Smart meter rollout: Energy suppliers ‘fighting losing battle’

Consumer body Which? says they would need to triple the current rate of installing the smart technology to hit 2020 target

By Priyanka Shrestha

Large energy suppliers are “fighting a losing battle” over the government’s smart meter rollout scheme.

They would need to triple the current rate of installing the smart technology to hit the target of replacing all existing meters by 2020, according to consumer body Which?

Smart meters provide consumers with an accurate reading of their energy usage and automatically send the information to suppliers, potentially bringing an end to meter readings and estimated bills.

Its analysis found energy companies are currently installing 9.7 meters a minute – however, to ensure all 46 million existing meters are replaced, they would need to install 30 smart meters per minute, every day for the next two years.

A total of 53 million smart meters are due to be installed and large energy suppliers are responsible for rolling out 46 million.

Which? says it is concerned the delays and subsequent increased costs could result in reduced energy savings for consumers – a group of MPs previously claimed government estimates for the expected savings for a dual fuel bill annually in 2020 have fallen from £26 to just £11.

Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services said: “The smart meter rollout has been plagued by problems and been massively delayed, the benefits have been overstated and the savings they could bring consumers are at risk.

“Therefore it’s time for the government to replan with industry and consumer groups to ensure people get the maximum benefit at the minimum cost.”

BEIS said millions of people have already chosen to get a smart meter and take control of their energy use to cut their bills.

A spokesperson added: “The government is committed to all households and small businesses in Great Britain being offered smart meters by the end of 2020. Suppliers are ramping up their operations over the next 12 months as they recruit and train even more installers.”

Earlier this year, Citizens Advice suggested the smart meter deadline should be extended until 2023.

Latest Podcast