Plans to deploy smart meters across British homes and businesses have taken a major step forward after the UK government confirmed new rules designed to protect consumer privacy and enhance security.
As part of the plan, energy suppliers will visit 30 million homes and small businesses in Britain and replace over 53 million electricity and gas meters.
Slated to begin in 2014, the mass roll-out of smart meters is expected to be completed in 2019, with the majority of customers getting their smart meters during the phase.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Baroness Verma unveiled proposals and documents that cover various aspects of the smart meter programme.
"The introduction of smart meters nationwide is of course an enormous challenge, representing a vast upgrade of our energy system, but with huge potential benefits for millions of homes and businesses and for Great Britain as a whole," Verma said.
"Let me be clear: the consumer comes first. That's why we are tackling issues such as privacy, security, consumer protection and communications now, working with industry and consumer groups to make sure we get this right ahead of the mass rollout."
The government confirmed that suppliers will not be able to use smart meter energy consumption data for marketing purposes without the consent of customers.
Consumers will also be able to choose how often energy suppliers can access their consumption data.
The proposals ensure that consumers and suppliers would use the energy data provided by smart meters in the best way possible.
Commenting on the announcement, Energy UK chief executive Angela Knight remarked that energy suppliers will put the customer at the heart of the roll-out.
"Smart meters are set to transform how people understand and manage their energy use and 2013 will see a number of initiatives put in place to ensure customers understand the benefits of smart meters over the coming years," Knight added.
"Along with other energy projects, smart meters will play an important part in modernising Britain's infrastructure and creating jobs."
Image: The smart meter roll-out in the UK is scheduled to begin in 2014. Photo: courtesy of Estevick.