All consumers must be offered energy smart meters by autumn 2015

The government says its expects all major energy companies to offer smart metering services to all consumers by autumn 2015.

The deadline was spelled out in a speech made to the Smart Metering Forum last  week by Baroness Verma, Department of Energy & Climate Change parliamentary under secretary of state.

She said: "By autumn 2015 we expect all major energy suppliers to offer smart metering services to both credit and pre-payment consumers and use the shared infrastructure provided by the smart Data and Communications Company, to support the completion of the roll-out by 2020."

The project involves installing 53 million smart meters in over 30 million properties.

She said: "Our smart meter programme is not just about replacing a meter at the end of the electricity wire or gas pipe.

"The smart meter programme aims to give every household technology that will not only transform the way they control their gas and electricity consumption; but also enhance the power and understanding that they have as energy customers."

Smart meters promise to give consumers near real time information, in pounds and pence, through in-home displays.

While smart meters will end overcharging through the widespread use of estimated bills by the energy companies, there may be some disquiet over the government using over £10 billion of taxpayers' money in building the smart metering network those same energy companies are using.

On the data collected by smart meters, Baroness Verma said: "Privacy, security, and data access are high in the minds of some domestic and small business users. It was crucial that we took steps to protect the privacy of individuals and made sure that they have control over the data recorded by their smart meter.

"We have put in place regulations and license conditions for this important area through the data access and privacy framework."

She said consumers will have a choice over who has access to their smart meter data, except where the data is needed to fulfill regulated duties.

In December last year, she said, there were only 260 smart meters installed in domestic properties - there are now over 100,000.

The government has already signed the Data and Communications Company Contracts. The Data and Communications Company will be responsible for linking the 53 million smart electricity and gas meters in homes and small businesses with energy suppliers, network operators and energy service companies.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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