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Smart meter rollout delayed to 2024

Image credit: DREAMSTIME

The Government has extended the deadline by which energy suppliers need to install smart meters in every home in the UK.

They will now have until 2024 to complete the process, a four-year extension to the original 2020 date, following warnings that the original deadline would not be met in time.

In 2017 it emerged that the rollout was being hampered by a shortage of installers, weak mobile network signals and interoperability problems.

It was also revealed that some of the first-generation devices did not support switching energy suppliers and so many waited until new technology was available.

The EU has decreed member states must implement smart metering across at least 80 per cent of households by 2020 wherever it is cost-effective to do so - although with the UK soon to leave the Union it may become exempt from this requirement.

Consumer group Citizens Advice has been calling for an extension to the deadline since August 2018.

The body’s chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Extending the smart meter rollout deadline is a common-sense move that is good news for consumers. It’s been clear for a long time that the 2020 deadline wouldn’t be met and today’s announcement finally recognises that reality.

“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 Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy estimate that billions will be saved every year from their implementation due to improved energy efficiency, fewer site visits and meter readings, and better forecasting of energy use.

The Government said it predicts only half of households will have a smart meter by 2020 and that the cost of the rollout will rise from £11bn in 2016 to £13.5bn today.

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 start to arise.

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.”

In June a team at the University of British Columbia in Canada announced it had developed a system to improve the resilience of smart meters to hacking.

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