The roll-out of smart meters in 30 million UK homes has been postponed by more than a year. A recent Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announcement claims the £11.7bn project will now commence in 2015 to enable the industry more time to design, build and test the communications system required. This, in turn, has seen the end of the roll-out extended to 2020 instead of 2019.
Once in place, the project is aimed at cutting energy usage in households across the UK to prevent the need to import more energy in the future. Smart meters were to be introduced to bring an end to estimated bill by showing exactly how much gas and electricity is being used in each home, by sending an accurate meter reading back to the user’s energy supplier every day.
The delay has been widely supported, receiving praise from Angela Knight chief executive of Energy UK, who explained: “We welcome the government’s decision to allow an additional 12 months to complete the smart meter programme. This recognises the scale of the programme and the need to prepare carefully.”
Backing this opinion, Ed Davey, Energy Secretary, added: “Completing the national roll-out will be an enormous logistical and technical challenge for the industry. Getting this right for consumers is the government’s priority.”
There was more positive news from Don Leper, director of new business at E.ON, who said: “We’re making great progress with our smart metering programme. While E.ON has been installing smart meters for more than two years, this decision now provides the whole industry with the time to make best use of the foundation period to ensure that all our customers benefit.”
An updated view of Smart Meters is planned for publication in late 2013. To a degree, however, the future of Smart Meters and their route to market lays in the balance in the face of the next general election scheduled for May 2015.