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Smart meter rollout picks up pace despite increased obligations on SoLR energy suppliers

There were 25,000 smart meter installations in southern England in March. Image: Getty

There were 25,000 smart meter installations in southern England in March. Image: Getty

Following the usual slow period over the festive season and “extraordinary disruption” from the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the installation of smart meters in Great Britain has picked back up.

The latest figures from ElectaLink show that suppliers delivered 224,000 smart meter installations in March 2022, with this being the highest monthly figure since November 2021 and 2% more than March 2021.

It follows there being 185,000 installations in January and 154,000 installations in December.

ElectraLink added that trends in regional distribution of installations continued into March, with 24,000 in east England, 25,000 in southern England and 22,000 in the East Midlands.

In total, there have been 17.85 million cumulative smart meter installations in Britain since the programme began.

ElectraLink detailed how installations have increased despite higher targets for individual suppliers who have acquired customers through the supplier of last resort (SoLR) mechanism after the collapse of 27 energy suppliers in 2021.

It follows Ofgem issuing an open letter to suppliers on 29 March, in which it said it recognised the "significant pressure" on the energy retail market from the second half of 2021, and that suppliers that have taken on significant customer numbers are likely to have seen an increase in their overall targets for 2022.

“We recognise that this will be a challenge for some suppliers, and we note that it is one we expect to see them actively working to meet. Suppliers should be adjusting their plans for delivery accordingly and with 9 months of the first rollout year under this obligation still to go, we consider that suppliers have enough time to do this,” Ofgem wrote in the letter, which it produces annually.

As of January, a new regulatory framework - first proposed in 2019 - for the smart meter rollout has come into effect, with this following the deadline for the headline ‘all reasonable steps’ obligation passing on 31 December 2021.

This new obligation runs until 2025, with all suppliers in the market subject to annual installation targets.

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