We're calling on the government to extend the smart meter rollout to 2023, and provide updated information on cost.
Why things need to change
Smart meters have the potential to bring a raft of positive changes to the energy market, including providing accurate bills without people having to submit a meter reading.
The current 2020 deadline is fast-approaching, meaning suppliers have to install smart meters at an unrealistic pace. With 42 million smart meters still to be installed, we're concerned that the time pressure caused by the current rollout deadline will lead to a poorer quality installation experience for consumers and risks reduced value for money.
We know that 80% of people who have had a smart meter installed were satisfied with the installation process. However, in 2017 our consumer service helpline supported people with over 3,000 smart meter issues.
Suppliers need more time to deal with the issues that we're already seeing, and to stop the numbers from increasing.
What we're doing
The smart meter-related problems most frequently reported to us include:
- first generation smart meters (known as SMETS1 meters) losing their smart functionality when consumers switch
- aggressive sales practices from suppliers eager to get smart meters installed
- installation problems, such as the meter not fitting in the space available
- customers still having to submit their smart meter readings manually despite having a smart meter installed.
We're concerned that these problems mean fewer consumers will choose to have a smart meter installed. Ultimately, this means that more people will miss out on the benefits of smart meters.
We're calling on the government to extend the rollout deadline to 2023 so these issues can be fixed. This would enable suppliers to rollout the remaining 42 million meters in a way that gives the best possible consumer experience. If the deadline is not extended then consumer confidence in this programme will continue to be undermined, making it much harder to deliver.
Another issue is that we don't have up to date information on the costs of the rollout. As the statutory energy consumer representative, it's vital that we have this information so we're able to properly scrutinise the rollout on behalf of consumers.
The most recent cost benefit analysis was published in 2016. Since then, the rollout programme has changed significantly. It would be timely for Government to publish more up to date information on costs.