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Smart meter rollout suffers fresh delays

electricity meter

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced that it is to delay the national rollout of smart meters in 30m UK homes.

Initially expected to begin in summer 2014, DECC says that a 12 month delay is required to give industry more time to design, construct and test the systems required.

The project is a central part of the government’s strategy to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by allowing homeowners to see exactly how much electricity and gas is being used. It will end the need for estimated bills and is expected to cost £11.7bn over the five year lifetime of the roll-out project.

Energy minister Baroness Verma said: “The coalition is committed to making smart meters available to everyone as soon as possible. 

“I welcome the progress that some energy suppliers have already made in installing smart meters in homes and businesses across Great Britain and want to see that continue. Industry has told us that they expect to roll out in excess of 2 million compliant smart meters to customers over the next two years.

“I have listened to industry and consumers representatives and recognise the enormous challenges involved in delivering the roll-out of smart meters, which includes visits to around 30 million homes and small businesses and installing over 50 million smart meters over the next seven years.  I want to ensure that consumers have a good experience of smart metering from day one.

“That’s why we are allowing additional time for the energy suppliers to complete the roll-out, so industry has the time to get it right for consumers.”

Stuart Ravens, principal energy & sustainability technology analyst at Ovum, added: “Ovum has for some time been critical of the selection process for smart meters.

“The Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) decided, in its wisdom, to divide Britain into three regions and invited tenders for each of these regions. Part of the DECC’s tendering process was to request proof that each communications technology would work in the British deployment. However, it did not commission any trials itself. If the tendering process were to proceed as previously planned, Britain could have commissioned a communications network for over 50 million meters that had not been properly tested.

“DECC’s decision to delay the tendering process by at least a year to perform more tests is welcome, but it does beg the question: why did it take the DECC so long to recognize its previous folly?”