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The Smart Meters Bill is a government bill which completed its stages in the House of Commons on 5 February 2018, and is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 13 March 2018.

The Bill has three main purposes:

  1. The extension of existing powers provided to the Secretary of State to develop, amend and oversee regulations related to the licensing of smart meters for gas and electricity usage.
  2. The introduction of a special administration regime for the national smart meter communication and data service provider (Smart DCC Ltd or ‘DCC’) in the event of its insolvency.
  3. The provision of new powers for Ofgem to directly modify industry codes and documents to deliver a market-wide half-hourly settlement which uses smart metering data.

The Government intends that every household and small business in the UK will be offered a smart meter by 2020. The progress of the Smart Metering Implementation Programme to date, including the impact of delays and challenges encountered on the overall cost-benefit of the programme, and the extension of the Secretary of State’s powers with regard to it until 2023 (three years after the proposed deadline), was a focus of scrutiny during the Bill’s passage through the House of Commons. The National Audit Office has also recently announced a review of the programme and its progress, to report in Summer 2018.

Similarly, scrutiny has focused on any costs which might result to consumers of delays to the programme or in the event of the DCC (or its parent company, Capita plc) entering financial difficulty. Other concerns centred on issues such as the scope of the powers provided to the Secretary of State; selling tactics used by energy suppliers; the disposal of obsolete meters; the role of companies who provide smart metering technology to energy suppliers; the ownership of the DCC; inaccessible homes and properties; and the roll-out of second generation smart meters.

Initially narrower in scope, the Government added the provisions to the Bill regarding the market-wide half-hourly settlement using smart metering data at committee stage in the House of Commons.

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