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back to article UK.gov blows a fuse at smart meter stall, sets new 2020 deadline

Smart meters won't be fully rolled out in the UK until 2020, one year later than planned. And replacing a smart meter with a dumb one won't be allowed under a new set of rules, which are intended to speed up lagging deployments. Smart meters, described the other week as "crap computers in a crap box" by an electronic security …

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Do. Not. Want.

As I am completely stupid, I decided there was nothing better than to waste electricity and gas. After all, I have plenty of money and would like to have less of it.

Oh no, wait, I don't. And I already don't waste electricity. How does telling me I'm using electricity to have a cup of tea help?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do. Not. Want.

Is it me? or has the government just announced that they will no longer be an opt out?

Do. Not. Want. This. Government.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do. Not. Want.

Agreed

This is just another typical UK Government fuck-up.

£11bn for fucks sake ! How on earth is this justified ?

That's two new nuclear stations, which I think is a bit more of an urgent need given the clapped out state of the UK power plant network.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do. Not. Want.

unfortunately the government wants. But they "hear what you're saying", I'm sure ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Cost of repair/patching?

Who covers the on-going costs of fixing the new meters?

When (as it will be 'when' and not 'if') a serious vulnerability is found in a meter that is a few years old, who covers that? Will the meter suppliers be required to support them fully for upgrades and bug-fixes for the 20+ year life of the installation?

Or will this become yet another added cost to the consumers as the years go by changing them as some crap software/OS goes out of support?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cost of repair/patching?

Given that serious vulnerabilities have been found in these before they even start rolling out, my guess is "They don't give a shit" and "Support? Patches? What are those?"

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Re: Cost of repair/patching?

"Will the meter suppliers be required to support them fully for upgrades and bug-fixes for the 20+ year life of the installation?"

You jest. Because the DECC/OFGEM specification continues to be a moving target, and because the technology is immature, there's fat chance that these meters will last twenty years, even if the hardware itself is durable over that time period. Not only have DECC managed the feat of coming up with a specification that's not compatible with the smart meters being rolled out in the rest of Europe (so increasing the already unjustified costs), but the mass roll out of unproven technology means that the channces of the real benefits being realised are nil. In eight years time, the clowns of DECC will be insisting that to save the plant, another £12bn needs to be spent fitting new super smart meters.

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Anonymous Coward

Unexpected consequences?

Who pays for the electricity consumed by the smart gas meter? Or is there going to be a generator driven from the flow of gas? If you get your electricity supply disconnected - then does your smart gas meter stop working?

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there is absolute no difference to a pay as you go key metre of today

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@zmodem

Yes there is - the present "pay as you go" does not have an easy way to switch you off remotely at the behest of commerical forces/governement of the day/some jumped up oik in local government you gve the bird to (you just *know* that the rules are going to be so over-broad on this that even dog-wardens will have the authority to switch off your power).

(/rant)

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Re: @zmodem

i`ll plug in my perpetual generator

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Re: @zmodem

and how are they going to remotely turn off your power, if you dont have a phone line, if you did, you wont let them engineers mess up your £40 a roll flower wallpaper through your house

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FAIL

Re: @zmodem

Why would a company that only makes money by selling you electricity cut you off? Why would the government or local authority want you cut off - if you have electricity at home they can be reasonably sure they know where you are of an evening.

It simply doesn't suit anyone in authority nor the provider to force you 'off grid'.

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Re: @zmodem

if you fart in the wind in the wrong direction, the gov will stop your benefit, then all your power companies start crying about no body paying debt and bills, then it all becomes a gov issue and a headline

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @zmodem

"and how are they going to remotely turn off your power, if you don't have a phone line"

You read the bit describing all the connectivity options in the article? No?

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Re: @zmodem

happily no, the gov and the police etc can already cut the power off with a phone call, your key metre key account can be disabled when you go and get some credit

there is no way of sending a data packet down a power line

power companies would never waste money on a built in phone or part of the 3g spectrum of billions a year

there will still the guy with his ass half out, outside of your house with some pliers

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @zmodem

You really have to be a troll, have you never heard of WiFi or power line transmission or ISM band communications or pagers or any number of other ways of getting data to a remote device?

If *I* can buy a license free radio module that will give reliable datacomms over a kilometre for under £10 per end in one off quantiites then you can be damn sure that the companies making the meters can too.

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Re: @zmodem

in all edwardian and victorian houses your phone will probably have a minimum signal, without being in a 2 foot wide dingey hallway or basement

its a national fail that will never happen

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JDX
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>>accurate billing

Just send them actual meter readings...

>>The oft-repeated premise is that once we can see live charts of our energy consumption we will rush about turning stuff off, as the ruinous cost of electricity at the moment clearly isn't motivation enough.

This is a fair point, well-tested in fact. Tested by all those people who have those little boxes you attach to your meter and wirelessly broadcast your usage. You can do it already and it works great.

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Unhappy

@JDX

"You can do it already and it works great."

(rant continued...)

No it doesn't - not from the point of view of those making the decisions. How on earth can you expect decent kickbacks/excellent board prospects off the back of a cheap device that is optional? To really secure the gravy train it needs to be mandatory and overpriced/underspecced/require replacement in a much shorter timeframe than existing devices ("Oh, that security vulnerability? Just have to get all the old models replaced. Just put it on the consumers' bills. Trebles all round?").

(/rant)

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Meh

I'm pretty sure most studies of smart-metre households have discovered that it doesn't work great - everyone takes an interest for a week or two, then gets bored and slips back to doing exactly what they did before.

Great waste of money this whole thing.

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JDX
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Loads of households have an interest in how much they spend - "if it's yellow let it mellow..." - "turn the lights out when you leave the room" - etc.

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and lots of families have an interest in what they eat. That explains the decline in shyte supermarket own brand foods like 69p horse lasagne and gmo crap. You'll find many people who purport to have an interest in these type of things do right up to the point it involves thinking / spending more money or having to actually do something about it at which point they lose interest.

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Alien

Re: @JDX

The price of things has to rise and we have to use less of the world dwindling resources. However on the other hand money is tight and we have to extend the existing ways of making money. That means making things that don't last as long so that more dwindling resources can be dug out of the ground.

So cunningly we claim we are doing it to Save the Earth whilst making the problem worse. This will drive up demand to 'Save the Earth' further increasing profits and making things worse.

It's gotta be the shape shifting lizards trying to destroy the earth.

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One question

Does the smart meter benefit me as the consumer?

No?

Feck orf then.

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Stop

but it's not hot ...

so there pushing to get control over something you pay for as it crosses into your house ..

but why ??

over the next 20-30 yrs it will be cold .. yes cold .. this is a control factor there putting in place .. for when the gas becomes to pricey or we have brown out from the eleccy people .. then they just turn you off ..

I for one will not be letting them change my meter ..or i'll just buy one and have it installed ..

I know how much I pay for both .. i'm happy with that a smart meter is not going to change my habits ..

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Didn't get one

I recently had to have my meter replaced as the old one was genuinely faulty.

The engineer had to find an old style meter from the depths of his van to replace it with as we have no 2G telephone coverage in our area - result!

And as we have just had a new meter, I expect us to be last in the line for an 'upgrade' to a snooping/remote kill one. Hopefully they will be a little more secure by then.

I have a real-time usage monitor and report my meter reading every month to the supplier. What positive will a smart meter give me?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Didn't get one

Eon sent me an email asking me to read my meter myself. There was a neat link that took me to their webpage. Didn't have to register - and received an email thanking me for the reading. A quick job done in a few minutes of their request.

The bill came in with an estimated reading.

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Re: Didn't get one

So basically we need to fit some shielding to the inside of the cuoboard under the stairs and its all golden then? I remember seeing some wallpaper marketed at hotels that blocked mobile signals. I predict strong sales for them, until you get branded a terrorist for subverting national infrastructure and get shipped off to orange jumpsuit land.

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Happy with mine

I got a smart meter from Eon a few months ago, they sent a letter through the door asking if anyone wanted one. I did so I requested one and it took them less than half an hour to remove my old gas and electricity meters and replace them with the new ones. No cost to me at all and all my readings get sent automatically to the supplier a few times a month.

The meter and wireless display that is in my living room cost 16p a year to run and was of course installed and supplied for free, You dont even have to have the wireless display running if you dont want to.

Regarding energy saving, I have found that it does indeed help energy saving, for instance I found my microwave was drawing too much power and was faulty, so the meter helped me in that way. Also, I left the iron on once and only noticed when I walked into my living room and saw the display showing up as red(using lots of energy) after hunting around for a few minutes I found the iron on in the spare room, I could have left that on for days if it wasn't for the smart meter, so already have justified several years "running costs"

I really don't see any reason why anyone would object to having this installed, except maybe security concerns with the unit itself, I don't know why anyone would want to hack my smart meter though and cant see what they would get out of it.

It really has opened my eyes on what appliances cost a lot of money, boiling a full kettle takes more energy than a full washing machine cycle at 40 degrees, not what I expected.

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Re: Happy with mine

I'd be surprised if it will be as effective for you in a year. The "ooh shiny" aspect of the service may wear off and you'd be back where you were before in terms of consumption.

And you only mentioned benefits for electricity. Where are the benefits of the gas meter? I already have my radiators in rooms I don't frequently use set as low as they go, so I don't see any benefit from smart gas meters at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Happy with mine

@nuclearstar

Nice to see some positive comments.

> I really don't see any reason why anyone would object to having this installed

Does the supplier have the ability to remotely disconnect you? If so, then the whole infrastructure chain - from meter through to billing systems should be deemed safety critical. Without such, it will only be a matter of time before a pensioner is remotely disconnected in the middle of winter and they die of hypothermia before being able to organise help - or even realise what has happened.

Perhaps someone from an IT supplier involved with this can tell off the record?

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Re: Happy with mine

To be honest I don't have the gas display on at all. I am not worried too much about gas as I will have the heating on when its needed, so no I don't really have a use for the gas meter other than the readings being sent automatically.

The novelty will probably wear off, also having your rads set low in rooms you dont use doesn't make much of a difference to gas consumption(see I can tell that now I have a display). If you have multiple rooms that you dont need but use 1 room a lot then you would probably be better off using an electric heater for that single room and turning off your central heating all together.

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WTF?

Re: Happy with mine

Disconnection is not going to be a big issue. the big issue, coming soon, is the variable pricing the meters enable, as in variable many times a day.

And while they are free "at the point of treatment" (paraphrase) never forget that they are paid for by the end user; you. Eventually. The government is never going to "go nuclear", other than by letting a few new ones be built to replace the old ones, so you can look at the "smart" meters as being one of the links to enable wider use of widely variable generating sources. You may not [yet] be able to store excess wind generated power, but you can, instead, ensure that the amount generated matches the load. Even if only by minimising load.

You need to look beyond the rhetoric of government.

Shale gas, if ever exploited, will be sold abroad.

Keep prices high to minimise use.

Disable excessive users.

The New World is arriving !

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Re: Happy with mine

Around here, that's against the law, no matter what the reason. And just in case the supplier messes up, I have a wood stove to keep me warm while they figure out who to blame.

Seriously, I've had a smart electric meter for 20 years. Never had a problem with it.

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Re: Happy with mine

Variable pricing. Here we go!

This already happens in parts of North America. Have a look at The Ontario Energy Board's Time of Use prices for an example of what smart meters enable.

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Re: Happy with mine

I can't wait. There I am in a flat and the people above me are making use of cheap night time electricity and do a load of washing at 03:00. There are *always* unintended consequences.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Happy with mine

I have an energy monitoring kit (Loop by Navetas) for my electricity usage and it has saved me money. It does force you to adjust your behaviour and show how some of how much your old equipment may be drawing power.

Smart metering will help us budget as well as you will know how much you have used and makes bill payments easier when they arrive and no bill shock. It would help most people adjust their behaviour on energy use and force people to buy energy efficient appliances rather than some rubbish that guzzles electricity. This will drive a market where consumer goods will have to compete on energy use as well as features and functions.

People who don't want to save on energy use need to really understand that the cost of natural resources will outstrip inflation and everyone will suffer. I guess they are the same people who do not want renewable resources and want to stick to coal and gas which is in abundance. If we want to live with load shedding and blackouts everyone is welcome to carry on as business as usual.

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Re: Happy with mine

Shouldn't worry about that - when the main use of "off-tariff" ends up being people charging their electric cars that the government is so insistent on everyone having - the electric companies will do away with cheap electricity overnight as the demand for it will be through the roof (it's roughly 4-7kW for 5-8 hours) which means they will want to charge much more for night-time electric. Taking the Nissan Leaf as an example - the blurb says it takes 12 hours to charge at 10amps - that is roughly 2.5kW * 12hours = 30kW @ 12p (standard rate) is £3.60 or it can charge in 8 hours at 16amps! and costs pretty much the same - BUT can you really see the electric companies allowing hundreds of thousands of people to charge their cars cheaply overnight?

33,333 people charging their cars overnight will consume a total of 1MW

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Re: "boiling a full kettle takes more energy than a full washing machine cycle at 40 degrees"

I definitely not coming around yours for a cup of tea.

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Re: Happy with mine

@nuclearstar

Please explain how it was free? You might not have paid for it immediately but I doubt it was free. Possibly 'free' in the same way the NHS is 'free' i.e. you pay for it but not so directly.

As for the benefits and knowing how much it costs, I can concur, living as a student with an electricity key I knew exactly how much everything cost so there possibly is some educational element for some folks.

This fad will last until some MP gets their meter hacked.

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Re: Happy with mine @nuclearstar 16-30

You do realise that you could of had similar energy saving eye opening experiences by just having an energy meter?

I have found it useful to obtain a reasonable energy meter, that allows data to be download to a computer. This enables you to draw charts - energy suppliers only keep their meter readings, so their charting tools are of limited use and will prevent you from accumulating several years worth of data. I know now (from 8 years of data) what my typical annual consumption is - the only ways I can make real reductions in my energy consumption is either to radically change my lifestyle or install some form of micro generation (eg. solar panels). So a smart meter doesn't really giving me anything.

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Solution looking for a problem?

I still have yet to see a convincing, well reasoned, argument for this. Other than not having to pay G4S to come read meters by hand to make sure people are not telling fibs in their self-submitted meter readings, I see absolutely no advantage to this scheme, and tons of disadvantages. Especially when you are told it will "help manage grid load" (in other words, you can have your supply turned off to stop the voltage or frequency for other people dipping too much). If it's done at the meter, I hope to !($^*(@% the security is good.

Oh, wait, look at all the insecure SCADA devices out there. This can't go wrong, can it? <groan>

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WTF?

Re: Solution looking for a problem?

you can have your supply turned off to stop the voltage or frequency for other people dipping too much). If it's done at the meter, I hope to !($^*(@% the security is good.

What in god's name do I want my supply turning off for? Return to the dark ages? forget it with extreme prejudice!

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FAIL

I will loose out :-)

Currently (pun intended) I am on a low tariff as I send my energy supplier my readings monthly. When smart meters are rolled out this option will no longer be available and I will end up being on a standard tariff. So I will end up paying more for this crap. As I am fully aware of my energy consumption I have not been rushing around turning things off so the much touted froth about less energy being used is also crap. :-(

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easy to change suppliers?

suppliers of what? energy? Everywhere I have lived in the U.S. there has been a single supplier of energy for me as a customer in a particular region(I have spent a few years overseas as well but was too young to be involved in that sort of thing at the time).

This whole smart grid is just a security disaster waiting to happen. Sad to see.

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DJV
Meh

Re: easy to change suppliers?

Clue: see the "uk.gov" bit in the title....

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Boffin

At least

It will remove those damned estimated readings for us folks who work for a living and cant be arsed to waste 3 days waiting for the meter guy to turn up.

But then if they actually looked at monthly consumption of power from the likes of me, they'll find its about 150-200 units per month and has been for the past 20 yrs... so why I get an estimated bill of 400 units per month every time is anyones guess.

PS can I have a nice simple tariff eg : service charge + price per unit used, and not service charge-20% if over 1000 units used+ 15% discount on the first 200 units + 5% discount if theres a Y in the month +10% extra if I go over 200 units+4% overcharge on service -5% discount if paid by direct debit via a cayman islands bank account which exempts me from VAT at 5% but involves a 6% extra direct debit charge on a monday

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Re: At least

get a key metre fitted when prices are low, the rates will never change unless they send you out a new key

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