Smart meter rollout delayed until 2024

The government has pushed back the deadline for energy suppliers to install smart metering technology for all their customers, by another four years.

It had previously been intended that the upgraded meters would be installed in over 30 million homes and businesses across the UK by the end of 2020, but energy companies had warned that the technology was not ready.

Many businesses and households across the UK have already been fitted with smart meters – which should enable automatic meter reads to be sent direct to the suppliers from the meter, ensuring accurate billing. However, the rollout has been best with issues, with the first generation of meters no longer working properly when customers changed suppliers.

Following a consultation the government said: “On the basis of our analysis, we consider it reasonable to propose a regulatory monitoring framework for a period of four years (from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2024) allowing an overall tolerance level of 15% by the end of the period to account for external factors.”

Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice has said: "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.

“We are pleased the government is extending the deadline to ensure the benefits for consumers are delivered.”

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