News: Energy spies infiltrate homes

Thu, 24 May 07

Every home in Britain is to be fitted with a high-tech meter to track its energy usage, the Government an­nounced yesterday...

So-called “smart” meters will show precisely how much gas and electricity is consumed by households – down to the nearest penny, reports The Daily Express.

They then send the information to the power supplier, ending the need for visits from meter readers. Critics fear that the devices will give energy firms the ability to snoop on customers.

Question marks also remain over who will pick up the estimated £8billion bill for installing the meters.  Suppliers are likely to be forced to pay but it is feared the £180 cost per meter will be passed on to customers. However, campaigners have welcomed the move as a big step forward in raising people's awareness of energy efficiency.

Details about the new smart meters were revealed in a long-awaited Energy White Paper yesterday as the Government also signalled that a new generation of nuclear power stations could be built.

But the Government came under fire for indicating that it already backed new nuclear stations on the day it launched a five-month consultation.

Under the Government blueprint, energy suppliers will have to take a lot more responsibility for "green" issues, rather than simply selling gas and electricity.

More transparency and control for householders

From next May, householders will be offered free devices to monitor their energy usage on an LCD display in their home. The smart meters will be rolled out within a decade.

Phil Bentley, managing director of British Gas, said: "Smart meters will revolutionise how energy bills are calculated. They'll bring an end to estimated bills and give the householder more transparency and control over their consumption."

Karen Darby, chief executive of the website http://www.Simplyswitch.com, said: "We are a Big Brother nation, with CCTV cameras on every street corner. These meters could be seen as another step, but I hope people also see the benefit."

Driving the White Paper is the energy gap facing Britain due to falling North Sea oil and gas supplies and the scheduled closure of virtually all the old nuclear plants which provide 18 per cent of the UK's electricity.

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