Plans for the installation of smart meters in millions of homes and businesses across the UK have taken a major step forward after the government outlined rules for consumer engagement, privacy and security.
The mass roll-out of smart meters will start in late 2014 and will involve the replacement of over 53 million gas and electricity meters over a five year period.
The programme is seen as a crucial element in the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy as it will give consumers near real time information on their energy consumption helping them control their energy use, and avoid wasting energy and money.
Under the rules consumers will have choice on how often their energy supplier can access their energy consumption data and suppliers will not be able to use energy consumption data for marketing purposes unless they have explicit consent. Suppliers will also be required to give their customers reminders about the choices they have made and how they can change their minds.
Energy and climate change minister Baroness Verma said the introduction of smart meters nationwide is an enormous challenge but with huge potential benefits for millions of homes and businesses. “Let me be clear: the consumer comes first. That’s why we are tackling issues such as privacy, security, consumer protection and communications now, working with industry and consumer groups to make sure we get this right ahead of the mass rollout.”
The government will also request annual reports from all larger energy suppliers setting out their plans and progress with the roll-out. A new central delivery body will help consumers to use smart metering to better manage their energy consumption and expenditure.
The British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers Association (BEAMA) whose members include smart meter manufacturers welcomed the government’s publication of the rules.
“The smart meter rollout will give UK consumers the information they need to control their energy use,” said Dr Howard Porter, BEAMA ceo. “It’s therefore vital that the benefits to consumers are at the heart of the programme. Our members, who will be supplying a large proportion of the equipment used in the roll out, are committed to provide products that are easily understood by consumers, allow them to control their privacy and are secure.”
The proposals set out in these series of publications will make sure that consumers and suppliers can use the energy data provided by smart meters in the best way possible, at the same time as making sure consumer rights are protected.
For more details visit the DECC website.