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Smart meter rollout must be tripled to meet 2020 deadline says Which?

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

Large energy suppliers are ‘losing the battle’ against the 2020 deadline for the rollout of smart meters, and need to triple their efforts over the next two years, according to consumer group Which?.

The watchdog has said less than ten smart meters are being installed each minute across Great Britain compared to the 30 that are needed to deliver the rollout in time.

This falls in line with figures given by the energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry today in the commons, when she said over 400,000 smart meters were being installed each month.

Unlike the minister, who said deployment was “going better by the day”, Which? has said the number of installations has in fact fallen since February, when it calculated that 24 installs per minute were required to fully replace the 46 million existing domestic meters.

Late delivery of the scheme would fall short of the consumer benefit promised by government, with Which? suggesting that the expected savings for an annual dual fuel bill in 2020 have already fallen from £26 to just £11.

So far less than 11 million domestic smart meters have been rolled out under figures put in August, less than a quarter of what is needed by the end of 2020, on top of those to be offered to businesses.

While government insists that the rollout is proceeding on track, a growing number of influential voices are being heard to question this view. Elected members from both sides of the commons agreed that the rollout showed all the signs of a ‘car crash’, while Citizens Advice went public in August with its view that the deadline should be extended to 2023.

Despite Perry and her department continually dismissing such suggestions, Which? has now claimed that it looks ‘increasingly unlikely’ 2020 will be met and that ‘more must be done’ to save the benefits to consumers from being squandered.

While unable to suggest what measures could be taken, the consumer watchdog has now called on the government to rethink its timescales alongside industry to address the flaws in its rollout.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: “The smart meter rollout has been plagued by problems and been massively delayed, the benefits have been overstated and the savings they could bring consumers are at risk.

“Therefore it’s time for the government to replan with industry and consumer groups to ensure people get the maximum benefit at the minimum cost.”

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