An update on the smart meter rollout, April 2019

Greg Jackson, Tech

3rd February 2019

**April update** The Smart Meter Programme is in transition, and I wanted to be upfront about what's happening.

I blogged in February about our smart meter situation, and wanted to update customers on the latest status.

In short… we’re currently installing smart meters for priority customers, and hope to re-start the full scale rollout in late April for “The South” and late May for “The North”.

When I say priority customers, all customers are a priority – but in this case it’s those who urgently need a smart meter (such as customers with physical requirements that make reading traditional meters difficult), and those who are signing up to tariffs which require them (Agile, Go and Outgoing).

A bit more detail…

The government mandated that as of March 15th only SMETS2 meters will count towards our “rollout obligations”. This means that we risk being fined for installing SMETS1s, and that it’s hard for us to fund SMETS1s because the firms who fund them are worried that a future supplier may choose to meet its obligation by swapping SMETS1 for SMETS2.

However, SMETS2 is just not fully ready for universal rollout – and SMETS1 are getting close to being upgraded so that they will be almost functionally equivalent to SMETS2. The key difference is that SMETS1 don’t always currently stay smart when you switch supplier, but that should be sorted within a year or so (SMETS1s will automagically get this capability – it doesn’t need an engineer to visit or anything like that).

We ordered SMETS2 meters about 6 months ago, from one of the major manufacturers. At the time, they’d been lab tested but not extensively tested in the field (it wasn’t possible to field test then because the meters couldn’t yet fully connect with DCC, the data company at the core of SMETS2). In the intervening period, they – along with almost all others – were deemed to fail some technical tests which impacted the reliability of signal. So these, like most other manufacturers, were delayed as they worked to amend the issues.

However, we were lucky enough to meet a manufacturer whose meters were certified and they kindly let us have a few batches of meters which had been earmarked for another supplier. These are our initial SMETS2 meters for the South. Without this, we’d have been further delayed as, along with most other suppliers, we’d be waiting for new batches from factories.

So I’m delighted that we’re regaining some lost ground with these meters, and can see that we have a reasonable chance of getting back up to full speed over the next couple of months.

Until then, we have a waiting list for non-urgent customers, and for those with urgent need we’ll fit a SMETS2 where possible otherwise a SMETS1. Join the waiting list here, or get in touch with us if you urgently need a smart meter installed now.

Below is my original blog from February 2019.

The Smart Meter Programme is in transition, and I wanted to be upfront about what's happening.

In short: for February, March and maybe a bit longer, we are not able to install smart meters as effectively as we were doing until now.

So far, we've been installing meters to the government's "SMETS1" standard. These meters do all the stuff we expect of smart meters, but currently don't always stay smart when you switch energy supplier. Increasingly, this is less of a problem, as suppliers have created solutions that enable them to stay smart more and more often; and within around 18 months, we expect the government to have upgraded its switching company, DCC, to enable SMETS1 meters to work reliably after switching suppliers.

As of 15th March 2019 SMETS1 meters are no longer considered Ofgem compliant as the government forges on with its SMETS2 rollout.

These meters are designed to stay smart when you switch from the moment they are installed. However, SMETS2 meters have been subject to a number of delays and are not yet fully available, and it's fair to say that whilst SMETS2 is an upgrade, it's still very new and so the tech is still not quite as smooth to install as SMETS1. We placed contracts for SMETS2 meters months ago, but have been advised that delivery dates are not being met for us or other suppliers. All of this is temporary - and we and the government and all the rest of the smart meter supply chain are working hard to rapidly get SMETS2 to the right position.

As a result, we have a temporary period when we are taking a much reduced number of bookings for smart meter installation, and are uncertain about exactly when we will be back up to speed.

During this period we are taking the following approach:

  1. Temporarily suspending any more smart meter bookings for dates after March 15th because we cannot be sure what quantity of SMETS2 meters we will have available
  2. Prioritising SMET1 installs prior to then for people with additional needs (emergencies, inability to read a meter, mobility issues, etc.) and those who've chosen tariffs which can only supplied with a smart meter (Go, Agile)
  3. Honouring existing bookings after March 15, and installing whichever meter type is a better fit for the property, case-by-case. Which means some people might have a SMETS1 meter installed after the March 15th deadline. Not ideal, but we have to do what's right for customers.

As a company at the cutting edge of smart tariffs and technology, this temporary situation is as painful for us as it is for customers who want clarity. The smart meter transition is a colossal government programme and this transition period, which will be short, is a consequence. However, we are now, as a nation, very close to realising the massive opportunities opened up by smart meters... and that'll be a very good thing.

Hey! Just so you know, your device is fully charged and you're still charging it. Removing the charger will avoid degrading your battery 😊