumers can now make more informed decisions about when and how they use energy, aligning their behaviours with grid stability and cost-effectiveness. Consumers are no longer passive recipients of energy; they’re becoming active contributors in a dynamic ecosystem, empowered to shape their own energy futures.

When will this happen?

The MHHS Programme will start in April 2025 and must be completed by 2026. This regulatory change will be directed and has been approved by Ofgem. Ofgem has placed responsibility on the industry to deliver the programme and made Elexon responsible for implementation. Elexon is a key organisation at the centre of the wholesale electricity market and is an expert in the current balancing and settlement processes.

A summary of key changes for end users:

All NHH supplies will migrate to HH. Any meters that do not already have the ability to record half hourly data, will be upgraded/exchanged.

The billing will change to half hourly and incur half hourly metering and data charges which carry a higher cost. Customers, however, can better manage their costs and have better access to their data by entering into direct metering and data contacts.

Data requirements will be changing, and data will need to be obtained more frequently.

A summary of key changes for suppliers and UK energy industry

All suppliers will need to re-design or replace their systems and undergo testing to qualify in the MHHS programme.

Following successful testing, suppliers will then be allocated a migration window, where they will migrate their existing portfolio into the new regime. Suppliers will therefore migrate at different times.

The billing settlement window will reduce from the current 14-month period to four months. This will be a large operational change for settlements and metering teams, as non-settling sites will have a shorter resolution window.

The shift towards intermittent renewable energy sources requires not only technological advancements but also significant changes in behaviour. Energy suppliers now face the challenge of guiding customers to fully adopt flexible energy usage through innovative products and services enabled by half-hourly settlement. This involves adjusting consumption patterns to optimise the use of renewable energy and reduce strain on the grid.

The Energy Advice Hub is speaking to industry sources to get a clearer picture on this change with energy suppliers providing further information soon. Keep an eye on the site and we’ll bring you more details as they emerge.

If you have further questions on the migration from NHH to HH meters, the experts at Sustainable Energy First are experienced in handling all types of metering enquiries and are able to advise you. Please get in touch for a no obligation discussion about how we can help.