Monitoring the smart meter roll-out
53 million smart meters are set to be installed in homes and small businesses by 2020, as part of the government-led smart meter roll-out. Compared with the previous quarter, the rate of smart meters being installed in homes has increased (Smart meter statistics, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) and we expect this to continue in the coming years. To support the roll-out we are monitoring the consumer experience of smart metering.
We monitor the roll-out by considering the contacts we receive through the Citizens Advice consumer service helpline. The consumer service helps clients to resolve issues and provides advice to those experiencing consumer issues with specific, additional responsibilities in the energy and postal sectors.The service is offered by telephone (03454 04 05 06) and also via the web-forms on the Citizens Advice website, and in 2016/17 handled in excess of one million contacts.
Every month, the consumer service helpline receives 150-250 consumer contacts which we identify are related to smart meters.
To put this into context, this approximates to 7-9% of our total energy contacts, whilst smart meters approximate to 16% of the meters in the domestic market. Our own survey of 8,275 people (Citizens Advice commissioned a GfK survey of 8,275, which was completed in the first quarter of 2017) indicated most people were satisfied with their smart meter. Of those who had smart meters installed, only 7.1% were dissatisfied. More conclusions from the survey data can be found here.
What we see
The majority of people with smart meters are experiencing some of the benefits of this technology. However, our analysis of contacts to the consumer service identify and can give an insight into problems emerging with the roll-out.
The contacts we receive are categorised by issue type. The top five issues we see emerging from the roll-out include:
people requiring more information about smart meters or the roll-out
having switching related issues
faulty smart meters or smart metering equipment or,
bills increasing or receiving a back-dated bill
The graph below shows the number of contacts received for the five most common issues categories in a 6 month period. This is compared to the previous six month period. For reference, almost 30% of people asking for further information about smart meters or the roll-out wanted to know if having a smart meter was compulsory.