UK government confirms further delay to DCC launch

Smart meters GB delay to launch of DCC
All UK energy suppliers must connect to the DCC by 1 August, 2017

In the latest news on the UK smart meter rollout, the government department overseeing the deployment has confirmed a four-month delay to the launch of the network operator Data Communications Company (DCC).

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has told energy companies to expect the DCC to go live in August 2016, a delay on the April 2016 date given by the communications company, reports UK trade press Utility Week.

Decc said that the new date had been used “in recognition of the fact that six months of contingency has been held in reserve… it had been recommended that other parties use a central planning assumption of August 2016 to be ready for DCC Live.”

In March 2015, the DCC, part of CGI, secured a six-month extension to begin connecting utilities after admitting there is “no feasible way to maintain the timescales of the current… plan”.

At the time, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey said the extension to the rollout timetable would “enable the DCC’s systems and services to come together with the energy companies’ systems and processes in a coordinated start to the main installation phase”.

Connecting to the smart meter network

All domestic suppliers are required to be using the DCC by 1 August 2017, while large suppliers will also have to install 1,500 SMETS2 meters by 1 February 2017.

While Decc expects distribution network operators to be using the DCC when it goes live in August 2016, it will not be setting the deadline until 1 February 2017 for fear an earlier mandate would present practical challenges for test management, reports Utility Week.

Decc has also given the end date of 1 August 2017 for the installation of SMETS1 meters, saying it should give suppliers “sufficient time” to transition to the newer specification of meter required for the mass rollout.

However it has said the date could be delayed if “significant industry-wide impediments should materialise.”

DCC delay impacts suppliers

The further delay to the smart meter rollout is hitting some European equipment and service suppliers financially, according to new research from IHS.

Based on data showing a decline in demand in the European and North American markets, analyst Jacob Pereira highlighted how delays to the rollouts in Europe had left suppliers “struggling with many issues”.

Mr Pereira said the research suggests that the slow-moving European market is taking its toll on suppliers, requiring them to try to extend limited cash flow to manage investor expectations.