Following recent correspondence and following the BEIS Committee’s evidence hearing on Smart Meters on 9th January, Rachel Reeves, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee has commented on the Government’s approach to the management of the roll-out programme.
The correspondence from Rt Hon Claire Perry MP, Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, responded to questions from the BEIS Committee on a number of issues including on problems deploying SMETS2 meters in the north, installation costs, and concerns around the benefits to vulnerable consumers of smart meters being installed.
Rachel Reeves, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee said:
"The smart meter rollout has been beset by problems and delays. The 2020 target will not be met and, as costs rise, it is the household customer who will eventually pick up the bill. Yet, from our evidence hearing and the subsequent Ministerial correspondence, the Government’s tendency is to sugar-coat and pretend that everything will turn out alright in the end. The Government needs to tackle these problems, get a greater grip on costs, and be much more active in holding energy suppliers and the Data Communications Company (DCC) to account for delivering this programme and within budget. The BEIS Committee will continue to monitor these issues around costs, timescales, and the operability of smart meters and hold the Government to account for their role in getting the smart meter roll-out back on track and ensuring that the interests of consumers are protected.
"Customers in the north are currently paying for smart meters through their bills but with little hope of having one installed in their homes compared to customers in the south. The Government are too passive in ensuring that the DCC and energy suppliers up their game and tackle this north/south divide. The Government and Ofgem need to take a far tougher approach to ensuring that energy suppliers stick to their obligations and provide customers with advice on how to conserve energy, when they have a smart meter installed".
The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee evidence hearing on smart meters on Wednesday 9th January followed up on the findings and conclusions of the NAO ‘Rolling out smart meters’ report (HC1680) and looked at the roll-out programme and its management by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.