Ofgem threatens Avro Energy with customer ban
Ofgem has threatened Avro Energy with a ban from taking on new customers if it has not signed up to a new smart meter wireless network by the end of May.
The energy watchdog warned that the restriction will continue until it has become a user of the Data Communication Company (DCC), the operator of the new smart meter infrastructure.
To accelerate the installation of the next generation of smart meters all energy suppliers were required to become DCC users by November 25, 2017, however Avro failed to meet the deadline and is still not a DCC user.
The measure was part of a larger project to roll-out smart meters to all consumer and small business customers across the UK by the end of 2020.
Ofgem said smart meters that do not have a DCC connection will operate as traditional meters with customers needing to provide manual meter readings and unable to access the benefits of the new smart meters.
It said this could “cause consumer detriment” and “undermine consumer confidence in the smart meter programme and the switching process”.
The energy regulator said Avro submitted a plan to become compliant by July 25, but to “avoid the risk of harm to consumers”, Ofgem is considering issuing a final order to the company to ensure it becomes DCC compliant by that date.
The final order will be consulted on for 21 days before Ofgem may issue it to Avro.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of charity Citizens Advice, said Avro’s failure to join the DCC means it is “unprepared” for the smart energy roll-out, leaving customers with first generation meters that will lose smart functionality if they switch suppliers.
“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.”
Ms Guy called on the Government to publish to a new cost-benefit analysis on the roll-out as there has been “substantial delays” and “costs are escalating”.