Speaking at the Smart Metering Forum in London, Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) minister Baroness Verma revealed details on how the agency intends to manage the UK roll-out of smart meters and also confirmed that it will launch a new Central Delivery Body to address privacy concerns and help consumers embrace the technology. In addition, Baroness Verma asserted the government was committed to accomplishing the national deployment smart meters by 2019.
Verma says, “By putting consumers in control of their energy use, smart meters enable consumers to adopt behavior changes to improve energy efficiency and help save money on their energy bills. Whilst we recognize the roll-out poses some challenges, we believe it will bring about very real and substantial benefits to consumers, which is the heart of the smart meter program.”
An impact assessment report to be published by the DECC shows that the deployment out will deliver net benefits of £7.2 billion over the next 20 years through more accurate billing and increased energy efficiency.
Despite the benefits provided by smart meters, experts worry the technology can be hampered if customers fear their privacy is compromised or do not understand how to use smart meters to reduce energy consumption. Baroness Verma said the Central Delivery Body will be responsible to deliver “a centralized program of consumer engagement activities. This will support the engagement suppliers will be doing themselves. More specifically, we propose the body will have objectives to build consumer confidence in the installation of smart meters and build consumer willingness, awareness and understanding of how to use smart meters to manage energy consumption.”
The junior minister also described planned privacy protections designed to reassure the public their energy data is not being shared with third parties.