NEA and the smart meter rollout
NEA believes that smart metering has the potential to provide real benefits for vulnerable and low-income householders. In particular, we are supportive of the capacity of smart meters to end estimated billing, to provide greater control over personal energy use, and to make payment for ‘pay as you go’ energy much more convenient.
We know that many low-income consumers ration their energy use in the Winter due to fear of a shock bill and smart meters will help put consumers in control of the energy they are using. We also know the existing infrastructure is dated; with many consumers still reliant on coin or dial meters, some consumers not paying for their own energy but instead paying for a neighbour’s energy, and we still find meters wired up incorrectly or billing erroneously and many tenants (who pay direct to their landlord) unsure whether they are truly paying for what they use.
Our concerns with the smart meter rollout have been mainly based on evidence that without additional support and education some vulnerable householders will not have sufficient understanding of how to interact with their ‘in home display’ effectively and how to act appropriately on the information it provides. At best, this means they could miss out on the opportunity to make sensible adjustments to their energy-usage behaviour and at worst, they could ration their energy usage to a level which is detrimental to their health and wellbeing.
NEA’s focus continues to be to ensure existing controls are properly utilised and enforced, supplier behaviours are closely monitored and consumers are properly protected, engaged and supported throughout the smart meter rollout.