As plans continue apace towards the installation of millions of smart meters in homes and businesses across the country by 2019. Zoe McLeod has this to say: “the challenge is for industry to work with Government and consumer groups to put the right protections in place and ensure that smart meters deliver for consumers. Energy customers are expected to foot the multi-billion price tag for this scheme so they will expect value for money and that everyone benefits from the switch to smart.”
Ms McLeod went on to say: “There are still major questions that need to be answered for consumers on protections, privacy, sales, service and benefits. Getting these answers right will ultimately determine the success or failure of smart meters.”
The question is how will smart metering change the lives of consumers?
According to Consumer Focus’ energy expert this largely depends on how well the rollout is done and also depends on the technology that is chosen. She explains: “if it is done well, we should see an end to estimated bills which are a major source of consumer complaints. Customers should be able to better manage their energy use to cut their energy bills and budget more easily. There should also be improved customer service, greater choice and in the long run downward pressure on energy bills.”
”Smart meters also have the potential to make switching easier,” says Zoe, “they could improve competition in the energy supply and prepayment meter markets as well as stimulate competition in emerging energy services markets. There could be also more efficient delivery of help and support to the most vulnerable customers most in need. But these benefits won’t happen unless there is strong leadership from Government.”
Consumer Focus, however has concerns about the cost of the smart technology and the lack of strategy on how benefits will be delivered to customers. Zoe notes: “The rollout of smart meters has a big price-tag. It is expected to cost in excess of £11 billion that will be passed on to consumers in their bills. There should be regular reporting on the costs and benefits to consumers of the smart meter rollout. This should ensure accountability for the costs passed on to consumers to make sure that they are fair, proportionate and efficient. Customers also need to be provided with advice and support on how to use their smart meter and display to reduce their energy use and save money on their bills. Minimum standards should be required from suppliers to ensure this happens.”
We will watch this space with interest!