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.
“Suppliers need access to a certain amount of data for billing and to fulfill statutory requirements or license obligations. For these purposes, we have proposed rules that suppliers can have access to monthly data without customer consent. If suppliers wish to access daily data, they may do so, but they will have to provide a clear opportunity for the customer to opt out and they cannot use that data for marketing without the customer’s explicit consent. Beyond this, if suppliers wish to access half-hourly data—for instance, to develop more sophisticated services for consumers—they must obtain explicit consent from the consumer to do so.”