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    UK Business Group Calls for Halt to Smart Meter Rollout

Summary

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has called on the UK government to end its smart energy meter programme.

by: Erica Mills

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Natural Gas and LNG News, Carbon, Renewables, Corporate, Political, Regulation, News By Country, United Kingdom

UK Business Group Calls for Halt to Smart Meter Rollout

The Institute of Directors (IoD), an influential and more than 34,000-strong network of UK business leaders, has called on the UK government to end its smart energy meter rollout. 

The programme, which was instituted to enable consumers to have greater control over their bills through the ability to monitor their energy usage, aims to install 50mn meters across UK by 2020. However, following a report by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), released March 31, which showed that only 2.5mn meters have been installed thus far, the IoD said that the government should halt the programme. 

Scathing in its assessment of the program, the IoD said that it had foreseen flaws in the scheme previously, which could result in customers paying for the meters and finding little or no benefit from their installation. 

It also highlighted that the rollout of the programme is behind schedule and was not on target to reach the 50mn installations by 2020. 

"Frankly, the whole project is a bit of a mess,"  Senior Infrastructure Advisor at the IoD Dan Lewis said. "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."

He also said that the approach the DECC had taken was not the best one available and that the current technology was not guaranteed to be secure.

“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," he said. "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."

EU member states are expected to equip roughly four-fifths of households with smart electricity meter systems by 2022, but a report three years ago for the German government by Ernst & Young concluded that "the costs of a smart metering system clearly exceed the average potential savings for final consumers with low annual consumption levels" and that a rollout to all homes would be "disproportionate and economically unreasonable".

 

Erica Mills