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Smart Meters

Volume 630: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2017

9. What assessment he has made of the effect on consumers’ awareness of energy consumption of installing a smart meter. (901643)

Recent research has been conducted by Smart Energy GB, the independent not-for-profit organisation responsible for national consumer engagement on smart meters. It found that 86% of people with a smart meter said that they had made energy-saving changes to their behaviour and that this positive action was maintained over time after installation.

The Minister is obviously aware that, by encouraging better energy consumption, the average consumer saves about £75 a year through a smart meter. Does he agree that smart meters will enable more switching of suppliers, saving the average customer £200 a year, and that this is therefore good for the environment and for consumers?

I totally agree with my hon. Friend’s analysis. Smart meters enable consumers to make more confident and informed decisions about which supplier and tariff is right for them. Interestingly, Ofgem’s survey for 2017 showed that consumers who say they have a smart meter are more likely to have switched supplier in the past 12 months.

Energy consumption and awareness is a two-way street, and the companies are aware of what energy is being consumed in the home, so what steps is the Minister taking to ensure that energy companies do not increase the customer’s daily rate as customers reduce their energy consumption?

The hon. Lady should rest assured that this is on our agenda. Increases must have Ofgem approval, and it is something we are monitoring very carefully.[Official Report, 14 November 2017, Vol. 631, c. 1MC.]

The Government consider the security of smart meters to be very important, and the whole smart meter programme was designed with the approval of the cyber-security body and all the other relevant authorities.

How does the Minister intend to make the process for switching between gas or electric companies easier for those with smart meters, as the process is extremely convoluted, to use a Ulster-Scots-ism, at present, with customer smart reading going dumb and manual readings having to be sent out?

The hon. Gentleman should be aware that the SMETS 2 programme involves complete compatibility between all the different meters, enabling people to switch. The current system that is being installed, SMETS 1, will be applicable for that in, we think, about a year, when the software allows that to happen.