The Government has published a set of rules for its smart meter roll-out aiming to protect the privacy of consumers as it aims to replace more than 53 million gas and electricity meters by 2019.
Under the new rules, customers can decide how often their supplier can access their energy usage data and they will not be able to use the information for marketing purposes unless they have explicit consent.
Suppliers will also be required to give their customers reminders about the choices they have made and present annual reports setting out their plans and progress of the roll-out.
Baroness Verma, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Energy and Climate Change said: “Let me be clear: the consumer comes first. That’s why we are tackling issues such as privacy, security, consumer protection and communications now, working with industry and consumer groups to make sure we get this right ahead of the mass roll-out. [This] marks an exciting step forward in delivering the smart meter programme, as we finalise the work needed to achieve the benefits we believe consumers should receive.”
Smart meters are expected to give consumers real-time information on their energy usage to help them control their energy use and avoid wasting energy and money.
The trade body for the energy industry welcomed the publication and its focus on consumers.
Angela Knight CBE, Chief Executive at Energy UK said: “Smart meters are set to transform how people understand and manage their energy use and 2013 will see a number of initiatives put in place to ensure customers understand the benefits of smart meters over the coming years. Along with other energy projects, smart meters will play an important part in modernising Britain’s infrastructure and creating jobs. Suppliers recognise the importance of putting the customer at the heart of the roll-out and are working hard on their preparations.”