Ofgem explains that participants of the panel included “a diverse group of approximately 100 domestic energy consumers” that give feedback and offer opinions on key energy topics and regulatory issues.
In the latest panel, participants were asked about the upcoming Smart Meters roll out, including “what challenges they could foresee, what important principles should be followed when implementing the roll out, and the information and support needs of consumers at specified stages of the process – pre-installation, the point of installation and post-installation.”
While the consensus was that the smart meter roll-out was a doable plan, panelists recognized there would be challenges to overcome, including logistics and time frame. The cost was singled out as being potentially very high so there is concern about whether Great Britain can afford the roll-out considering the ongoing global economic slump.
Some of the panelists questioned whether the current technology would still be viable by the end of the roll out eight years from now; in other words, they wondered how future-proof the current roll out will be. There is also an awareness and concern over consumer resistance to smart meter technology.
According to the Ofgem report, there are two integral pieces of information consumers should be provided during the pre-installation phase. “The first was an explanation of the roll out, what Smart Meters are and what the benefits will be to consumers. It was felt that emphasising the benefits of Smart Meters would help get the public’s ‘buy-in’ and foster a feeling that the roll out is being done for the public rather than imposed upon them. This information should be provided through a range of channels to ensure that it is far-reaching and targets the whole range of consumers.”
The report, which includes comments from the participants, can be read in its entirety here. OFGEM Consumer Panel Report