Building & Design

UK smart meter rollout to start in less than three years, says government

The rollout of smart meters to 30 million UK homes and businesses will start in less than three years, Energy and Climate Change Minister Charles Hendry said today, unveiling new installation guidelines.

The guidelines stipulate that energy suppliers will not be able to make any sales pitches during the smart meter installation and must provide energy efficiency advice as part of the visit.

All householders will also have to be offered an in-home display allowing them to see how much energy is being used and what it is costing.

“In less than three years energy suppliers will begin the mass rollout of smart meters across the country and I am determined that consumers are at the heart of this ambitious programme,” Hendry stated. “[These] tough guidelines on installation… will minimise inconvenience and help people to make the most of their smart meters to save energy and save money.”

The proposals also give consumers a choice about who has access to their data, except that needed for billing or other regulatory obligations, and aim to ensure that vulnerable and low income consumers can benefit from the rollout.

“I want to be absolutely clear to consumers that they will be in control of their energy consumption data,” says Hendry. “So apart from where it is required for billing or other regulated purposes, it will be for consumers to decide who can access their data.”

The plans have been largely welcomed by Consumer Focus, with chief executive Mike O’Connor commenting:
“We welcome the banning of sales during installation and that marketing will only be allowed if the customer agrees… We support the proposals to address consumer concerns around the privacy of information. But, to make this work, people must be aware of their rights and the choices available to them.”

The government’s smart meter rollout plan is scheduled to being in 2014 and be completed by 2019. As part of that programme, the government is also publishing today consultations on data and communications licensing conditions and technical specifications for smart meter equipment.

Energy supplier E.ON has been among the first to welcome the announcement.

“We aim to install one million smart meters during the foundation period which runs until 2014 and today’s announcement from the Department of Energy and Climate Change gives us greater confidence,” says Don Leiper, director of new business.

The company says that take-up of smart meters has been so high already that it is planning to open a second smart metering centre of excellence to provide advice from staff who have smart meters in their own homes.

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Related stories:
Honeywell and SSE rollout Thames Valley smart grid project (25-Jan)
Parliamentary committee warns of ‘uncertainties’ on smart meter rollout (17-Jan)
UK energy regulator Ofgem awards £57 million to six smart grid projects (29-Nov 2011)
British Gas chooses German company Elster for smart meter rollout (30-Sept 2011)

05 April 2012