New plans to install smart meters in homes and businesses over four years across the country have been announced today by the Government.
Installing smart meters could save savvy consumers up to £250 on their bills, while slashing countrywide carbon emissions by 45 million tonnes – the equivalent of taking 26 million cars off the road for a year.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, energy suppliers are being granted an extra six months to ensure they have taken all reasonable measures to install smart meters in households and small businesses – making up for the reduced contact they have had with customers.
New secondary legislation laid today will see a consultation with industry set strict future annual targets that could result in fines if missed.
Minister for Climate Change, Lord Callanan, commented on the news: “Smart meters are playing an important role in helping the UK deliver a cleaner and more efficient energy system, with the added benefit of also saving tens of billions of pounds in the process.
“By allowing households to conveniently track their energy use, and prepayment customers to more easily top-up credit, we are working with industry to safely install even more across the country in a way that keeps consumers and suppliers safe.”
The rollout of smart meters will represent up to £16 billion annual savings on the cost of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 due to ‘a more flexible, cleaner energy system, while small businesses with smart meters collectively save around £1.5 billion each year on their energy bills.’
Energy suppliers have been ramping up installations, with 21.5 million smart and advanced meters already in homes and small businesses across Great Britain.
This replacement of traditional gas and electricity meters with smart meters is an essential national infrastructure upgrade that is digitising Britain’s energy system but the onset of the coronavirus crisis led to an inevitable drop in the rate of nationwide installations.
Since lockdown restrictions started easing, engineers have begun undertaking non-emergency installations of smart meters again in accordance with published guidance on safe working in other people’s homes.
Government and Ofgem ensured that energy suppliers have the flexibility to prioritise essential and emergency metering work and focus on the needs of vulnerable customers.
This has enabled them to have the safety, health and well-being of their customers and staff as their central priority when installing smart meters in homes.
Ambitious targets for individual suppliers will be agreed later this year following consultation, and will be implemented from July next year.