Charity calls for the deadline on smart meters to be extended
A charity’s call for the deadline to install smart meters in every home to be extended by another three years until 2023 has been supported by a Midlands green energy expert.
Ron Fox backed Citizens Advice who said the timescale for the end of 2020 for the £11 billion scheme was unrealistic and that there were still many problems to overcome.
“This is important technology which could reduce householders’ energy bills, so it is worth implementing it well and providing a realistic timetable,” he said.
Ron and the charity, which has a statutory role as the advocate for UK energy consumers, are also received support from the large energy companies who face fines if they miss the 2020 deadline to put this technology into every home and business.
The Government says the advantages are that the internet-connected devices send automatic gas and electricity usage readings to suppliers, ending the need for physical readings and estimated bills.
They also believe it would save consumers money as they will be able to monitor their energy use and so wouldn’t use as much.
“But there are still many difficulties,” said Ron, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park, “as the meters are not working properly in blocks of flats nor buildings with thick walls.”
So far only 11 million of the 53 million meters required have been installed and there’s less than two and a half years to the deadline.
Another problem is that that the meters will save residents an average of just £11 a year on their energy bills, instead of the expected saving on an annual dual fuel bill of £26, according to a cross-parliamentary group of MPs. They said this was because of delays and installation costs which are now £1 billion more than planned.
In a report in a national newspaper Grant Shapps, the chair of the British Infrastructure Group (BIG), said: “The rollout is at serious risk of becoming yet another large scale public infrastructure project delivered well over time and budget, and which fails to provide energy customers with a meaningful return on their investment.”
Citizens Advice said more than 3,000 people had contacted it last year with issues about the new technology.
But Ron advised customers: “Don’t be pressurised into having a smart meter. You can reject having one, but the problem comes when your old meter is broken and needs replacing.
“Even then the supplier is allowed to install a smart meter in “dumb” mode, which means it works like the traditional, non-smart gas and electricity meters without the latest technology, but you can still change energy supplier.”
Millions more of this type of meter are being installed than first envisaged.
However, Ron said for those householders worried about ever increasing energy prices they should consider swapping to green energy using free sunlight.
For more advice contact Ron on 0845 474 6641 or go to www.noreus.co.uk