MPs warn £11bn smart meter rollout could be a ‘costly failure’

The UK Government’s £10.9 billion plan to roll out smart meters in every home and business across the country is “veering off track”, MPs have warned. The Energy and Climate […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

The UK Government’s £10.9 billion plan to roll out smart meters in every home and business across the country is “veering off track”, MPs have warned.

The Energy and Climate Change Committee raised concerns about the “technical, logistical and public communication issues” which have resulted in delays and could prove to be a “costly failure”.

Smart meters will allow energy suppliers to get remote electricity and gas readings from households and businesses using mobile phone-type signals and wireless technologies, putting an end to estimated bills.

The rollout is due to take place between 2015 and 2020, with an estimated 53 million devices being installed. If they are rolled out on schedule, consumers would see savings of around £17 billion.

However the MPs don’t believe the rollout will be achieved by the end of the decade, running the risk of “falling short of expectations”.

Last week Energy Secretary Ed Davey confirmed the company responsible for linking smart meters with energy suppliers, network operators and energy services companies would only go live in April 2016 – six months later than initially planned.

Tim Yeo MP, Chair of the Committee said “time is running out”.

He added: “Without a significant and immediate change to the government’s present approach which aims to install smart meters in 100% of UK homes and businesses, the programme runs the risk of falling far short of expectations. At worst, it could prove to be a costly failure.”

The Committee is “disappointed” by the ongoing policy delivery challenges, which it claims the government has failed to resolve.

Mr Yeo said: “The government is at a crossroads on its smart meters policy. It 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.”

According to DECC, one million customers are already benefiting from having a smart meter.

A spokesperson added: “People with smart meters are already seeing reductions in their energy consumption and research out this week showed high satisfaction rates and confidence in the technology.

“The programme is still progressing and thousands of consumers are already enjoying the benefits of smart meters.”