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30 million smart meters to be in place by 2019

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has revealed aspirations to equip 30 million homes and small businesses with smart meters by 2019. Government hopes the mass rollout of smart meters will enable all consumers to have access to accurate billing information, ending the practice of estimated billing.

Energy and Climate Change Minister, Charles Hendry, said: “In less than three years energy suppliers will begin the mass rollout of smart meters across the country and I am determined that consumers are at the heart of this ambitious programme. That is why today we are proposing tough guidelines on installation, which will minimise inconvenience and help people to make the most of their smart meters to save energy and save money.”

The key conclusions set out by DECC include the provision against sales during an installation visit. Installers must also provide energy efficiency advice as part of the installation visit and will need explicit permission in advance from the consumer before they are able to talk to them about their own particular products. DECC has also set out that all households will be offered an in-home display in order to visually show consumers how much energy they are consuming and at what cost.

Government has also issued consultations on proposed frameworks for consumer engagement and data access and privacy ahead of the mass rollout in 2014. The consultation includes measures that the department hopes will ensure vulnerable and low income consumers benefit from the rollout of smart meters. Government has also confirmed that suppliers should develop a code of practice covering a range of key areas around the installation process.

Hendry added: “In addition, I want to be absolutely clear to consumers that they will be in control of their energy consumption data. So apart from where it is required for billing or other regulated purposes, it will be for consumers to decide who can access their data.”

DECC is also publishing an update to the Smart Meters Implementation Programme, consultations on the Smart Energy Code and the Data and Communications Company licensing conditions, the Government Response to the Rollout consultation, and updated Impact Assessments for the domestic and non-domestic sectors. It is also publishing the Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications (SMETS), which will enable suppliers to install smart meters during the Foundation Stage that will satisfy their rollout obligations.

Commenting on the announcements, Mike O’Connor, Chief Executive of Consumer Focus said: “We welcome the banning of sales during installation and that marketing will only be allowed if the customer agrees. This shows the Government has listened to consumers. We support the proposals to address consumer concerns around the privacy of information. But, to make this work, people must be aware of their rights and the choices available to them on how much information is passed to suppliers.

“It is also welcome that the Government has recognised the need for a much stronger and better co-ordinated strategy to engage consumers. Smart meters will only help people to become more energy efficient and cut their bills if they are able to easily understand and use the new technology.”

Christine McGourty, Director of Energy UK, added: “Smart meters are set to transform how consumers understand and manage their energy use at home, and today's publications are an important milestone in this exciting national programme.

McGourty concluded: “Energy suppliers are working closely with DECC and other stakeholders to ensure that smart meters deliver real benefits to people in homes and businesses around Britain, and to ensure that protections for customers are robust.”

Commenting on DECC's announcement regarding consultation on the roll out of smart meters in the UK, Don Leiper, Director of New Business, at E.ON said: "Our customers want more accurate bills, more innovative products and more control over their energy use.  Smart meters give us the opportunity to provide this, which is why we welcome this further set of decisions and recommendations from DECC which provide increased certainty on the timetable for delivering smart meters to all of our customers by 2019."

Source: Solar Power Portal

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