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Ofgem threatens to strip licences over smart meter compliance

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The energy watchdog has warned that it could strip nine energy suppliers of their licenses if they fail to join a scheme to allow households to take full advantage of their smart meters.

Capita’s Data Communications Company (DCC) has been given complete responsibility for the management of the UK smart meter network – such as by linking domestic smart meters with energy suppliers – by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. The nine energy companies in question did not become DCC users by the November 2017 deadline.

Joining the scheme allows smart meters to retain their functionality (such as by automatically transferring readings over to energy suppliers) even when customers switch supplier. The requirement for all energy suppliers to become DCC users was intended to make it easier for customers to switch.

The nine suppliers being warned by Ofgem are Ampoweruk; Better Energy Supply; Daligas; Enstroga; Entice Energy Supply; Euston Energy (Northumbria); Green Energy Supply; Symbio Energy, and UK National Gas.

Ofgem has stated that it is consulting on whether to issue final notices demanding that they join the scheme. Some of these nine small companies have held supply licences for nearly a decade.

The UK smart meter rollout has been rocky to date, with the deadline for energy suppliers to install smart meters in every home pushed back from 2020 to 2024. The rollout has been hampered by a shortage of trained installers, poor mobile network signals, and interoperability problems. The programme is expected to cost energy suppliers £13.5bn, which will need to be recouped through energy bills.

Some Brits who already have (Smets 1) smart meters have also experienced difficulties, with some devices losing their functionality when the customers switched supplier.

“This causes consumer detriment and could undermine consumer confidence in the smart meter programme and the switching process,” Ofgem said. Experts believe that these faulty smart meters will regain their functionality once the DCC scheme is extended to include the technology.

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