Suppliers will be obliged to take “all reasonable steps” to enrol SMETS1 meters in the Data Communication Company (DCC), or replace them with fully interoperable SMETS2 devices, under new government plans.

A consultation paper on the next steps for the smart meter implementation plan, published on 17 April by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), outlines the government’s plans to encourage the roll out of the fully interoperable SMETS2 meters.

While customers can continue to use SMETS2 devices even if they switch suppliers, the paper says that “less than half” of SMETS1 consumers switching energy suppliers have been able to retain smart services on their existing meter.

The government is proposing to introduce an obligation on energy suppliers to take “all reasonable steps” to enrol SMETS1 meters in the DCC within a “specified timeframe”.

As a back-stop, suppliers would be required to replace any SMETS1 device that has not been enrolled with a SMETS2 meter by the end of 2020 when the smart meter roll out is scheduled to end.

The paper says the DCC is currently procuring and testing a service which would allow for smart services to be retained after switching SMETS1 meters.

The paper proposes an alternative approach whereby suppliers could choose by the end of 2019 whether to use the DCC or an alternative solution to operate SMETS1 meters in smart mode.

However the consultation says this is not the government’s proposed option because it would frustrate efforts to achieve an “effective, market-wide solution to SMETS1 interoperability”.

It says requiring suppliers to use the DCC would maximise the use of existing infrastructure, while ensuring that all consumers with smart meters receive a smart service by the end of the rollout period in 2020.

“There is a strong rationale for introducing a requirement for energy suppliers to use the DCC’s enrolment service where it has eligible SMETS1 meters, or to replace SMETS1 meters with SMETS2 meters, within a specified timeframe,” the report says.

Energy minister Claire Perry recently told parliament that there are just 450 SMETS2 meters currently in operation of which only 80 are in ordinary homes.

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