Energy UK and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have issued a strong defence of smart meters.
Both organisations want to dispel myths which have been circulating about the devices since the government announced the ambitious plan to offer them to every home by 2020.
The latest figures show 11 million smart meters have been installed and 400,000 continue to be installed every month.
The chief executive of Energy UK, Lawrence Slade, has defended the use of smart meters after several “negative media stories”.
Slade acknowledged there have been “challenges” and some still remain but he said it is important to ensure there is an “honest conversation” with the public about smart meters.
He stressed smart meters have reduced cases of inaccurate billing – a key issue in the sector.
“Inaccurate billing is by far the number one driver of complaints in the energy sector and smart meters get rid of that at a stroke – so again suppliers’ own research is showing that complaints are falling as a result of the accurate billing that smart meters deliver,” Slade said.
He added one supplier has found its smart meter customers are already saving around £32 a year on their bills while 82 per cent of such customers are taking steps to reduce their energy consumption.
Meanwhile BEIS says smart meters “put consumers in control of their energy use” meaning they can save more on their energy bills. It estimates those savings will be worth more than £1.2 billion a year by 2030.
The department outlined several myths and presented the facts to dispel them in a government response called “Smart meters – the smart choice” published on Tuesday (7 August).
However, problems concerning customers being unable to use their SMETS1 device after changing supplier have been a key topic of conversation.
A consultation paper on the next steps for the smart meter implementation plan was published in April by BEIS.
It outlined plans to encourage the rollout of the fully interoperable SMETS2 meters.
While customers can continue to use SMETS2 devices even if they switch suppliers, the paper says that “less than half” of SMETS1 consumers switching energy suppliers have been able to retain smart services on their existing meter.
BEIS has admitted that some first generation smart meters may lose some smart functionality if consumers switch but added this issue is only temporary and 93 per cent of those installed remain unaffected.
In his “Smart meter myth-busting” blog post published last week, Slade said: “While some functionality may be lost temporarily when a customer with first generation smart meters (SMETS1) changes supplier, these meters begin to move over to the central communications system from the end of the year.”
Slade argues it is a “myth” to suggest smart meters are acting as a barrier to switching.
He said: “One of the myths we have seen recently is that you can’t switch with a smart meter or that they acting as a barrier to switching.
“In fact quite the contrary – according to Ofgem, switching levels are higher for people with a smart meter compared to those without.”
More than 2,000 second generation smart meters are live, according to clean growth minister Claire Perry.