Utilities could end up getting “zero benefit” from smart meters despite shelling out an estimated £11billion on a nationwide rollout.
That’s the warning from a home energy management firm in the wake of a report from the EU’s data privacy watchdog.
The European Data Privacy Supervisor (EDPS) recommends that people who do not want smart meters don’t have to switch to them, or alternatively could be able to opt out of having their data used.
The report states: “These customers should be given the choice to have a smart meter installed on which ‘smart functionalities’ including both collection of granular data and remote on/off control are disabled.”
This could mean energy firms – who have to put smart meters into every UK home by 2019 – won’t be able to benefit from the data which could help them give customers new energy saving services.
Ian Rose, Professional Services Director for PassivSystems said: “If consumers don’t want smart meters, or don’t want them enabled, utilities could install them with zero benefit of the data.
“There has to be a real upside for consumers. We feel utilities haven’t properly been able to describe this, neither has DECC.”
The answer, he said is for utility companies to set out a “compelling proposition for consumers” such as how to save 40% on their energy bill with the help of smart meters.
A strong business model from suppliers – showing how they will cope with drops in energy use because of smart metering – is definitely “in their interests” he added.
If they want to win consumers over with smart meters, Mr Rose suggested energy firms need to show why they will benefit – such as a 40% saving on their bills.