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Government outlines £11bn smart meter roll-out

Which? welcomes smart meter code of practice

Old style electricity meter

The government plans to replace all old style gas and electricity meters with new ‘smart’ ones. 

The Department for Energy and Climate Change today released their smart meter prospectus, which explains how they will tackle the huge job of rolling smart meters out to 53 million UK homes.

Secretary of state for energy and climate change, Chris Huhne, welcomed the plan, saying that ‘the roll-out of smart meters will help us keep the lights on while reducing emissions and getting the best possible deal for the consumer.’

Now that the prospectus has been published, it is up to energy companies, consumer groups and other interested parties to help draw up the plans for technical specs and illuminate the details of the roll-out.

Smart meter roll-out

Although Which? welcomes the insight the report gives into timeframes and practicalities for the consumer, there is still a long way to go before the smart meter roll-out can really be said to give consumers a good deal.

Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith says:

‘The smart meter roll-out is a massive project that’s going to cost a lot of money so it’s vital that the Government gets it right.

‘This means making sure that the industry doesn’t use the roll-out as a green light to cross-sell products and services, ensuring that consumer data is fully protected. Although the Government has acknowledged these concerns, there must be zero tolerance to any companies found to be abusing this opportunity, or consumer confidence in the roll-out will be severely undermined.’

Smart meter code of practice

The report proposes a ‘code of practice’ for companies to follow when they install smart meters. This code would make sure that companies couldn’t abuse the opportunity to sell to consumers when they are installing smart meters, and also ensure that consumers know exactly what to expect from the installation process.

Switching your gas and electricity

Minimum standards for smart meters will be introduced to make sure that they work for all energy companies. This means that it should be easier for you to switch your gas and electricity if you have found a better deal elsewhere.

Which? will be asking for clarification on the standards as soon as they are published. As some companies have started rolling out smart meters ahead of schedule, it is important that those who have already had a meter installed are not at a disadvantage.

Protecting customer data

The fact that smart meters transmit personal information on a regular basis means that proper data protection guidelines are crucial. Following the prospectus, the government will now establish the Data and Communications Company, which will handle the transfer of sensitive data between smart meters and energy companies.

Which? smart meter campaign

Find out more about our smart meter campaign, and why we’re working with the government and energy companies to make sure that smart meters benefit consumers as well as companies. You can also join in the smart meter discussion at Which? Conversation, and get updates on all our campaigns by following @WhichAction on Twitter or liking us on facebook

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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