The UK energy regulator Ofgem are considering banning Avro Energy from taking on any new customers over its failure to meet a smart meter deadline.
The energy firm have been warned by the watchdog that they must sign up to the smart meter wireless network by the end of May or they will be hit with the ban. All gas and electricity suppliers in the UK had been required to become members of the Data Communication Company by November 25, 2017. However, Avro Energy had failed to do so.
The DCC is the operator that is setting up the infrastructure of the new technology. They are in control of designing, building and testing the smart meter system, and connecting the meters to the energy suppliers. The government plans for every household and small business in the UK to be offered a smart meter installation by the end of 2020.
Smart meters work by recording gas and electricity usage in a home and sending this data back to the energy supplier, who then bill the customer accordingly. Because of Avro Energy’s failure to comply with the requirement to sign up to the network, any customers with the supplier are unable to benefit from the smart functionality of the meters.
A statement from Ofgem said: “The particular behaviour of concern giving rise to the proposal to make a final order is that Avro failed to become a DCC user by the deadline and remains non-compliant. Should that continue, there is a likelihood of increasing numbers of customers with smart meters suffering harm by either switching to Avro and losing their smart functionality or, for existing customers, remaining without smart functionality longer than is necessary.”
The regulator said that Avro Energy customers would have to use their smart meters just like regular meters.
“These smart meters will operate as traditional meters with customers needing to provide manual meter readings and unable to access the full benefits of smart meters,” said Ofgem. “This can cause consumer detriment and could undermine consumer confidence in the smart meter programme and the switching process.”
Ofgem has said that if Avro Energy have not become a member of the DCC by May 26, then they will be banned from taking on any new customers. The ban would last until they eventually sign up. The final date they can sign up to the network is by July 25.
The chief executive of the charity Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, said: “Suppliers shouldn’t risk consumer confidence in the programme by giving their customers a sub-par experience. Smart meters are critical for the long-term development of our energy infrastructure and it is vital that we get it right.”
Avro Energy was launched in Warwickshire in December 2015 and aimed to make energy consumption simpler and fairer to disadvantaged energy consumers. They don’t impose exit fees on any of their tariffs, so customers are free to compare prices and switch suppliers if they want to.