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.