Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, states: “The idea of smart electricity and gas meters is a good one, but the program to install 53 million of them in all homes and small businesses in the country by 2019, at an estimated cost of £11.7 billion, is both challenging and subject to significant uncertainty. Consumers will benefit from smart meters only if they understand the opportunity to reduce their energy bills and change their behavior…otherwise, the only people who will benefit are the energy suppliers.”
Hodge also notes that currently, “no transparent mechanism presently exists for ensuring savings to the supplier are passed on. The track record of energy companies to date does not inspire confidence that this will happen…The Department should clearly set out what energy suppliers’ responsibilities will be for engaging with consumers to deliver the benefits of smart meters; and how they will be held accountable to both the Department and consumers.”
The logistics or deploying a national communications service and the concern over consumers’ privacy regarding the information being transmitted remain concerns, as does the uncertainty over how the emerging technology will impact low income individuals and families.
Hodge says expecting financially challenged consumers to pay for smart meters “is of itself regressive, and there is a risk that they may end up paying more through their bills where the costs of installing the meters outweigh the savings they are able to make. The Department should set out how it intends to ensure vulnerable and low income consumers do not miss out on the benefits from smart metering.”