Metering: Smart meters could cost pensioners the most

Amber Rudd has received a letter from the SNP questioning the implementation of the smart meter rollout and the fear that pensioners may be the hardest hit

In the UK, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has said that smart meters could cost pensioners the most.  

In a press release, SNP Member of  Scottish Parliament Linda Fabiani called for assurances from the UK government’s Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) that Scotland’s older people will not be penalised with higher energy bills due to the rollout of smart meters.

Fabiani has highlighted ‘shortcomings’ in the rollout implementation hat could mean higher bills for pensioners.

According to Fergus Ewing, Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, the Scottish Government have significant concerns with the implementation of the programme and the technology being used.

Mr Ewing noted: “There is real possibility that those who do not have smart meters installed, whether for technical reasons or because they refuse to do so, may face higher bills. This may cause a particular risk that pensioners pay more which would be wholly unacceptable.”

DECC involvement

Ms Fabiani has now written to Amber Rudd, UK Government Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, seeking assurances that older and vulnerable people are not penalised in this way.

“The revelation that older people could be penalised by the roll out of smart meters is an alarming development; the DECC need to curb these fears and make a commitment that no one will be penalised with an increase in their bills due to this policy,” she said.

“The SNP are campaigning for lower energy bills for consumers by pushing for the Energy Company Obligation to be funded through general taxation and not as a charge on energy bills. We also need to give the regulators new powers to make sure that energy companies pass on the benefits of lower prices to their customers.

“The UK Government needs to take the action to cut energy bills and to protect our pensioners from even further increases or give the Scottish Parliament the substantial powers over energy policy we need to get on with the job.”

[According to Wikipedia, the Energy Company Obligation is a scheme by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) which obliges energy companies to make improvements to some homes at no upfront cost to the consumer.

It is funded by the energy suppliers, but the cost (estimated at £1.3 billion every year), will be passed on to consumers through their energy bills]

Resistance from residents to smart meter rollouts

Meanwhile, New Zealand is the latest country that is undertaking smart meter rollouts and meeting resistance from local communities around the technology.

At a public meeting in Oamaru over the weekend, attendees were urged to consider refusing to have smart meters on electricity supplies to their homes.

Meridian Energy, which will start smart meter installations in September, will install 8,500 meters to customers on Network Waitaki, which stretches from Shag Point to the Waitaki River and inland to the Hakataramea Valley and Ohau.

The meeting, held by the Electro-sensitivity Trust in New Zealand, is concerned about the potential harmful effects of microwave frequencies on people and the environment.

Tennessee privacy concerns

In the US, in Williamson County, Tennessee, residents are opposing smart meters due to privacy concerns.

The Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corp. started the installation in July 2015 as part of a system wide upgrade.

However, Beth Lehman, a home-school advocate and four-year resident of the county, has fought to have her old meter put back in her home.  Says Lehman: “My data is personal and it’s not for sale. If I’m not giving it away, the only way to get it is to take it, and I have a huge problem with that.”