UK tar­get for smart me­ters to be missed

Solihull News - - IT TALK - JOSIE CLARKE News Re­porter

THE Gov­ern­ment’s tar­get of in­stalling smart me­ters in ev­ery home by 2020 will not be met and the cost of the roll­out is likely to “es­ca­late” be­yond ex­pec­ta­tions, the spend­ing watch­dog has warned.

The Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice ( NAO) said the De­part­ment for Busi­ness, En­ergy and In­dus­trial Strat­egy’s ( BEIS) lat­est 2016 es­ti­mate that the pro­gramme will cost £ 11 bil­lion – the equiv­a­lent of £ 374 per dual fuel house­hold – “un­der- es­ti­mates the true cost of rolling out smart me­ters”, which had since in­creased by at least half a bil­lion pounds or the equiv­a­lent of an ex­tra £ 17 per house­hold.

Up to 53 mil­lion smart me­ters, which will re­place tra­di­tional elec­tric­ity and gas me­ters in homes and busi­nesses, were due to be in­stalled across Bri­tain by the end of 2020 to meet the Gov­ern­ment’s tar­get, sav­ing house­holds an av­er­age of £ 18 a year be­tween 2013 and 2030. How- ever, the roll­out has struck a num­ber of is­sues, with the NAO find­ing that about 70 per cent of first gen­er­a­tion SMETS1 me­ters “go dumb” when peo­ple switch to a new sup­plier. The NAO said sup­pli­ers in­stalled seven mil­lion more SMETS1 me­ters than planned af­ter BEIS un­der­es­ti­mated how long it would take to im­ple­ment the in­fra­struc­ture and tech­ni­cal stan­dards for their sec­ond- gen­er­a­tion suc­ces­sors, with the mass roll­out adding to the com­plex­ity and cost of the pro­gramme.

BEIS planned to re­solve the prob­lem by con­nect­ing SMETS1 me­ters to up­dated in­fra­struc­ture, but this project had been de­layed by six months to May 2019 and the NAO said it was not cer­tain if it would work as in­tended.

The NAO said the sig­nif­i­cant de­lay to the start of the sec­ond- gen­er­a­tion roll­out was in­creas­ing the risk of es­ca­lat­ing costs and tech­nol­ogy be­ing rolled out be­fore de­fects had been ad­dressed. It also warned it could take years be­fore it was known if it en­tirely worked.

TV stars Kirstie All­sopp and Phil Spencer ear­lier this year en­cour­ag­ing all house­holds to get a smart me­ter in­stalled

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