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Smart meter roll-out delayed until 2024

Patrick Christys
Sep 18, 2019


The smart meter fiasco continues as it is announced that the plan to have one installed in every home in the UK has been pushed back to 2024.

It was supposed to have happened by 2020, so this is a humiliating climb-down for the government. 

 

Ministers previously insisted the government's own 2020 deadline for the rollout was achievable, despite industry warnings that the technology was not ready, according to The Independent. 

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But on Monday officials announced that the likes of British Gas, Eon and Scottish Power will have until 2024 to install the meters in homes because of delays in connectivity and issues cropping up with the batch already in use.

The government also revealed it predicts only half of households will have a smart meter by 2020 and that the cost of the rollout has risen from £11 billion in 2016 to £13.5 billion today – although total savings will also rise from £16.73 billion to £19.56 billion.

Consumer group Citizens Advice, which has been calling for the 2020 deadline to be extended, welcomed the decision and said it was in the best interests of customers.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “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.

“It’s also apparent that the cost of the rollout is escalating, and the public are picking up the tab through their energy bills. 

“People will still benefit in the long run, but today’s cost-benefit analysis shows focusing on speed hasn’t worked.”

The number of smart meters in homes has risen steadily over the past few years, although the speed of growth has slowed more recently as problems have started to arise.

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One of the biggest issues has been older generations of meters not working when a household has switched suppliers, with the data no longer being sent in real time to suppliers.

Government-backed company DCC is supposed to be installing infrastructure to ensure the older meters work and that technology is in place so newer versions can connect to the shared networks.

But a recent study by auto-switching service Look After My Bills found that some meters were still “going dumb” and homes in the north of England were more likely to get inferior meters.

Lily Green, head of research at Look After My Bills, said: “It’s been an open secret in the energy industry that the smart meter deadline will be pushed back.

“Suppliers are miles off from installing smart meters in all homes, with around 35 million homes still without a smart meter.”

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