The companies in question claim it is because the network and infrastructure is not reliable enough to handle second generation devices.
England and Scotland are the areas in which the problem is most prevalent. In the North, Bristol Energy, British Gas, Ecotricity, EON and Octopus are still installing older meters.
Companies Nabuh Energy, Simplicity and Utilita are installing first generation devices having had difficulties with the second generation system.
According to government guidelines, customers should be offered second generation devices only after 15th March 2019.
The advantage of second generation technology is that the devices connect remotely to a central network that covers the entire nation. This makes it possible for customers to switch energy providers with relative ease – something many customers would not have been able to do in the past.
Speaking to the BBC, a spokesperson for Ecotricity explained that the entire industry was facing the same issue:
“We are not ignoring government guidance. In fact it’s clear that in documented instances where a SMETS2 meter cannot be used, or in areas where connection is not possible, we are encouraged to use SMETS1, or non-smart meters.”
Several companies claim that issues with signals in the Northern network are preventing them from reliably connecting their customers. Thus those living in the North are much less likely to receive a second generation device than those living in the South.
Some companies have also called attention to connection issues in high-rise flats, as well as customers on pre-payment meters.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy claims that nothing is wrong with Northern networks. “The network for the North is fully operational, with thousands of second generation meters being installed every day”, it said.
The company in charge of handling the UK-wide data networks, Smart DCC, added: “DCC is supporting the energy industry as it rolls out second-generation smart meters across the country. There are now more than two million operating on our smart, secure network.”
Energy companies are obliged to hit certain targets for the installation of smart meters across the nation. However, first generation smart meters that are installed after the 15th of March 2019 do not count towards these goals.
Bristol Energy claims that any installations of first generation meters since March 2019 have only been because the customers are on pre-payment meters.
“As part of our social purpose, we have a fair proportion of customers who are in this payment category,” it said.
British Gas painted a similar picture: “[there] have been some industry-wide delays with the infrastructure for SMETS2 pre-payment meters which means we’re not yet installing SMETS2 to all of these customers.”
Octopus energy explained that they are allowing their customers to make the choice: “Where a second generation meter can be reliably installed and commissioned, we’ll do that. Otherwise we’ll offer customers the choice between first generation or waiting until second generation is available.”