Energy saving smart meters could be ‘costly failure’, warn MPs



Plans to install energy saving smart meters in every UK home and business by the end of the decade are at risk of “veering off-track”, according to the Energy and Climate Change Committee.

In a report, MPs on the committee raise concerns about technical, logistical and public communication issues that have resulted in delays to the national programme. They argue that the project is not being driven forward effectively.

Smart meters allow energy suppliers to receive remote electricity and gas reading and for homeowners and businesses to know what they are using. The Department of Energy and Climate Change has estimated that the energy efficiency gains from the meters will save £17.1 billion, offsetting the £10.9 billion installation costs.

MP Tim Yeo, chair of the committee, said, “Time is running out on the government’s plan to install meters in each of the UK’s 30 million homes and businesses by 2030. Smart meters could generate more than £17 billion in energy savings for the country yet a series of technical and other issues have resulted in delays to the planned roll-out.”

He added that without “significant and immediate” change to the current approach the programme runs the risk of falling short of expectations and proving a “costly failure”.

The committee highlighted a number of policy delivery challenges, which it states that government has failed to address, including technical communication problems with multiple occupancy and tall buildings, compatibility problems between different suppliers and a reluctance to improve transparency. The MPs, along with the energy industry, are now calling on the government to address the challenges named in its report.

Yeo added, “The government is at a crossroads on its smart meters policy. It can continue with its current approach and risk embarrassment trough public disengagement on a flagship energy policy, or it can grip the reins, and steer the energy industry along a more successful path which brings huge benefits for the country.”

MPs from the Public Accounts Committee have previously raised concerns about the amount of money consumers will save due to switching to smart meters. The committee argued that the average savings could be as little as 2% per household.

Photo: Asif Akbar via Freeimages

Further reading:

Smart meters could save only 2% on energy bills, MPs warn

Smart energy meters: the smart revolution is coming

Energy UK launches guidelines to educate customers on smart meters

The future of intelligent energy

Regulator supports calls to speed up energy supplier switching process


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