Speech to the Smart Energy GB Launch Event

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Secretary of State Edward Davey speech to the Smart Energy GB Launch Event.


It’s a great pleasure to be here at the launch of Smart Energy GB.

Today marks the culmination of a great deal of hard work and creativity this past year.

And I bet that many of you have burned the candle at both ends to get here.

So thank you.

But you know as well as I do, that today is a beginning, not an end.

Now is your moment to step into the light.

For Smart Energy GB to become an independent and trusted source of information.

So people understand the roll out of smart meters and the benefits they will bring to families and communities.

You are designed independent. You are separate from Government, separate from the energy suppliers.

But your work is a key part of a deep and wide effort by Government, the regulators, the energy industry and many, many others in civil society to revolutionise Great Britain’s energy system.

Energy Saving Society

Our vision is to create a secure, low carbon, energy saving society.

Replacing the old energy infrastructure with a new, cleaner, more efficient system.

That still provides the home comforts we have come to value.

But reduces the carbon impact from energy - so vital if we are to tackle climate change.

And key to this is reducing and changing demand.

Using less energy and using it in smarter ways.

It is clearer than ever that energy efficiency is one of the most cost effective ways of meeting our objectives for clean, affordable, secure energy.

By tapping the potential of energy efficiency, we estimate we can save ourselves in the UK the need to consume the equivalent output of 22 new power stations by the end of the decade.

And less energy used, means less emissions.

Less energy used, means lower energy bills for households.

And less energy used means more efficient businesses, better able to compete, grow and create jobs.

But to tap the full potential of energy efficiency, we will need a great movement of social and behavioural change.

Behavioural change is difficult – but it is an essential next step.


Because no amount of good technology and government regulation will be sufficient, if people don’t come to think differently about energy - and how they use it.

Social change

That’s not easy – but there’s hope. The British people have always shown themselves adaptable and open to change.

Just think about music.

When I mentioned to one of my private secretaries that Bob Geldof would be here today, he told me that one of the first singles he ever bought was ‘She’s So Modern’ by the Boomtown Rats.

Now I don’t want to make you feel old Bob, but the key refrain to “She’s So Modern” was “she’s so 1970s”.

But just think about how much has changed since 1978 when She’s So Modern was released – And not just the fashions and hairstyles.

Technology has revolutionised so much – from music to information to how we consume.

I used to love buying an LP. But now, apparently, vinyl is for collectors, CDs going the same way.

MP3 downloads and streaming dominate music.

The change has been truly awesome.

The internet, mobile technology, the digital revolution, WiFi, Bluetooth, touchscreens.

A whole world of information and service available at the swipe of a finger.

And in this new 21st century Britain, people now expect, and demand the information they want to run their lives - quickly and easily.

And to be able to choose who they get their services from.

In many areas, commerce has responded.

Driven by competition between service providers, with the innovators winning out.

But, the energy system has been a bit slow to respond to the digital revolution.

That is now changing.

More independent suppliers are challenging the Big 6, and new technology providing competition and choice for consumers – that’s good

And we are now getting simpler bills and a quicker switching system.

But to really make a difference, to reduce and change demand, to change behaviour, people need proper, accurate and regular information on their own personal energy use, so they can make the best choices for themselves.

And they need energy tariffs that suit their lifestyle to encourage those changes in behaviour and reward them.

And we need to give people the power to take part, to change, to choose.

And that is where smart meters come in.

That’s where Smart Energy GB comes in.

Putting people in control

The Smart Meters programme will replace 53 million meters - with smart gas and electricity meters - by 2020.

This will bring the digital revolution to the energy system.

Bringing an end to estimated billing and the frustrations that come with that.

Consumers will only be billed for the energy they actually use, helping them to better manage their budget.

And through an in-home display people will be able to track their energy usage in near real time.

They will be able to switch suppliers much more easily - keeping the energy suppliers on their toes and driving better customer service.

The behaviour changes that smart meters have the potential to unlock could be profound.

As part of the Smart Metering Programme, almost a million meters have already been installed in homes and small businesses across Great Britain.

And these energy customers are already telling us how their smart meters are making a difference today.

From the peace of mind of knowing their bill is accurate, to the energy bill savings they can make, by knowing what is wasting energy in their homes.

So the benefits are proven. And that’s why we want all households and small businesses across Britain to have the chance to have a smart meter installed between autumn 2015 and 2020.

And I am determined that every effort is made to focus our efforts where these benefits are greatest.

So I have set out the challenge to suppliers to lose no time in providing smart meters to pre-payment customers.

Smart meters can transform the prepay experience, helping many of those in fuel poverty - topping up a smart meter will become as easy as topping up a mobile phone.

And pre-payment meters are just one example of how smart meters are the critical foundation for smarter energy living.

With smart meters we are looking at an energy future where smart appliances can talk to the grid and use energy when it is cheapest, reducing peak demand across GB.

Making our whole system more secure and more affordable.

It is truly exciting.

And that’s why we need Smart Energy GB.

You have a huge task ahead.

To help people make the most of the change coming.

Of course this will mean working closely with a wide range of organisations – many of whom I am pleased to see here this evening.

And I’m glad that your PR campaign has been designed so that it can easily be accommodated by others, including suppliers, so multiplying its effect.

Everyone needs to work together.

Your work with consumers is a key part of re-setting Britain’s energy markets.

We need to smart meter roll out to help herald a new era of hard-earned trust between consumers and suppliers.


So to conclude, let’s not under-estimate the scale of your task.

But I’m glad you’ve got Gaz and Leccy to help.

For many people, tonight is about Germany vs Brazil in the World Cup.

But for everyone here, it’s when Gaz and Leccy are launched on an unsuspecting world.

Who said smart meters can’t be fun.

So good luck and many thanks.

And I look forward to seeing ‘Gaz and Leccy’ a lot in the coming months and over the coming years, seeing smart meters get Gaz and Leccy under control!