The government is pushing back the full-scale roll out of smart meters across the UK to 2015, the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change Ed Davey announced on 10 May.

Smart meters, proposed as a way to help cut consumer bills and improve energy efficiency, were to be rolled out across the UK next year. However, the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has now said that this will not take place until autumn 2015, with completion of the scheme put off from 2019 to 2020.

Davey said in a written ministerial statement that the delay is due to the industry needing more time to design, build and test the communications system required.

The smart electricity and gas meters will show exactly how much gas and electricity is being used in real time, which it is hoped will bring an end to estimated bills, as the technology will send accurate meter readings to an energy company every day.

“The roll-out of smart gas and electricity meters is expected to deliver significant economic benefits and, more widely, to improve the consumer experience and engagement with the energy market, for example by making switching between suppliers quicker and easier,” said Davey.

“Smart meters are becoming available to more and more people - removing estimated bills and giving customers better information to manage their energy consumption and choose the right tariffs for them. The Coalition is committed to making smart meters available to everyone as soon as possible.”

Industry has told government that they expect to roll out in excess of 2 million compliant smart meters to customers over the next two years of the Foundation Stage of the smart metering roll out.

“Getting this right for consumers is the government’s priority and this package of proposals will give consumers and industry the confidence they need for a successful roll out,” Davey added.

The British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers Association (BEAMA) agreed that the postponement of the full-scale roll out will allow sufficient time for all the industry players to develop and test the systems required to make the rollout a complete success.

“The decisions and proposals issued by DECC on supporting smart meter rollouts under the Foundation Stage will, we believe, lead to more smart metering systems being deployed over the next two years, allowing more consumers to experience the benefits at an earlier stage,” said a BEAMA spokesperson. “It also allows for the gathering of essential experience from the Foundation Stage.”