Government smart meter scheme branded a ‘disappointment’

The £11bn roll out is unlikely to happen by 2020, MPs said

The government’s £11 billion smart meter scheme, which plans to roll out smart gas and electricity meters in every home and business by 2020 is likely to fail, MPs have said.

The initiative was designed to reduce energy bills, but it is now being plagued by hiccups including technical problems, muddled interoperability standards, delayed communications infrastructure and the government’s reluctance to maintain transparency with energy companies.

Energy companies have voiced their concerns for the scheme, with SSE saying the smart meters are too costly to install and customers don’t want them, while British Gas said it was experiencing technical issues and interoperability problems were delaying the initiative’s progress.

It continued that to meet government standards, it would have to replace 800,000 meters it has already provided customers with because they do not fit along guidelines set. This would substantially increase the cost of roll out and was not conducive to an efficient implementation process.

Jorge Pikunic, managing director of Smart Metering at British Gas, said: “What we probably need there is an industry solution. An industry solution will be a lot less expensive, a lot cheaper, than having each supplier going into a building installing their own technology.”

There are also concerns about the security of smart meters, following the news in November last year that a vulnerability could allow hackers to break into a home’s energy system, steal billing data or causing it to shut down.

Researchers Javier Vazquez Vidal and Alberto Garcia Illera said: “You can just take over the hardware and inject your own stuff….We started thinking about the impact this could have. What happens if someone wants to attack an entire country?”

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