Ofgem has issued final orders to five suppliers, which ban them from taking on new customers until they agree to start using the Data Communications Company (DCC) which enables communications between smart meters, all energy suppliers and network companies.
Image by Robin Whitlock
The five suppliers are Daligas Limited, Enstroga Ltd, Entice Energy Supply Limited, Euston Energy Ltd (trading as Northumbria Energy), and Symbio Energy Limited.
All suppliers were required to become DCC users from 25 November 2017, (or for new suppliers on exiting the Controlled Market Entry process) to enable the enrolment of first generation smart meters (SMETS1) and drive the installation of next generation (SMETS2) smart meters.
In January, Ofgem consulted on issuing nine suppliers with a final order, giving them a deadline of 31 March 2020 to comply and become DCC users.
Three of these suppliers (Ampower Ltd, Green Supplier Limited, UK National Gas Ltd) have since become compliant and will not be issued with final orders.
Better Energy Limited has not been issued with a final order as it no longer has any domestic customers and has requested the revocation of its supply licences, which will happen on 20 March 2020.
Five suppliers have still failed to become DCC users and will now be banned from taking on any new customers until they become DCC users.
Suppliers are required to take all reasonable steps to roll out smart meters to all their domestic and small business customers by the end of 2020. BEIS has recently consulted on proposals to develop a policy framework for energy suppliers to continue installing smart meters post-2020 and will publish their decision in due course.
Until these five suppliers are DCC users, customers with a DCC-connected smart meter who switch to any of the five suppliers will lose the functionality of their smart meter on switching. This leaves the meters operating as traditional meters with customers needing to provide manual meter readings and unable to access the full benefits of smart meters. This causes consumer detriment and could undermine consumer confidence in the smart meter programme and the switching process.
If these suppliers continue to fail to become DCC users in accordance with the final orders, Ofgem will consider further enforcement action, which could result in their licences being revoked.
“These five energy companies might not be household names - accounting for fewer than 100,000 households between them - but the smart meter network won’t work properly until every supplier is using the same communications infrastructure” said Will Owen, energy expert at Uswitch.com. “Daligas, Enstroga, Entice Energy Supply, Euston Energy, and Symbio Energy can’t say they haven’t had any warning, as all suppliers were meant to be enrolled in the DCC smart meter infrastructure by November 2017. Banning a supplier from taking on more customers is a hefty punishment, and could seriously damage their growth plans. These companies could face further punishments, and potentially lose their licences if they don’t resolve this situation soon.”