The deadline for the installation of the first generation of energy smart meters (SMETS1) faces yet another extension as the government consults on plans to move the end date back by eight weeks.

In January the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) pushed the 13 July end date back to 5 October 2018 and it now plans to increase this by a further two months to 5 December 2018.

BEIS has launched a six-week consultation with the industry and said the priority of the smart meter rollout is to put “consumers first”.

A spokesperson from BEIS, said: “While energy suppliers have started rolling out second generation smart meters to their customers, we want to ensure a smooth transition for consumers, so we are consulting on extending the deadline for first generation installations.”

The government department outlined more than 400,000 smart meters are being installed every month.

Energy suppliers and the Data and Communications Company (DCC) – the communications network for smart meters – will be allowed an extra two months to complete the final testing of second generation smart meters (SMETS2) for credit customers, ahead of moving to a full-scale rollout.

The consultation also proposes to modify the smart metering regulatory framework to allow for the SMETS1 end date to be split by the meter type being replaced. It proposes that non-smart, prepayment meters replaced with SMETS1 meters have a later end date (15 March 2019).

Enrolment of SMETS1 meters into the DCC is planned to start by the end of this year. Consumers with these types of meters will not lose “smart” functionality when they switch suppliers after enrolment into the DCC, BEIS confirmed.

Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Smart Energy GB, said: “The smart system is so much better than the outdated analogue technology we have in our homes.

“Some people with first generation smart meters have had problems maintaining smart functionality when switching energy suppliers, but it’s important to remember this is a temporary issue and that a smart meter will never stop you switching to your chosen provider.

“Starting later this year, the government’s plan is for all first-generation smart meters to be enrolled into the national communications network, where they will become interoperable between suppliers.”

Figures released by BEIS in March reveal there are now more than 11 million smart and advanced meters operating across homes and businesses in Great Britain.

Ministers set a target of the end of 2020 for every home to be offered a smart meter. This year was meant to see the first big push to rollout more advanced SMETS2 meters.

The consultation also seeks views on a proposed new Advanced Meter Exception end date, and on moving back the timeframe of the derogations from the SMETS1 end date already granted to qualifying energy suppliers.

In a letter to energy companies on 3 July, the government said: “Whilst the industry transition to SMETS2 has now started in earnest, our analysis suggests that the energy suppliers accounting for the majority of smart meter deployments will not be in a position to complete their transition at full scale by an end date of 5 October 2018, as previously indicated.”

Duncan Carter, smart metering strategy manager at Co-operative Energy, formerly smart metering at Ofgem, Tweeted: “Government consults (again) on SMETS1 end date. This is the 5th extension to the end date. In July 2015 the SMETS1 end date was August 2017. In December 2015 it moved to October 2017; in August 2017, it was July 2018. In January 2018 it was October 2018.”

Responses to the consultation should be submitted by 2pm on 14 August.