Smart Meters Bill

Written evidence submitted by Energy UK (SMB05)

Smart Metering Bill

Energy UK is the trade association for the GB energy industry with a membership of over 100 suppliers, generators, and stakeholders with a business interest in the production and supply of electricity and gas for domestic and business consumers. Our membership encompasses the truly diverse nature of the UK’s energy industry – from established FTSE 100 companies right through to new, growing suppliers and generators, which now make up over half of our membership.

Our members turn renewable energy sources as well as nuclear, gas and coal into electricity for over 26 million homes and every business in Britain. Over 730,000 people in every corner of the country rely on the sector for their jobs with many of our members providing long-term employment as well as quality apprenticeships and training for those starting their careers. The energy industry adds £88bn to the British economy, equivalent to 5% of GDP, and pays £6bn in tax annually to HMT.

We welcome the opportunity to respond to the Committee’s call for evidence on the Smart Metering Bill. Energy UK has put together the following response which provides our general views on key parts of the legislation which will impact on the activities of our members, and their customers.

Smart Metering Programme

Energy UK and our members strongly support the aims and objectives of the Smart Metering Programme and are committed to delivering the programme by 2020.

Suppliers are determined to ensure that as many customers as possible benefit from smart meters, and that all customers have a positive and safe installation experience. Together we have made significant progress, with nearly 8 million smart meters operating across homes and businesses across the country with 80% of customers with a smart metering saying they are satisfied with them and 76% of people with a meter saying that they would recommend them to friends, family and neighbours.

Energy UK has taken the lead for the retail energy industry investing millions to make sure the programme is delivered as efficiently and safely as possible.

However, there is consensus that there are a number of challenges to achieving the objectives of the rollout such as customer engagement, technical eligibility and the performance and cost of the smart metering Data Communications Company (DCC).

We share Government’s ambitions to make a success of smart metering and believe more open and collaborative engagement between all parties is needed to consider the emerging issues, devise solutions and ensure benefits for customers are realised in a safe and timely way.

Views on the Smart Metering Bill

The Smart Metering Bill is extending the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategies (BEIS) powers in relation to the Smart Metering Programme and setting up a Special Administration Regime (SAR) for the DCC.

Energy UK’s members have raised some concerns regarding the scope of the provisions to extend the Secretary of State’s existing powers relating to the smart meter rollout to 2023 particularly as the rollout is due to be completed by 2020. It is important that there is clarity on why  BEIS  wants to extend these powers and the implications this may have on the Smart Meter Programme rollout.

Energy UK welcomes the proposed provisions to provi de for a SAR for the smart DCC. The ongoing, stable operation and cost effectiveness of the DCC is fundamental in ensuring the benefits of smart are fully realised, and that consumers are protected. Energy UK believes that in the unlikely event of the DCC’s insolvency, provisions for a SAR would best ensure the continuity of the sma rt meter communication services and particular prepayment services, until the DCC can be resourced or transferred to another company as a going concern.

November 2017

 

Prepared 22nd November 2017