Smart metering

The smart meter project has come under increasing scrutiny, with the deadline to offer one to every home just over a year away. All eyes are now on the new government's approach to the project and when a new deadline is likely to be set.

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Business utilities provider Yu Group has revealed it will launch its own metering services company after acquiring smart meter installer Magnum Utilities. Bolton-based Magnum, which also specialises in electric vehicle chargepoint installations, went into administration as a result of its clients entering the Supplier of Last Resort process.
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More than 20 million smart meters have been connected to Britain’s national network, the Data Communications Company (DCC) has revealed. The DCC said the Midlands has been the fastest region to take up the technology with North Kesteven in Lincolnshire becoming the first area to reach a more than 60% take-up of smart meters.
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Marred by connectivity issues and a lack of consumer interest, there are still 50% of properties without a smart meter more than a decade into the rollout and the chances of completing the project by 2025 now seem remote. Should the rollout be handed over to the networks as a ‘plan B’? Or should the devices remain optional for consumers but with greater incentives? And will the deployment ever actually end? Utility Week asks the experts.
Analysis
There is a whole world of unknown about to come into the UK Utilities market following the significant price cap increase in April. This isn’t just limited to energy as consumers struggle with household bills across the board. Subsequently, water suppliers have already seen an uptick in customer contact and we expect to see this across the utilities sector in the coming months.
Market insight
Energy retailers have raised concerns about their ability to participate in Market-wide Half-Hourly Settlement and have requested the design phase be pushed back by several months. Utility Week understands two change requests have been raised to amend the delivery approach for completing the design phase of the programme, with one asking for a delay from April until November.
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Mandating landlords to install smart meters in the properties they manage could help the UK reach its smart meter target, an energy chief has suggested. Philippe Commaret, managing director of EDF Energy’s retail business, was speaking on the first day of Utility Week’s customer summit and talked about the issues facing the smart meter rollout.
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Official government statistics have revealed that smart and advanced meters made up 50% of all operational energy meters by the end of 2021 - a seven percentage point increase from a year before. Annual installations rose by 19% to 3.8 million but remained below pre-Covid levels.
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Ombudsman Services is seeing a trend of increasing smart meter complaints, its chief executive has told Utility Week. Matthew Vickers said smart meter complaints have been increasing "both in number and proportion," with customers reporting more problems about connectivity as opposed to cancelled appointments as they have done in the past.
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Address management has always been a surprisingly and fiendishly difficult task for utilities, with considerable risk involved in getting it wrong. With next-day switching requirements imminent, and a slew of UK supplier collapses creating more bulk switching events, the pressure is on utilities now more than ever to get a handle on the crucial operational issue.
Market insight
Smart electricity meter installations for January 2022 were down by a quarter compared to the same month in 2020, latest figures show. However, the 185,000 installations last month represented a 24% increase on January 2021 when the UK was in the midst of a national lockdown.
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Installations of smart electricity meters rose by 21% in 2021 to more than 2.4 million, Electralink’s latest figures have revealed. It follows a 27% drop due the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 when installations numbered just shy of 2 million – the lowest number since 2016.
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Smart Metering Systems (SMS) has partnered with the Alternative Home Area Network Company to test solutions to the problem of smart meter communication blackspots in customers' homes.  There are up to a million households in the UK where the components of Home Area Networks, which include energy meters, in-home displays and communications hubs, are unable to communicate properly.
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