New switchable smart meters being replaced ‘as a precaution’
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.