Energy firms warn that smart meters will cost them billions

ENERGY companies will have to fit smart meters that provide real-time information to consumers about energy usage in all UK homes by the end of 2020, the government said yesterday.<br /><br />The plans have caused controversy, with firms saying they may need government cash to help them meet the estimated &pound;6bn-&pound;12bn cost of fitting the technology in homes.<br /><br />Firms such as British Gas owner Centrica and other suppliers will be responsible for installing the meters.<br /><br />They also say delays in rolling out the meters may put the UK years behind other countries that have already fitted the technology.<br /><br />Energy minister Lord Hunt said the meters would allow people to control energy use, reduce carbon emissions and cut bills. He added that utilities firms will be able to send accurate bills to customers without using meter readers or estimates.<br /><br />&ldquo;Globally the business of developing smart grids has been estimated at &pound;27bn in the next five years and the UK has the know-how to be part of that,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Ministers will also provide &pound;6m to develop smart technology such as electricity storage.