These facts were acknowledged by the UK Government when Baroness Verma gave an update on DECC progress towards mass-market roll-out of in-home smart-meter installation by 2020. She said: “The best way to keep everyone’s bills down is to help people to save energy, ensure fair tariffs and have active competition amongst the suppliers.
“We are all working hard to see a successful roll-out of smart meters to all homes and small businesses by 2020. Smart meters are a key part of the energy efficiency agenda.Key to putting control in the hands of the consumers, putting an end to passive observation, and instead, active engagement, in-home displays will give consumers near real-time information in pounds and pence.
“This will help enable consumers to better manage energy consumption, save money and secure sustainable energy supply. In bringing an end to estimated billing, consumers with smart meters will receive accurate bills, one of the biggest causes for complaints energy suppliers are inaccurate bills.”
The government expects consumers will be better informed and able to switch suppliers in order to see reductions on their bills. Switching will be faster and easier as a result of smart meters. Smart metering will also make the whole experience of being an energy consumer and interacting with energy suppliers more accessible, increased engagement will drive a more vibrant and competitive market, consumers will have more control.
Verma – Under Secretary of State for Energy in the UK Government – added: £We are committed to putting consumers at the heart of the programme.We have achieved a lot in the past year, working closely with all stakeholders, I feel very proud of the achievements during my first ministerial year at DECC.
In December last year there were 260 smart meters installed in domestic properties, now there are over 100,000.
“We are making good progress to enable every customer and small business to be offered a smart meter before the end of 2020. Over the past year we have hit a number of important milestones.
We have published the Consumer Engagement Strategy, which sets out the steps to take to ensure we get consumer engagement right to help ensure an efficient roll out and to ensure consumers reap the full benefits from their smart meter;
Published the second set of key decisions on the Smart Metering Technical Specifications Version two;
Announced the conclusion of a successful procurement on behalf of industry to establish the Data and Communications Company, Data Services Provider and Communications Service Providers. The DCC will enable communications between smart meters and; energy suppliers, network operators and other authorised service users.
Established the Central Delivery Body, which will be responsible for engaging consumers with smart meters;
Agreed the Smart Meters Installation Code of Practice which sets out standards for the installation visit and ensures consumers’ interests are protected, and;
Made significant investment in preparation for mass roll-out, leading to the creation of jobs and training opportunities
“In December 2013, The Central Delivery Body will publish its Consumer Engagement Plan. This will be a key milestone in the delivery of smart meters, and will set out a range of activities which will be undertaken in 2014 to further engage consumers.
“We will see 30 million homes and small businesses receive new smart meters by 2020.
Over the next 20 years, the roll-out of smart meters is expected to deliver sizable economic benefits. Smart metering is already driving investment and creating jobs and will increasingly do so up and down the country.
Verma added: “For example, Arqiva has announced 150 jobs protected and 160 jobs created as a result of contracts with the DCC. British Gas recently announced that they had signed a contract with Landis & Gyr that would result in Landis & Gyr doubling their 600-strong UK smart meter manufacturing workforce. British Gas also announced that they would be recruiting an extra 500 smart energy experts.
“As the roll-out progresses, we expect more jobs to be created, many of these will be UK based, with the latest industry estimates indicating that between 6,000 and 7,000 meter-installers may be required.”