‘Smart meter is charging me for power my solar panels generate’
The meters don’t work with renewable energy sources, this householder tells
Smart meters and solar panels are incompatible and can even cause householders to pay for electricity generated by solar panels rather than receiving money for it, customers and researchers have said. The latest generation of utility meters, which come with an in-home display that shows your energy use in real time, are being heavily pushed by the Government, with eye-catching adverts on TV, cinema screens and public transport.
But Robert Brown, 71, from Hastings, is convinced that his smart meter is charging him for energy generated by his solar panels. His provider, Scottish Power, installed the meter in June and since then, he said, his recorded usage and bills have increased.
He said he had been on holiday for much of August and, therefore, expected his usage to have fallen compared with similar periods last year. However, the opposite had been the case. Scottish Power denied that there was a compatibility issue but offered to send an engineer to assess the meter, free of charge. An ombudsman also ruled against Mr Brown, suggesting that his old meter may have been faulty and under-recording his usage.
Research by consumer group Which? has found that more than half of home owners with solar panels have run into problems after the installation of smart meters.
“Of the 18pc who had a smart electricity meter fitted, more than half (53pc) told us they’d had problems with measuring electricity generated and exported since their smart meter was installed,” Which? said.
Chris Platt, a designer at Leeds Solar, an installation firm, said it was possible that Mr Brown’s meter had been incorrectly installed, although he said the chances of this having happened were very small.
“The smart meter should essentially just ignore the solar panel,” he said. “All he would notice from the smart meter is that he is using less energy over the year. It’s very unlikely the meter has been wired in wrongly.”
According to the Which? research, several energy providers, including E.ON and Npower, do not currently install smart meters where there are solar panels because of technical issues. SSE says it will install them, but advises customers to “wait until technical constraints are resolved”.
British Gas has installed four million smart meters, more than any other provider, but began to install them in homes with solar panels only in May. A spokesman said this was owing to a display issue that was confusing customers, but insisted there was no chance they could have been overcharged.