Smart meter rollout delayed by FOUR YEARS

Smart meter rollout delayed by FOUR YEARS

The government’s deadline to have smart meters in 30 million homes by the end of next year has been pushed back to 2024

Stephen Little
Mon, 09/16/2019 – 17:21


The plan to rollout smartmeters in British homes has been delayed by four years.

Smart meters were due to be rolled out to houses in England, Scotland and Wales by the end of next year, but this date has now been pushed back to 2024.

As part of the £11 billion scheme every home has been offered a free smart meter to help people save energy and money.

The idea behind them is that they should make energy bills far more accurate than under the old system whereby bills are based on estimated usage.

Households will also be able to see their energy consumption in real time, allowing them to see the impact of different electrical items and be more conscious of where they are using energy needlessly.

The news come after concerns that the government’s 2020 deadline would not be met due to technical delays in the installation of meters.

The original plan was to rollout the cost-saving technology to 30 million homes by the end of next year.

However, only 16.6 million traditional analogue electricity and gas meters have been replaced with smart meters so far.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, says extending the smart meter rollout deadline is a “common-sense move” that is good news for consumers.

She says: “It’s been clear for a long time that the 2020 deadline wouldn’t be met and today’s announcement finally recognises that reality.

“This new deadline gives suppliers time to fix ongoing technical problems and make sure customer service isn’t sidelined as the rollout continues. We’ve seen some energy companies use aggressive techniques to try to persuade people to have smart meters fitted as soon as possible to meet the existing timeline.”

Minister for Climate Change, Lord Duncan of Springbank, says: “We remain on track for suppliers to offer every home a smart meter by the end of next year, but to maintain momentum beyond 2020 we are proposing strict yearly installation targets for suppliers from 2021.

“This will deliver even greater benefits for households and reduce emissions – helping the UK to meet its net zero 2050 target.”

One of the biggest problems has been the older generation meters not working when a household switched suppliers.

The National Audit Authority says that due to technical problems with the meters the true cost of the rollout has soared by £500 million from the original £11 billion figure – the equivalent to an extra £17 per household.

There have also been reports that households have been pressured into getting smart meters, while those who do want one may suffer delays.

Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch, says: “The new 2024 plan – which places more onus on energy companies to meet interim installation milestones along the way – suggests ministers are confident that suppliers are close to cracking the technical problems which have plagued the roll out so far.

“Public confidence in the programme has been badly damaged, but this is now an opportunity to rebuild trust. In particular, people want proof that the solution which allows older smart meters to stay smart when a household switches supplier is finally available.

“If so, it will mean that millions of first-generation meters will no longer be at risk of having to be ripped off the walls and replaced – hopefully avoiding considerable inconvenience and further expense for consumers.”