A report from the Institute of Directors (IoD) warns that the government's rollout of smart meters “should be 'halted, altered or scrapped' to avoid a potentially catastrophic government IT disaster.”
The report, entitled “Not too clever: will Smart Meters be the next Government IT disaster?” describes the £11bn scheme as “unwanted by consumers, over-engineered and mind-blowingly expensive." ........Earlier this month, the Energy and Climate Change Committee stated the program was running the risk of being "a costly failure," and was likely to cost most consumers more than it could save them. ......
A survey of IoD members showed that 80 per cent rated the ability of government to manage large IT projects as "poor or very poor."
The IoD report recommends that an incoming government should consider the following changes:
- Stop the smart gas meter deployment – only a handful of EU nations are planning to deploy gas smart meters by 2020. This would save billions of pounds.
- Remove the requirement for an “in home” display – expected to cost £800m in total, the displays will be out of date in a few years. Far better to connect smart meters to people’s phones, tablets and PCs
- Abandon attempts to stretch the rollout to tower blocks – the most technically challenging aspect of the project with the lowest potential returns. This would remove seven million homes from the scheme.
- Limit the rollout to homes with high energy usage – those who use more than 5,100 kWh of electricity, and 23,000 kWh of gas a year have much more to gain. This would reduce the scale of the rollout by 80%.
- Make the programme genuinely voluntary – offered to customers at their own expense, not subsidised by all.
- Abandon the whole programme and develop a smart phone app instead – look into developing a smart app which would convert a photo of their current mechanical meter into a meaningful number for the suppliers. This would cost tens of thousands of pounds rather than billions.