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Ofgem penalises energy firms avoiding smart meter platform

Image credit: DREAMSTIME

Five energy firms have been told they must join a national infrastructure system overseeing the connection of smart meters or be banned from taking on new customers.

All energy suppliers were required to become Data Communications Company (DCC) users from November 2017 to enable the enrolment of first generation smart meters and drive the installation of next generation smart meters.

However, five suppliers (Daligas, Enstroga, Entice Energy Supply, Euston Energy and Symbio Energy) have so far failed to do so. This means that some customers with a DCC-connected smart meter would lose functionality when switching suppliers.

In January, the energy regulator Ofgem consulted on issuing nine suppliers with a final order, giving them a deadline of 31 March 2020 to comply and become DCC users. Three of the suppliers (Ampower, Green Supplier and UK National Gas) have complied and will not be issued with final orders. Better Energy has not been issued with an order as it no longer has domestic customers.

The remaining five will now be banned from taking on new customers. Suppliers are required to take all “reasonable steps” to roll out smart meters to all their domestic and small business customers by the end of 2020.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has recently consulted on proposals to develop a policy framework for energy suppliers to continue installing smart meters post-2020. The roll-out of energy smart meters has been mired in controversy, which has contributed to delays; many customers with first generation Smets 1 meters lost function when they switched to a new supplier, meaning that their meters became analogue and they had to submit readings manually. Energy experts say Smets 1 meters will regain their smart functions in a year or two when the DCC system is extended to include the first-generation technology.

Ofgem said: “Until these five suppliers are DCC users, customers with a DCC-connected smart meter who switch to any of the five suppliers will lose the functionality of their smart meter on switching. This leaves the meters operating as traditional meters with customers needing to provide manual meter readings and unable to access the full benefits of smart meters. This causes consumer detriment and could undermine consumer confidence in the smart meter programme and the switching process.”

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