Smart Energy GB, the campaign group for the national smart meter roll-out, has hit back after the Institute of Directors (IoD) criticised the project.
The business organisation issued a report at the end of March, calling for the smart meters scheme to be halted, altered or scrapped to avoid what it said could turn out to be the next government IT disaster and an unjustified, over-engineered and expensive mistake.
Between now and 2020, every home and small business in England, Scotland and Wales will be offered a smart meter by their energy supplier at no extra cost. These modern meters will provide consumers with accurate energy bills, near real-time information on their energy usage in pounds and pence, and greater control over their gas and electricity.
But according to the IoD, the £11 billion scheme is too expensive and is not supported by consumers. Amongst its recommendations, the organisation suggested removing the requirement for an in-home display and limiting the rollout to homes with high energy usage – reducing the scale of the project by 80%. It also said that the whole programme could be abandoned in favour of a smartphone app that would be used by consumers to submit meter readings.
Commenting on the report, Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Smart Energy GB, said that the IoD wanted to reverse the modernisation of Britain’s energy system:
It is extraordinary that the IoD wants only one in five of the country to use modern technology to buy their gas and electricity, and that they think that this one in five should only be those who are rich and live in large houses. They are happy for the rest of the country to be left behind.
The IoD does not understand what’s needed to secure Britain’s energy infrastructure for the future. They are suggesting that the future of our energy supply should rely on an amateur solution, with old and new technology muddled up and people texting in photos of old meters to fill in the gaps.
The smart meter roll-out must be for everybody. It will only deliver the national transformation Britain needs if every home is part of this national upgrade.
Our recent survey shows that 22% of UK respondents believe UK energy consumers generally understand and are convinced by the benefits of installing smart meters. The average across Europe is 31% (and almost half of French and Italian respondents). This is directly correlated to the level of deployment of smart meters in each country. The UK is a long way behind many other European countries, with the UK roll-out to begin in earnest towards the end of the year. Governments and the private sector must work together to educate consumers about the benefits of smart meters. Simon Hobday, Partner