smart meters rollout
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Smart meters GB MPs warn costly failure
Smart meters GB: rollout is facing criticism for being too ambitious and falling behind on schedule

In the UK, corporate organisation the Institute of Directors (IoD) has voiced an opinion on the government’s smart meter program, warning it could be an “IT disaster”.

In a report on the planned rollout of smart meters to 30 million UK households, the IoD said the risks involved with the “the largest UK government-run IT project in history” were “staggering”, according to a BBC News report.

The institute said it believes the government’s plan is far too ambitious.

It said: “The pace of technological innovation may well leave the current generation of meters behind and leave consumers in a cycle of installation, de-installation and re-installation.”

It recommended that the government drastically scale back the programme or abandon it altogether.

MPs criticism of government rollout

The comments follow doubts expressed by the Energy and Climate Change Committee, the body of MPs tasked with overseeing the rollout, that the nationwide smart meter rollout by 2020 could be a “costly failure” as the project is in “danger of veering off-track” due to delays in the deployment schedule.

Tim Yeo, chair of the committee, said the government is at a “crossroads” on its smart meter policy.

Mr Yeo said: “[The government] can continue with its current approach and risk embarrassment through public disengagement on a flagship energy policy, or it can grip the reins, and steer the energy industry along a more successful path which brings huge benefits for the country.”

Back to ‘analogue dark age’

Smart Energy GB, the independent body set up to publicise smart meters, has hit back however saying that the IoD wanted to take the UK “back to an analogue dark age”.

Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Smart Energy GB, said: “The IoD does not understand what’s needed to secure Britain’s energy infrastructure for the future.

“The smart meter rollout must be for everybody. It will only deliver the national transformation Britain needs if every home is part of this national upgrade.”

Under the scheme, energy companies must begin offering free smart meters to their customers from the autumn. Despite the £11bn estimated cost to the industry, it will not be compulsory to have one.

Consultation on rollout to businesses

To cope with the backlash, the Department of Energy and Climate Change last week announced it had launched a consultation on the government’s proposals not to extend the deadline for businesses to opt out of the smart meter rollout.

Two million public and private sector organisations, including small shops, chain stores, schools and small industrial units, are expected to install the energy-saving technology by the end of the decade as part of the government’s programme.

But they can currently opt out of the scheme if they install “advanced meters” by April 2016 to meet their rollout obligations.

The government is also inviting views on the existing policy position which allows suppliers to use communications services other than those provided by the DCC for the technology they install at non-domestic premises. It is consulting on whether it should remove this policy.

The consultation runs until 15th June 2015.

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