There are disputes about the potential impact of smart meters to reduce energy consumption and controversy continues. Now Britain’s energy giants are asking the UK government to delay the 2020 deadline for installing smart meters. Emily Gosden explains in an article on The Telegraph website.
Energy giants call for smart meter deadline delay
Energy giants are demanding the Government relax its 2020 deadline for installing smart meters in every UK home after a series of delays setting up the communications system at the heart of the £11bn scheme.
Ministers are also facing fresh questions over the merits of the project after a new official assessment estimated savings would be just £11 per household in 2020, down from the £26 estimated previously.
Suppliers have been warned they risk hefty fines if they fail to “take all reasonable steps” to install the meters, which will automatically send them gas and electricity usage data, by 2020.
But several major firms are arguing this should be relaxed because the central system required for the meters to work properly only started to go live last week, more than a year later than planned.
Meters installed before the system is ready may cease to function if a customer switches supplier. SSE is leading calls for ministers to “urgently” reconsider the timetable, warning that the compressed window for installing fully-functional meters was “driving up costs”.
While all homes could still be offered a meter by 2020, suppliers should not be required to “jeopardise cost and experience for customers in pursuit of taking all reasonable steps to install smart meters”.
Gillian Guy, head of Citizens Advice, said it was “concerned” about delays to the communications system and by the analysis “that the projected short-term consumer savings from smart meters have decreased”.
“It’s crucial the Government continues to carefully monitor the smart meter programme and stands ready to review milestones as necessary,” she said.
Savings will rely in part on people seeing their usage in real-time via the new meters and opting to use less. But recent forecasts suggest energy prices will be lower than feared, meaning resulting savings will also be reduced.