The UK Smart Metering Implementation Programme

“Smart meters are the next generation of gas and electricity meters which will play a key role in bringing our energy management into the 21st century.

They will unlock huge benefits for consumers, giving us more control over how we use our energy at home and at work, helping us to cut energy consumption save money and reduce carbon emissions.”  Those were the words of Charles Hendry MP, Minister of State for Energy, on the updated documentation of the Smart Metering Implementation Programme.

As we get close to the mass roll out of smart meters across Great Britain in tow years time the government published a full range of publications to support and ensure that the benefits of the programme are maximised and that consumers are protected.

The full range of publications include:

  • an update on the Smart Meters Implementation Programme
  • a consultation on data access and privacy.
  • a consultation on the Smart Energy Code
  • and the Data and Communications Company licensing conditions
  • the Government Response to the Rollout consultation
  • updated Impact Assessments for the domestic and non-domestic sectors
  • a consultation on the Smart Energy Code
  • the Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications (SMETS), to enable suppliers to install smart meters during the Foundation Stage.

The strategic aim of the programme is to reach 28 million homes and 2 million small to med-sized businesses by 2019.

According to figures revealed by the DECC the smart metering roll out will cost £11.5bn over the next twenty years. However, with benefits of £18.6bn resulting in a net profit of approximately £7bn over the same period of time.

Small and medium sized business should reach savings of approximately £190 per annum by 2020 with the installation of smart meters. While, the average dual fuel household bill will see savings of £25 per annum by 2020. Savings could rise to over £200 and £40 per year by 2030, respectively.

To emphasise its concern with consumers the government is requiring that suppliers develop a code of practice covering the installation process.

Key points already delineated to be included in this code of practice are:

1. Installers must provide energy efficiency advice as part of the visit.

2. There should be no sales pitch during the installation visit.

Consumer Focus Chief Executive Mike O’Connor welcomed the decision to create a code of practice:

“We welcome the banning of sales during installation and that marketing will only be allowed if the customer agrees. This shows the Government has listened to consumers. We support the proposals to address consumer concerns around the privacy of information. But, to make this work, people must be aware of their rights and the choices available to them on how much information is passed to suppliers.”

To summarise, it is important to highlight the government’s efforts to engage consumers. Like Mr. O’Connor said: “Smart meters will only help people to become more energy efficient and cut their bills if they are able to easily understand and use the new technology.”

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