The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is proposing to proceed with licence changes to amend Smart Energy GB’s remit in the smart meter rollout campaign.

Currently Smart Energy GB promotes the rollout to domestic customers and, where cost effective to do so, microbusinesses. Under the changes the company would need to develop a non-domestic customer engagement plan.

The new remit removes the cost-effective caveat meaning the company will have a duty to target microbusinesses.

The non-domestic smart meter rollout covers around three million meters in two million premises, the majority of which are small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and microbusinesses.

Research has found that although SMEs and microbusinesses are interested in saving money, they are likely to see energy as a background part of running their business and is not something they will devote much time to unless bills form a “significant part” of their outgoings.

BEIS’ own cost benefit analysis of the smart metering rollout indicates that by the end of 2030, non-domestic consumers could achieve around £1.4 billion in energy savings. The department therefore wants to promote the benefits of the devices among businesses.

Responding to the announcement, Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Smart Energy GB, said: “Microbusiness consumers form an important part of the non-domestic energy market and it is important that the smart meter rollout properly engages these consumers so that they can realise the benefits of smart meters for their businesses.

“I look forward to working with energy suppliers to define the goals that Smart Energy GB should work towards in this new area of our responsibilities.”

In the results of a consultation on the matter published today (10 May) BEIS said it intends to lay the regulations before Parliament this month.

Subject to Parliamentary process, BEIS says it aims to bring the licence changes into force this summer.

Smart Energy GB would then be required to develop a non-domestic consumer engagement plan and performance management framework within three months of the changes coming into force.

Last month Ofgem confirmed it was planning a strategic review of the micro business retail market in the coming year.

The review will explore whether micro businesses are being abused by energy brokers and suppliers – something they have been accused of doing in the past.

Ofgem added it will be seeking industry views to help inform its decision.

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