Are Energy Suppliers The Real Beneficiaries Of Smart Meters?

Jan 05, 2015

The UK public is unaware of how smart meters are meant to benefit them and believe it will be the energy companies themselves that reap the rewards, according to new research.

Commissioned by software quality solutions provider SQS and carried out by research firm YouGov, the study claims 37% of the 2058 UK adults surveyed said smart meter suppliers will benefit from the technology the most.

Only 28% of participants said they believed they would benefit the most from smart meters, although many also said they are looking to their energy provider for better energy control and personalised treatment which smart metering is said to enable.

The UK public also appears to be cynical about the technology being rolled out in the given time frame.

In December, the government announced the network will not be ready to go live until March 2016 while the project will not be finished until 2020.

The smart metering initiative is already over budget at £10.9bn spent so far – more than £1.5bn expected.

Of those surveyed by YouGov, 62% doubt smart meters will be delivered in the timeframe stated because trust in large IT projects is low.

Customers Worried, But See Potential Benefits

“The smart meter roll out is a wake-up call for established energy providers,” claimed Angus Panton, director of power and communications at SQS.

“Our study shows that consumers want target, value-added services and greater control over their energy use, but don’t always trust their existing provider to deliver.

“There is widespread cynicism about the viability of big IT projects and 62% doubt smart metering will happen in the shifting timeframes.

“Despite the cynicism, there is an overall customer desire for the advantages and benefits smart meters will deliver,” he added.

Participants in the research seemed to have low trust in energy suppliers as a whole, rather than just smart meters.

One in three say their provider has a poor track record of inaccurate billing, poor customer services and delays in problem solving.

Meanwhile, 41% of respondents said they believed suppliers who are eager to prove themselves and are not held back by old technologies could provide a better service.

To improve services, 51% said they want to see services, tariffs and offers that reflect how they actually use energy, while 22% want to see personalised customer support.

Accurate, trustworthy billing topped the “wish list” at 48%, closely followed by a clear understanding what uses up the most and least energy at 44%.

Suppliers Must Get It Right First Time Round

“The new smart world will generate large volumes of data and for established suppliers it is vital they have the high performing, integrated infrastructure in place to capture, secure and make the most of the real-time data they generate, all day, every day,” claimed Panton.

“Now is the time to test everything, and then test it again – or to turn to the experts who can test it for you. There won’t be a second change to get this right,” he added.


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