Despite the fact that we have corresponded with DECC and supplied them with consultation responses previously, we were sent the following information by a Stop Smart Meters! UK member just a few hours ago.
A House of Commons Select Committee is sensing growing opposition to Smart Meters and is seeking ideas for how to combat it. In its online request for assistance, it admits that Smart Meter success will eventually be driven by “automated controls” and people replacing their current appliances with “smart” versions to “reduce their energy use further”. In parallel, energy suppliers can expect to “benefit from reduced operating and generation costs”.
Some consumers have smart meters already, but most people will not get them until the mass roll-out programme between 2014 and 2019. Evidence from our recent Consumer Engagement inquiry suggests that currently about half of people have heard of smart meters and that not all of them support roll-out. If engagement levels do not increase and people refuse to allow smart meters to be installed in their home, then roll-out may be hindered and consumers may not benefit from the technology as they could. Consumer concerns have hampered roll-out in other countries, and in this inquiry we seek to learn how such concerns could be addressed in order to prevent similar problems in the UK.
(Bold emphasis added by us.)
More than half a million Smart Meters have already been installed, yet the Committee is only now seeking answers to these questions:
- Are the Government’s cost and timescale predictions for roll-out realistic and will it deliver value for money?
- What are the potential benefits of smart meters for consumers, and what barriers need to be overcome in order for consumers to realise them?
- Is there a possibility that suppliers will gain considerably more than consumers from smart meters? Is enough being done to ensure that any financial benefits accruing to suppliers will be passed on to consumers?
- What lessons can be learned from successful smart meter implementation and usage elsewhere in the world?
- Will smart meters empower customers to take greater control of their energy consumption?
- Will consumers on pre-pay meters obtain the same benefits from smart meters as other consumers?
- Should vulnerable customers and the fuel-poor be first in line for smart meters so they can get the benefits sooner?
- What is the best way of involving third-party trusted messengers, such as charities, consumer groups, community organisations, local authorities and housing associations in roll-out?
- What are the potential obstacles to rolling out smart meters in the UK and how should these be addressed? What pitfalls have hindered roll-out programmes elsewhere and are we doing all we can to avoid them?
- Are levels of public awareness of and support for smart meter roll-out increasing?
- Is enough being done to increase consumer awareness about smart meters? Could DECC’s consumer engagement strategy be improved?
- Are consumers’ concerns about privacy and health being addressed adequately?
- Is there any evidence that consumers’ concerns about smart meters are declining or growing?
- Will the commercial benefits of smart meter roll-out be captured within the UK?
- Will DECC’s current approach to roll-out, including on procurement and establishment of the central Data and Communications Company, deliver an optimal data and communications strategy?
- What criteria should DECC use to measure the ongoing success of roll-out?
Call us old-fashioned, but if we were going to spend £11.5 billion+ of your taxes, we would have asked all the necessary questions well in advance of deciding to do so and gained satisfactory answers – especially to the ones we’ve emphasised above. Is it any wonder these enormously expensive projects end up costing far more than anticipated, resulting only in benefits for vested financial interests rather than citizens?
The deadline for the submission of written evidence is tomorrow, Thursday 07 February 2013. Details on how you can have you say are here http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/energy-and-climate-change-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/smart-meter-roll-out/
Incidentally, who do you think these “third party trusted messengers” are? Answers on a postcard…