The Institute of Directors has called for the next government to put the smart meters programme on hold to avoid “mushrooming” costs.
“The programme has already failed to deliver interoperable meters for switching, is behind schedule, is over-budget and wedded to out of date technology. Not only that, the legal obligation on suppliers to install potentially incompatible meters by the deadline of December 2020 or else pay large fines is already pushing up inflationary costs in wages and advertising,” states the latest instalment of its Business Manifesto, Future-proofing Energy.
As those spiralling costs will be added to business and household bills, “an urgent pause, and thorough review, needs to be undertaken”, suggests the IoD. The directors want policymakers to revise both EU-derived legislation and the 2020 rollout timetable.
“We do see a need for smarter meters, but much cheaper solutions that can offer automated meter reading and faster switching need to be included. Top-down rigidity is not the answer,” it states.
The IoD’s wishlist includes policy that delivers better value renewables via more competitive auctions, competitive new nuclear procurement, and one that unlocks shale gas.
The IoD also urged policymakers to resist “crude” interventions such as energy price caps and instead task Ofgem with creating a standard regulated default tariff based on a transparent breakdown of wholesale price, plus each supplier’s network, billing, customer service and other costs.
That approach is advocated by economists such as Dieter Helm. Currently, no supplier offers such a transparent tariff, although Engie, which is entering the domestic market, says it plans to do so.
See the full document here.