Government is set to stretch the smart meter rollout deadline to 2024.
In a consultation, Beis suggested the programme is on track to deliver 30m meters by 2020, but said it was “reasonable to propose a regulatory monitoring framework for a period of 4 years (from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2024)”.
Around 50m meters will need to be made fully smart if the rollout is to be completed.
The department had outwardly resisted calls to adopt a more realistic timetable but signalled a softening stance in recent months, with former Beis minister Claire Perry telling MPs earlier this year it was “absolutely right” to look beyond 2020.
Citizens Advice has consistently called for an extension. It welcomed the move.
“Extending the smart meter rollout deadline is a common-sense move that is good news for consumers. It’s been clear for a long time that the 2020 deadline wouldn’t be met and today’s announcement finally recognises that reality,” said chief executive Gillian Guy.
“This new deadline gives suppliers time to fix ongoing technical problems and make sure customer service isn’t sidelined as the rollout continues. We’ve seen some energy companies use aggressive techniques to try to persuade people to have smart meters fitted as soon as possible to meet the existing timeline.
“It’s also apparent that the cost of the rollout is escalating, and the public are picking up the tab through their energy bills. People will still benefit in the long run, but today’s cost-benefit analysis shows focusing on speed hasn’t worked.
“We are pleased the government is extending the deadline to ensure the benefits for consumers are delivered.”
Suppliers are only mandated to have offered a smart meter to all customers by 2020, rather than actually install one.
See the consultation here.