Smart meter rollout must be extended

citizens advice

Currently, energy smart meters are being rolled out to customers across the UK. However, some are being forced to take the smart meters. Customers are being ‘pressured’ into getting a smart meter with perks to encourage switch. Energy suppliers are still ‘bullying’ customers over smart meters even though they are not compulsory.

The latest major supplier to use such tactics is Eon. It has been firing off mailings stating in bold: ‘We need to change your meters.’

It then says: ‘Your electricity and gas meters are old models that we need to replace with free self-reading smart meters.’ It goes on to say: ‘We have an obligation to install smart meters for our customers.’

But take-up has been slow with the Government now admitting that no more than 75 per cent of homes will have had the new meters in place by the end of the 2020 deadline. So far, just short of 13 million smart meters have been installed.

Citizens Advice, in its role as the official consumer watchdog for energy, has responded to the publication of the latest figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for smart meter installations.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“It’s worrying that at this key moment, when the switch to second generation smart meters should be accelerating, installation rates overall are actually slowing down.

“This is adding to the confusion for customers. Millions of people who have had a smart meter fitted may find it doesn’t work properly when they switch supplier, while millions more are not able to get a smart meter installed even if they want one.

“Customers on prepayment tariffs, in rural areas, and in large parts of the north of England and in Scotland, are in danger of being left behind.

“Smart meters will provide benefits for customers, but with the rollout beset by technical problems, the current timetable is unrealistic. There’s little chance that the 2020 deadline will be met, it should be extended to 2023.”

Background:

The government has set a deadline for smart meters to be installed in all domestic homes and small businesses by the end of 2020.

In 2018, Citizens Advice called on the government to extend the rollout deadline to 2023, citing poor consumer experiences, a lack of transparency over costs and ongoing technical problems that have resulted in far fewer meters being installed than projected.

The government’s deadline for the installation of first generation smart meters (SMETS1) passed on March 15th. This means that from that date only second generation (SMETS2) will count towards suppliers’ roll out targets.

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