Smart meters to help cut city's power bills

THE Ross Bandstand and Scott Monument are among hundreds of public buildings to be fitted with "smart" meters as part of a drive to cut the city's soaring power bills.

Schools, museums and libraries are also getting the meters, which track hour-by-hour how much electricity, gas and water they use.

The council's energy bills rose by nine per cent to 14.4 million last year, thanks largely to rising wholesale electricity prices.

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As well as the rising cost, it means the council is failing to meet targets of cutting carbon emissions by five per cent a year.

The "smart" meters will be installed in 422 buildings at a cost of 318,140 a year to rent in the hope they will ultimately save money.

They will allow the local authority to act quickly to cut energy waste rather than waiting for quarterly bills.

Other high-profile buildings which will be fitted out include the Nelson Monument on Calton Hill, Museum of Childhood and Museum of Edinburgh.

City environment leader Councillor Robert Aldridge said: "Historically the data provided to analyse our energy use has been poor, which is an advantage of the smart meters as they will provide instant, accurate information on energy use."

Sixty-four council buildings already have "smart" meters but they are now being rolled out to almost every council-owned building.

Cllr Ian Murray, Labour's finance spokesman, said the idea would only solve part of the problem.

"It would be good for schools in particular to see what they are using," he said. "The only problem is, if they are losing a lot of ambient energy through dodgy windows or leaky roofs, there is not much they can do."

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The new meters will support the council's attempts to improve its environmental performance in line with Scotland's Climate Change Declaration, which the local authority has signed up to.

A new sustainable development strategy is to be drawn up which will look at climate change policies. The council has had a carbon management officer since August.