Chair legs it from UK govt smart meter installation programme

Was Baroness McDonagh pushed or did she jump from sinking ship?

The chair of the government's controversial smart meter programme, Baroness McDonagh, has left her post after recently criticising the roll-out of the widely hated scheme.

Current costs of the scheme are expected to reach £11bn, while total lifetime costs were recently pegged as high as £19bn – the same amount that the programme is hoped to save.

Baroness McDonagh was the inaugural chair of Smart Energy GB, the body tasked with raising awareness of the scheme.

Speculation is rife that McDonagh was pushed out of the position for taking a critical stance on the scheme's roll-out.

Several weeks ago she told the BBC that the scheme needed greater private sector involvement. "As we know from experience, governments are not good at big infrastructure projects because it's not their business," she said.

Other bodies have poured criticism on the scheme, with the Public Accounts Committee warning it could become a "costly failure" and the Institute of Directors advising the scheme should be "halted, altered or scrapped".

Amber Rudd, secretary of state for energy and climate change, said: “I thank Baroness McDonagh for her service and contribution to Smart Energy GB. She’s played an important role to build the organisation from its inception. I look forward to working closely with a new Chair on the delivery of this programme, which will bring the benefits of smart meters to British households and businesses."®

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