SSE ramps up smart meter rollout as customer losses accelerate

Alistair Phillips-Davies: A number of complex challenges to manage.

SSE has now installed over 600,000 smart meters, according to its latest trading statement, a significant increase in the last few months.

However, it lost almost a quarter of a million customers during that time.

The company told The Energyst on 2 March that it had installed “over 400,000 smart meters” and said its proposed total investment in the programme was set to top £1bn.

SSE will have to at least offer a smart meter to around 7m customers by 2020. The firm welcomed the recent Smart Meter Bill, which gives the government five more years to change smart meter regulations, suggesting it may make the rollout more efficient.

The company also welcomed Ofgem’s recent decision to cut Triad benefits for small generators and is likely anticipating a higher outturn in the forthcoming capacity auctions as a result.

The statement showed that SSE customer losses continue. The firm lost 230,000 accounts in the three months to 30 June, with total GB and Ireland accounts now standing at 7.77m. That is a greater loss of customers in three months than it reported for the entire year to 31 March.

Between April and June, across the UK, some 1.3m households switched supplier, according to Energy UK figures. Around 500,000 of those accounts moved from big suppliers to small suppliers. But competition between large suppliers is almost as keen: around 425,000 customers shifted from one large supplier to another.

“As expected, 2017/18 is presenting a number of complex challenges to manage,” said SSE chief Alistair Phillips-Davies, adding that SSE remained “disciplined” and “resilient”.

“There continues to be significant change across the energy sector, but also opportunities for responsibly-minded businesses to contribute positively to its direction in the interests of customers and investors alike.”

Fellow supplier Scottish Power also shed customers, according to first half results posted by parent company Iberdrola. The firm said challenging conditions in the UK and Spain, including warmer weather and less rain, hit group earnings.

See SSE’s statement here.

See Iberdrola’s results here.

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