The government has pushed back plans to roll out smart energy meters across the UK from 2020 to 2024 after critics claimed the project had “no realistic prospect” of reaching its original deadline.
What is a smart energy meter?
Smart energy meters are designed to take gas and electricity usage readings and send the data directly back to suppliers. They also enable users to track their usage in real-time, which encourages them to control and lower their energy use. With smart readings, bills are also more accurate as consumers are only charged for the energy that they use.
Utility companies and suppliers have predicted smart meters will be at the centre of a digital transformation of the sector, encouraging users to reduce energy consumption and handing them greater control over when and how they use their electricity and gas. However, there were also warnings that technology would not be ready in time to replace every meter in Britain by the end of 2020.
What’s behind the delay?
With fears that delays affecting new software could leave households and businesses paying £500m more than expected, four years have been added to the time frame of the scheme. This is thought to allow smart energy suppliers the chance to fix technical problems and create a smoother process for consumers. A slower and more considered rollout process will be a much more beneficial approach for both the customers and the energy industry itself, allowing the transition to happen at a more manageable pace.
Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, said the smart energy deadline extension was “a commonsense move that is good news for consumers”. “It’s been clear for a long time that the 2020 deadline wouldn’t be met and today’s announcement finally recognises that reality,” she said.
Despite the call for the deadline to be extended, the scheme has been praised by many and is thought to deliver a £20bn financial benefit to Britain based on new analysis by the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. According to surveys by Smart Energy, more than 85% of people with smart meters have found ways to reduce their energy consumption.
Ian Duncan, the minister for climate change, said the replacing of traditional gas and electricity meters was a vital upgrade to national energy infrastructure that would help the UK become a carbon-neutral economy.
Why upgrade to a smart energy meter?
You won’t have to manually send your business meter readings anymore
More accurate billing
Reduce energy consumption with smart analysis
Most UK suppliers are now offering smart energy meters within their various tariff packages and those who don’t will be doing so in the coming months.
Contrary to popular belief, having a smart energy meter doesn’t affect your right to switch energy providers whenever you need to. So, if you’ve had a smart meter installed but you want to move to a new supplier, you will still be able to do so.
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