Andrew Warren fears the government’s flagship smart meter programme could be heading for trouble. The Smart Metering Implementation Programme requires energy suppliers to replace 53 million meters in 30 million homes and small businesses with “smart” electricity and gas meters by 2020. All costs of the exercise are being borne by consumers via their energy bills. To date, around two million have been installed. The overall programme costs have crept up, from an initial £5bn, to the current official £10.9bn, towards a (very possible) £14bn. government ministers have continued to reiterate the energy saving benefits to consumers of these new meters. As other parts of (particularly residential) buildings-oriented programmes have been dismantled, so the rhetoric on the energy savings to consumers from smart meters is hyped up. Emblematic was the continuingly unsuccessful efforts of the energy efficiency minister Lord Bourne, appearing before the Commons energy select committee last month, to invite questions on the virtues of the programme regarding reducing overall consumption. Similarly Andrea Leadsom, his Minister of State, is claiming that by 2030 smart meters will be showing a net benefit of an astonishing £6.2bn. The problem is that there is very little evidence to support this estimate from earlier experiments in the UK and elsewhere in the world. Whilst there may well be a short-term impact, this swiftly fades. Even the Smart Meter programme managers claim to be anticipating no more than an “up to two per cent” saving.
Business Green 7th April 2016 read more »