The UK government has published its decisions on rules for consumer engagement, privacy, and security. Energy and Climate Change Minister Baroness Verma calls the introduction of smart meters nationwide “an enormous challenge, representing a vast upgrade of our energy system, but with huge potential benefits for millions of homes and businesses and for Great Britain as a whole. Let me be clear: the consumer comes first. That’s why we are tackling issues such as privacy, security, consumer protection and communications now, working with industry and consumer groups to make sure we get this right ahead of the mass rollout.”
She adds: “Today marks an exciting step forward in delivering the smart meter programme, as we finalize the work needed to achieve the benefits we believe consumers should receive.”
According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), “The Government’s vision is for every home in Great Britain to have smart energy meters, with business and public sector users also having smart or advanced energy metering suited to their needs. The roll out of smart meters will play an important role in Britain’s transition to a low-carbon economy and help us meet some of the long-term challenges we face in ensuring an affordable, secure and sustainable energy supply.”
Energy suppliers will be responsible for replacing over 53 million gas and electricity meters to 30 million homes and small businesses. The mass roll-out of smart meters is scheduled to start in late 2014 and to be completed in 2019.
Among the points outlined today include consumers will have choice on how often their energy supplier can access their energy consumption data; suppliers will not be able to use energy consumption data for marketing purposes unless they have explicit consent; suppliers will be required to give their customers reminders about the choices they have made and how they can change their minds; the Government will request annual reports from all larger energy suppliers setting out their plans and progress with the roll-out; and a new Central Delivery Body will help consumers to use smart metering to better manage their energy consumption and expenditure.
These proposals are designed to ensure that consumers and suppliers can use the energy data provided by smart meters in the best way possible, at the same time as making sure consumer rights are protected.