Half of the big six – EDF Energy, npower and ScottishPower – have publically stated that current government plans for the implementation of smart meters in the UK will cost consumers £1.8 more than necessary.
The suppliers believe the current roll out plan is too ambitious. Under the government’s plans smart gas and electricity meters will be installed in every British home by 2020. Energy suppliers are asking that this be reduced to 80% of households.
Suppliers have also asked the government to consider dropping display monitors which come with smart meters and give consumers the option of using free smart phone and tablet apps.
‘This cost is ultimately borne by the consumer’
npower’s Managing Director of Energy Services Simon Stacey said: “The Smart programme is an essential one, but we need to always look to keep its cost down because this cost is ultimately borne by the consumer.
“Now that we finally have clear guidance of the technology platform that is to be used, we need a more flexible deployment model that allows for current and future technologies to keep costs down.”
Bills set to rise in the short term
In order to fund the roll out, energy bills will increase over the next ten years. The current plan will see bills rise by £45 by 2018, although energy companies argue this figure should be closer to £30.
Ministers have stated that despite the upfront cost of the programme, consumers will save money in the long run as they will be able to more effectively monitor their usage. In addition, the cost of meter reading and billing is also expected to drop.
Consumers satisfied with smart meters
A survey carried out by uSwitch in December 2013, showed that households which already have a smart meter are happy with their more accurate billing and consequently more satisfied with their supplier.
The study also found that 81% of respondents used it to monitor and cut down their energy use. A further 87% said they would recommend the technology to a friend.
Research by British Gas, which has delivered smart meters to a selection of its customers, reported that a third of smart meter users were saving up to £75 a year, by monitoring their energy usage and altering their behaviour accordingly.