Alongside the main conference and seminars, senior representatives from the energy sector attended a roundtable, run in conjunction with Smart Energy GB, to discuss the national smart meter rollout and how this can help reduce energy costs
By 2020, 53 million smart meters are expected to be installed in homes and small businesses across Britain, making the rollout one of the most significant infrastructure projects of the current parliament.
In conjunction with Smart Energy GB, the national campaign for the smart meter rollout, First Voice hosted a roundtable event, bringing together figures from the small business world and the energy sector to discuss the key issues around smart metering and the benefits of improving energy efficiency. The event was chaired by FV’s Oliver Luft. These are the edited highlights of that conversation:
AM: That through action we can make savings. I was one of the stores to get an energy efficiency refit and we’re now saving £400 per month. We’re asking other stores that have done the same for feedback; some are saving up to £20,000. The savings can be huge, and it’s all down to changing equipment. At the time, people tended to go for the cheapest rather than the most energy-efficient, and the realisation is there that huge savings can be made.
That’s not just households, but businesses as well. There are huge benefits from the rollout: the provision of extra energy information and the ability for businesses to see their energy use and make decisions about cutting use. We did some research recently and found that nearly half of business electricity use was outside normal business hours – that’s striking when you think of the things running in the background. The key challenge is to engage businesses to take control and see smart meters as a gateway to innovation and better ways to make the energy market work properly.
Sacha Deshmukh [Chief Executive, Smart Energy GB]: There’s a short-term and a long-term to this. A lot of the short-term measures can be highly sectoral. With data showing how much energy you use in pounds and pence, in real time, you can start to see some of those patterns. Some of the immediate benefits lie in out-of-hours usage or with particular pieces of equipment. After that, I think we’ll start to see a transformation in levels of equipment automation, so the next stage is going to be more pan-sectoral, but it will be enabled by automation.
View a vox pop with Allen Creedy
Jim McVee [Head of Business Banking Direct UK, HSBC]: It depends. My experience of small business owners is that they will look at their largest costs and see if they can reduce them. £200 is a great sum of money to save, but if the business owner feels it takes one working hour per month that could otherwise generate £500, then the cost isn’t offset.
For a customer, it needs to be an extrinsic or intrinsic benefit to do anything. The extrinsic is where you can save money; the intrinsic is where you can save carbon emissions. But if it’s an extrinsic benefit, it has to be far enough up the value chain for it to make a tangible difference.