Last year your comments about the government’s plans to roll out smart meters leapt to our attention. Some of you clearly weren’t happy. Today we’re calling for the government to stop and review the roll-out.
Some of you were also upset with Which? – you wanted us to do more to challenge the government on its roll-out plans. Well we have.
We’re urging the government to rethink its smart meter roll-out until it has conducted an urgent review.
There were over 500 comments on last year’s smart meter Convos. Some of you stood up for the new technology and its roll-out into all our homes by 2019. But some vented your fury over the UK’s smart plan, with a key concern being the cost – projected to be at least £11 billion.
What a ‘smart’ community
As your comments poured in we decided to commission a thorough review. And while this research (carried out by the Centre for Sustainable Energy) was being put together we also made sure that other important bodies knew about your comments.
In one Conversation, someone said they didn’t think I existed! Well, I can assure you I do. Over the past few months I have attended meetings and industry events where I have stood up – not always to welcome attention – to say how many of you have told us on Which? Conversation that you’re concerned.
We also sent some of your comments to the Public Accounts Committee – probably Parliament’s most powerful committee of MPs – which has been investigating the roll-out. Industry and government reps have previously told me that it’s too early to discuss smart meters with the public, but I said that our Which? Conversation ‘smart’ community was well and truly up and running.
Energy suppliers read your concerns
One of the best moments for me was when I sat next to one of the top directors of a big energy supplier and saw him studying Which? Conversation on his laptop, rather than listening to the conference speaker.
He scrolled through cat avatars and the string of comments you had made. He would have read about your concerns that energy suppliers would benefit from the roll-out, but would consumers? He probably saw that some of you wanted more reassurance about health concerns and data privacy. And I really hope he read Chris’ comment:
‘I see no real harm in the concept of a smart meter, it’s this use for that £11 billion I’m not keen on, especially as times are currently tough. It would buy an awful lot of insulation.’
It’s time to press pause on the roll-out
Now Which? has said to the government that we think it’s time to stop the roll-out. The government’s current strategy is flawed and it must review its approach. We want the government to convince us that it will have full control over the roll-out’s costs, as we all have to pay for it.
And, as it stands, the roll-out is far too industry led, with the government seemingly crossing its fingers in hope that suppliers will install 50 million smart meters into all of our homes in the most cost-effective and responsible way. The energy companies need to be reigned in.
So, what’s the smart way forward? Stop the smart meter roll-out, government, rethink and demonstrate that you are leading this, not big businesses. As always, let us know what you think. We are listening.