Suppliers responsible for smart meter installation

Energy suppliers will be responsible for installing "smart meters" for gas and electricity in all homes by 2020 under final plans for the scheme published by the Government.

Energy suppliers will be responsible for installing "smart meters" for gas and electricity in all homes by 2020 under final plans for the scheme published by the Government.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said the smart meters, which enable power companies to take readings remotely and will spell the end of estimated billing, will save consumers money, make electricity use more efficient and cut carbon emissions.

The meters will be supplied with separate real time display units which can be kept elsewhere in the house so homeowners can see how much energy they are using, their carbon emissions and how much it is costing them.

DECC estimates that people could save around £28 a year by 2020 on domestic bills - although householders who use the standalone display units to help them use energy more efficiently could save more, for example by putting on appliances such as washing machines at night when electricity is cheaper.

Installing 47 million of the meters in 26 million homes by 2020 will cost between £7 billion and £9 billion, or around £340 per household.

However, DECC said the savings, which would be around £92 a year for small businesses, would be on top of any costs fed back to consumers.

Following the announcement by the Government, British Gas said the roll-out of smart meters would create 2,600 jobs in the company by 2012, including 2,100 experts in the field, 400 support staff and 100 managerial jobs.

The energy company, which has already run trials of the smart meters, said almost three quarters of householders trying them out were more aware of the energy use than they had been before.

The Government also published a report on the case for "smart grids" which would help manage the UK's energy supplies and demand more efficiently. In the future, smart grids could have the capacity to manage supply that is more intermittent as more wind power feeds into the grid, for example by automatically powering down freezers for short periods when the power is needed for peaks in demand.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Lord Hunt said: "Smart meters will put the power in people's hands, enabling us all to control how much energy we use, cut emissions and cut bills. Smart grids will help manage the massive shift to low carbon electricity such as wind, nuclear and clean fossil fuels.

"Globally the business of developing smart grids has been estimated at £27 billion over the next five years and the UK has the know-how to be part of that."

DECC said the introduction of smart meters would be the responsibility of the energy suppliers but would be centrally co-ordinated to make it easy for customers to switch between companies and to develop smart grids in the future.

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