The smart meter at your house sends a data file using the cellular network (usually 2G) to a party called the Meter Equipment Provider (MEP) every day. The MEP usually will pass this data file on to us within a day or two. This Daily data file contains how much power was used at half hour increments and a reading taken at midnight of the running total of consumption at the property. We use the half hourly data to calculate your bills but now and again there could be a communication issue that interrupts this process:
- A lot of meters communicate on old cell phone networks so anything that might temporarily or permanently interrupt cell service could also affect your meter communicating.
- Some meters communicate in networks with each other called a mesh network, information is passed from one meter to another to where it is collected. If one of the meters in this network stops communicating then this can cause communication issues for other meters in the mesh network too.
- A data delivery issue that might prevent the delivery of data from the meter company that owns your meter to Flick.
Oh No! What happens if a communication issues occurs?
Never fear, if there is ever any missing data our clever system will jump in and automatically estimate the missing data, using up to the previous four weeks of your power usage data (we’ve added a bit more about how we estimate down the bottom). What we do about a lack of missing data can change depending on your specific circumstances:
Small amount of missing data: Normally our system only needs to estimate for a short period as the communication issue is short lived. In this case, the previously estimated data is replaced by the accurate backdated meter data coming in, or, if we start receiving data again and it's not backdated we will adjust our estimates in line with the new information we’ve received to be as accurate as possible.
Ongoing communication Issue: If we aren’t receiving meter data for more than 10 consecutive days, then we need to investigate why. You’ll most likely hear from us in this is the case as it’s likely a technician may need to attend your meter to resolve the issue.
While the issue is being resolved, your bills will continue to be estimated but when everything is fixed; we will rebill with the back-dated accurate meter data and apply the credit or debit where relevant. In the instance we start receiving data again and it's not backdated, we will rebill our estimates in line with the new information we’ve received to be as accurate as possible.
In rare cases, our system may not have enough historical meter data to estimate your half hourly data, in this circumstance we will need to manually estimate your usage. To make things simple, we calculate the difference between meter reads we’ve previously received, estimated, or asked for, then charge based on FIXIE (our fixed price plan). We think this is a much fairer way of billing for Freestyle customers when historical data is unavailable to calculate estimated half hourly usage.
These estimation methods have been approved by the Electricity Authority (our governing body) and we are regularly audited to make sure we are doing it properly.
We can’t restore communication to your meter: if this is the case, we won’t be able to provide our services to this property. You’ll need to find a retailer that have people to manually read your meter. We will also ask you for a photo of your meter reading so we can produce an accurate final bill.
How do you know we are estimating?
In your Flick online dashboard there is a section called “Analyse”. If you select to view the graph as a week then you’ll see a bar graph for the whole week. Yellow means actual data has been received for the whole day and grey means the data for that day may be partially or completely estimated.
Ok the nitty gritty. How do we use up to for weeks data to automatically estimate?
Let’s say we didn’t receive a day’s worth of data this week, our system will then look back at that same day over the past four weeks and calculate the average usage for the corresponding half hourly period. These estimates happen if we are missing as little as half an hour or as much as 12 months worth of meter data!
Often there is a small block of missing data that requires an estimate but there is actual data before and after this missing block. In this instance, we can calculate the actual usage, but need to estimate the profile based on up to the last 4 weeks half hour consumption data.