The delay in smart metering had been widely discussed in the industry already, so the announcement from DECC wasn’t surprising. It was also widely welcomed.
While a lot of work has been done to prepare, it is right to compare the rollout to creating the internet. Imagine the TV digital switchover but where rather than people being able to go out and change-over necessary equipment to manage the switchover themselves, an engineer has to go into every property and physically replace equipment.
The decision to delay the rollout of smart meters is the right one given the extent of the technical and logistical challenges the programme must overcome. Such a level of consumer engagement and also the physical act of replacing old meters with smart ones is complex and the timetable is always going to be an ambitious one.
While the network operators are not rolling out the meters themselves, they are critical to its success. Customers will want their meters changed when they’re at home, in the evening, out of normal working hours – this will require planning. An efficient rollout, which does not overall inconvenience homeowners, is vital to a positive customer experience.
There are massive benefits for UK Plc and customers from the delivery of smart meters and the development of a smart grid. Those can only be realised with customers who are bought into the process. All eyes on the government and suppliers to ensure they’re aware of what is happening.