Consumers should not be forced to take advanced SMETS2 meters until the devices are more reliable, according to a Conservative MP.

James Heappey, chair of the all-party parliamentary group for renewable and sustainability energy, told a meeting in the House of Commons on Tuesday (17 July) that there should be no “hiatus” in the rollout of smart meters because of the resulting risk of lost momentum in the programme.

He warned it would be premature to mandate the more sophisticated SMETS2 meters until they had been more thoroughly tested.

“I don’t think we should pause or force everyone over to SMETS2 when SMETS2 aren’t working because I think we’ve worked quite hard over the last few years to persuade Daily Mail readers that Putin’s not going to hack their toaster.

“What we don’t want is another consumer confidence issue to arise because SMETS2 meters are being forced on the market at pace.”

Shadow energy minister Alan Whitehead told the meeting, which was organised by the Energy Networks Association, that the government is likely to extend the deadline beyond which only fully interoperable SMETS2 meters can be installed.

Quizzed on whether the smart meter programme is heading for a car crash, he said: “It hasn’t crashed yet but the ingredients are all there.

“We are in a really bad position.”

He added: “It looks to me unlikely that we’re going to meet the 2020 target as a result and that is a potentially serious problem in terms of some of the basic architecture we’re going to need,” he said, adding that production of meters would not be able to keep up with the pace of installation that would be required to meet the target.

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

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) plans to push the end date back to 5 December 2018.

BEIS said the priority of the smart meter rollout is to put “consumers first”. It revealed more than 400,000 smart meters are being installed every month.

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