Margot James: UK making ‘very good progress’ on smart meter rollout

  Consumers are interested in getting smart meters installed in their homes and the UK is making “very good progress” overall. That’s according to Margot James, Minister for Small Business, […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha
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Consumers are interested in getting smart meters installed in their homes and the UK is making “very good progress” overall.

That’s according to Margot James, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, who believes the nation is off to “a very good start”.

Speaking to ELN at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham this week, she said: “One of the major six companies alone has fitted 750,000 smart meters already and all the other companies are engaged in the same activity and consumers are wanting them.

“I think that’s the most important thing – that consumers are interested and as the rollout continues and gathers momentum, more and more people will be demanding smart metering for the twin benefits of reduced bills and an end to estimated bills and also clever forms of usage and greater energy efficiency.”

By the end of 2020, the government expects energy suppliers to install 53 million smart meters in homes and businesses across England, Wales and Scotland.

Ms James added: “One of the issues in terms of the scale of the efforts is the shortage of trained people who can actually fit smart meters. At the moment one of the companies is trying to train 70 people and that’s just for this year. I do understand there are issues that drag the numbers down but overall we’re overall making very good progress and 2020 is still our target.”

 

James Heappey MP, member of the Energy and Climate Change Committee believes customers should be sold an “experience than just a curious box”.

He told ELN: “If you think about your mobile phone for example, you know when your phone is 18 months old that you start to look enviously at people with the latest brand of a Galaxy or iPhone and the moment an upgrade is available you get down to the store and you get one. That’s because we’re completely sold on the need to always upgrade our connectivity to take advantage of all that new functionality.

“We just need to move consumers into the same place when they’re thinking about appliances and equipment in their home with a smart meter at its centre.”

He said government needs to do more to push demand side response and energy storage forward as they’re the “absolute linchpins in the future energy system”.

At a separate fringe session, Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Secretary Greg Clark said the government will be making announcements on energy storage “in the coming weeks and months”.

During his speech at the conference, Mr Clark added the UK’s energy infrastructure needs a clean “upgrade” while Industry and Energy Minister Jesse Norman believes the industry isn’t in bad shape.

Keep an eye out for more stories from the Conservative Party Conference over the coming days.