Millions of householders face massive price hikes today after it emerged that the cost of rolling out a new smart meter system will add £434 to energy bills.
Ministers gave the go-ahead in May 2009 for the installation of the meters in every home and business on the basis it would cost some £9billion.
But this week it was revealed that the cost of installing the devices in some 53 millions homes between 2014 and 2019 will now reach £11.3billion.
And despite energy companies saving some £11bn for not needing to carry out readings, experts said the installation cost will be passed on to hard-up consumers.
Energy companies will be forced to pay for the new metres which measure how much energy consumers use.
The smart meters, to be installed by 2020, will allow power giants to read meters remotely, probably via a link to the mobile phone network.
The equipment will end the scourge of estimated bills and do away with the need for an army of meter readers and customer call-centre staff
Government groups claimed that the meters will save homes £23 a year from 2020 and around £42 a year by 2030.
But experts believe that the massive cost of installing the devices will be passed on to customers in the form of higher bills so that energy company’s dodge the price of the meters.
A uSwitch spokesman said: ‘We’re in danger of seeing people switch off before meters are switched on.’
The Department of Energy and Climate Change claimed that bills may only increase by around £6 but the price comparison site uSwitch said each household will pay £217 even if the cost is shared between homes and business.
If householders have to pay the full price without help from businesses the total cost could reach £434, according to the Daily Express. Experts said it could lead to ‘astronomical’ bills.