Smart meters are due for domestic roll-out by 2018 and 2020 for commercial. The basic premise is that energy isn’t going to get any cheaper in the near future and consumers; domestic and commercial are going to have to manage their energy consumption – why? Because we’re digging the hard stuff [oil, gas and coal] out of the ground and the alternatives are either hugely more expensive or dangerous [e.g. Fukushima]. To enable this to happen successfully requires that the consumer is engaged in the process with the result being that they will be able to see how much, when and at what cost energy is consumed.
Venerable consumer ‘champion’ Which? has jumped on the band wagon for the latest onslaught against the government’s handling of Smart Metering. They have criticised the scheme for what they see as spiralling costs and inefficient methods of installation. Which? have recommended that Smart Meters should be installed as part of a government scheme installing meters by the street and not by energy companies fufilling a request from customers on an individual basis. Their arguement is that this will maintain a greater level of control in installation costs and that consumers will not end up paying for what should be part of an energy and cost saving exercise.
Does the capitalist model really work for the distribution and sale of homogenous and essential products to our society? The notion that the UK’s ‘competitive market solution’ will keep costs down is facile. We have a full–blown oligopoly in place, the DECC is staffed by scores of interns from the Big 6, the Big 6 have established direct ministerial links to facilitate the ‘considered contributions of the Energy suppliers in government policy’, OFGEM are still bleating to be given at least some enforcement capabilities in legislation after the best part of a decade in the wilderness, rambling on at Commons Select Committees, achieving virtually nothing.
Why, as ever are we missing the blindingly obvious; we can’t expect the Big 6 to be altruistic or philanthropic [despite some of their disingenuous marketing], they are in it to make money for shareholders… they’re all powerful oligopolistic global players who have got our government under their collective thumb. Efforts by German and French governments to constrain the likes of Eon, RWE and EDF has got the Energy companies suing their respective governments for recompense!
Come on; let’s have a bit of a wake-up here. The suppliers don’t really have any pressure on them to do a good job. If it costs a lot, currently they simply pass on the costs. There is very little discussion of the savings they make through reduced customer services, reduced meter reading costs etc. Simplistically meters should be replaced as a matter of course [nominated lifespan of 10 years], and doing it piecemeal probably doesn’t make much economic sense, however the reality would be unstructured whatever is tried.
To be honest, probably the last thing we need is Which’s suggestion that the government run the scheme. Keep it straight forward:
So it’s as simple as that. Watch it all smoothly glide into operation. We shall see.
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