By-line: Gavin O’Neill, CEO, Generis
On the 18 June 2020, the Government set out new plans to drive up smart meter installations as England’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions began to ease. The roll-out is seen as being key to the UK reducing its emissions and cutting up to £16bn off annual costs of delivering net zero emissions by 2050.
While previously it has been suggested that installation targets have been unachievable, given the impact of COVID-19, it’s critical for any future targets to be ambitious but with flexibility given to energy suppliers due to the pandemic restrictions.
What do the plans mean for consumers and the environment?
With consumer safety placed at the heart of these new plans, the Government believes that savvy consumers could save up to £250 on their bills while cutting countrywide carbon emissions by 45 million tonnes – the equivalent of taking 26 million cars off the road for a year according to the report.
And what about energy suppliers?
Responding to the significant impact of the pandemic and the resulting lack of customer contact, importantly, the new plans will grant energy suppliers an extra six months to ensure that all reasonable measures to install smart meters in homes and small businesses have been taken. Meanwhile, new secondary legislation will see an industry consultation set strict future annual targets that could result in fines if missed. Targets for individual suppliers are expected to be agreed later this year with implementation from July 2021.
The importance of smart meters in Britain’s move to a digitised energy system
As Britain moves to a more digitised energy system, the smart meter roll-out will become an increasingly important part of the national infrastructure upgrade. Indeed, suppliers have already installed over 21 million smart and advanced meters across Britain, and prior to COVID-19 restrictions, were averaging 19,000 installs a day. Although the installs have stalled since lockdown began in March, suppliers have had the flexibility to prioritise essential and emergency metering work as well as focusing on vulnerable customers.
Now, it is time to begin returning to a ‘new norm’ and start ramping up the Government’s plans for smart meter installations. Once the roll-out restarts, confidence in achieving emissions targets will grow and at the same time ensure that savings are being delivered to households and businesses which have and will continue to face, the unprecedented financial challenges this crisis has created.
A reminder why smart meters are at the heart of a digitised energy system
- Smart meters customers can easily and instantly track their energy use.
- Prepayment customers can quickly top up their credit.
- Smart meters are enabling the UK to create a more flexible and cleaner energy system. For small businesses who use a smart meter, collectively, they could save around £1.5bn each year on their energy bills.
- Smart meters are continuing to revolutionise the way consumers use electricity, from enabling cheaper off-peak electric car charging to boosting household incomes thanks to renewable energy generators.
- Easier and faster switching between Energy Suppliers
- Enable new and innovative tariffs