New blow to government plans to fit smart meters in all homes by 2020 as installation rates fall
- Experts said it’s very unlikely targets to put smart meters in all homes will be met
- They collect gas and electricity readings automatically, supposedly saving time
- But they have been plagued by problems and fears of energy firm snooping
Fresh doubts were thrown on the Government’s controversial smart meter programme last night as figures revealed a drop in the number of installations.
Experts said it is now highly unlikely that targets to put smart meters in all homes by 2020 will be met after the number being fitted fell by 10 per cent.
The devices – which collect gas and electricity readings automatically, and display how much energy is being used in pounds and pence – are meant to make consumers’ lives easier.
Experts said it is now highly unlikely that targets to put smart meters in all homes by 2020 will be met after the number being fitted fell by 10 per cent
But they have been plagued by problems, with critics warning that the scheme could allow big energy firms to snoop on their customers.
The fall in installations suggests the public are increasingly turning against the devices.
The latest figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) show a 10 per cent decline in fittings in the three months to September 30, compared with the previous three months.
Major suppliers installed 495,400 gas and 632,600 electricity smart meters during this period – down from 542,000 gas and 707,400 electricity meters in the previous quarter.
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It comes after the Government insisted there would be no slowdown in the rollout following a warning from the National Audit Office that the programme was late and running millions of pounds over budget.
Peter Earl, head of energy at comparethemarket.com, said: ‘After all the flak about the issues surrounding smart meters, a 10 per cent drop in installations over the last quarter is another massive headwind for the rollout programme.
‘It is highly unlikely that the government’s 2020 target will now be met.
‘Until the second generation of smart meters is being rolled out nationwide by all suppliers, so that people’s smart meters will continue to operate having switched supplier, we could not confidently recommend them to our customers.’
Last week Energy Minister Claire Perry said the Government had no plans to slow down the programme.
‘We’ve said everyone will be offered a smart meter by the end of 2020 to reap these benefits and we will meet that commitment,’ she said.
There are now 12.8million smart and advanced meters in use across homes and businesses, according to the BEIS figures.
Consumer group Which? has warned that suppliers will have to install 30 meters a minute to hit the 2020 target. In fact they are currently fitting only 9.7 meters a day.
A business department spokesman said: ‘Millions have already chosen to have a smart meter and take control of their energy bills. We’ve said everyone will be offered a smart meter by the end of 2020 to reap these benefits and we will meet that commitment.
‘This world-leading upgrade to our national infrastructure is the cornerstone of our move to a smarter energy system of the future which will bring benefits to consumers and industry worth up to £40 billion.’
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