The 2020 deadline for installing smart meters into every UK home has been pushed back by four years. The government were adamant that the 2020 deadline was achievable, despite warnings from energy firms that the technology would not be ready in time. The rollout has already come face to face with numerous problems, such as connection delays.
Predictions by the government indicate that only half of households will have a smart meter by 2020. What’s more, the cost of the scheme has risen from £11 billion in 2016 to £13.5 billion. However, the total predicted savings has also risen from £16.73 billion to £19.56 billion.
Putting customers first
Citizens Advice supported the decision, stating it was in the best interests of customers. The consumer group has been calling for the deadline to be extended for some time.
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 side-lined 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.”
Battling current smart meter issues
Over the past few years we have seen a steady rise in the number of homes with smart meters. However, there has also been a slowdown in growth as problems emerge. Some of these problems include older generations of meters malfunctioning when a household switches supplier. This is one of the biggest issues as the data cannot be sent to the supplier in real time.
Government-backed company DCC should be installing infrastructure that will ensure the older meters are working correctly and that the newer versions have the necessary technology to connect to the shared networks.
However, a recent study by auto-switching service, Look After My Bills, discovered that some meters were still “going dumb”. As a result, homes in the north of England were more likely to receive 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.”
Working to meet the deadline
Lawrence Slade, chief executive of the sector’s trade association Energy UK, said: “Suppliers have been working tirelessly to meet the 2020 deadline and offer all households a smart meter so that as many customers as possible can benefit by saving energy and money – as millions of smart meter owners have already reported.
“The energy sector is committed to working with the Government and other partners to complete the rollout so we will now consider the proposals in detail to ensure they are deliverable and do not place unreasonable costs on consumers.”
Where you come in
With the deadline now extended, installers have more time to provide homes with smart meters that will help them save energy. Having more installers will help the UK meet this deadline, so why not get in touch with ECTA Training? We work with several smart meter installation companies across the UK and can place you with a company who is actively recruiting in your area. Get in touch to find out more.