Government Delays Smart Meter Rollout

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Surprise, surprise. Government announces four year extension to the rollout of smart meters in the UK

The British government confirms it is delaying its troubled smart metre rollout, that had set an unlikely deadline of 2020 for the installation of the device in every home in the UK.

The new deadline for the rollout of smart meters has been pushed back by four years, and will instead be 2024.

It comes after the National Audit Office (NAO) last November said that the Government’s 2020 deadline would be impossible to reach, and it “needs to reconsider the deadline”.

smart home tablet energy green meter ipad © Brian A Jackson Shutterstock

Smart meters

The NAO warning last year was not exactly surprising. As far back as 2015, MPs were warning that the rollout of smart meters to UK homes and businesses was in danger of becoming a “costly failure”.

The £11bn government programme aims to put 53 million smart meters into all of the UK’s 30 million homes and businesses by 2020. This is a typical cost of £374 per dual fuel household in the nation.

The programme could result in estimated energy savings of £17bn, as the devices, which indicate energy usage in real time, are expected to generate these savings by allowing users to modify their power usage.

But there were problems.

First generation smart meters did not work if a customer changed supplier, but second generation devices can handle supplier changes.

New deadline

And now the Government has given energy suppliers four extra years to install the devices.

It has also introduced ‘strict’ new yearly installation requirements for suppliers until 2024, and warned suppliers that they could still receive fines if targets are missed.

The government goal is to now have 85 percent of homes with smart meters by end of 2024. Customers can refuse to install a smart meter, but they have to be asked.

Smart meters by 2020 were part of the Conservative Party 2015 and 2017 election manifesto. And the government insisted it was still on track.

“We remain on track for suppliers to offer every home a smart meter by the end of next year, but to maintain momentum beyond 2020 we are proposing strict yearly installation targets for suppliers from 2021,” the Minister for Climate Change, Lord Duncan of Springbank, told the BBC.

“This will deliver even greater benefits for households and reduce emissions,” Lord Duncan said.

In 2016 the Institute of Directors slammed the “flawed” Government smart meter scheme and said it ‘needs to be halted’.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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