UK smart meter rollout under fire from MPs

The UK’s planned rollout of smart meters has come under further fire, this time from a government committee.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee has said that the GBP11.7bn deployment of smart meters is “subject to significant uncertainty” because there is “inconclusive evidence” that customers are engaged in the process.

The committee’s comments follow criticisms from consumer group Which? yesterday, which said that the scheme threatened to become a “fiasco” because there was no government-co-ordinated plan, instead leaving energy companies to initiate an as-and-when deployment based solely on customer demand.

Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the committee, said: “Consumers will benefit from smart meters only if they understand the opportunity to reduce their energy bills and change their behaviour. So far the evidence on whether they will do so has been inconclusive. Otherwise, the only people who will benefit are the energy suppliers.”

She added that although consumers will have to pay suppliers for the costs of installing and operating meters through their energy bills, “no transparent mechanism presently exists for ensuring savings to the supplier are passed on. The track record of energy companies to date does not inspire confidence that this will happen.”

Under European Directives, all member states are required to install smart metersà‚ to at least 80 per cent of domestic electricity consumers by 2020. The UK government has opted for a more challenging programme, with plans for energy suppliers to install meters in all homes and smaller non-domestic premises by 2019.

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