Suppliers question government’s cost figures

The UK Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has now backed down from plans to mandate electricity suppliers to provide real-time electricity meter usage information to their residential customers, opting instead to reach a voluntary agreement with electricity suppliers to provide real-time display devices.

However, the costs cited in the government’s feasibility study have been questioned by suppliers. The rollout of smart meters to homes across the country could cost at least £7.2bn less than government estimates, according to metering experts.

Figures released by the government following a study by engineering firm Mott Macdonald placed rollout of the meters at £16.1bn.

However, Ampy Metering, which is supplying smart meters to three of the four UK trials, believes the government is being too cautious, overestimating costs by between 45 and 100%.

“This method is based on the mechanics of the construction industry and is not appropriate for devising the impact assessment of smart meters,” said Dave Robinson, business development manager at Ampy Metering.

“It makes no allowance for the fact that the utilities industry knows how much the core product costs to manufacture and install.

“The cost of setting-up communication networks does need to be established, but even with current estimates of £2.4 billion it’s highly unlikely to lead to the total cost of transition reaching £16.1 billion.”