The new obligations for suppliers have been deferred for six months to commence on 1 January 2022 to allow for further preparation.
The decision from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) follows a consultation in which suppliers requested an extension to the current ‘all reasonable steps’ rollout obligation to better handle the disruptions that had resulted from the government’s response to COVID-19.
The BEIS indicates that over 90,000 SMETS2 smart meters are currently being installed weekly, which is close to the pace expected under the new four-year framework.
Thus the six-month extension will offer “a final, focussed period of preparation across industry for the new framework, whilst maintaining the momentum towards market-wide rollout.”
Energy suppliers are expected to make full use of this further period to finalise any operational arrangements and resolve any residual capacity constraints to enable them to meet their targets from the start of January 2022.
According to the latest data from the BEIS there were 24.2 million smart and advanced meters in homes and small businesses in Britain, representing 44% smart coverage.
Previously the new rollout obligations were due to commence on July 1 2021.
The decision document also sets out the tolerance levels for suppliers of smart meter penetrations versus targets. These are 3.5% for domestic and 6.1% for non-domestic coverage by December 2022 and 5.1% and 8.3% for the respective coverages by the end of 2023.
These have been calculated from a 2021 year-end penetration of 49% on an approach to ensure a consistent trajectory towards market-wide rollout avoiding installations being pushed back towards the later years of the framework, the response document says.
Under the framework, the nationwide rollout of domestic and small business smart meters is required to be completed within four years.
The response document also notes the need for a continued focus by the government and industry on ensuring consumers are able to access the benefits and enjoy a positive experience of smart metering, and for industry to develop and offer a greater array of attractive and innovative new smart metering enabled products and services.
The industry body Smart Energy GB also needs to deliver in line with its updated objectives and governance arrangements and for government and the industry to deliver a supportive and stronger consumer policy environment.
The new decision also reduces the reporting threshold to suppliers with 150,000 or more customer accounts from the previous 250,000.
A further review of the rollout and consultation on the year 3 and 4 tolerances will be conducted during 2023.
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