Our smart meter campaign Review the smart meter roll-out
DECC says it will cost £68 on average to install a gas and electricity smart meter - this doesn't include equipment costs
At present, the government plans to have a smart meter in every UK home by the end of 2019, at a cost of at least £11bn. This cost will be paid by consumers through their energy bills, so we want to make sure it is as low as possible.
However, at the moment, the roll-out is being led by the energy companies and the government has not put checks in place yet to make sure that costs don't spiral.
What's more, after discussion with consumers, including on Which? Conversation, it has become clear that there are huge issues with consumer trust in the smart meter roll-out, with many raising concerns about things such as data security and even safety.
Stop the smart meter roll-out
The government says the average energy bill will increase by £7 by 2015 to pay for the smart meter roll-out. They say that consumers should see reduced energy bills after 2017 as a result of smart meters
After commissioning an external review of the smart meter roll-out (carried out by the Centre for Sustainable Energy), Which? is now calling for the government to stop suppliers installing early smart meters.
While we accept that trials of smart meters are important, we do not believe that early versions of smart meters should be installed in people's homes before the start date.
We also want the government to review exactly how the smart roll-out is being carried out, and make sure that the consumer is not just writing a blank cheque to the energy companies.
What Which? wants
We want the government to review the roll-out, and look at whether plans could be changed to help guarantee that the roll-out will be cost effective and deliver benefits for consumers.
Make suppliers submit costs annually on a per customer basis to the regulator, Ofgem, and show the amount on consumers' accounts.
- Put in place explicit plans to intervene to protect consumers in the event of evidence of any threats to the consumer (such as mis-selling), including using the threat of fines and compensation payments.
- Put in place plans for a regional approach so that energy suppliers co-operate and the focus is on installing smart meters in neighbourhoods at the same time.
- Develop a consumer campaign to help people maximise the value of smart metering, including wider energy related messages such as the value of insulating homes.
Ofgem estimates that 5 million meters will be installed before the official start of the smart meter roll-out
Which? believes that suppliers should stop installing early smart meters and the government should review how the roll-out is to be carried out. If consumers aren't happy, then we're not happy. We need the Department of Energy and Climate Change to listen to what consumers are saying and lead a programme that puts their interests front and centre.
Consumer thoughts on smart meters
Here is just a small selection of the views expressed on Which? Conversation when we first raised the issue of smart meters.
Jon, Which? conversation commenter
'No to smart meters in the first place – a complete waste of several billion £s.'
Commenter Blair Breton said:
'We should ask for (demand?) a pause in roll out. The balance of the arguments at present is that there are many serious concerns for consumers and for the energy companies that need to be discussed and resolved before any further smart meters are rolled out.'