Small supplier Avro Energy could be banned from taking on new customers if it has not become a Data Communications Company (DCC) user by the end of May.
Ofgem proposes to issue Avro Energy with a “final order” due to it being in breach of the requirement to become a Data Communications Company (DCC) user.
All suppliers were required to become DCC users by 25 November 2017 to help drive the installation of next generation SMETS2 meters.
The supplier failed to become a user by the deadline and is still not a user, Ofgem confirmed today (8 March).
The requirement forms part of the obligation of suppliers to “take all reasonable steps” to rollout smart meters to all their domestic and small business customers by the end of 2020.
Avro Energy submitted a plan to become compliant by 25 July 2019, but to “avoid the risk of harm to consumers”, Ofgem is proposing to issue the final order to Avro Energy to become a DCC user by that date.
Customers with a DCC-connected smart meter who switch to Avro Energy will lose the functionality of their smart meter, and existing customers with smart meters will remain without smart functionality for longer than necessary.
These smart meters will operate as “traditional meters” with customers needing to provide manual meter readings and unable to access the full benefits of smart meters.
“This can cause consumer detriment and could undermine consumer confidence in the smart meter programme and the switching process,” Ofgem said.
The ban on taking on new customers would remain in place until Avro Energy becomes a member of the DCC, if it fails to do so by the May deadline.
Ofgem will consult on the final order for 21 days before it decides whether to issue Avro Energy with it.
The regulator said the proposed customer ban is “timed to coincide with the initial phase of enrolment” of the first generation of smart meters (SMETS1 meters) to the DCC communications network.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy gave the directive for suppliers to become a DCC user on 25 November 2016, with companies being required to do so a year later.
Avro Energy scored 2.75 stars out of five in the most recent Citizens Advice star rating table, which ranks the customer service of energy suppliers.
Avro Energy has been contacted for comment.