Energy firms need to get smarter with smart meter rollout

19 December 2018

Large energy suppliers will need to triple the current rate of smart meter installation to hit a target of replacing all existing meters by 2020, according to analysis from Which?.

Part of the Consumers’ Association, Which? says such suppliers are currently installing just 9.7 meters per minute. It found they would need to work around the clock and install 30 meters per minute every day for the next two years in order to fully replace the 46 million existing meters their customers have, and meet their targets as part of the £11bn roll out.

Up to 53 million smart meters, designed to replace traditional gas and electricity meters across homes and businesses, are due to be installed nationwide by the end of 2020. According to Which?, large suppliers have so far installed more than 11 million smart meters. This is just a quarter of the 46 million existing meters that could potentially be replaced.

Which? says smart meters are expected to save consumers money and produce economic benefits of around £16.7bn. However, it adds that a previous National Audit Office report stated these estimated

benefits are based on the assumption that the meters are rolled out to virtually all consumers by the end of 2020. With just over two years to go until the deadline, the association warns that delays and subsequent increased costs will result in reduced savings for consumers. Government estimates for the expected savings for an annual dual fuel bill in 2020 have already fallen from £26 to just £11.

Which? also says that while smart meters potentially mean an end to readings and estimated bills, the rollout has been “plagued with problems” from the outset, including faulty in-house display monitors and devices that were no longer compatible when customers switched energy suppliers.