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U.K. Delays Smart Meter Rollout by a Year on ‘Challenge’

May 10 (Bloomberg) -- The U.K. postponed its mass installation of “smart” energy meters by a year as suppliers struggle with design glitches and testing is delayed.

The full-scale release of more than 50 million meters to about 30 million homes and businesses will now run from the fall of 2015 to the end of 2020, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said today in a statement to parliament. The government previously planned to install the units from 2014 through 2019.

The rollout is a “complex task, which must be fulfilled with great care to ensure consumers receive the best possible benefits,” Angela Knight, chief executive officer of the Energy U.K. lobby group, said today in an e-mailed statement. “Allocating extra time to the program will mean that it can be completed in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.”

The program is aimed at cutting energy use, emissions and consumer bills by providing users with instantaneous information on the power consumption of appliances through computerized meters. Utilities including Electricite de France SA, EON SE, SSE Plc, Centrica Plc, RWE AG’s Npower unit and Iberdrola SA’s Scottish Power division will be required to install them in customers’ homes, and can recoup the costs through bills.

“Completing the national rollout will be an enormous logistical and technical challenge for the industry,” Davey said in today’s statement, without detailing the setbacks facing the suppliers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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