Controversy over Smart Energy meter cost in buildings in UK

The long awaited announcement last week that smart meters would be rolled out in the UK has been surrounded by controversy today as an Ernst & Young report suggests the program will cost almost £4.5 Billion more than estimated.

The cost neutrality of the measure is now thrown into doubt ( it was claimed that the £9bn cost would be offset by £11.79 billion in savings resulting from the scheme) and it is likely that the consumer will have to foot the bill.

Smart Meters are advanced meters that identify consumption in more detail than current meters and communicate the information to the elctricity or gas provider for billing and planning purposes. The meters offer consumers the opportunity to manage their consumption to reduce the cost and in theory reduce marginal consumption during peak demand. However, if the Ernst & Young report is correct, many UK consumers could see bills rise even if they use their energy more efficiently.

In September 2008, in Ireland, the Green Party’s Energy Minister Eamon Ryan launched the first phase of a plan to roll out smart meters across the country and 60,000 consumers were invited to take part in the initial roll out.

It is not clear as yet whether smart meters will be a factor that is to be taken into account by BER assessors when assessing a property for energy efficiency. When asked today, a BER assessor in Cork suggested that the Smart meter is as much a tool to assist in improving consumer behaviour as an enhancement to the energy efficiency of the property.

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