25 October 2023
Public Accounts Committee: Smart Meters

Public Accounts Committee Inquiry – Smart Meters

Delayed smart meter programme fails to hit targets and secure public support

- PAC report warns about built-in obsolescence and forced installations

- Concerns smart meters are disproportionately benefitting wealthier consumers

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has released a report highlighting the slow progress in implementing smart energy meters and the government's failure to garner public support for the initiative. The public meeting was held on the 22 June with Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP leading the questioning of the witnesses present including the Second Permanent Secretary, Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

Despite claims of demand, traditional meter users are less inclined to adopt smart technology, potentially due to reports of forced switches last winter. Only 57% of meters in Great Britain were smart as of March 2023, a decade after rollout began, prompting the PAC to call for a strategy review to boost demand.

In the Cotswolds 49% of all electricity meters are smart, falling well below the national average.

Furthermore, approximately 3 million (9%) of smart meters were malfunctioning as of March 2023. The PAC report raises concerns about built-in obsolescence, indicating that seven million smart meters may require component replacements due to the closure of 2G and 3G networks, with the likely costs falling on billpayers.

The report also sheds light on disparities in smart meter adoption, with older, male, higher-income, and homeowner demographics more likely to have them. This prompts concerns that wealthier consumers are disproportionately benefiting. The PAC calls on the government to update its evidence on whether smart meters are delivering the anticipated savings, and to address regional discrepancies, particularly in London, rural, and remote areas.