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Energy Supply: Meters

Volume 482: debated on Tuesday 11 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the number of (a) electricity and (b) gas customers who temporarily disconnected themselves from their supply to credit prepayment meters which had been installed because of arrears in the latest period for which information is available; and if he will make a statement. (232193)

[holding answer 3 November 2008]: The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) monitors, and publishes information about, gas and electricity disconnections and the incidence of debt among customers. However, it is not possible for Ofgem or the Department to provide data about, or estimates of, self-disconnection by prepayment meter customers or self-restrictions on use of gas and electricity by credit customers. By its nature, this behaviour is very difficult to measure.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what evidence his Department has received on the economic case for the roll-out of smart meters to domestic properties; and on what basis the Government have made the assessment that the case is questionable. (232515)

BERR held a consultation on energy billing and metering in August 2007:

www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/energy/whitepaper/consultations/billing-metering/page40854.html

Among other things, this sought views on the Government's expectation that smart meters would be provided to all business and domestic customers over the next decade. Around 100 responses were received from a wide variety of stakeholders. The responses can be viewed at:

www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/energy/whitepaper/consultations/billingmetering/consultationresponses/page43790.html.

BERR also commissioned an independent appraisal of the costs and benefits of smart meter options which is available at:

http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file45997.pdf.

In April 2008 the Government published its response to the consultation:

www.berr.gov.uk/files/file45996.pdf

together with a consultation impact assessment on roll-out of smart meters to all domestic consumers:

www.berr.gov.uk/files/file45794.pdf

The latter, in the case of central estimates, did not indicate a positive case for roll-out. However, there was considerable uncertainty about the costs and benefits, so the Government response invited views on the impact assessment and set out a programme of work leading to a decision point later in 2008. Throughout this period, BERR officials worked closely with stakeholders to develop the overall evidence base and commissioned two independent consultancy studies to review some of the numbers and assumptions in the April 2008 impact assessment.

Although the detail of the impact assessment has not yet been finalised, work in progress suggests that, under central scenarios, there is now a positive, high level case for a domestic roll-out of smart meters. The Government therefore announced on 28 October 2008, Official Report, House of Lords, column 1515, their plans to roll out smart meters to all domestic customers,. The final impact assessment will be published soon.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change pursuant to the answer of 27 October 2008, Official Report, column 731-4W on energy: metering, if he will publish the economic impact assessment to which reference is made. (232198)

[holding answer 3 November 2008]: The economic impact assessment referred to was published in April 2008 and is available at

www.berr.gov.uk/files/file45794.pdf.

Since the answer referred to in the question, the Government have announced their plans to roll out smart meters to all domestic customers—28 October 2008, Official Report, House of Lords, column 1515.