Why your smart meter may not be so smart after all

A smart meter in-home displayImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption First-generation or second-generation expertise? It may rely on the place you reside

Nearly a 3rd of all vitality firms becoming smart meters are nonetheless putting in outdated expertise.

Government steering says that for the reason that center of March 2019 clients ought to solely have been given second era smart meters.

However eight firms who’re nonetheless putting in first era smart meters say the community is not dependable sufficient to change clients onto.

They say that is notably an issue in northern England and Scotland.

The switching service LookAfterMyBills has found that Bristol Energy, British Gas, Ecotricity, EON and Octopus are nonetheless putting in some first era meters within the North, and Nabuh Energy, Simplicity and Utilita are solely putting in the primary era after encountering difficulties with the brand new system.

The second era of meters is meant to be in a position to join remotely to a nationwide community, which ought to make switching provider potential, for the primary time for a lot of clients.

When contacted by the BBC, the businesses emphasised that the problems have been industry-wide issues.

“We are not ignoring government guidance” stated a spokesperson for Ecotricity. “In fact it’s clear that in documented instances where a SMETS2 meter cannot be used, or in areas where connection is not possible, we are encouraged to use SMETS1, or non-smart meters.”

Two completely different contracts got out by the federal government to put in these networks. The Southern Communications Network is being run on pre-existing cell expertise, whereas the Northern Communications Network is being run through specialist radio sign.

Northern connection

Various the businesses declare that issues with the sign in that Northern Communications Network imply that they can’t reliably join clients to it. Therefore clients residing within the South of England and Wales are more likely to obtain a second era meter, than these residing within the North of England and Scotland.

Octopus vitality stated the precedence was to make sure clients wants have been met.

“Where a second generation meter can be reliably installed and commissioned, we’ll do that,” the agency stated. “Otherwise we’ll offer customers the choice between first generation or waiting until second generation is available.”

Some companies additionally highlighted issues with the connection in high-rise flats and for these on pre-payment meters.

The firm chargeable for the operation of the info networks throughout the UK, Smart DCC, stated hundreds of second era meters have been being put in the North day by day.

“DCC is supporting the energy industry as it rolls out second-generation smart meters across the country,” it stated. “There are now more than two million operating on our smart, secure network,” Smart DCC stated.

‘Social objective’

Utilita provides vitality virtually completely to pre-payment clients. The agency stated it’s ready for the results of a judicial overview into authorities coverage, because it says firms ought to not be compelled to put in the brand new meters.

Utilita believes the brand new system has important connectivity issues and “provides a vastly inferior service for pay-as-you-go customers, many of whom are vulnerable”.

Bristol Energy stated any installations of SMETS1 meters since March have been as a result of clients are on pre-payment meters.

“As part of our social purpose, we have a fair proportion of customers who are in this payment category,” it stated.

British Gas agrees, including there “have been some industry-wide delays with the infrastructure for SMETS2 pre-payment meters which means we’re not yet installing SMETS2 to all of these customers.”

Simplicity vitality stated it’s ready for the primary era meters to have an improve, fairly than set up the newer model, which it believes will occur shortly. The agency stated “our strategy is to complete our roll-out programme and run down our stocks of SMETS 1 meters to avoid them becoming landfill”.

Any first era meters put in after the 15th March 2019 do not rely in the direction of the businesses’ smart meter roll-out obligations, and the regulator OFGEM might take enforcement motion towards any firm not assembly these obligations.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy stated “the community for the North is totally operational, with hundreds of second era meters being put in day by day.

“Smart meters present a significantly better service for patrons over conventional meters. This is especially the case for pre-payment clients by slicing prices,” it added.

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