Public must size up new meters

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BRITISH Gas is among those which have welcomed new guidelines which will see the introduction of millions of smart meters to allow consumers to better manage their energy bills.

Ministers aim to roll out gas and electricity meters to 30 million homes and small businesses by 2019, which will provide customers with detailed information on their energy use and allow suppliers to collect readings remotely. Energy suppliers will be in charge of the mass roll-out.

Gearoid Lane, managing director of British Gas New Markets, said: “British Gas has already installed over 400,000 smart meters in homes and businesses. The message from these customers has been loud and clear – smart meters are putting them in control and helping cut bills.” Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at price comparison website, said it was important to engage consumers currently “in the dark” about smart meters.

She said: “The move towards greater consumer protection should help put consumers’ minds at ease, particularly in terms of data protection. Our research shows that four in ten people find smart meters too ‘Big Brother’ for their liking, but DECC’s [Department of Energy and Climate Change] proposal for households to be able to control access to their data will go some way to alleviating this worry and pass power back into consumer hands.

“Smart meters should provide a golden opportunity for consumers to control and ultimately reduce their energy use. However, first the public needs to be educated on the benefits – less than two in ten people received information about smart meters from their energy supplier last year.

“DECC’s centralised communications plan needs to solve this problem.”