Smart meter deadline should be extended to 2023, says Citizens Advice

Customers contacted its helpline with more than 3,000 technology issues last year

By Priyanka Shrestha

The deadline for rolling out smart meters across the UK should be extended by three years.

Citizens Advice believes the current 2020 deadline, which will see up to 53 million smart meters replace traditional gas and electricity meters in homes and businesses, is “unrealistic”.

It said while 80% of people who had a smart meter installed were happy with them, others contacted its consumer helpline with more than 3,000 smart meter issues last year alone.

The most frequently reported problems were first generation smart meters, known as SMETS1, losing their smart functionality when customers switched, “aggressive” sales practices from suppliers trying to get the technology installed, installation problems such as the meter not fitting in the space available and customers still having to submit their meter readings manually.

Citizens Advice added it is concerned these problems mean fewer customers will choose to have the technology installed and miss out on the benefits.

Director of Energy Victoria MacGregor said: “With 42 million smart meters still to be installed, we’re concerned that the time pressure caused by the current rollout deadline will lead to a poorer quality installation experience and risks reduced value for money for consumers.

“We want smart technology to work for consumers. Extending the rollout of the programme to 2023 and providing clearer information on costs are two simple steps the government can take to help make this rollout better for consumers.”

A recent report form the British Infrastructure Group of Parliamentarians said the smart meter rollout will only save the UK around £11 per household – but government insists the technology is a “smart choice” for consumers.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said the rollout is making “good progress with millions of households already enjoying a smart service”.

She added: “Suppliers must do everything they can to ensure people are happy with their smart meters. We always listen to concerns raised by Citizens Advice. However, the concerns they outline account for just 0.03% of the 11 million smart meters installed so far. Around 80% of people would recommend a smart meter to a friend or relative and 90% are happy with their installation.

“Pushing back the rollout would only delay millions of households from enjoying the substantial benefits of moving to a smarter energy system – helping people to save money by using less energy.”

Ms Perry is the headline speaker at the Energy Live Expo event in London on 31st October. To book your place, you can e-mail [email protected]