UK Smart Meters Rollout ‘Must Be Stopped’

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Institute of Directors slams “flawed” Government scheme that is now far behind schedule and ‘needs to be halted’

The UK Government’s much-lauded ‘smart meter’ home energy project is so far behind schedule that it should be scrapped altogether, according to one of Britain’s leading think-tanks.

Following the news that only 2.3 million energy smart meters have been installed in UK homes, the Institute of Directors (IoD) has today said that the scheme, reported to be costing around £11bn, will bring little benefits to customers.

Overall, the government is hoping to have 50m smart meters installed around the UK by 2020, but the IoD has labelled the project as “a bit of a mess”.

Not so smart?

smart home tablet energy green meter ipad © Brian A Jackson Shutterstock“Smart meters have been promised to consumers as the technology of the future, helping them to keep track of their energy use and reduce bills,” said Dan Lewis, senior infrastructure advisor at the IoD.

“The truth is that most of the meters going in at the moment will only give each household a paltry energy saving of two percent a year, while actually making it harder for them to switch energy provider as the kit is not compatible with multiple suppliers.

“The Department for Energy has committed to perhaps the most complicated and least flexible approach, telling energy suppliers to install new electricity and gas meters in all domestic properties by the end of the decade. The problem is that they have started the project before the technology has been properly tested and finalised. There are concerns about the security of the smart meters rolled out so far (so called SMETS1 meters), while the next generation of meters (SMETS2) are not ready to be installed in significant numbers.

“The Government must now admit that it’s not going to plan and pause the rollout while they consider their options. Other, cheaper alternatives exist to enable accurate and automated metering, including simple bits of kit consumers can clip on to their existing meters. Carrying on full-steam ahead with the current programme, ignoring falling energy prices, in order to avoid embarrassment is simply not justifiable.”

First announced in 2008, the government’s plans have been hamstrung by a myriad of issues, not least the sheer cost and difficulty of putting it all in place.

The IoD has raised concerns about the project in the past, namely surrounding the privacy and security issues, as a survey it carried out found that over half of UK citizens were concerned about smart meter data privacy.

This followed a 2012 warning from the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) that smart meters will be used to collect large amounts of data unrelated to energy use.

However the Government says that it will provide nationwide energy savings of £17bn.

Research carried out by British Gas earlier this year revealed that despite initial scepticism, the UK public is beginning to warm up to smart energy meters, with more half of households with the devices are now saving money thanks to the energy-efficient behaviours inspired by these devices.

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