A recent piece in Utility Week by Adam John illustrates the confusion that still surrounds the notion of smart meters and the reason the government is keen to push on with the roll-out.

The article leads off with the fact that ‘only’ 35% of people – presumably households – currently own a smart meter. This makes no distinction, of course, between SMETS1 and SMETS2. I would suggest that if we were considering SMETS2 only, the percentage would be closer to 3.5% than 35%.

Much was made of the survey results by the BEIS (Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy). They weren’t focusing on the figure of 35% but on the fact that ‘awareness’ of smart meters had now reached 88%.

I’m not sure that awareness is always a good thing. After all, I’ve spoken before about the campaign against smart meters waged by the forces of the paranoid. And whilst I’m sure the figure for Brexit awareness in the UK is above 88%: it doesn’t mean everyone wants it.

That aside, the survey on awareness and the numbers currently ‘enjoying’ a smart meter was then wedged rather unceremoniously into a discussion of the numbers keen to see the earth saved from burning. Perhaps when Brexit sinks from the front pages, climate change may take its rightful place as something really worth worrying about.

Until then, of course, the government has taken note that many people – certainly those under the average age of Tory party membership at 72 years – are keen to avoid a gruesome death along with the planet. So now the message is being carefully massaged that a smart meter will save the planet. Quite how this is so is never explained. Nor the further point that somehow a smart meter may help you pay your bills.

Perhaps the next generation of smart meters will be smart enough to refuse to allow energy generated by ‘dirty’ means into the house. That would be a roll-out worth championing.

Graham Stewart

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