With a smart meter roll-out set to replace around 53 million electricity and gas meters over the next six years the Government has established a set of rules designed to protect the privacy of all those millions of customers.
The newly published set of rules will give energy consumers the power to determine how frequently their energy provider will be able to access their energy usage data. Equally paramount, the supplier will need the consumer’s explicit consent to use that information for marketing purposes.
Smart meters provide consumers with information relating to energy usage in the home in real-time, witnessing first hand how the electricity they are consuming and ultimately paying for is being used around their homes. Households will be able to embrace the technology to take charge of not only their electricity consumption but also their heating habits as a means of lowering their household gas and electricity bills, particularly in light of escalating energy prices.
According to a Department of Energy and Climate Change survey into smart meter technology, the biggest fear amongst consumers was that personal information would be used in telephone marketing, prompting a flurry of unwanted sales calls.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Baroness Verma said that the smart meter roll-out was an “enormous challenge” and that by publishing an established set of rules it marked an exciting step forward for the Government to deliver its smart meter programme.
“Let me be clear: the consumer comes first,” said Baroness Verma. That’s why we are tackling issues such as privacy, security, consumer protection and communications now, working with industry and consumer groups to make sure we get this right ahead of the mass roll-out.”
Angela Knight, chief executive of EnergyUK said the protection of consumers’ interests throughout the smart meter roll-out was paramount and consequently a range of initiatives would be put in place next year to help energy consumers become more aware of smart meter technology and its benefits. One of which will be the establishment of a central delivery body to reassure smart meter adopters and help them utilise the technology to cut their energy usage and expenditure.
“Along with other energy projects, smart meters will play an important part in modernising Britain’s infrastructure and creating jobs,” added Verma.