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Citizens Advice: smart meter 2020 rollout deadline ‘unfeasible’

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Charity Citizens Advice is calling for the government’s 2020 smart meter roll-out target to be extended by three years, as the latest government figures show falling installation rates.

During the first quarter of 2019, just over a million smart meters were installed by large energy suppliers. This broke down as 574,000 electricity meters and 458,000 gas meters over the three-month period, representing a 6.7 per cent decrease compared with the previous quarter.

It also represents a 17 per cent drop in comparison to the same period in 2018.

The figures follow a recent survey carried out by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which estimated that only 35 per cent of consumers use a smart meter.

Citizens Advice, which describes itself as a consumer watchdog for energy, believes the government is set to fall short of its 2020 smart meter roll-out target.

“The government’s last cost-benefit analysis anticipated that 15 million meters would need to be installed this year. In order to hit that target, suppliers will need to install meters around three times faster than they did in the first quarter,” said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.

“Smart meters are critical to modernising our energy infrastructure and we’re all paying for the rollout through our bills. A rush to install meters to hit the 2020 deadline risks giving customers a poor experience and undermining people’s faith in this important technology,” she added.

In light of this, Citizens Advice believes the rollout deadline should be extended by a further three years to 2023 and is calling for the government to publish up-to-date information on the costs and benefits of the programme.