Row brews in U.K. on use of in-home displays


Gary Felgate,
Chief Executive,
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — August 21, 2009

A row is brewing in the U.K. over the use of in-home display units with the Local Government Association saying that energy companies are trying to block the government’s proposal to instal displays in every home.

Quoted in the Times Online, Paul Bettison, chairman of the LGA Environment Board, said that if energy firms succeed in blocking this plan to give people in-home energy monitors, millions of households will be denied the chance to cut their fuel bill.

“The plan to put a smart meter in every home is good but unless it is accompanied by an in-home energy display, for consumers, it is virtually worthless. What you can see, you can save. Why not give people all the information so they can make better choices about how much energy they use?” said Bettison.

However, the Energy Retail Association (ERA), which represents the major electricity and gas suppliers in Britain’s domestic market, has labeled the reporting as misleading, saying that energy suppliers are not against display devices but they are against mandating them for all households.

“The energy industry has always maintained that customers need a display of energy information in order to gain the maximum benefits from smart meters,” responded ERA chief executive Gary Felgate in a letter to The Times. “However, the ERA and its members firmly believe that energy companies should not be restricted to providing a ‘one size fits all’ device over the next 12 years and should be allowed to offer customers precisely the kind of display they would find most useful. For example, this could be through a mobile phone, a digital TV page, or your PC.

“Providing customers with detailed, accessible information on the energy they are using has always been the cornerstone of the industry’s approach to smart metering. For the LGA and your paper to suggest otherwise is absolutely disingenuous.”

The U.K. government has mandated that smart meters will be rolled out to all homes by 2020, and is currently consulting on the rollout model (see U.K. smart meter rollout outlined).