A report from the Institute of Directors (IoD) warns that the government’s rollout of smart meters “should be ‘halted, altered or scrapped’ to avoid a potentially catastrophic government IT disaster.”
The report, entitled “Not too clever: will Smart Meters be the next Government IT disaster?” describes the £11bn scheme as “unwanted by consumers, over-engineered and mind-blowingly expensive.”
The Major Projects Authority has carried out three assessments into the smart meter programme; however, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has refused to publish them, citing commercial sensitivity.
Dan Lewis, report co-author and Senior Infrastructure Advisor at the IoD, describes a “political consensus” regarding the rollout as “a conspiracy of silence among politicians in thrall to big ideas and even bigger budgets.”
“This is not an age when we have to take the government in trust on numbers. This is not where we should be at in the twenty first century,” Lewis told The Register.
Earlier this month, the Energy and Climate Change Committee stated the program was running the risk of being “a costly failure,” and was likely to cost most consumers more than it could save them.
The IoD also raised concerns that the the largest government IT project in history may quickly become obsolete, and could even expose consumers to cyber threats.
Alongside providing a vector for criminal data access, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) reported in 2012 how the rollout entailed “considerable risks to the protection of personal data,” from the smart meter providers without adequate consumer protections in place.
“It enables massive collection of personal data from European households and may lead to tracking what members of a household do within the privacy of their own homes.” stated Peter Hustinx, the EDPS.
The IoD report recommends that an incoming government should consider the following changes:
Stop the smart gas meter deployment – only a handful of EU nations are planning to deploy gas smart meters by 2020. This would save billions of pounds.
Remove the requirement for an “in home” display – expected to cost £800m in total, the displays will be out of date in a few years. Far better to connect smart meters to people’s phones, tablets and PCs.
Abandon attempts to stretch the rollout to tower blocks – the most technically challenging aspect of the project with the lowest potential returns. This would remove seven million homes from the scheme.
Make the programme genuinely voluntary – offered to customers at their own expense, not subsidised by all.
Abandon the whole programme and develop a smart phone app instead.
The full version of the article can be found at: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/03/30/smart_meters_costly_mistake_add_billions_to_energy_bills/