E.ON hits back at Parliament's smart meter worries

Energy provider E.ON has hit back at concerns in Parliament about rolling out smart meters, claiming that any delays would leave hopes of meeting EU targets in “serious jeopardy”.

Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Select Committee, said that while smart meters are a good idea there are doubts about the government’s ability to roll out the technology.

She claimed that a plan to install 53 million smart meters is both “challenging and subject to significant uncertainty”.

The implementation of smart meters, part of a move towards the Internet of Things, is likely to cost roughly £11.7 billion.  While in theory this should mean that people are able to save on their bills closely monitoring energy usage, the government’s tendencies towards bungling big IT spends has left the select committee more than a little concerned.

In fact, the report highlights concerns about going over budget – where suppliers could end up lumping customers with costs.  Supposedly, savings to the supplier firms will be passed on, but Hodge pointedly said that “the track record of energy companies to date does not inspire confidence that this will happen”.

As Ofgem has said recently, energy companies feel that they are a law unto themselves.

There are also concerns about cyber security which “need to be addressed” if consumer confidence is to be gained.

This is all happening against a backdrop of a European Directive to roll out smart meters, so there is real pressure to finalise plans.  There are currently plans to ensure that EU countries have at least 80 percent of households with smart meters by the end of the decade.

The smart meter industry is growing quickly, with Oracle, Cisco, SAP and HP all having their own strategies in place, and the industry is set to be worth shedloads.

Energy provider E.ON said in a statement to TechEye that the technology is ready to go:

“The Government intends that every property in the UK should be fitted with a smart meter by 2019 so to stop the roll out would put this in serious jeopardy.

“Smart metering creates a big opportunity for both customers and for the industry; by providing more accurate bills, helping put customers in control of their energy use and allowing us to offer more innovative products in the future.

“We’re committed to installing one million smart meters by the end of 2014 and have already fitted 90,000 across the country.

“Satisfaction levels are extremely high amongst customers who have been through our smart metering process.

“We will continue to work closely with DECC, Ofgem, consumer groups and the rest of the energy industry to ensure the roll out of smart meters in the UK is delivered effectively and efficiently.”