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IT creates the risk in smart meter rollout

The cost of the Government’s proposed smart meter roll-out could spiral due to unforeseen IT costs, according to a leader in the field.

Simon Anderson, chief operating officer at smart meter supplier Green Energy Options told H&V News that the cost of installing smart meters was relatively easy to predict but the potential cost of the IT element associated with it was harder to quantify.

“Smart metering is more about information management than metering and big IT projects do not have a good track record. My gut feel is that the cost will grow.”

Mr Anderson’s comments follow a revelation from Ernest & Young in The Times, that the Government’s cost for the project of £7-9 billion, or an average of £269 to £346 per household was underestimated.

The financial consultant argued the true cost would be around 50 per cent higher, at about £13.4 billion, or £515 per household.

Mr Anderson continued: “The standard project mantra is time, cost and quality, you can manage two at the cost of the third.

“The utilities’ focus will be cost, so will it be time or quality that will suffer? The answer is probably both. Equipment costs will be squeezed and timescales extended,” he said.

He further argued that smart metering was an important enabler which if done correctly could deliver benefits to the economy and consumers.

“We are at a crossroads. If we do this well, we can prepare our energy infrastructure for the future of microgeneration, smart grids and energy efficiency,” he said.

“If we do it poorly and cut corners to minimise costs, the country will miss a significant opportunity.”