Not such a smart move as new meters delayed
News that the government has delayed the deadline for smart energy meters by four years and that the programme will cost £2.5 billion more than forecast is no big surprise, according to a green energy expert.
“The experts working on this demanding project to install a smart meter in every home and business by 2020 have been warning about the need for more time for years, particularly as large energy companies faced fines if they missed this deadline,” said Ron Fox.
“Only about a quarter of the households have this technology now and it looks as if just a half are likely to have them installed by the end of next year.”
The scheme was introduced to end physical readings and estimated energy billing as the internet-connected devices send the data back to suppliers.
This enables people to track their usage so encouraging them to use less energy and was designed to save the average householder £47 a year.
Ministers insist the new smart meters will reduce electricity consumption by 3 per cent and gas by two per cent.
Now the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has put the deadline for installing the new meters back to 2024 with the target to install them in a minimum of 85 per cent of homes.
As well as the costs increasing from a projected £11billion in 2016 to now £13.5 billion, the installation programme has been hit by problems as the meters didn’t work properly in blocks of flats, nor buildings with thick walls.
Also the Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specification (Smets 2), the most advanced meters, were delayed by technical issues and many of the older Smets 1 devices stopped working if residents swapped suppliers.
Last year the Citizens Advice charity, which has a statutory role as the advocate for UK energy consumers, called for the deadline to be extended by three years until 2023 after they had received more than 3,000 complaints over the new technology.
Also, the consumer body Which? said 40 per cent of people with a smart meter were dissatisfied with it.
Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, welcomed the new deadline and said it would give suppliers time to fix the technical problems and to make sure customer service isn’t sidelined as the rollout continued.
“Smart meters should help reduce our carbon emissions, but it is only a small move,” said Ron, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park.
“But more ambitious plans are needed such as a carbon tax. Perhaps we should follow the example of Germany which has recently announced a CO2 pricing system for transport and heating sectors, greater incentives to buy electric cars and billions more put into rail transport and higher road tolls for lorries.”
For more information about green energy and home insulation plus advice about smart meters call Ron on 0845 474 6641.