Smart meters to cut energy bills by just £11 say MPs: Much less than originally hoped
People who have smart meters installed are expected to save an average of £11 annually on their energy bills, much less than originally hoped.
A report from a parliamentary group now predicts a dual fuel saving of £26.
In a critical report, the 92 MPs and peers also said the government was likely to miss its own deadline to have the £11bn switchover completed.
Up to 53 million smart meters were to be installed in 30 million homes and businesses by the end of 2020. A smart meter is designed to replace traditional gas and electricity meters.
It automatically sends usage data to suppliers via the mobile phone network, and comes with a display showing users how much energy they are using – and the cost in pounds and pence.
Conservative MP Grant Shapps, the chairman of the British Infrastructure Group (BIG), said the programme had 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”.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Shapps said one of the reasons for the “mess” was that “first generation” smart meters, which do not always work when a customer switches supplier, will continue to be rolled out until next year.
He added: “We need to shift to a reliable timetable, we need to quit installing obsolete old meters… and we need to have the regulator become a lot tougher.”
The government said smart meters were already putting consumers in control of their energy use, while industry body Energy UK said suppliers were committed to meeting the deadline of seeing all households and businesses offered a smart meter by 2020.
Smart Energy GB, which is promoting the roll out of the smart meters, said: “All smart meters mean an end to estimated billing and give people a greater understanding of their energy use.
“Smart meters are also making prepay cheaper and more convenient, bringing the way we pay for our energy up-to-date, enabling customers to top up online or over the phone.”
Customers have financed the smart meter programme by paying a levy on their energy bills, while suppliers have frequently blamed the levy for rising costs.
However, the report claimed most of the eventual savings would be made by energy firms, rather than consumers.
“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 Mr Shapps.