UK smart meter rollout heading for an expensive crash


According to MPs, the UKs smart meter roll out programme will only save Britons £11 a year on their energy bills.

The new figure emerged after a cross-parliamentary group criticised the £11 billion project to install 53 million devices in homes and businesses by 2020.

Currently, the project is subject to significant delays and is running over budget, which has resulted in a reduction in expected energy savings for customers. It was hoped that the smart meter rollout would result in an annual saving of £26.

Most of the savings will be made by energy firms, even though a majority of the project was funded by customers through higher bills.

According to Grant Shapps, CEO of British Infrastructure Group (BIG), said; “The rollout is at serious risk of becoming yet another large scale public infrastructure project delivered well over time and budget and which fails to provide energy customers with a meaningful return on their investment.”

BIG has further criticised the project due to the installation of first generation technology, obsolete meters.

Over and above this, some meters go “dumb” after the customer switches energy providers and approximately 10% of meters do not work effectively due to poor mobile networks.

The government started with the smart meter project in 2008 and estimated completion by 2020. The aims included reducing energy bills and managing demand.

According to shadow energy minister Alan Whitehead the government is likely to extend the deadline beyond which only fully interoperable SMETS2 meters can be installed.

He said: “It hasn’t crashed yet but the ingredients are all there, we are in a really bad position.”

“It looks to me unlikely that we’re going to meet the 2020 target as a result and that is a potentially serious problem in terms of some of the basic architecture we’re going to need. said Whitehead”

Robert Cheesewright from Smart Energy GB, the independent firm publicising the rollout, said the introduction of smart meters is a “vital investment for Great Britain, leading to savings that will outweigh the costs by billions of pounds”.

“The government and Ofgem have been clear that they expect energy suppliers to pass these savings on to customers,” said Cheesewright. “The alternative to smart meters is an expensive and outdated analogue system with customers facing the uncertainty of estimated and inaccurate energy bills.”