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UK smart meter program faces technical delays: report

Iain Morris
December 2, 2014

UK plans for the rollout of smart meters could be hit by technical delays, potentially jeopardizing the government target of getting a smart meter installed in every premise by 2020.

According to a recent report from the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, Data Communications Company (DCC) – which is responsible for developing the communications system that will be used in smart meter devices – has issued a warning that its technology will not be ready quickly enough.

There is “no feasible way to maintain the timescales of the current … plan,” said the company in a statement, according to the Telegraph report.

DCC (London, UK) is said to have blamed government officials for changing technical specifications after work had begun, forcing it to redesign parts of the system.

It has suggested delaying the start date for the smart meter rollout to October 2016, from the current target of late 2015, and says the changes will result in another £90 million in costs.

The smart meter program has already been hit by delays because of earlier problems with the communications system.

Under the original plans, work on the main installation was due to begin in the summer and be finished by 2019.

According to the Telegraph, one industry source has said the new delay “almost guarantees that the 2020 target becomes impossible to meet”.

More than one million meters have been rolled out so far, but if customers with smart meters change energy providers before the communications system is ready the devices could malfunction, according to the report.

That system is required to ensure that meters are able to send data from households across the UK.

The government scheme requires smart meters to be installed in every home and small business, and expects customers to bear the costs of the deployment.

Officials reckon the devices will lead to cost savings and other benefits for energy users.
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