Ed’s note: The soap opera that is the UK smart meter rollout


Consistently, news about the smart meter rollout in the UK makes it onto our ‘most read’ list. Coverage of the programme in British newspapers has, in recent times, been scathing, with one newspaper calling energy chiefs ‘bungling’ and the Times calling the entire programme ‘shambolic’.

The rollout of smart meters in the UK started with high hopes in 2016 but was soon plagued by delays, technology malfunctions and rumours of consumers being strong-armed by energy companies into accepting smart meters whether they wanted them or not.

Meters stopped working when customers change suppliers, or in some cases, never worked properly at all.

The introduction of the second generation of a meter was further accompanied by delays when they were introduced in June 2018.

By the end of March 2019, more than 14.3 million smart and advanced meters were in operation across Britain and as of end September, that number stood at 15.6 million. However, to put this figure into context – the UK has 34.3 million traditional meters currently in service.

Yesterday, the DCC announced that the three millionth meter SMETS-2 meter had been installed and was communicating on its network.  Yet there are so, so many questions that need to be answered.

Questions I have — and would love some input on from our readers — include:

  • Does that mean that the remainder of the 15.6 million installed meters are either SMETS-1 meters or those that have ‘advanced’ functionality?
  • Does a meter with advanced functionality meet the criteria of being a ‘smart meter’ for the purposes of the UK smart meter programme?
  • Would it be fair to say that the rollout was complete (when it reaches that point) if a fair percentage of the meters installed are SMETS-1 meters which are known to revert to ‘dumb’ mode?
  • What are the plans to upgrade SMETS-1 with SMETS-2 meters?
  • Astronomical figures have been quoted by various media for the cost of the rollout. Do these include the cost of installing SMETS-2 meters in place of current SMETS-1 meters?
  • The deadline for the finalisation of the rollout is currently 2024. This has already been dismissed as ‘impossible’ by many sources. What is a reasonable deadline for completion of the rollout?
  • Given the lifespan of the meters — when will ‘rollout 2.0’ kick-off?

If you have answers to any of the questions above, we’d love to hear from you. If you have questions of your own, we’d love to hear from you too. Contact us at editorial@smart-energy.com and share your thoughts.

Until next time!