Harrington also tells Commons a decision on Swansea Bay is still pending

First generation smart meters should be fully inter-operable in about a year, enabling easy switching between suppliers, according to the energy minister Richard Harrington.

Customers with SMETS 1 meter will be able to access software so they can upgrade their devices, business and energy secretary of state Greg Clark told the House of Commons last month.

During business and energy ministers question time at the House of Commons this week, Harrington said: “The SMETS 2 programme involves complete compatibility between all the different meters, enabling people to switch. The current system that is being installed, SMETS 1, will be applicable for that in, we think, about a year, when the software allows that to happen.”

Harrington also told the Commons during the same question and answer session that a decision was still pending on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project, which was endorsed in a report carried out for the government by former energy minister Charles Hendry earlier this year.

Pointing to the estimated £50 billion cost of the project, Harrington said: “The costs of renewable energy are plummeting, and we need to consider the questions associated with deploying this technology in the marine environment.

“All programmes have to be considered with the following in mind: the cost, the export potential and the contribution to the green economy.”

And responding to concerns by Cumbrian MP John Woodcock that the UK’s exit from the Euratom had complicated efforts to rescue the Moorside nuclear plant, Harrington said that the UK’s withdrawal from the pan- European nuclear treaty was “not really relevant” to what he described as a “private commercial matter for Toshiba”.