The Government’s smart meter roll out is set for severe delays as energy firms have been told to slow down installations due to a shortage of devices.
Numbers being installed in people’s homes are expected “go off a cliff edge” next month, industry insiders have revealed, as energy firms will not have enough new-style devices to match smart meter appointments being booked in.
Under the roll out energy firms must offer a smart meter to every home in the UK by 2020, however the body tasked with promoting it has admitted this will now not happen due to delays.
From March the old-style meters, which make up most of the 12 million devices already in homes, will no longer be installed. Instead a new hi-tech version will be fitted in homes.
Whereas the older models have been plagued by issues causing them to lose their smart functions when a consumer changes supplier, the new type, which are supposed to fully switchable.
However it has emerged that due to technical issues with some of the new style devices, there will not be enough to continue the roll out as planned.
It is a major blow for the roll out as it will mean firms will have to reduce the number of smart meter appointments they make with customers. Conversely consumer group Which? have warned that suppliers needed to treble the number of appointments they are making to meet the Government’s 2020 deadline.
Industry sources said the approaching cliff edge has caused chaos for suppliers’ plans with some having run out of the early type of meter already. A source at a large firm said: “There aren’t enough second generation meters to go around. At the moment there’s a mass scramble to try and get hold of them.”
Tom Thorp, of Foresight Metering, which provides smart meters to energy firms, said: “We have recommended to all the energy suppliers we work with that there should be a dip in their rollout programme. Part of the reason for slowing down is to make sure we can honour the appointments.”
Robert Cheesewright, corporate affairs director at Smart Energy GB, said: “There are so many things that this rollout can deal with but it’s now being let down by poor delivery.
“You don’t have to be a mathematician to know that the rollout won’t be completed by the end of 2020.”
A spokesman at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, declined to comment.