The industry must avoid any hiatus in the smart meter rollout programme when installation of the SMETS1 devices ends in mid-March, Energy UK’s director of regulation has told MPs.
In a letter to Rachel Reeves, chair of the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee, Audrey Gallagher writes that the industry body’s “immediate priority” vis-à-vis the smart meter programme is to avoid any pause resulting from the end date for installing the less sophisticated devices on 15 March.
The letter addresses outstanding points following the committee’s hearing into the National Audit Office’s recent report on the rollout of the smart meter programme.
A hiatus, which could be caused by a shortage of SMETS2 meters available for prepayment or in certain geographical locations in the northern communications network area, could result in engineers being stood down and customers missing out on smart benefits, she writes.
Gallagher adds that the continued rollout of smart meters is “essential” with suppliers taking all “reasonable steps; to install a smart meter in every home and business, not simply offer one.”
In her letter, Gallagher also expresses agreement with the committee’s concern that it is “unacceptable” that 30 per cent of customers cannot recall having received energy efficiency advice when their smart meters were installed even though the rate is much higher at some suppliers.
“It is clear that not all are performing at the levels they should be to ensure consumers obtain the full benefits of the smart rollout,” Gallagher writes, adding that Energy UK is leading on work with its members to share learning and best practice in the area.
She also confirms that all of Energy UK’s supplier members also use the Energy Efficiency Advice toolkit developed by the BEIS department.
In separate correspondence with Reeves, Rob Salter-Church, director of retail systems transformation at Ofgem has identified SSE as the best supplier at providing customers with energy efficiency advice when carrying out smart meter installations.
Out of the customers who have had a smart meter installed by SSE, 89 per cent recalled being offered advice on energy efficiency, he writes, the highest proportion of any supplier.
And Salter-Church writes that EDF has increased its recall rates on energy efficiency advice to 83 per cent.
He writes that both suppliers have shown improvements in the proportion of their customers who recall being offered energy efficiency advice when they have a smart meter installed.
The Ofgem director had been pressed to reveal the names of the two companies by Reeves who criticised him for not having the facts at his fingertips when he gave evidence to the committee at the hearing into smart meters.