Can I connect a CAD to my smart meters if OVO open the Home Area Network (HAN)?

  • 15 December 2017
  • 49 replies

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49 replies

Userlevel 3
Slow learners.

If the CAD is powered up and in the vicinity of the meter it'll pair within seconds of that XML file hitting Secure's head end servers and the update being pushed to the meter.

If it isn't done the same day it's because Ovo are refusing to or are purposefully dragging their feet as slowly as they dare without incurring the wrath of BEIS and Ofgem. PDF and forward your experience (this thread) to their smart metering implementation team and Ofgem if you'd like to hurry it along. ;-)

It is disappointing to see bare faced lies (e.g. security checks) being peddled by Ovo again.

The 2 to 4 weeks they said it would take have now passed and the CAD is still not connected.

I've just raised a complaint and also uploaded it to the forum as a new thread as it appears OVO no longer follow this one.
Userlevel 3
@markocosic, @redwood, why the hostility? These guys are only doing their jobs. Are you willing to pay the cost consequences of connecting a non-standard device to their meter. Surely it is worthwhile trying to work constructively with the team?

I looked at CADs for plugging into my HA, and the mature open APIs just aren't there yet. If the industry standard connection cost for connecting to an unapproved device is more than a few £ or not fully recoverable from the customer, then no business is going to do this.

In the end, I just pull the data into my MySQL backend from the online interface. Just a lot simpler and easier. Even though I am retired, I still have better things to do with my life 🙂
Userlevel 3
If you roll back through the discussion @TerryE you'll find I tried to work constructively with the team but was told to shove it.

The low level folks at Ovo were just doing their jobs and I sympathise with their predicament. The instructions to tell the consumer to shove off came from a senior level.

As to cost:

If a company wants the privilege of making money by supplying gas/electricity to consumer then you've got to follow the rules.

I asked Ovo to connect a consumer access device to my smart meter. This is a cost that they agreed to cover when they decided to supply gas/electricity to consumers. The device was even tested and approved.

They lied, stalled, and generally told me to shove off until I asked BEIS and Ofgem to breathe down their necks and generally bloody well comply with the rules that they agreed to abide by - aka do their jobs - when becoming a licensed supplier.

Their hostility...not mine. And management hostility...not frontline staff.

Screen scraping the online interface wouldn't achieve the result I was seeking because it doesn't provide the same update rate on gas consumptions as the CAD does.

Simpler. Easier. But useless.

I do agree that it would have been *far* easier for Ovo to have worked constructively with the consumer than to have been so hostile in this situation. (black mark with the regulators over this episode)
Userlevel 3
@markocosic Hi Marko, yes OVO might be failing their regulatory duties, and you might be in the right, but letting your frustrations out at the moderators and agents working these tickets just won't help you get resolution. It's not good for you and its not good for them.

My suggestion is that if you can't get resolution, then accept this and either switch suppliers, or go the web interface route for now.

If OVO don't come up with a decent smart metered time-of-day variable tariff linked to the spot wholesale rate soon, then I will be switching myself at the end of my contract.
Userlevel 3
On the contrary @TerryE

The *only* way to get bullies like people in charge at Ovo to fulfil their regulatory duties *is* to publicise their behaviour and so threaten the one thing (appearances) that they actually care about.

My CAD was paired back in January.

This was a combination of the folks in charge at Ovo realising that their reputation was at risk...and Her Majesty's Government tapped them on the shoulder and suggested that life would be easier if they discharged their regulatory duties.

Don't confuse me negotiating in public with me venting frustration. ;-)

There was an element of frustration yes, but the purpose of documenting how outrageous their behaviour was in public was more about negotiation. And equipping others with the collateral needed to negotiate on more equal terms with a large utility company. 🙂
Userlevel 3
Your call, but if you do it in a way that gets a smile out of the forum agents, then you might at least get a supporter on the inside.

Fo me life is too short (literally) 🙂
Userlevel 3
The forum agents are in the same tricky situation as the frontline customer support staff and the smart metering team.

They all know that was I was asking was easy and reasonable.
They all know I asked very nicely the first time.
And they all know that management were complete punks about it.
They should know that I know they've got orders to follow.
They should know that I know management will be bullying them to censor/suppress this thread.
And they should know that I don't hold this against them.

i.e. The forum / frontline support / smart metering people are doing a good job in spite of management's best efforts. This doesn't go unnoticed.

I doubt there'll be any friends on the inside for myself now; whether looking at boiler efficiency is useful or otherwise.
@TerryE I don't believe I've been hostile at any point in my contacts with OVO. The point of my thread title ('I'm not asking to the moon on a stick') was to try and kickstart some action from OVO.

From my perspective, I was glad to see Marko doing the heavy lifting, throwing in a comment where I could.

Once Marko had got his CAD paired I would have expected getting my CAD, same make, model and firmware, would be a simple process as type approval would already be in place. But it seems I was wrong and OVO are choosing to want to go through the whole process again. This is a quote from their last email response to me:

Secure will not allow us to add your device until all 3 companies involved are on the same page. Your CAD manufacturer, Hildebrand, also need to liaise with Secure to sort out the authorisation of the device on Secure's network. We are currently in talks with both companies to resolve this as quickly as possible, but given part of this resolution is outside of our control, this hasn't happened as quickly as we'd have liked.

Are they going to do this for every customer that wants to connect a third party device t0 the HAN?

For me scrapping off the web site does not give me the resolution I want.
Userlevel 3
It's a "discussion" over who pays; be this for the admin hassle or the fleet management system they'll be needing to implement to keep track of this all.

Ovo will want the CAD supplier to foot any bill for pairing the devices. They can't say this out loud. BEIS and Ofgem would be alarmed at them for even thinking that this is acceptable. They can keep bullshitting their way through the delays though.

Technically it's a piece of cake that takes 2 minutes. Management won't allow the smart metering team to do it.
Userlevel 3
Architecturally the the whole CAD concept seems flawed to me in one area: its security model. This seems to be closed sourced and proprietary, and the vulnerabilities and financial exposure if the system is compromised are absolutely enormous. So for Secure, the disclosure of identification protocols to third party suppliers is a severe risk and it has a duty of care to its customers and to end-users that must be appropriately mitigated. This is all going to take ages.

Keeping their data inside a private network and passing it back to the the energy provider to present in the cloud is far simpler and easier. The security is then all open-source and already the world's standard.

All I then need is to do is to agree an identification moniker with my supplier and sign a consent form to allow it to make my metering data accessible over HTTPS. This could be a very simple request form on the current OVO website. In my case, I can then use access this with a 4 node flow in NodeRED with three standard nodes and one a dozen line function.

Why make it complicated, when simple standard does everything that you need?
Userlevel 3
Security is a non-issue for a CAD. (it's read only)

Security is a big deal for a PPMID. (you can change things with this)

CADs are easy to authorise, safely, using the smart metering architecture designed by the utilities. The ownership of data and the right of access are set in stone too.

PPMIDs will indeed take ages and need to be carefully vetted.

The smart meter provides lots of data. It isn't feasible (cost effective) to pull this back via the mobile phone network.

It is feasible to pull it back via wired internet using a CAD or PPMID. If Ovo's head end system were capable of ingesting this data and providing an API for others to access and Ovo made this available then I agree this would be grand. Much easier.

Ovo's head end system is not capable of ingesting this data or providing an API for others to access. Half hourly data yes. Real time data no. So we're back to the CAD to access this stuff.

It only matters for gas. For electricity you can easily ignore the "smart" meter and install your own clamp meter with local voltage reference to get *proper* real time data. (see Verv from Green Running etc)
Userlevel 3
Security + non-issue is an oxymoron. For example just google "ZigBee security vulnerabilities" and start browsing. I don't want to get side-tracked by PPMID discussions. Let's stick the the CAD.

First of all are you sure that you don't care if someone reads your data?

Second, has the supplier formally proven that the Access Device doesn't have some exploitable update back channel? Could this in turn introduce a back channel to attack the smart meter? Even if its "just" a DoS attack on it. STUXnet targetted Iranian SCADA systems controlling Uranium enrichment. What if someone did a similar viral bot to take out CAD linked electricity / gas meters? I am not saying I know hwo to do this, but do I think that someone might find some attack? If the possibility is there, then some goon will find it.

So let's agree to disagree, eh? 🙂
Userlevel 3
I couldn't give a fudge if a 3rd party accessed the meter data without my consent. It's sat outside the house in the snow accessible from the street. ECV and display.

The CAD is remotely update-able and outside the control of the meter. If there'a vulnerability in the meter via the API for the CAD that's a problem for the meter manufacturer.

Large security risks are:

1) The utility industry for turning a "meter" into a "load control" device. (installing remotely operable disconnection devices inside the meters - a risk that wasn't present previously and isn't necessary)

2) Giving control of these "load control" devices to humans. (high turnover and lightly vetted call centre operatives using machines that aren't well locked down)

3) Meter manufacturers trying to do communications and control. (see: making such schoolboy errors like using the same key on every meter that GCHQ has to intervene)

The bigger security risk is IoT consumer devices. It'll be easier to hack a 500,000 "smart kettles" or "smart toasters" or "smart heating controls" knocked up in a shed in China (see also: IP camera botnets) than it is to hack the "load control" devices in the meters. Turn 'em all on slowly. Flip 'em all off. Flip 'em all on again. That +/-/+ 1 GW swing takes down the grid.

No regulation there. No security checks. A cakewalk in the not too distant future.

EVs are the other one likely to bring down the grid. Big loads that consumers and hackers alike are free to flip on and off in a coordinated manner.

Gas grid won't care. Hard to take that out.
Userlevel 3
On your first point, yes the energy majors could act in this way, but I am personally more concerned about unknown third parties exploiting some other security vulnerability to do this.

The bigger security risk is IoT consumer devices.
I am one of the core developers for one of the ESP8266 firmware platforms, and I happen to agree with you on that which is why (all except one) of my IoT devices are on an isolated control LAN, run open source firmware and have no direct access to the Internet. The exception is one Chromecast device, but even that has got me doing what my Ma always told me to do: I power off the TV and chromecast at the wall when I am not watching it. I am also thinking of replacing it by one of the OpenSource Linux SBC systems, even though it is only used for watching a couple of hours cloud content a day on a TV.

But now we are totally off topic and time to stop 🙂
Userlevel 3
On the contrary @TerryE

The *only* way to get bullies like people in charge at Ovo to fulfil their regulatory duties *is* to publicise their behaviour and so threaten the one thing (appearances) that they actually care about.

My CAD was paired back in January.

This was a combination of the folks in charge at Ovo realising that their reputation was at risk...and Her Majesty's Government tapped them on the shoulder and suggested that life would be easier if they discharged their regulatory duties.

Don't confuse me negotiating in public with me venting frustration. ;-)

There was an element of frustration yes, but the purpose of documenting how outrageous their behaviour was in public was more about negotiation. And equipping others with the collateral needed to negotiate on more equal terms with a large utility company. :-)

Could you share the details on what make/model and firmware revision your CAD is at? I would like to have a device paired too which would give me the data I need to feed into my heating system, however I got this response back from Secure, which does somewhat back up what OVO are saying:

In order to connect a CAD device to a Secure SMETS 1 HAN the following must be provided;

1. A compliance certificate for Zigbee SEP 1.1 issued by the Zigbee alliance.

2. Two test devices for approval.

3. Details of installation process along with MAC id and install codes for the above test devices.

4. Release details for the version of CAD firmware to be tested.

Once a date is agreed testing typically takes 4 - 6 weeks, Secure levies a nominal charge of £4000 + VAT for each firmware version tested. Secure reserves the right to remove any device from the network if its behaviour impacts the correct operation of the HAN. Testing by Secure does not validate the operation of the CAD device only that it does not adversely impact the correct operation of other devices on the network. Data privacy for data retrieved from devices on the HAN network is the sole responsibility of the CAD manufacturer.

Once approved individual CAD devices must be whitelisted, this request to whitelist must be submitted via your energy supplier and is subject to a nominal charge.

Secure does not provide a list of approved CAD devices, please contact each individual CAD manufacturer for confirmation of approval.

Unless OVO can provide the list of supported 3rd party CAD devices, as mentioned by Secure.
Userlevel 3
Hi ErTnEc,

It's a Hildebrand (Enerrgyhive) CAD firmware 0.8.6

Ovo know full well that it's already been tested and whitelisted and paired at least once.

If Ovo's chosen smart meter supplies wants to charge Ovo £4,000+VAT and take 6-8 weeks to test, before levying an additional charge to whitelist each individual device, in order that Ovo may meet their regulatory obligations to the consumer...that's Ovo's business not yours.

If Ovo whinge about having to meet the terms of the supply license that they signed up for being deeply unfair they're welcome to hand it back and exit the market. If Ovo whinge about what their supplier charges them they're welcome to think more carefully when buying next time. They're not allowed to refuse you or to force you - or the CAD vendor - to pay extra. It's their job to do this and part of the regulated supply made to you.

If given any s**t pick up the phone to Ofgem and BEIS and refer Ovo to them for anti-competitive behaviour (they found "smarts" too hard and are trying to prevent others doing "smarts" which is an abuse of their position) and wilful failure to meet the terms of their supply license (a much bigger stick to negotiate with)

Got there in the end!

10 months after my request to OVO to connect my CAD, it was finally connected on 30/11/2018

During the 10 months, after many unsuccessful attempts to get OVO to connect my CAD, I raised a format complaint with OVO - which they completely ignored.

I then referred OVO to the Energy Ombudsman, who found in favour of OVO, saying it was unreasonable to expect OVO to pay the £500 that Secure required to connect my CAD. The fact that OVOs supply licence requires them to connect a CAD when requested and at no cost to the customer counted for nothing. The £500 charge, I have subsequently found out was for a single operation which could be for 1 or a 1000 devices. So why couldn't they lump my CAD in with the Chameleon IHDs which OVO appear to have been connecting in great numbers.

My next move was to contact the smart metering team at BEIS, who took an interest in my case and seemed to be moving things forward, providing me with updates and setting deadlines.

In the meantime Hildebrand have been working with Secure to remove the £500 connection barrier. That became operational on the 31st of August and Hildebrand connected their first CAD to a Secure meter 21/09/2018 (utility company unknown but not OVO).

Throughout the 10 month period the support from Hildebrand and from BEIS, once I got them involved has been superb. The support from OVO has been non-existent, some honesty, instead of pointless waffle in their replies to me would have helped.
Userlevel 3

Ombudsman rules that a supplier doesn't need to comply with the conditions of their supply license... publish that in full then complain to Ofgem that the ombudsman is endorsing not complying with supply licenses?

I've switched to octopus and have been experimenting with their agile tariffs. Thus far they've not been the obnoxious, lying, self interested corporate that Ovo has become since it achieved scale. I guess it must make some money now though, what with charging above market rate and dialling back the service level.

Shame on the ombudsman though.
I supplied BEIS with a full copy of the Ombudsman's adjudication. They were somewhat surprised at the decision of the Energy Ombudsman and 'had words' with them!
Userlevel 3
So how's it working out for you now? The original CAD device mentioned doesn't seem to be available any more, the only one is the glowstick here:

@redwood did you use the same CAD device as @markocosic or something else? I want to get this sorted now as I'm fed up of the smart meter playing 'dumb'

It's working well using the app on my phone. I intend to use the API to integrate it into my home automation "real soon now!"

Although Hildebrand have told me they don't directly support elec. export the (almost) realtime updates, app homepage every 5 seconds and graph every 1 minute do show export which will be quite useful to me.

Yes the same CAD as @markocosic seems to show a similar CAD to mine. Suggest you contact Hildebrand support, I've always found them most helpful.
Userlevel 1
This is now very much doable and supported by OVO.

You can buy and pair a third party HAN very easily. In fact the Hildebrand Glow HAN can be paired by them without you having to ask OVO to unlock your smart meters.

There is access to an app and an API for getting real time data and historical data. The API is ok (it falls down in places but can be worked around). I am in the process of writing a Python class interface with the API that sorts out some of the oddness.

Hildebrand as a company appear to be quite responsive and helpful and the setup was a doddle.

Will post back here when I have the Python code up on GitHub.

Version one of the python library for the Hildebrand API. May well be a bit sketchy.
Userlevel 5
Thanks for the update and share @blakedrayson ☺