The state pushed back the four-year deadline for the rollout of intelligent energy meters until 2024.
Previously, the suppliers ‘ date was the end of 2020, but the technology was not prepared for the energy companies to warn. But the extra time could lead to more years of customer frustration, many of whom are fed up with the fresh meters provided to them.
It also means that the cost of installing the new equipment will likely rise further, to a total of over £ 13bn. Customers are not required to have a smart meter fitted, but by the end of the new deadline, all UK homes must have been provided by energy companies.
The promise of smart meters was that readings would be automatic, it would be simpler to bill and introduce a fresh world of flexible fees. In reality, millions of individuals discovered that if they changed vendors they had fresh meters that did not operate correctly-and millions more were not provided the technology at all.
Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice’s chief executive, believes that extending the smart meter deployment date is a “common-sense move” that is good for clients. “This fresh deadline provides suppliers time to address continuing technical issues and ensure that customer service is not sidelined as the rollout continues,” she said.
“We’ve seen some energy businesses use aggressive methods to attempt to convince individuals to fit smart meters to fulfill the current timeline as quickly as possible.”
There was a promise in the 2017 election manifesto of the Conservative Party that by the end of 2020 every household and business would be offered a smart meter-and that expectation still exists. The state insists that its goals are being met and that the fresh system described on Monday is not a let-off for providers.
The energy regulator, Ofgem, had a rule that “sensible measures” had to be taken by energy businesses to accommodate meters, leaving them plenty of room to wriggle.
The Minister for Climate Change, Lord Duncan of Springbank, said: “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.”
But it is evident to gas and electricity companies that ministers have acknowledged reality and permitted it to be extended. Until the end of 2024, the new structure allows them to install intelligent meters in at least 85% of the households of their clients. Richard Neudegg, Head of Regulation at USwitch.com, said that public trust in the smart meter program was “harmed badly.”
“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,” he said.
Article originally featured by BBC.