Today DECC issued a consultation on what companies should do during the smart meter roll-out. After a lot of discussion here about smart meters, we thought we’d explain how we’re taking your concerns on board.
And we know a lot of you are simply not convinced about the benefits smart meters will bring – as well as the cost that their introduction may add to our energy bills.
So we’ve decided to take stock of what’s happened so far and conduct an investigation into whether the current plans for the roll-out are really up to the job. A recent National Audit Office report raised a number of concerns about the government’s plans and it’s time for a similar investigation from the consumer’s point of view.
Smart meter costs
A central part of this investigation needs to be a consideration of whether the costs are realistic and proportionate, as well as ensuring that the roll-out’s costs are controlled.
As we face a future of rising energy costs, it’s clear that you – and us here at Which? – will not tolerate a smart meter roll-out that goes millions over budget. This is particularly true when the current plans expect consumers to pick up the tab, so we’re looking at how we can make this fairer, and who will be responsible for extra costs if it does go over budget.
Another element we will look at is the data that smart meters collect, and what provisions the government has in place for keeping this secure. Smart meters allow your utility company to take regular meter readings and (for pre-payment customers) details about payment.
Again, we believe that this can be improved, and hopefully the investigation will give us more information about what provision has been made for data protection during the roll-out, and how companies are complying.
Our researchers are also conducting in-depth interviews with Which? members who already have a smart meter fitted. These will be happening over the next few weeks and we hope to be able to share any interesting results from the interviews with you.
Responding to DECC
While we put the smart meter roll-out under the microscope, we hope that DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change), like Which?, is taking serious notice of the concerns being voiced by you, the consumer. Its consultation today takes into account some of the issues raised by our ‘no selling, just installing’ smart meter campaign, which is great news.
Let’s hope that when we publish our findings in a few months’ time, it can use the information to make decisions on smart meters that will alleviate concerns and address the issues that many of you have raised here on Which? Convo.
In the next couple of weeks, we will give you more information about how we’re going to conduct this investigation and report back to you on this Conversation. As well as feeding in all the comments and questions you’ve already posted, we’ll find other ways for you to feed in your views.
In the meantime, if there’s anything you’d like to tell us about the smart meter roll-out that you haven’t done previously, please share your comments below.