Suppliers 'must pass on smart meter benefits'Government committee has 'significant uncertainties' on smart

17 January 2012

Smart meter

The Public Accounts Committee has called on ministers to do more to make sure cost benefits of smart meters are passed on to consumers. 

The call comes shortly after Which? raised similar concerns about the cost of the smart meter roll-out, and called on the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to halt the smart meter roll-out and rethink its strategy. 

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: 'This report confirms our view that the smart meter roll-out should be stopped and reviewed before the costs escalate.'

He added: 'The government must listen to warnings from MPs, energy suppliers and consumer groups alike, otherwise it risks an embarrassing and costly failure that will be rejected by consumers.'

Public Accounts Committee

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said they had concerns about 'significant uncertainties' surrounding the roll-out of smart meters to homes across the UK. 

At present the roll-out is expected to cost upwards of £11bn, which will be passed on to consumers via their energy bills. Energy suppliers are currently responsible for installing the meters. 

However, the PAC pointed out that there is no transparent mechanism to ensure that the savings made by suppliers are passed on to consumers. The report added that 'the track record of energy companies to date does not inspire confidence that this will happen.'

Stop the smart meter roll-out

On 15 January, Which? called for a halt to the smart meter roll-out, saying that the government needed to rethink its strategy before proceeding. 

A report commissioned by Which? from the Centre for Sustainable Energy highlighted problems with potentially spiralling costs of the roll-out. Which? believes that at the moment the government does not have proper control on the costs, so consumers could end up writing a 'blank cheque' for the programme. 

We would like the government to investigate the issues raised in this report and rectify the problems.

More on this...