BBC Radio 4 Interview: The decline of smart meter installations

Robert Buckley, our Head of Retail and Relationship Development, spoke live on BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours programme about Cornwall Insight’s latest research on smart meters.

The research showed that to meet the 2020 deadline, the installation of smart meters would need to quadruple to reach the target; instead, the numbers of smart meters being fitted is starting to fall.

Discussing the low installation rate, Robert said, “It has tailed off due to the transition from the SMETS1 meters ­– the first version of the meters – to the new SMETS2 standard.” It was explained how we are in the thick of the transition period; however, once this is completed, the “roll-out should start to accelerate”.

The issues surrounding the SMETS1 connectivity and the remedies to combat were explored during the interview. Commenting on how the functionality will be restored, Robert said, “There will be a wave of software scheduled between now and the end of the year that should bring back the meters to full functionality.”

Going further Robert describes that there is still some anecdotal evidence that SMETS1 meters are being installed if it is in the reasonable interest of the customer, but he clarifies that this would not count towards the target.

The presenter Winifred Robinson read a statement from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) that told the programme how they are “now only committed to offering everybody a smart meter” rather than fitting every household with one.

However, Robert went on to explain how the pressure was still on suppliers to make all reasonable efforts to offer smart meters and despite the new tariffs and incentives from suppliers to encourage smart meter uptake, “it is getting harder for suppliers to engage consumers who haven’t yet got the meters”.

There is a long way to go to be able to meet the 2020 deadline, however smart data is going to be “absolutely key” for the homes of the future if the UK is serious about net zero.

Don’t worry if you missed it, you can catch the whole interview here, with the conversation starting at 34 minutes.