Smart meter technology

SSE receives £700,000 fine for smart meter failures

Image credit: DREAMSTIME

Energy company SSE has been fined £700,000 by watchdog Ofgem for failing to install enough smart meters in 2018.

Under the government’s smart meter roll-out programme, suppliers are required by law to take all reasonable steps to roll-out smart meters to all homes and small businesses by the end of 2020.

The watchdog said while SSE met its electricity smart meters installation target for 2018, the supplier only reached its gas target in February this year, less than two months after the deadline.

The £700,000 will go towards Ofgem’s consumer redress fund, which supports consumers in vulnerable situations and the development of innovative products or services not currently available to energy consumers.

But the watchdog said it had decided not to take formal enforcement action against SSE, due to the steps SSE had taken.

SSE director of metering Chris Adams said: “SSE Energy Services is fully committed to the rollout of smart meters and to delivering the benefits of smart for customers.

“We worked hard during 2018 to successfully transition to the new generation of smart meter, which brings full functionality to customers, and installed around 600,000 meters during the year. However, while there were many achievements in 2018, we are disappointed that we fell slightly short on meeting our gas target.

“We quickly recovered the shortfall during February 2019 and are on target for the year ahead.”

Under the government’s smart meter roll-out programme, suppliers are legally required to take all reasonable steps to roll-out smart meters to all homes and small businesses by the end of 2020.

They set individual annual targets for smart meter installations as part of this aim and Ofgem monitors performance against these targets.

But there are fears that the 2020 deadline is unrealistic, with recent official figures showing smart meter installation dropped by 16 per cent year-on-year in the final three months of 2018.

Domestic smart meter installation fell 2 per cent in the final quarter compared to the previous three months.

By the end of last year, 12.65 million smart meters were installed in households, representing a quarter of all domestic meters.

Ofgem said it was “closely monitoring” supplier approaches to the roll out of smart meters and vowed to “hold suppliers to account if they do not meet their obligations”.

Last month, the consumer group Which? said that its research had shown that more than half of people are finding their smart meters turn ‘dumb’ when they switch supplier.

This is typically the case for “first-gen” devices, although newer smart meters are capable of switching suppliers.

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