The smart meter rollout should be seen as an opportunity to “engage with efficiency” as opposed to a mandated scheme, Ovo Energy’s head of data and analytics has warned.

Speaking at a seminar on the smart meter rollout at Utility Week Live in Birmingham on Tuesday afternoon (22 May) Katie Russell was asked about how the industry should get more energy customers on board in order to complete the rollout by the 2020 deadline.

Russell said: “I think we have to stop seeing the rollout as something that is mandated to suppliers, we have got to see it as an opportunity to engage with efficiency.

“We trained a whole fleet of installers so that we could get ahead on smart metering because we saw the benefit.

“Until we start recognising that there is a benefit rather than it just being something we are mandated to do, we won’t move fast enough.

“Interoperability is absolutely key. The media has been a real challenge, sharing news stories about meters that go dumb. So the sooner the DCC can get interoperatiblity working for all meters, SMETS1 and SMETS2, the better.

“Customers do have a choice, they don’t have to take a meter which isn’t going to work when they switch supplier and we can only do our best to inform them on that so that they can make a good choice.”

The smart meter rollout has been plagued with issues since its conception and national media reports have frequently lambasted suppliers, installers and the government over issues such as the lack of interoperability for first-generation (SMETS1) devices when customers switch suppliers.

A recent survey from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy revealed that only 35 per cent of consumers own a smart meter.

Earlier this week the Data Communications Company (DCC), the organisation responsible for migrating the SMETS1 devices onto its central network, said one million SMETS2 meters have now been installed.