The level of second-generation smart meter installations has risen to over 176,000, according to a government report.

The annual progress report on the smart meter programme, published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the run up to Christmas, says that more than 176,000 gas and electricity SMETS2 meters were connected to the Data Communications Company’s (DCC) system by the end of November last year.

It says this figure, which is based on industry information, marks a “significant increase” in the installation of the more sophisticated devices from the start of 2018.

In August last year, energy minister Claire Perry told parliament that the level of installations of the SMETS2 meters, which are fully interoperable and allow customers to switch from one supplier to another without losing smart functionality, was just 2,000.

But Utility Week reported in November that this number had already increased to 140,000, based on an industry source with the number of installations rising to 4,000 per day.

And Perry the said during BEIS question time on 20 November that nearly 100,000 SMETS2 meters had been installed.

The government and the DCC, which supplies the infrastructure that enables the meters to communicate with energy suppliers and network operators, have targeted the rollout of a quarter of a million SMETS2 devices by the end of last year.

The progress report also states that the enrolment of the relatively primitive SMETS1 devices into the national smart metering communications infrastructure will be underway in 2019, prioritising the return of smart functionality to those meters that lost it when consumers switched suppliers.

And it says the government expects to decide in 2019 on the activation of the “New and Replacement Obligation” under which energy suppliers will be required to take all reasonable steps to install a compliant smart meter where a meter is installed for the first time, like in new build properties, or where it is being replaced.

The progress report also states the government’s commitment this year to update the cost-benefit analysis for the smart meter programme, last refreshed in 2016.

The BEIS progress report follows the publication of a damning report in November by the National Audit Office which warned that the government would not meet its target to ensure that every home is offered a smart meter by the end of next year.