New call to extend smart meters deadline
A charity’s new call for the deadline to install smart meters in every UK home to be extended by another three years until 2023 has been supported by a Midlands green energy expert.
Ron Fox said the timescale for the end of 2020 for the £11 billion scheme was unrealistic after installation rates have fallen again for the third quarter.
He backed the chief executive of Citizen’s Advice, Gillian Guy, who said the target was “unfeasible” and called for the deadline to be put back three years.
“There’s only 18 months to go and this is important technology which could reduce householders’ energy bills, so it needs to be implemented properly,” Ron said. “There are still many problems to be overcome, so it is vital to provide a realistic timetable.”
Only 1.03 million gas and electricity smart meters were installed by the large energy suppliers in the three months to March this year, down by 22 per cent from the peak of 1.32 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, official figures show.
The companies are obliged by law to try and install meters in every home within three years, requiring about 50 million in total.
But the programme has been beset by technical problems and fewer than 16 million had been installed by the end of March this year.
At this rate only half the intended meters will be put it by 2020 which will mean that the big energy companies will be fined.
The Government says the advantages are that the internet-connected devices send automatic gas and electricity usage readings to suppliers, ending the need for physical readings and estimated bills.
They also believe it would save consumers money as they will be able to monitor their energy use and so won’t use as much.
“But there are still many difficulties,” said Ron, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park.
Citizens Advice said they had more than 3,000 people contact them last year with issues about the new technology.
Ron added: “Having a smart meter doesn’t affect your right to switch energy providers whenever you want. So if you’ve had a smart meter installed but you want to move to a new supplier, you will still be able to do so.
“However, you may find your smart meter loses its functionality and reverts to being a traditional meter. If so, you might have to go back to giving regular meter readings to your new supplier. And if anything goes wrong, some suppliers may have to replace your smart meter with a standard meter because they’re not equipped to deal with your particular model of smart meter.”
He advised householders that before switching they should talk first to their new provider.
However, Ron said for those householders worried about ever increasing energy prices they should consider swapping to green energy using free sunlight.
For more advice contact him on 0845 474 6641 or go to www.noreus.co.uk