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Solace blog

29th September 2016

Smart energy – doing more with less: The opportunity for local authorities

Local authorities across Great Britain are having to do more with less, and are starting to embrace the opportunities provided by smart technologies and digitisation to innovate in the way they deliver the services that local residents depend on.

One sector currently being transformed by digitisation and which is attracting increasing interest from local authorities is energy.

Exciting developments are occurring in cities around Britain. In parallel to the national rollout of smart meters to every home and microbusiness in the country between now and 2020, a number of councils are seizing on opportunities to innovate in their local service provision, especially when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable.

In part, this stems out of necessity. With over 10% of the population in fuel poverty, and this number rising year on year, councils are called on to provide increasing support and advice to those residents caught in the ‘heat or eat’ dilemma. And many are responding by harnessing new technologies and innovative approaches.

In Nottingham, the council has set up the Nottingham Energy Partnership to deliver energy efficiency projects that cut energy bills and carbon emissions. The council also set up Robin Hood Energy, a non-profit energy company offering low and competitive tariffs to all consumers and smart meters to both new and existing prepay customers to help them stay on top of their energy consumption.

Leeds is following suit, with the creation of White Rose Energy, a new supplier designed for local residents and offering fairer, more transparent energy tariffs to help local residents get their gas and electricity under control.

In Kirklees, Better Homes, a council endorsed energy efficiency scheme, is helping private homeowners and landlords increase the energy efficiency of the housing stock while cutting their energy bills.

In Bournemouth, Islington, and Camden, councils are providing accessible information on means available to residents to address fuel poverty, switch energy suppliers and getting a smart meter.

In Liverpool, the ‘Liverpool Leccy’ energy supplier, established by Liverpool City Council, is using smart meters to transform how people using pre-pay meters are able to buy their energy using smart-pay-as-you-go tariffs.

Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters. They are being installed by energy suppliers at no extra cost between now and 2020 to replace the traditional meters most of us have in our homes.

Smart meters bring an end to estimated billing and show consumers exactly how much energy they’re using and what it’s costing them in pounds and pence, in near real-time on an in-home display.

They are making the invisible visible for consumers and providing them with a platform from which to engage in the sector and with new entrants in the market such as local authority led energy suppliers.

For pre-payment customers, who currently have to top-up their accounts with a key or card at a shop, smart meters will be particularly transformational – using a smart meter in pre-pay mode, they’ll have a much more convenient and cheaper service.

More than 3.5 million smart meters have already been installed in homes around the country, and eight in ten people who’ve already got their smart meter say they would recommend them to others.

Smart Energy GB is the national voice of the smart meter rollout. It’s our task to make sure everyone in Great Britain understands smart meters, the rollout and how to use their meters to get their gas and electricity under control.

But we can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re engaging councils across Great Britain to spread the word about smart meters and the opportunities they provide to consumers.

Working with Solace, we will be engaging local authorities across the country, arming chief executives and senior managers with information about smart meters and the digitization of energy which will help them spread the word about the opportunities that the smart meter rollout provides.

Smart meters are helping consumers to get their gas and electricity under control – but the benefits go far beyond the individual. They will help to revolutionise the provision of services between organisations, including local authorities, and individual consumers. Energy data and smart technology could revolutionise healthcare, social care and form the basis for smarter city infrastructure.

Smart Energy GB has produced a range of free resources, including short educational films, available to local authorities at our website:

Doing more with less and doing it in a smarter, more sustainable and more affordable way is becoming the modus operandi for local authorities.

And the earlier local authorities embrace the smart meter rollout and integrate it into their plans, the more local residents will be able to benefit.

By Sacha Deshmukh, Chief Executive, Smart Energy GB – the voice of the smart meter rollout