10mn meters – long road ahead for smart roll-out

Our latest Domestic Smart Metering Market report, published last week, shows 10mn domestic smart meters had been installed by the end of 2017. Although this is a significant milestone, and the rate of installations has increased, there is a long way to go for the smart meter roll-out.

As the chart below shows, if we are to meet the 2020 target, the rate of installations will have increase to a greater degree than it has been. Back in 2011, when the roll-out was very much in its infancy, suppliers had over six seconds on average to install every meter, or a target of 600 installs per hour. This was a big challenge, but it is growing – despite increased installation rates, suppliers now have on average less than 2.5 seconds to install each smart meter – that is over 1,500 meters per hour, and assumes a 24/7 roll-out.

Another challenge for suppliers is to engage their customers with smart metering – both before and after an installation. One tactic used is to provide incentives – both EDF Energy and First Utility have pursued this by offering their cheapest tariff in some regions to those that are willing to have a smart meter installed. However, there have been frequent media reports of suppliers “bullying” customers into agreeing to a smart meter through persistent communications, and surveys conducted in October and November 2017 suggested that as little as one-third of consumers are interested in having a smart meter installed.

There is evidence that customers engage and are aware of their usage post-installation, with Smart Energy GB research in October finding 86% of smart meter customers made energy saving changes. Additionally, in giving evidence to the BEIS Committee before Christmas, E.ON UK said net promoter score (NPS) for customers went up after a smart meter installation, specifically because the supplier can better inform them on how to reduce energy consumption.

There is clearly still a long way to go on the smart meter roll-out, and the issue of consumer engagement with the programme adds to the well documented problems of installer numbers, and SMETS2 meter availability.

Our latest Domestic Smart Metering Market report analyses individual supplier progress on the smart roll-out, as well as propositions and the latest on metering service providers. To find out more, please contact Tom Goswell at t.goswell@cornwall-insight.com or on 01603 959880.

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