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Smart meter installations double over last year despite COVID disruption

Over the regulatory year 2020/21, 6.7 million smart meters were installed. Image: Getty.

Over the regulatory year 2020/21, 6.7 million smart meters were installed. Image: Getty.

The smart meter network in Britain has doubled over the last 12 months, with 6.7 million smart meters connected to the Data Communications Company’s (DCC) network in 2020/21.

Despite the disruption caused by the first COVID-19 lockdown – when installations were paused for three months from March – daily rates of installation had virtually returned to pre-pandemic levels by the beginning of the second lockdown. This meant almost 20,000 meters were being installed per working day.

This pace allowed the 10 millionth smart meter to be installed in Great Britain at 10:47am on 1 February 2021 by E.On Energy in Doddington, Cambridgeshire.

In addition to the overall expansion of the smart meter network, the DCC also noted that almost 4 million first generation meters (SMETS1) were migrated to the network returning smart functionality, and importantly the ability to switch energy supplier, to those households.

“At the DCC we continue to focus on our core priority, which is to support the energy industry as it completes its digitisation by rolling out smart meters across Britain,” said Angus Flett, CEO.

“The DCC and its partners have performed well in a year disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s great to see momentum building again behind this national infrastructure programme.”

The company’s network coverage also expanded over the last regulatory year, to cover 99.3% of premises in Britain the DCC’s Annual Report and Accounts show.

In addition to releasing this report, it has published its Business and Development Plan (2021/22 – 2025/26), which sets out its next steps to improve its services. This includes completing the migration of SMETS1s by the end of 2022, delivering a new Centralised Switching Service, and beginning to procure a 4G communications hub that will allow the DCC to futureproof its network.

“This has been a strong performance by the DCC during the 2020/21 regulatory year,” Richard McCarthy, DCC chairman, said.

“I am most proud of the progress we’ve made in facilitating the over-the-air migration of the country’s first generation of smart meters onto our network. This has been a significantly challenging and highly technical undertaking, with thousands of device and software combinations. It represents one of the largest ever IT migrations in a live environment.”

Following the end of the last regulatory year in March, the DCC additionally begun work to explore opening up its network to support EV charging in a new Toshiba partnership.

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