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back to article Gov confirms plans for Sky box in charge of your house

The government has announced the results of its consultation with the public and other interested parties on plans for "smart" energy meters to be installed in all British homes and businesses. The most controversial aspects of the devices - the fact that they will effectively allow remote control of a home by energy companies …

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Oh good...

I was so bored of having to make all those tedious "energy management" decisions myself. I'll happily entrust this complex and difficult task to a group of people including the Government (who've led us into bankruptcy), the energy companies (who have managed to get one in three bills wrong-in their favour), and the green lobby (Read Orlowski for full details of their most recent triumphs).

Are we really going to have another six months of this before an election?

However, whilst we wait for the election, shall we pass the time by suggesting some campaign slogans?

"Labour: It's not fascism when we do it"

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Stop

Sky box in charge of your house

Wll, they never asked me what I want, and I dont want.

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FAIL

ardubbleyu

Didn't ask me either. Anyone out there that they did ask?

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FAIL

They did ask

There was a full public consultation.

No point in moaning just because you were to lazy to get involved.

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Grenade

No there wasn't...

I saw no posters, heard nothing on the radio, and no one ever said anything about tv ads about this, also if there was it would have been picked up on this site before hand!

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I dont want either

... so I look forward to various 'work arounds' if these things are pushed upon me.

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Flame

Strange...

...it was on this site.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/05/13/smart_meters_not_so_smart/

They even gave a link at the end of the article taking you directly to the consultation. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT???

I'll repeat. Just because people were too lazy (thick?) to partake is not a valid reason for them to complain.

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FAIL

claiming here was a full public consultation.

is not justified by a single link to a story on one site! pull your head out of your arse.

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Big Brother

Where was it announced?

BEWARE OF THE LEOPARD

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FAIL

In the name of god...

...what do you want them to do? Come down your house, do the questionnaire in person - taking dictation?

It was all over the press, it was fully publicised. One person claimed it wasn't even on this site and it takes about 30 seconds to prove that it was. You want me to trawl round ever paper and get a link for you? No wonder you never heard about the consultation if you think everyone should do your work for you and hand it to you on a silver platter.

You obviously weren't paying attention/didn't care and now it's all some one else's fault that you didn't know about it. Learn to take some responsibility would you?

I'm not the most clued up person on the machinations of UK politics, but even I managed to send in a reply on the consultation. It can't be that difficult if I can manage it!

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FAIL

Oh goody!

Leaving privacy aside for a second.

They'll have some shitty development team involved from EDS! Which will no doubt result in an entire street of explosions. Someone leaving the gas on, the meter cutting the power, then coming back, thus flooding the house with gas. Owner walks in, lights on, boom!

I bet the gov can't wait, getting complete control over every house's amenities? Knowing when you flush the kharzi to when you get up in the night and get a cold drink from the fridge! All these gov snoopers are wetting themselves at the prospect all that data and all that control!

Might be time to follow Mother Shipton's example and bog off to some cave in the middle of nowhere!

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Alert

How about a ...

Android OS for the meter?

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A remote cut off?

That seems incredibly risky, what if there is some sort of software fault, or the system becomes compromised. It would be intresting to see what happens if for some reason half the country was commanded to switch off and then switch back on again, I don't think we'd be left with much functioning infrastructure!

Though I agree that load balancing should be part of future smart meters, but implemented in such a way that only compatibe appliances respond to its requests. So you'd buy a modern fridge with a chip in it and it would adjust its compressor run times depending on the available energy, in return you's get a slight reduction in £/kwh. This sort of technology can make wind power feasible for more than a small percentage of installed capacity without having to build dozens of Dinorwig type stored energy plants.

All of this can be implemented without any sort of snooping of your usage patterns.

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,,,what if there is some sort of software fault...

..its not a case of IF, but WHEN.

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I don't see the problem

Really, if you don't pay your bill then you can expect to get cut off anyway.

What's more interesting is, will it be able to handle spikes in demand, for instant, half time on FA cup final day, or half time during the World Cup final, or the end of a blockbuster like Kylie and Jason's wedding in Neighbours a few years back, etc, etc, etc.

Yes for reasonable steady consumption, it will be a benefit, I believe so anyway. As for the fears of direct marketing from the data, surely people have heard of the Mailing Preference Service by now, or at least know how to mark unwanted email as spam.

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Anonymous Coward

Nasty intrusive, unwanted, unnecessary

"What's more interesting is, will it be able to handle spikes in demand, for instant, half time on FA cup final day, or half time during the World Cup final, or the end of a blockbuster like Kylie and Jason's wedding in Neighbours a few years back, etc, etc, etc."

That's not handling spikes in demand, that's forcing the user to eliminate the spikes. How do you plan to do that? Presumably turn off some non-essential appliance during the spike remotely.

Non essential appliance, being what? Do you know better than I do, what my non essential appliances are? No! No you don't. So remote cut off should not be in the hands of the electricity companies. NANNY electricity company DOES NOT KNOW BEST.

"As for the fears of direct marketing from the data, surely people have heard of the Mailing Preference Service by now,"

Go away. Nobody has the right to violate my privacy, a spam filter is not the fix for the privacy violation.

--------

IMHO, What should happen is the electricity companies provide multiple supplies (down the same cable). e.g. reliable, intermittent, cheap rate.

The user decides which device it connects to which supply at which time. Each supply may be from a different provider, it's all just software so it makes no difference.

The box get the info and the power is drawn from the device. If it can't get the power according to the config, then the device is switched off.

None of this configuration data is any business of the power companies, only the usage of each bank of electricity.

None of my personal usage pattern is any business of the power companies. All that matters is that there was 2khw at cheap rate from provider A, and 3kwh of intermittent power from provider B, and 1k of continuous, etc.

Privacy of the usage data needs to be protected by law, and THAT INCLUDES THE POLICE. So I don't want to see doors kicked in and kids terrorised just because some jackass in ACPO thinks that houses with high overnight usage are growing pot and fancies grabbing the data with a RIPA request.

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WTF?

If you do not pay the bill?????

One time as a boy I remember our electrical utility bill always arrived late.

So we pay by mail and they say they never got it.

So then my mother religiously sent it via certified (costs $1)which means a person has to sign it

as proof of being delivered.

Then my mother got another notice that it was not paid again and this time She has proof that she did.

Sometimes the bill dept is so messed up I wonder how far the billing design processed has improved if any.

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N2

Oh really?

A short while ago my mother was a day late paying her paper bill, having been a customer of the same newsagents and paid on time for thirty five years, the very next day there was no paper.

Fairly trivial, but thats just the sort of crappy 'customer driven,, shite this society is been driven into by accounting retards who know the price of everything and the value of nothing such as customer lolalty.

Pay up and fuck off.

Needless to say she gets the paper from another shop now.

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Big Brother

why not add cameras?

Add cameras in every room and then the govmint could monitor all activity in the house and not just activity that uses energy. They could also add controls to the TV and radio so that they can send us important announcements. While they're at it lets rename the country to "Airstrip One".

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FAIL

So how do you .....

Reboot your meter ?

Is it like an Amstrad Sky HD box ?

Do you have to pull the power out of it and wait for ten seconds when it bricks itself ?

Oh god, what if Amstrad get the contract for the meters, we're all doomed !

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Big Brother

A little more high tech...

but I'm pretty sure Winston Smith would recognise the principles at the root of this.

As for being able to turn gas supplies off and back on remotely! You have GOT to be fucking joking. Even restricting the flow of gas into a property may result in reduced pressure at the appliance, inefficient combustion and an increase of toxic combustion products, ie, Carbon Monoxide.

Of course, if you're a member of the Inner Party, there'll be no worries about fuel supplies for you. ("Throw another prole on the fire on the way out Jeves, there's a good chap!")

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Flame

Maybe that's the deal?

"Even restricting the flow of gas into a property may result in reduced pressure at the appliance, inefficient combustion and an increase of toxic combustion products, ie, Carbon Monoxide."

Vote Labour or we gas your family?

It's a strategy, isn't it? If you vote for us, you get a free laptop, broadband and money (have they announced that one yet?) if not, it's lights out for you and everyone you hold near and dear.

Granted, it's not subtle, but surely it's justified if they are going to hold onto some of those tricky marginal seats occupied by such scary people as Ed Balls.

Icon for the obvious.

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Grenade

Not as bad as it sounds

Surely this will open up the chance for the energy companies to offer cheaper tariffs to those that agree to be restricted to a certain maximum load level. If people want to run more stuff, they can switch to energy saving bulbs, etc.

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Big Brother

Light saving bulbs

As if anything other than those awful, yellow, dull, lifeless depressingly dim bulbs (with a moronic three pin socket) will be available in a couple of years.

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Grenade

Would be useful...

...in detecting Dope farms, though!

Wonder if there is any scope in setting up a company to sell 'filter' plugs that would stop the meters querying intelligent devices through the mains wiring.

Mind you, the data would be a thieves delight if the system was broken. Remotely knowing nobody was home without having to be parked outside could be very useful.

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Anonymous Coward

title

Really? When did you last hear of a dope farm that *hadn't* bypassed the meter?

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Anonymous Coward

...errm not really

...as had been reported dope farm managers tend to bypass the meter to run their lamps and heaters, so no amount of tech in any form is of any use - thats what pisses the power companies off.

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Anonymous Coward

So you guys are saying...?

They're not paying for the juice at Parliament but the LEB hasn't sussed yet?

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Grenade

mass lawsuits anybody?

Turn my gas off and making me and my family freeze, or killing the electricity powering the lights midway coming down the staris with baby and I'll take the bastards to court for trying to kill me and my baby.

Will they also replace my entire freezer contents when it goes off when they've decided to cut power to my freezer for hours or whne there system screws up and crashes? My PC will they recover all the data and replace the hard drive when they kill the power and crash my PC?

Sounds like a plan that asks for lawsuits countrywide!

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Headmaster

@SimonB and his mass lawsuits

What you forget is that New Labour is big business's bitch.

You don't seriously think they would bring this in without including legislation that completely indemnifies the energy companies for any suits for any action, inaction or outright incompetence on their part do you?

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Anonymous Coward

heh

Well at least they're planning for when out nuclear reactors go off line, they'll just manage it with rolling powercuts using their new fandangled smart meters.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Precisely

They've left building new power stations way too late, they have no contingency plans for the fossil fuel peak that the International Energy Agency freely accept are on the way, but at least they can turn the lights out for us so we don't have to worry about that when the demand starts to exceed capacity.

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Big Brother

Seriously...

Is there anything this government WONT try and take control over?!?

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Badgers

How about ...

sex?

Hard to regulate for sure.

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Err...

On radio 4 news a couple of days ago, they were at pains to point out that:

1) The meters will not network back to the individual energy company, instead there will be a central meter management company who will collate and pass information to back to the individual energy comapnies.

2) The energy companies will not be able to make the decision to cut someone off, they will have to get a court order and present it to the management companies, in much the same way that they have to get a warrant to enter your property to cut you off at the moment.

As for active energy management - It won't apply to Gas, except in that your gas boiler may be able to be sent a signal to tell it not to switch on. Your fridge/freezer/washing machine/tumble drier will have to have extra hardware or be a specifically enabled type of device to get the 'switch off/don't switch on' command. You will also be able to override any 'switch off', if required.

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Paris Hilton

@Fraser

So yet another QUANGO with their snouts in the trough is supposed to re-assure us?

And I will have to buy a bunch of much more intelligent 'smart' appliances and network them all together for the sole benefit of these energy companies?

And I have to trust that this new management QUANGO isn't completely incompetent and that they don't contract out the development of the new (and expensive) management systems to a bunch of incompetents. Because Government outsourcing has such a history of outstanding success.

And I have to trust that, unlike my mobile 'phone company, some corrupt employee won't sell on my personal information to some unethical marketing organisation?

And I should trust that the government won't do what they've done with every other piece of legislation: extend it to cover cases they specifically said wouldn't be allowed. For example the tailing of so-called school-place cheats using terrorist legislation?

I wouldn't trust any Government with that level of control and access let alone New Labour that has repeatedly shown itself to be corrupt.

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oops!

"2) The energy companies will not be able to make the decision to cut someone off, they will have to get a court order and present it to the management companies, in much the same way that they have to get a warrant to enter your property to cut you off at the moment."

At which time, somebody in a call centre miles from where you live (quite possibly on another continent) miskeys the reference number for someone who is due to be disconnected, and you get unplugged instead. Can you honestly say this won't happen? When half of the companies on the internet can't even get my postal address correct because I live in a flat and it confuses the postcode lookup, do you really think the triply-outsourced-by-a-quango monkeys who will be operating this system will get it right?

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Unhappy

wish I'd caught that one

Normally I'm glued to the radio while working, must have been out when it was aired. shame.

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Not going to be a QUANGO

It's highly unlikely that the meters would be looked after by a QUANGO, the chances are it'll be a PFI like the Gas Safety Register (formerly CORGI) or run along the lines of Northern Rock, the nationalised rail companies or something like that.

A QUANGO is an organisation that some of the function of government has been devolved to, usually a regulator or somthing like the Press Complaints Commission etc. The company

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@ed Blackshaw

There is just as much chance of that happening as there is of someone mis-keying information at the moment and having you cut off.

So, yes there is probably a vanishingly small chance that someone could get cut off by mistake, in very much the same was that there is currently. I don't hear of people being mistakenly cut off left right and centre though, do you?

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Anonymous Coward

How about...

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/16/npower_bill/

I sent that link to my sister at the time, as they were seriously threatening her and she wasn't even with them!

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Pint

Power to the smart meter...

So who pays for the power that the smart meter uses to run? :)

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Anonymous Coward

Never be more than 10% implemented.

Typical FUD.....

For this to be anything more than an exercise in job cutting by getting rid of the army of meter readers requires either the cooperation of every manufacturer of electrical equipment on the planet or for the power companies to extend their responsibility beyond the meter/main fuse which would cost them a fortune !

Under the current system/legislation all they would have is their smart meter/controller across the main feed to your house and would be able to see how the usage for the whole house is changing. Yes they could assume if they saw an increase equivalent to a 2.8KW load that you have turned the kettle on but you could also be taking a shower or be using an electric fire. There would be no way to implement remote control.

To extend beyond this would require every piece of electrical equipment to have some form of comms built-in which is pretty much impractical. Anything over the mains is too easily disrupted by a simple filter, wired networking is easily unplugged and also requires the power company to assume responsibility in the home, wireless is again easily blocked or disrupted.

Lets assume that the technical difficulties are overcome and the full capabilities are realised consider the following example - your elderly parent comes home from hospital and now has a respirator and some dork at the ministry of power compliance sees the load has gone up substantially the last 2 weeks, decides you're a bad person and shuts it down during peak ! So we now have to start informing the power companies of changes in our private lives so they don't kill us inadvertently.

Ok it's an extreme example but it's the sort of thing ( and much more ) they would have to manage if they wanted to take the proposals to their ultimate end.

The cost involved is phenominal and would also require substantial changes to current legislation.

I suspect all you'll ever see is remote meter reading and a better way to see your usage in real time than the current spinning wheel.

--sean

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Bronze badge

nothing to do with Lord Truscott, then?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/4401188/Lord-Truscott-Peers-charge-up-to-5000-a-day-to-facilitate-law-changes.html

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What happens if...

What if I'm in the middle of some electrically-powered medical process, like, say, I live in an iron lung? And the Powers That Be decide to limit my electricity usage for a while?

For that matter, what if I'm running on a treadmill and they cut the power -- can I sue for damages?

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Treadmill

If you're running on a treadmill why haven't you hooked that up to a dynamo?

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re: What happens if...

"What if I'm in the middle of some electrically-powered medical process, like, say, I live in an iron lung? And the Powers That Be decide to limit my electricity usage for a while?"

Because that's not how "smart" meters work. The meter asks a smart device to turn itself off (or otherwise reduce power). The capability has to be built into your appliance/device. I don't see anyone building an iron lung with this sort of power management capability...

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Big Brother

The New Labour dictatorship strikes again.

How can anyone be surprised?

New Labour are hell bent on controlling our lives and pandering to the slightest twitch of big business (and they know that pays off: look at Tony Blair).

Gordon Brown has less of a public mandate than even Adolf Hitler had. It's time for him to go.

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Silver badge
Flame

Gordon Brown's mandate

Is the same as John Major's was in 1990. You don't vote for a Prime Minister, you vote for an MP. MPs choose the Prime Minister and they could pick a new one every week if they wanted.

And don't expect anything different from the Tories if they win, pandering to big business is practically their manifesto, but at least they're honest about it. Of course, Gordon Brown may follow John Major's example and form an unpopular minority government at the next election...

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Big Brother

Meh

I don't really see the problem. What good can it possibly do for my energy supplier to dick around with my supply? They can already cut it off they need to.

As for the government wanting to know what I get up to - nah. You might like to think you're important enough for the government to care but it's unlikely.

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