The rate of smart meters being installed as part of the UK-wide rollout has been labelled as “alarming” by consumer group Which?.

In total 1,128,000 domestic smart meters have been installed by large energy suppliers in the third quarter of 2018 (495,400 gas and 632,600 electricity meters).

This represents a 10 per cent decrease in domestic smart meter installations by large suppliers compared to the previous quarter.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said:“It’s alarming that the rate of smart meter installations by large suppliers has dropped by around 1,500 per day, when the rollout has already been massively delayed.

“Amid concerns that the savings smart meters could bring consumers are at risk, this is yet further evidence that the government urgently needs to replan the rollout with industry and consumer groups to ensure people get the maximum benefit at the minimum cost.”

Almost 12.8 million smart meters are in operation, the latest figures from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) show.

The latest quarterly report shows a 6 per cent increase from the previous quarter, with a total of 12.76 smart and advanced meters operational.

During the third quarter, 19,300 smart and advanced meters were installed in smaller non-domestic sites by large energy suppliers (of which 15,000 were advanced meters and the rest smart meters).

This shows an 11 per cent increase in non-domestic installations compared to the previous quarter.

To date, around 14.70 million smart and advanced meters have been installed in homes and businesses across Great Britain by both large and small energy suppliers – around 13.64 million (93 per cent) of these were installed in domestic properties and just over one million in smaller non-domestic sites.

Research recently published by Which? suggested larger energy suppliers need to triple their current rate of smart meter installation to hit a target of replacing all existing meters by 2020.

The consumer association said larger suppliers would need to install 30 smart meters a minute, every day, for the next two years, to fully replace the 46 million existing meters UK customers have and meet their targets as part of the £11 billion rollout programme.

Furthermore a report recently released by the National Audit Office (NAO) warned that the government’s original ambition of offering a smart meter to every home by 2020 will not be met, whilst the cost of the rollout will likely “escalate beyond initial expectations”.

The government also “underestimated” how long it would take to implement the infrastructure of SMETS2 smart meter devices, according to the spending watchdog.

Over 7 million more SMETS1 devices have been installed than was planned, presenting the rollout with significant challenges.

In response to today’s (29 November) published figures Robert Cheesewright, director of corporate affairs at Smart Energy GB, said: “Almost 12.8 million smart meters have now been installed in Britain, as we upgrade our energy network and move on from an outdated, inefficient analogue system into a modern, connected grid.

“Millions of people are benefiting from having a smart meter, which is giving them control over their energy spending, saving them money on their bills and helping them play their part in tackling climate change.”

Next week will see the 5 December deadline for the installation of first generation energy smart meters (SMETS1).

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