The government has extended the deadline for the installation of the first generation of smart meters, SMETS1 by three months.
The original end date for SMETS1 of 13 July 2018 has now been pushed back to 5 October 2018.
Ministers set a target of the end of 2020 for every home to be offered a smart meter, which the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said will not be affected by the push back.
So far 8.6 million SMETS1 meters have been installed. This year is meant to see the first big push to roll out more advanced SMETS2 meters, which do not have the interoperability problems of the older ones.
In a letter to energy companies on 18 January, the government said systems designed to handle the newer meters were not ready and it had decided to move back the cut off date for SMETS1 by 12 weeks.
The letter from Daron Walker, senior responsible owner, smart metering implementation programme also stated the Advanced Meter Exception (AME) end date will be moved back to 5 October.
He said it has become clear that despite “considerable efforts” no large energy supplier will be able to meet the original July deadline “without significant risk”.
Walker’s letter said: “Issues remain with some meters and there is insufficient time in most plans for controlled pilots to identify residual issues that could compromise full scale deployments if not identified and redressed.
“Consumers, and the reputation of smart metering, would bear the consequences of these risks materialising with the prospect of a slowdown in the rollout, or unsatisfactory installations for consumers, if SMETS2 systems were deployed before remaining issues were identified and resolved.”
He concluded: “I do not envisage any further movement in either the SMETS1 end date or AME end date and it is for energy suppliers to manage any remaining risks or emerging issues and to move over to SMETS2 meters by October 2018.”
A spokesperson for BEIS, told Utility Week: “We have taken this step to ensure that customers can continue to feel the benefits of smart meters and suppliers can be completely ready to roll out SMETS2. This will not affect the rollout of the programme, or the 2020 final deadline.
“Smart meters are a vital upgrade to our energy infrastructure and millions of people are already benefiting from them. They will provide accurate bills and save consumers £300 million in 2020 alone.”
Duncan Carter, smart metering strategy manager at Co-operative Energy, formerly smart metering at Ofgem, Tweeted: “Government extends #smartmeter SMETS1 end date by 12 weeks to 5 October 2018. Bad news for customers as SMETS1 meters are more expensive and won’t be fully interoperable until 2019 at the earliest.”