New smart meter target still a 'significant challenge'

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Cornwall Insight is calling for suppliers to maintain focus on their smart meter rollouts to meet the new installation goal from BEIS.

Last week, BEIS issued plans to set new binding annual smart meter installation milestones for suppliers, culminating in the requirement for each supplier to meet a minimum 85% coverage level by 31 December 2024. However, this is by no means a reprieve for suppliers, with figures from Cornwall Insight showing that an installation would need to take place every seven seconds for smart meters to be in 85% of homes by 2024.

Rowan Hazell, analyst at Cornwall Insight, said: “This move by the government is a sensible one and clearly recognises that the rollout of smart meters will continue past the original 2020 deadline. However, these new obligations should not be treated as an extension to the current deadline, and Ofgem is still likely to take a hard line on those whom it deems to have not taken all reasonable steps to install meters by the end of 2020.

“The flexibility of the all reasonable steps framework will be superseded with a much more structured framework with binding installation milestones that will need to be met each year. This means that suppliers will need to maintain their focus on their smart meter rollout, with no room for back-ending their rollout delivery to the 2024 deadline.

“Although the new 2024 target might seem more manageable on paper, it is still likely to be a significant challenge. Installation rates have fallen for the fourth consecutive quarter due to issues surrounding the transition to the newer SMETS2 meters, and this trend will need to be reversed with the installation rate picking up considerably if the 2024 ambition is to be achieved.”