‘Extend the deadline for the installation of smart meters by another three years,’ is the request from the Citizens Advice Bureau.
The 2020 deadline to install 53 million smart meters in 30 million homes and businesses is unrealistic says the Bureau. A ‘more realistic’ target to finalise the replacement of traditional gas and electricity meters is 2023; and will likely lead to poorly undertaken installations.
The Bureau further advised that by extending the deadline, suppliers would have “the time they need to fix these problems and improve the experience for all consumers.”
Citizens Advice warned that: “A poor quality customer experience risks undermining confidence and support for what is an important technology.”
While 80% of people who have a smart meter installed are happy with them, Citizens Advice said in 2017 that its consumer helpline had received 3,000 calls concerning smart meter problems, including “first-generation smart meters losing their functionality, aggressive sales practices and customers still having to send their smart meter readings.”
“Smart infrastructure is needed to modernise the energy sector and will bring a raft of positive changes to consumers. They give people more understanding and control over their energy use, as well as enabling them to access smart products in their home, and more choice in tariffs.”
It has already been widely reported that the government is likely to miss the deadline, and this was reiterated in a report by the British Infrastructure Group last month.
However, according to Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry, speaking to the BBC, smart meters were being rolled out as quickly as possible and customers were already saving money.
She added: “Frankly, I don’t want to do anything that means the energy companies can take their foot off the pedal, because I think this programme is worth a lot, both to British consumers and households, but also to the British energy system.”
According to Smart Energy GB: “Smart meters will deliver billions of pounds worth of savings to our economy, and will pave the way for a cleaner, greener and more efficient energy system.
“By getting a smart meter, we can all save money on our gas and electricity bills and stop manual meter readings and inaccurate estimated bills.”