Is the pressure of the 2020 smart metering deadline damaging suppliers’ opportunity to kindle a customer-supplier relationship?

17th May 2018


There are now over 10 million smart and advanced meters operating across homes and business in Great Britain. With just under 40 million installations to go, and 2 years to the deadline, the Smart Metering Installation Programme (SMIP) is at a critical stage. To meet the target, suppliers must increase installations to a rate of up to 24 meters per minute.

The Daily Mail have launched a campaign to relax smart meter targets after claiming that the pressure on suppliers to meet the targets has resulted in bullying tactics, citing that some of their readers have reportedly felt pressured into installing a digital meter. In some cases, they’ve said customers have been bribed with Amazon vouchers to upgrade, or they have even been threatened with a charge for not accepting a meter.

 As it stands now, suppliers must take all reasonable steps to ensure that every premises has a smart meter fitted and if they fail to meet the target, they face fines equal to 10% of their sales (which could reach over £7 billion).

 The industry are all working towards the deadline, but a barrier to increasing installation rates is consumer engagement. Energy companies are under pressure to complete meter upgrades, but not all customers are on board – after all, it seems reasonable for customers to want to wait for SMETS2 devices before they upgrade their device. With just 80 2nd generation devices on the wall and interacting with the DCC, there is a long way to go before the full benefits of smart meters are realised, with consumers that are on board with the programme able to maintain smart functionality and switch suppliers.

 Other customers have privacy concerns about how energy suppliers plan to use their data, the Daily Mail campaign argues. To what extent is this a barrier to the rollout? Suppliers were given responsibility for the programme to encourage a customer-supplier relationship – how effective have smart meters been as the first step on the journey? Is the 2020 deadline conducive to this goal?

It’s not just The Daily Mail who thinks that the deadline is unfair – Utilita Energy have just filed for a judicial review into the rollout end date for SMETS1 meters for their pre-payment customers as SMETS2 meters could impact PAYG customers – many of whom are vulnerable – if the network goes down.

 There is still a long way to go in terms of installations to reach the 2020 deadline, but time is running out. How is the industry planning to ramp up installations? With meters already installed in the households of the most switched-on customers, how can the industry develop engagement as the rollout continues? The industry are looking towards Smart Energy GB as the voice of the rollout for answers about how to take it to the next stage, and make sure that everyone in Great Britain understands smart meters.

 On the 27th June, senior decision-makers involved in the SMIP from energy suppliers, DNOs, and policy makers are coming together at Future of Utilities: Smart Metering Update – the UK’s leading strategic metering event to discuss how the industry can meet upcoming milestones. Stay on top of the SMIP’s progress with exclusive insights from SSE, Co-operative Energy, and OVO Energy. Don’t miss out on crucial updates from the DCC and Smart Energy GB.