All SMEs to get Smart Meters by 2020
All UK homes and small businesses will have smart meters installed by 2020, the Government has announced, making it easier for them to monitor and reduce their energy usage.
Part of the Government’s strategy to reduce energy consumption, the meters will send information on real-time gas and electricity usage directly to utility companies, and will help firms identify how much energy they are using.
According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, moving to smart meters will enable ‘quicker and smoother’ switches between suppliers, and could save homes and businesses up to £3.6 billion over the next two decades. Roll-out of the new meter system is expected to start in 2012.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, said of the announcement;
“Smart meters will empower all consumers to monitor their own energy use and make reductions in energy consumption and carbon emissions as a result smart meters will also mean the end of inaccurate bills and estimated meter readings.
“This is a big project affecting 26 million homes, and several million businesses, so it’s important we design a system that brings best value to everyone involved"
However, the government has yet to confirm who will pay for the new system, which is set to cost around £9 billion. It is expected that utility companies will foot the majority of the installation bill, and pass on part of the charge to customers.
Commenting on the new proposals, the British Chambers of Commerce said that extending smart metering to small firms was a positive step for businesses, as it would give them greater control of their energy consumption. BCC senior policy adviser, Gareth Elliott, added;
“For far too long, businesses have faced an unequal relationship with their suppliers based on confusing and complicated pricing structures and contract terms,”
“Smart meters will go a long way to empower businesses to take control of their energy usage and assist them in becoming more energy efficient,” he said. “They will also offer a level of transparency that up to now has simply not been available.”
According to the Energy Retail Association, which represents electricity and gas firms, the cost of smart meters would be spread over a period of ten years, and would enable big cost savings for the energy industry, meaning that smart meters would be ‘cost-neutral’ to customers.