Smart meter roll-out - Energy and Climate Change Contents

8  Conclusion

119. We support the Government's ambitious roll-out programme and the important objectives it aims to achieve. At present the emphasis is on the potential changes in consumer behaviour arising from greater consumer awareness of their energy consumption. But the strategic role of the project in facilitating safe, secure and affordable energy supplies in future must be clarified, costed and explained to consumers. Smart meters have the potential to deliver efficiencies and reductions in consumer bills, but this will only happen if consumers are genuinely engaged and if smart meters provide accurate, real-time consumption and billing data. In time, consumers are likely to want to access energy consumption data in a variety of ways such as through smart phones or tablets. In the meantime, provision of in-home displays will be crucial to enhancing better understanding of energy usage and encouraging behaviour change.

120. We welcome the decision to push back the timetable for roll-out. There is now an opportunity for the Central Delivery Body to address public concerns about health and privacy head on, and ensure that consumer engagement is well under way before mass roll-out begins. This may help to avoid the consumer backlash that has been experienced in other parts of the world. Government should also be clear about what it regards as a reasonable effort by energy companies to ensure the widest possible take-up of smart meters by consumers, and whether it expects customers who refuse to have a smart meter to be charged for the ongoing cost of manual meter-readings.

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Prepared 27 July 2013