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Non-domestic smart meter installs exceed 25% but residential market still off the pace

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More than a quarter of non-domestic properties in the UK now have smart or advanced meters installed by their utility, however there remains a considerable amount of work if the residential market is to hit its 2020 target.

The government intends to have all non-domestic and residential properties in the UK fitted with a smart meter by the end of 2020 and figures released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy late last week provided an update on the progress towards this goal.

The figures showed that as of Q4 2016 there were 923,600 smart and advanced meters (of which 715,700 were electricity meters) installed in non-domestic properties, equivalent to more than 25% of the required number.

However residential installs are still off the pace. As of Q4 2016 roughly 4.8 million smart meters had been installed in the country’s homes by large suppliers and a further 83,700 by small suppliers.

That is equivalent to around 10% of the UK’s housing stock, with the remaining 90% of homes still in needing to receive meters over the course of the next three years if the government’s target is to be met.

Smart meter installations remains the responsibility of utility firms and regulator Ofgem is tasked with ensuring required work is completed. It retains the right to enforcement action if utilities are not considered to have exercised “all reasonable steps” to meeting certain steps. 

Late last year British Gas was fined £4.5 million by Ofgem after it failed to complete a number of smart meter installations on non-domestic properties ahead of a 2014 deadline.

The smart meter programme has not been without its critics or much-publicised setbacks.

Last month ‘Big Six’ utility SSE was forced to reassure customers after a standard software upgrade malfunctioned and caused some smart meters to project daily bills of tens of thousands of pounds.

This was followed by further reports that delays to the introduction of SMETS 2 software would prevent customers from being able to switch supplier and a smart meter maintaining its level of functionality, prompting debate in the House of Commons and a response from energy minister Jesse Norman that the programme must be judged on its “long-term benefits”, rather than immediate problems.

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