Smart Meters

Energy and Climate Change – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 26th January 2012.

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Photo of Gordon Henderson Gordon Henderson Conservative, Sittingbourne and Sheppey 10:30 am, 26th January 2012

If he will hold a review of the smart meter infrastructure upgrade.

Photo of Charles Hendry Charles Hendry The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

The introduction of smart meters will unlock huge benefits for the people of this country. There is a solid evidence base to support the roll-out, and it is important that we start to realise the benefits sooner rather than later. The coalition Government have published detailed plans showing how we will deliver smart meters; the last thing we need is more delay.

Photo of Gordon Henderson Gordon Henderson Conservative, Sittingbourne and Sheppey

I welcome that answer, but will my hon. Friend do something to ensure that the programme costs are reported and properly controlled in the interests of those who will pay the bills—that is, the consumer?

Photo of Charles Hendry Charles Hendry The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. That is one of the most important mechanisms we have in any part of Government policy to bring benefits to consumers. The total cost of the programme is estimated to be about £11 billion and the benefits are estimated to be about £18 billion, so there will be £7 billion of benefits, and that we is why we want to see it happening as soon as we can.

Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Labour, Sefton Central

Suppliers of mobile phones include warnings with new devices about the potential danger of electromagnetic radiation. Does the Minister think that suppliers of smart meters should do the same?

Photo of Charles Hendry Charles Hendry The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

We believe that people will benefit from having smart meters, but we will not make them obligatory. If people are concerned about the electromagnetic issues, they will not be required to have one. We have been willing to give assurances to hon. Members on that account.

Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Liberal Democrat, St Ives

There is little incentive for supply companies to inform their domestic customers better on their rate of energy use, so although I appreciate what the Minister has said so far, what can the Government do to ensure that that process of better awareness and better information is speeded up?

Photo of Charles Hendry Charles Hendry The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

A very important part of this programme is education. Smart meters will work only if the consumer understands how to use them effectively to get the best value for money out of them. We are drawing a very clear distinction between education and sales practice because we do not want the installation of smart meters to be an opportunity for unscrupulous sales practices.