Smart Energy International | COVID-19 threatens GB smart meter rollout plans

To address the COVID-19 pandemic, the GB government introduced social distancing measures on 15 March, before moving to a lockdown on 23 March. While Ofgem initially said that non-essential smart metering installations could continue, the rollout almost immediately ground to a halt, with the energy trade association Energy UK announcing that all of its members would only be undertaking installations in emergencies. Many companies put smart meter installers on temporary furlough leave, with some employees losing their jobs completely.

According to BEIS statistics, the first quarter (January – March) of 2020 saw a 15% decrease in smart meter installations when compared to the previous quarter, which BEIS said was largely attributable to the impact of COVID-19. Data published by Electralink shows social distancing and lockdown measures coinciding with a rapid decline in installations, dropping from between 11,000-12,000 every weekday until mid-March, to well below 500 installations a day at the end of March.

The majority of these installations are likely to be emergencies where the installation of a new meter is the only way to restore a customer’s energy supply.

As lockdown measures start to ease, there have been reports of installations starting to begin again, although the long-term impact is uncertain. The enrolment of SMETS1 meters into the DCC systems, for the most part, is done remotely. So, the restoration of smart services for affected customers should be less impacted by the pandemic.

Smart Energy International