Smart meters could give energy brands the consumer trust boost they desperately need

Smart meters could give energy brands the consumer trust boost they desperately need

The introduction of smart meters to British households over the next five years will improve the relationship consumers have with energy brands such as EDF Energy, Scottish Power and Npower, according to Claire Maugham, director of policy and communications at Smart Energy GB.

Smart Energy was set up to promote the governments UK-wide rollout of smart meters which communicate directly with energy suppliers to help people better manage usage and bills by 2020.

Speaking at digital marketing firm Tugs Tech London event today (15 June), Maugham said how people buy gas and electric for their homes is one of the last great analogue industries and peoples disengagement from energy suppliers and the meters in their homes means that there has been little demand for it to be managed digitally.

A lot of people dont even know where their meter is, people still rely on estimated bills and theres no visibility on what were paying. A third of people dont switch suppliers, weve become inert and so our expectations are a lot lower and theres a lack of innovation, she said.

Around 1.6 million of the proposed 26 million smart meters have already been installed and the government claims the smart meter initiative could eventually lead to savings of an estimated 17bn for consumers.

Smart meters mean accurate, real-time information at home and turn energy into something we interact with, Maugham explained.

A consequence of this change in how people engage with their energy consumption will also be beneficial to suppliers, many of which regularly rank among the worst in consumer satisfaction studies.

The Big Six - British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottish Energy and SSE all failed to muster more than 50 per cent in consumer watchdog Which?s annual customer satisfaction survey.

However, Maugham said that people with smart meters report a higher level of trust in their energy suppliers as they are given greater visibility into how much energy they use and exactly how much it costs as opposed to estimated bills sent quarterly.

Conversely, this greater transparency will also encourage people to shop around and will lead to a lesser degree of loyalty to one firm.

"There will also be a propensity to give over control of our data for a better service and management of energy," she said.

Her comments came as Baroness Margaret McDonagh, the chairman of Smart Energy GB, called for the government to appoint a chief executive from the private sector to run the project to ensure the 2020 target is met.

Source: The Drum

Smart Grid Bulletin March 2019

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