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UK energy minister rejects 'waste of money' smart meters claim

Former Tory adviser said the scheme is a 'ghastly mess'

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Claims by a former Conservative Party energy adviser that the government's £11bn smart meter project will be “a ghastly mess” have been dismissed by current energy secretary Amber Rudd.

Meg Hillier, Labour MP and head of the Public Accounts Committee, questioned Rudd yesterday over the much-criticised scheme, which will also see consumers foot the bill.

"Very recently, Alex Henney, a former Conservative energy adviser, warned the Secretary of State that the roll-out would at best be regarded as a waste of money and that it is 'a ghastly mess'," she said.

Hillier asked Rudd if she agreed with Henney, and what is she doing to resolve those problems. Unsurprisingly, Rudd replied: "I can say very clearly to the honourable lady that I do not agree with that position. Smart meters will have a great future in this country.

In March last year a report from the Energy and Climate Change Committee said it does "not believe" plans to install 53 million devices in homes and businesses by 2020 will be achieved. It's also been revealed that the total lifetime costs of the scheme could rise to £19bn.

In a letter to Rudd this month Henney had said the only beneficiaries will be the meter manufacturers. “The Department of Energy and Climate Change has devised by far the most complex rollout in the world,” he wrote in a letter seen by The Times.

In her response to Hillier, Rudd added: "We discussed in earlier questions energy security and fuel poverty. Smart meters will be a very good way for people to reduce their bills and use less energy, therefore creating fewer carbon emissions. Smart meters are an important part of that." ®

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