Energy companies have been given four more years to ensure smart meters are installed in all homes in Britain, the Government has announced.
There will be ‘strict’ new targets to force energy suppliers to offer the devices to all homes in the country by 2024.
And if companies miss these targets they will be fined, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy revealed.
There will be ‘strict’ new targets for energy suppliers to ensure they offer the devices to all homes in the country by 2024 (file image)
Smart meters help track energy in order to reduce the amount of electricity and gas used in the home. As well as saving customers money, they have been proven to bring down carbon emissions.
But companies are currently lagging behind the 2020 deadline – as analysis published in November 2018 showed just 9.7 meters per minute were being installed and only a quarter of the 46 million existing meters had been replaced.
To make the 2020 deadline 30 smart meters would have had to be installed per minute every day for two years, according to consumer group Which?.
The deadline has now been extended to give companies more time in what has been deemed a ‘common sense move’ by Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice Chief Executive.
‘Extending the smart meter roll out deadline is a common-sense move that is good news for consumers,’ she said.
‘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 roll out 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.’
To make the 2020 deadline 30 smart meters would have had to be installed per minute every day for two years, according to consumer group Which? (file image)
The replacement of traditional electricity and gas meters is expected to save customers £5.6billion in energy bills – a saving that translates to £250 per family.
‘Our energy system is already cheaper, greener and more efficient for consumers because of smart meters’, says Lord Duncan of Springbank, the minister for climate change.
‘Replacing traditional gas and electricity meters is a vital upgrade to our national energy infrastructure.’
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.
One of the biggest issues has been older generations of meters not working when a household has switched suppliers, with the data no longer being sent in real time to suppliers.
The Government-backed DCC is supposed to be installing infrastructure to ensure the older meters work and that technology is in place so newer versions can connect to the shared networks.
But a recent study by auto-switching service Look After My Bills found that some meters were still ‘going dumb’ and homes in the north of England were more likely to get inferior meters.
Lily Green, head of research at Look After My Bills, said: ‘At last the Government has faced up to the truth and admitted that the smart meter rollout is years behind.
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 (file image)
‘It’s been an open secret in the energy industry that the smart meter deadline will be pushed back.
‘Suppliers are miles off from installing smart meters in all homes, with around 35 million homes still without a smart meter.’
A consultation by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the proposals closes on November 11.
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.
‘The energy sector is committed to working with the Government and other partners to complete the rollout so we will now consider the proposals in detail to ensure they are deliverable and do not place unreasonable costs on consumers.’
The new targets will come into effect on Wednesday, January 1, 2021.