UK authorities have extended the deadline for installing smart meters in homes and businesses throughout the country, and delayed the start of the program by a year.
Utility companies were originally expected to have finished installing smart meters in the UK’s 30 million homes by the end of 2019, but will now have until the end of 2020 to complete the rollout.
Moreover, the £11.7 billion ($17.9 billion) program is now scheduled to start in the autumn of 2015 instead of the summer of next year.
In a statement on its website, the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) said it was forced to delay the program after representatives of the energy industry requested more time for the “design, build and test phases”.
“The consistent message was that more time was needed if the mass roll-out was to get off to the best possible start,” said the DECC.
“I want to ensure that consumers have a good experience of smart metering from day one,” said Energy and Climate Change Minister Baroness Verma. “That’s why we are allowing additional time for the energy suppliers to complete the rollout, so industry has the time to get it right for consumers.”
Despite the delays, authorities say most homes and businesses stand to benefit before the end of 2020.
“I expect the vast majority of smart meters to be in place against the original 2019 deadline,” said Ed Davey, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on Smart Metering.
Authorities expect the smart-meter program to deliver significant economic benefits.
Last year, a study carried out by Oxford Economics and British Gas (Staines, UK) estimated that the installation of smart meters will lead to savings of approximately £14bn between 2012 and 2030, equating to an average saving per household of about £65 a year.
Price comparison website Uswitch.com reportedly expressed disappointment at news of the delay given the cost savings that consumers will be able to enjoy once installation is complete.