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Smart meters - key to the low carbon transition?

smartmetergoogleYesterday the government announced its roll-out plan for smart meters.This is great news in one respect, finally a mechanism to help us be more aware of and reduce our day-in, day-out use of energy. And we welcome the government’s recognition that, above all, engaging people with their energy use needs to be at the heart of what has tended to be a rather technical debate about roll out models and meter design.

Even so, a new Green Alliance report, Bringing it home, argues that until the retail energy market is reformed, energy companies will have little motivation to use either the smart meter installation process, or the data they receive from them, to actually help people save energy.

Forty per cent of the business case is based on assumed reductions in energy use and DECC has heralded smart meters as saving £7.3bn over the coming two decades. But these savings will only be realised if people know how to respond to the information they receive and are encouraged to do so. The requirement for energy companies to provide an in-home display device (IHD) along with the smart meter is central to consumer engagement and was a hard won victory. But even with that, the current plans don’t oblige energy companies to do much more than show people how to use it.

Energy companies make their money from selling energy and the government has had to force energy companies to help their customers reduce consumption. Until companies can make money by saving energy as well as selling it, as they do in California, you won’t find many companies going out of their way to help people find out how they can achieve the savings promised by government.

Our view in detail 

See here for our take on key points from the government's response to the stakeholder consultation

See further details on our smart meters work here

For more information on this work please contact Faye Scott, senior policy adviser, 020 7630 4524

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