New switch­able smart me­ters be­ing re­placed ‘as a pre­cau­tion’

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - MONEY - Sam Mead­ows

The roll­out of ful­ly­func­tional smart me­ters has been fur­ther de­layed af­ter “teething is­sues” with the sys­tem. This week, the Gov­ern­ment an­nounced that the dead­line by which en­ergy sup­pli­ers must stop in­stalling first-gen­er­a­tion smart me­ters would be pushed back. More than half of th­ese me­ters lose many of their func­tions when a cus­tomer switches provider.

The two-month de­lay means al­most a mil­lion more of the sub­stan­dard me­ters will be in­stalled, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber above 13 mil­lion.

The new type of me­ter, which will be con­nected to a na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work to al­low easy switch­ing be­tween en­ergy providers, was ini­tially sup­posed to be widely used from July. But that date has twice been pushed back and, so far, only about 26,000 have been in­stalled, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from in­dus­try an­a­lysts Elec­traLink.

Tele­graph Money can dis­close that a num­ber of sec­ond­gen­er­a­tion me­ters, be­lieved to be in the low thou­sands, have al­ready been re­placed within months of be­ing in­stalled. Tom Thorp, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Fore­sight Me­ter­ing, a com­pany that rents me­ters to sup­pli­ers, said: “There have been some is­sues found when op­er­at­ing the IT sys­tems, me­ters and com­mu­ni­ca­tions hubs in the live en­vi­ron­ment that weren’t en­coun­tered in test­ing.

“Due to the cur­rent spot­light on en­ergy sup­pli­ers around safety, pric­ing and the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, me­ters are be­ing re­placed as a pre­cau­tion.”

Mr Thorp said th­ese were likely to be early in­stal­la­tions, many of which would have been given to friends and fam­ily of sup­pli­ers.

Tele­graph Money un­der­stands that gas me­ters made by one man­u­fac­turer had sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems con­nect­ing to the net­work and are be­ing re­placed.

The De­part­ment of Busi­ness, En­ergy and In­dus­trial Strat­egy said all first-gen­er­a­tion smart me­ters will be en­rolled on the net­work, fix­ing the switch­ing is­sue. Pri­or­ity will be given to me­ters that have al­ready lost func­tions af­ter a switch.

Speak­ing on Thurs­day, Claire Perry, the En­ergy Min­is­ter, said: “To­day we’re an­nounc­ing new mea­sures to en­sure sup­pli­ers are in­stalling the next gen­er­a­tion of smart me­ters and set­ting out how we’ll en­sure all de­vices stay smart when con­sumers switch sup­pli­ers to get the best deals.” Un­der Gov­ern­ment li­cens­ing con­di­tions, sup­pli­ers are re­quired to take all rea­son­able steps to give all their cus­tomers a smart me­ter by 2020.

The cost is be­ing passed on to con­sumers with the British In­fra­struc­ture Group, a panel of MPs chaired by for­mer Con­ser­va­tive Party chair­man Grant Shapps, say­ing the project is likely to come in over-bud­get and is cur­rently sav­ing con­sumers just £11 a year.

The Gov­ern­ment claims that by 2030 smart me­ters will save ev­ery house­hold £47 a year.

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