The government has announced it is considering extending the deadline for smart meter deployment until 2024.
It has launched a consultation after conceding the rollout has fallen significantly behind its previous deadline of 2020, by which point suppliers had aimed to install the devices in 30 million homes and businesses across the UK.
The government has warned fines may be issued if future targets are missed.
The smart meter rollout has already been plagued with issues as many first-generation devices have stopped working properly after customers changed supplier.
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, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, welcomed the move and said: “Extending the smart meter rollout deadline is a common-sense move that is good news for consumers. 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 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.”