The British government recently stated that the original plan to cost 11 billion pounds to complete the installation of smart meters for households and small businesses in 2020 has been revised and evaluated, and it has been determined that it will be postponed to 2024 and the total cost will increase by more than 2 billion pounds.
“Financial Times” recently reported that the obstacles to the full deployment of smart meters for homes and small businesses in the United Kingdom are “unexpected.” The possibility of full deployment in the year was almost zero, but the British government turned a deaf ear to it at the time.
Today, NAO’s warning has finally become a reality, and the market is deeply concerned about the possibility that “increased costs may be passed on to consumers through electricity bills”. However, NAO estimates that after deducting the cost of installing smart meters, users can save less than £11 a year in fuel costs, and long-term users will also benefit from tailor-made packages that can provide price discounts during low-demand periods such as weekends.
According to the announcement issued by the British Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the total cost of the refurbishment of the full deployment of smart meters for homes and small businesses in the UK has risen from the estimated 11 billion pounds in 2016 to 13.4 billion pounds, and the goal is to be by the end of 2024. , 85% of households in the UK use smart meters, users can refuse to install but must point out the reason, and energy suppliers must complete the installation task before this, otherwise they will face penalties.
According to the original plan, the United Kingdom will complete the deployment and installation of a total of 53 million smart meters in 30 million households and small businesses by 2020. However, as of June 30 this year, only 14.9 million smart meters have been put into use in the United Kingdom, which is in line with the planned target. The total installed volume of 53 million is a far cry. Some analysts pointed out that although some energy suppliers “mandatory” the installation of smart meters for customers, they still cannot meet the 2020 set targets.
Lord Duncan, the UK’s climate change minister, said: “We have always hoped that smart meters will be installed in every household before the end of next year, but it seems that it may fail. However, in order to ensure greater benefits for families and reduce emissions, we propose to Begin to set more stringent annual installation targets for energy suppliers in 2021, and strictly control their installation processes.”
The Office of Natural Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), the UK energy regulator, will be responsible for overseeing the installation process of smart meters for energy suppliers, requiring them to take “all reasonable steps” to complete the new task, that is, at least 85% of household users will use it by the end of 2024 Smart meter.
Smart meters are “not smart”
The “unintelligence” of smart meters is the main reason for the delay in the overall deployment plan in the UK. BBC News pointed out that British energy suppliers and consumers believe that smart meters have not yet reached the technical standards for full deployment. This seems to be “wishful thinking” by the government.
It is understood that there are currently two forms of smart meters in the UK: the first generation SMETS1 and the second generation SMETS2. Compared with SMETS2, whose technology has been updated and improved, SMETS1 is more stable but has system vulnerabilities such as “unintelligence”. The current situation is that British household users would rather continue to use SMETS1 and refuse to change to SMETS2. The reason is nothing more than two generations of electricity meters. Each has its own problems. Consumers’ confidence has fallen sharply, and they have “more than enough energy but not enough energy” for smart power.
SMETS1 is generally bound to fixed energy suppliers. Once users change to a new energy supplier, SMETS1 will “stop working” and lose its “smart” function and no doubt that ordinary electricity meters. According to NAO’s statistics, there are already 90,000 SMETS1s in the first batch of SMETS1 in the UK due to the replacement of energy suppliers by household users. Although the usage is still measured, users have to manually send meter readings to the new supplier.
Although SMETS2 has solved the problem of “change of energy supplier affects usage”, there are still 8 energy suppliers who continue to install SMETS1 for their customers on the grounds that “the network is not reliable enough and cannot switch customers”, especially in the north of England. Compared with Scotland. “If the second-generation instrument can be installed and debugged reliably, we will do so.” An insider from an unnamed energy supplier revealed, “The second-generation system still has serious connection problems and is pay-as-you-go. Of customers have provided extremely poor service.”
In addition, SMETS2 is still difficult to apply to the coldest areas in the UK on a large scale, despite the relatively greater energy demand in this area.
Citizens Advice, a British consumer rights organization, pointed out that extending the full deployment period of smart meters is very meaningful, which will free up more time for energy suppliers to solve ongoing technical problems and ensure that customers will not be caused by the installation process. Other extra troubles.
User confidence is “difficult to reshape”
“The public’s confidence in smart meters has been’seriously damaged’. The UK should seize the opportunity to rebuild trust, especially to resolve the issue of’changing suppliers will not affect the use of smart meters’ as soon as possible.” Consumer-centric Britain Rid Neudegg, head of the supervision department of USwitch, a price comparison service company, said frankly.
USwitch conducted a new survey of 2011 UK smart meter users. The results show that as many as one-third of UK households have problems with smart meters. Nearly 40% of users have problems with their displays or fail to work or cannot work at all. 32% of users are “unsmart” after switching energy providers, and 13% The user’s smart meter has completely ceased operation.
In addition, about 20% of consumers are still using the “old meter”, namely SMETS1. Among the users who have changed to SMETS2, one third of them have experienced equipment failures of varying degrees.
Although Ofgem does not mandate the replacement of smart meters, more than 22% of respondents still feel the pressure to switch to smart meters, and 53% of respondents believe that their energy suppliers have failed to fully explain smart meter technology The advantages. The installation of smart meters by energy suppliers without permission has dropped sharply, from 11% in 2018 to 5% in 2019.
The USwitch survey found that 22% of consumers said they adjusted their laundry hours through smart meters, saving about £108 in living expenses each year. USwitch energy expert Rik Smith said: “Using smart meters to replace traditional gas meters and electricity meters is an important energy infrastructure upgrade in the UK, which can improve energy usage habits and help consumers save bills, but there are still too many problems with full deployment. These problems Consumers’ confidence and patience are constantly being consumed.”