The electricity authority (EAC) on Friday said the long anticipated installation of smart meters is expected to take at least two and a half years to complete, in the wake of reports that protracted tendering issues putting the task on hold had finally been resolved.

Actual installations are not expected to start until June 2024, spokeswoman Christina Papadopoulou told state broadcaster CyBC, following a one-year survey period including a brief pilot programme.

The EAC will replace old meters at the rate of 160,000 a year and to this end has taken on extra staff to complete the job. Of the 600,000 meters monitored by the EAC, 400,000 will be replaced with smart meters, Papadopoulou explained.

Certain categories of consumers will be keeping their traditional meters since there is no added profit for EAC in replacing them, the spokeswoman said, nor could some customers, such as the elderly, be effectively served with a smart installation.

EU guidelines recommend replacement with smart meters to a level of 80 per cent, beyond which no benefits are to be gained, the spokeswoman said.

The entire cost of replacement will be borne by the EAC, Papadopoulou assured, and neither would any consumers stuck with old meters be fined.

A total of €50 million have been earmarked for the replacements of which €35m comes from the EU’s recovery and resilience plan.

Papadopoulou touted the benefits of the metering system for all players, including market regulators, generators, suppliers and customers. Increase in energy market competitiveness and renewables’ penetration are among these.

The system works with an app which will allow for automated remote readings and immediate access to data on electricity consumption by households, which can be used to modify energy usage to one’s benefit, Papadopoulou explained.

Fault detections and repair will also be automated, thus work crews will no longer need to be sent to the physical site.

PV installations meanwhile are proceeding as fast as possible and EAC staff are working overtime to evaluate pending applications. Despite actions taken to improve the speed of processing the number of applicants remains overwhelming and there is unavoidable delay, the EAC spokeswoman admitted.