SMART meters will save consumers only £11 a year despite costing £11BILLION to roll out, according to a report.
Expected household savings on an annual dual fuel bill has fallen from £26 because of delays and cost increases to the programme.
There are 11 million smart meters in operation across the country[/caption]
The government is also likely to miss its deadline of having 53 million smart meters installed in 30 million homes and businesses by the end of 2020, according to a report by the British Infrastructure Group.
“The planned £11billion roll-out has been plagued by repeated delays and cost increases, with suppliers now almost certain to miss the 2020 deadline, and programme benefits likely to be slashed even further,” said Conservative MP Grant Shapps, the chairman of group, which is made up of 92 MPs and Lords.
Smart meters are designed to replace traditional gas and electric meters by monitoring usage data, displaying it to customers and sending it to suppliers via the mobile phone network.
Criticisms of the government's smart meter program
The British Infrastructure Group has criticised the programme for a number of reasons including:
- More than half of “first generation” smart meters “go dumb”, meaning that they stop displaying data and sending it to suppliers.
- Up to 10 per cent of smart meters don’t work because they are in areas without strong enough mobile phone signal.
- By the end of this year only 22 per cent of homes will have smart meters installed, making it likely that the 2020 deadline will likely be missed.
- There is no unifed way for customers to check who is accessing thier data.
- Delays and cost increases to the programme means that the expected saving on an annual duel fuel bill in 2020 has falled from £26 to just £11.
- The cost of the programme could eventually outweigh the benefits.
The roll-out has been plagued with problems, including a number of poorly fitted smart meters being blamed for causing fires in several homes.
It also emerged that millions of “first generation” meters installed in households may need to be replaced because of an IT error.
“The roll-out is consequently at serious risk of becoming yet another large scale public infrastructure project delivered well over time and budget and which fails to provide energy customers with a meaningful return on their investment,” said Shapps in the report.
Smart meters save energy firms more cash than their customers, said the report, because the programme has been funded by a levy applied to energy bills.
The cost of the programme could outweigh the benefits, according to the report[/caption]
The group has called on the government to recognise that the 2020 deadline will not be met and reassess the savings consumers can expect to see on their bills.
The report also recommends that customers are compensated for each day their smart meter malfunctions and that suppliers start mass production of second generation meters immediately.
But the government disagrees, saying that smart meters will deliver a £300million annual saving for households in 2020 – rising to £1.2million by 2030.
“Smart meters are putting consumers in control of their energy use and are already benefiting millions of homes and small businesses across the UK – with 80 per cent recommending a smart meter to family and friends,” said a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
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“It’s simply wrong to say first-generation meters are ‘obsolete’ as they offer smart services now and will continue do so as they are enrolled into the smart metering network.
“However we welcome ideas on how to ensure the ongoing success of the smart meter roll out and are already working with Ofgem on issues raised in the report,” the spokesperson added.
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