New smart meter proposals to safeguard consumers
The national roll-out of smart meters is now one step closer after the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published decisions on rules for consumer engagement, privacy and security.
Government is aiming to fit a smart meter in every home in Britain by 2019. Under its smart meter strategy energy suppliers will shoulder the responsibility of pushing the national roll-out – set to start in 2014.
Under the newly announced rules consumers will be able to choose how often their energy supplier can access their consumption data. Suppliers will be forbidden from using consumer energy consumption data for marketing purposes without explicit consent. The new restrictions facing suppliers use of personal data will help dispel fears of energy companies misusing private information.
DECC will set up a new ‘central delivery body’ that will help consumers maximise the benefit of smart metering to lower energy consumption and expenditure. As part of the process, government will request annual reports from all larger energy suppliers setting out their plans and progress with the national rollout of smart meters.
Energy Minister Baroness Verma said: “The introduction of smart meters nationwide is of course an enormous challenge, representing a vast upgrade of our energy system, but with huge potential benefits for millions of homes and businesses and for Great Britain as a whole.
“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 roll-out.
“Today marks an exciting step forward in delivering the smart meter programme, as we finalise the work needed to achieve the benefits we believe consumers should receive.”
Responding to DECC’s announcements on smart meters, Angela Knight, Chief Executive of industry body Energy UK, said: “Smart meters are set to transform how people understand and manage their energy use and 2013 will see a number of initiatives put in place to ensure customers understand the benefits of smart meters over the coming years. Along with other energy projects, smart meters will play an important part in modernising Britain’s infrastructure and creating jobs.
“Suppliers recognise the importance of putting the customer at the heart of the roll-out and are working hard on their preparations. They will continue to work closely with Government and others to make it a success. We welcome today’s publications and particularly their focus on the customer.”
Solar Power Portal
Author: Peter Bennett