Thursday, 12 July 2007

Home owners face £400 bill to install 'smart' electricity meters

Home owners are facing a £400 bill to install 'smart' electricity meters in homes under new Government plans.

The £20 million scheme to test "smart" electricity meters in 15,000 British homes in a bid to slash energy use is to be unveiled by the Government.

'Smart' meters send a real time display of energy use - and its cost - to remote displays or on television and computer screens and are expected to help fight climate change.

Another 8,000 households will get clip-on display units linked to their existing meters and 17,000 more will be given extra advice with their bills on how to economise.

Business Secretary John Hutton will announce a deal with four power companies - EDF Energy, E.ON UK, Scottish and Southern Energy, and Scottish Power - to share the costs of the trial.

He said: "Changing consumer habits is vital if we are to cut our energy use and reduce the impact of climate change.

"Smart meters provide the cutting edge technology to enable this to happen. The results of the trials will provide invaluable evidence to support the future rollout of displays and smart meters; helping to cut consumer bills and cut our carbon emissions."

The Government wants smart meters installed in all households within a decade and all but the smallest businesses in the next five years.

It has also called for monitors to be supplied with all new meters from next year and to all households that request them between 2008 and 2010.

Alistair Buchanan, chief executive of watchdog Ofgem said: "Smart meters have great potential to help customers better understand their energy consumption and encourage energy efficiency.

"Ofgem's initial work suggests that smart meters are the future - the end of the meter reader, the ability to meter home-made electricity sales back onto the grid and vastly improved consumption data available within your home.

"These trials, which will be administered by Ofgem over the next two years, will provide us with firm evidence and hard facts about the benefits smart meters can bring."

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