The rollout of smart meters to all small businesses in 2020 will leave retailers at risk of being disconnected remotely by their energy supplier, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has warned.

The meters are designed to help improve energy efficiency by allowing stores to keep a close track of their energy consumption, but they can also be disconnected remotely by the energy provider in the event of serious payment issues.

ACS chief executive James Lowman backed the idea of the meters, but was worried by suppliers' control over them. He said: "Installing smart meters will allow retailers to monitor their energy uses, ensuring they are billed correctly and that they can make informed choices about which are the best deals for them. However, it is extremely concerning that companies will have the power to disconnect supplies remotely."

He urged the government to allow businesses the same rights as domestic energy users. "If government continues with this proposal they will have to ensure that businesses are afforded the same level of protection as any other users," he added.