Energy revolution ‘must be scrutinised’, says Smart Energy GB

Smart Energy GB has called for digitalisation of the energy market to be “intensely scrutinised” by government to ensure it goes in the right direction.

Smart Energy GB also called for issues around serving vulnerable customers are addressed and solved quickly.

The chief executive of Smart Energy GB, which is behind the national campaign for the smart meter rollout, was speaking at a meeting of the Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECCC) on the energy revolution.

Sacha Deshmukh said: “Government deserves a pat on the back for making a revolution start – not all governments do that and it is a good thing. But like all change where you want it to benefit people, that change needs stewarding, intensely, and needs to be well-scrutinised.

“We’ve got the firing gun on a change that cannot be turned around, and that is a fundamental point, but like all races, they can then go off in another direction or be stewarded. There is a lot more to be done to make sure that the steps keep moving and questions of vulnerability and others are addressed enroute, rather than at the beginning and then only when we reach the destination.”

Also on the panel was the Centre for Sustainable Energy chief executive Simon Roberts, who expressed his concerns about an “issue of understanding” in the energy sector that could result in unintended consequences from the revolution.

He added: “There are issues around the absolute need to decrease demand, the absolute need to increase the ability to map demand and deal with variable sources but also the opportunity to use data and techniques to support more vulnerable households better. Those are the things we think we can achieve through this disruption and revolution but they are not inevitable.

“I think there is an assumption that is built into a lot of the discourse that progress is always positive and markets will do right by consumers. We are not in a world where government yet understand how those rules affect the types of disruption that comes forward. Unless we get underneath the skin of that we won’t get the benefits and may end up with something that wasn’t quite intended.”

Their comments come as the full national smart meter rollout is further delayed after the Data and Communications Company, the smart meter network operator, failed to go-live.