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Smart meters: roll-out plans revealed

Households to get smart meters sooner

The government has revealed its desire to roll-out energy smart meters sooner than expected, and has outlined plans to make this happen, but Which? is concerned that the cost will be passed straight onto consumers.

Smart meters enable energy suppliers to record remotely how much electricity and gas you use, doing away with the need for estimated bills and visits from the meter reader.

Energy regulator Ofgem and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have published their plans for the roll-out of smart meters.

In the Smart Metering Implementation Programme: Prospectus they say: ‘The government and the energy regulator are determined to implement the roll-out faster than originally planned’.

However, the prospectus also states that the cost of smart meters will be passed straight onto consumers, something that Which? has been campaigning against. Find out more about smart meters and how they could affect your energy bills in our guide, smart meters explained.

Consumers shouldn’t foot the bill

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith warns: ‘Smart meters could be great news for consumers, with the potential for accurate bills along with real-time information people need to cut their energy use and costs.

‘However, consumers don’t want the projected £10 billion cost for the roll-out to be added onto their energy bills, especially given that the only people guaranteed to save money from smart meters are suppliers themselves.’

Which? has outlined five steps it believes the government needs to take to make sure consumers benefit from the smart meter roll-out. Find out what these are in Smart meters: Brits risk getting a raw deal.

No upfront charges for smart meters

The government plans to prohibit energy suppliers from imposing upfront charges on customers for smart meters and the in-home displays that they will come with.

Instead, it plans to allow energy suppliers to pass on the cost of the roll-out to all its customers through higher energy bills. The prospectus states: ‘We fully expect suppliers to recover costs by recouping them from all customers from the start of the roll-out.’

The government is giving consumers until 28 October 2010 to respond to their proposals.

Lower your gas and electricity bills

You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.

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