Last night John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, led a debate on smart meters in the House of Commons. He’s here to discuss his concerns with the government’s current plans for the roll-out.
Which? has been in touch with John about these concerns and passed on some of the comments you made on previous Conversations.
When Which? talked to me about the smart meter roll-out programme, it was an easy decision to put questions to this government on how it will make sure this billion-pound programme is cost-effective and delivers value for money. After all – all of us will end up footing the bill.
I believe that smart meters can help people control their energy use. I’ve listened to constituents in and around Rotherham complain about gas and electricity bills – smart meters bringing a stop to estimated bills will be a good result.
But right now this programme is costing us a lot of money. We might see benefits in the future, but those benefits could be tough to identify if the government doesn’t keep a tight control on the cost of actually getting the smart meters into our homes.
We must control smart roll-out costs
The priority right now has to be making sure that this £11 billion-pound programme is controlled so that it really ends up being worthwhile to everyone – not just the energy industry. Today, I’m just not convinced that this is happening.
I know that several people have left comments on Which? Conversation about their concerns around the smart meter roll-out. For me, I want to hear a lot more about how the government will guarantee that this roll-out will be co-ordinated and every penny spent will be scrutinised and publicised.
We should know what we’re paying for and be confident that industry spends our money wisely.
The government must listen to consumer concerns
For those who are critical of the roll-out, I think it is important that the government listens to your concerns rather than steaming ahead and letting energy companies install smart meters that most people don’t see the point of and many actively don’t want.
There needs to be much better communication around the smart meter roll-out, so that people understand what is happening – many of the benefits of smart meters will rely on people being more aware of their energy consumption.
We’ve seen the results of several national programmes – good and bad. This month we saw that Digital UK was successful in its switchover which was delivered after a pilot and carried out region by region. The government must learn from this and I urge Charles Hendry, the Energy Minister, to consider Which?’s call for a ‘stop and review’ of the smart meter roll-out.
The smart meter roll-out is just too big to fail and, especially when people are struggling to pay gas and electricity bills, the only responsible, ‘smart’ move is for the government to re-think this programme. This just cannot end up being a billion-pound calamity.
Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne – all opinions expressed here are their own, not that of Which?