Smart meters: Energy customers believe UK rollout will be delayed because 'IT projects always run late'

Utility companies warned that consumers have no faith that the smart meter rollout will happen soon due to IT issues.

A YouGov survey has found that 62 percent of energy customers are sceptical that smart metering will be rolled out in time because they believe all IT projects "run late, have issues or go over budget".

The survey results come as the smart meter project has been pushed back again due to delays to the network to support the 45 million connected meters.

The network will not be ready to go live until March 2016, the government announced in December.

The project, which is expected to go live in 2020, is already over budget. The estimated price is so far £1.5 billion more than expected, after the budget soared to £10.9 billion last year.

The government said that smart meters will save energy customers £26 a year.

Previous studies have highlighted data protection and security concerns amongst consumers, and this study shows that the public's stance has not changed.

The report shows that 30 per cent believe the new smart meter technology set to enter all homes by 2020 is at risk of hacking and cybercrime.

Further, customers appear to be cynical about who will benefit most from the technology.

Over a third (37 percent) is convinced that smart metering will benefit energy suppliers the most from the installation of smart meters in UK homes; with just 28 per cent saying it will be the consumer. Some 60 percent said that the draw of additional customer data was the real motivation for the rollout.

Angus Panton, director of power and communications at testing firm SQS, which commissioned the survey, said: "The smart meter rollout is a wake-up call for established energy providers.

"There is widespread cynicism about the viability of big IT projects and 62 per cent doubt smart metering will happen in the shifting timeframes. Despite the cynicism, there is an overall customer desire for the advantages and benefits smart meters will deliver.

"The new smart world will generate large volumes of data and for established suppliers it is vital they have the high performing, integrated infrastructure in place to capture, secure and make the most of the real-time data they generate, all day, every day There won't be a second chance to get this right."

YouGov surveyed 2,058 adults online in November.

Image credit: iStock/Alex Raths

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