The mass roll-out of smart meters has been delayed by a year following concerns that the industry is not fully prepared to implement the technology across the required 30 million UK homes.
Outlining the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) progress on the planned roll-out of smart meters, Ed Davey, secretary of state for energy and climate change, explained that industry had been vocal in its quest for more time. He said: “The consistent message was that more time was needed if the mass roll-out was to get off to the best possible start and ensure a quality experience for consumers. We therefore now expect suppliers to be ready to start their full scale roll-out by autumn 2015.”
He continued: “Completing the national rollout will be an enormous logistical and technical challenge for the industry. To this end, and reflecting the extended period to build and test the systems required by industry, the government has decided to move the completion date for the mass roll-out from end 2019 to end 2020 - although I expect the vast majority of smart meters to be in place against the original 2019 deadline.”
Commenting on the delay, Richard Postance, Ernst & Young’s power & utilities advisory services leader said: "Smart metering is one of the few green agenda items that is at the same time positive for the economy, the climate and above all the consumer, so a delay to full scale roll out cannot be good news.
“Pushing back the launch of the DCC by 12 months takes away much needed control and transparency over their energy consumption from an already hard pressed consumer base, as well as potential jobs for the UK. However, the imperative is to ensure that consumers' experience of this new and crucial initiative is second to none, in order to build their trust in the ability of smart meters to deliver.
“Delays to key elements of the programme made clear that the above would not have been possible, leading government and industry to reach this pragmatic solution. Pushing back the DCC for a year will allow an industry with an already fragile relationship with its customers to avoid another pitfall by engaging and communicating properly and ensuring that all processes and systems are ‘ramp up ready’. It will also give the government time to provide more clarity on how Smart, ECO and Green Deal will play their part in a reformed retail market.”
Baroness Verma, minister for energy and climate change, added that the coalition government is “committed to making smart meters available to everyone as soon as possible” and that, after listening to industry, the department recognises the “enormous challenges involved in delivering the roll-out of smart meters, which includes visits to around 30 million homes and small businesses and installing over 50 million smart meters over the next seven years.”
She concluded: “I want to ensure that consumers have a good experience of smart metering from day one.”