There have been some spectacularly botched IT projects in recent years but few match the roll-out of “smart” meters. This is one of the most extensive infrastructure programmes ever seen, on a par with the conversion to North Sea gas in the Seventies. The original aim (set by the EU) was that they should be installed in 80 per cent of homes and small businesses by 2020. After delays and a slow take-up, despite an expensive advertising campaign, the target has been revised to 85 per cent by 2024. The theory behind smart meters is sensible enough. People can see better what they are spending on energy and, armed with this information, can cut bills and consumption, thereby helping to reduce carbon emissions. But consumers with first-generation models who switch suppliers find the smart meter no longer works and reverts to dumb status. The Government initially contemplated making the meters compulsory but thought better of it. But to all intents and purposes they are. The climate change minister Lord Duncan has threatened customers hanging on to “relic” devices to get smart or face high maintenance costs. This would be quite a “significant stick”, he said. What a cheek.
Telegraph 31st Oct 2019 read more »