back to article Shocker: UK smart meter rollout is crap, late and £500m over budget

Parliamentarians are set to haul civil servants in for a grilling after the National Audit Office (NAO) confirmed the UK will miss its 2020 smart meter rollout target, piling an extra £500m onto the cost of the £11bn project. The NAO said in a report issued this morning: “The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial …

TRT
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Pint

Re: How are these supposed to save energy

Or have a cold beer instead. OK, you might have used more electricity in the fridge, but after 5 or 6 who cares?

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Re: How are these supposed to save energy

I like the idea that you are supposed to save money on your electricity bill, by spending lots of money on more energy efficient items.

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Re: How are these supposed to save energy

This is Britain. You should be drinking warm beer, not that fancy lager.

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Re: How are these supposed to save energy

What a miserable life you must lead.

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Black Helicopters

Re: How are these supposed to save energy?

So you're a refusenik, huh? You don't want to have the Sunday roast at 2am and do the washing and tumble drying at 3am?

You need to be re-educated. No more flights or high speed rail travel for you !

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Re: How are these supposed to save energy

Hence the Toyota Pious

I have a Toyota C-HR (uses the same Hybrid mechanism as the Prius). It's cut my petrol usage down to less than 1/3 of what it used to be..

(Yes, I'm aware that there's an argument that says the resources used to make a car are sufficiently enormous so as to make it a bad idea.. But since the expected replacement time for a car in my possession is 10-15 years[1] I reckon that I'll get my moneys-worth)

[1] Apart from the Morris Minor (made in 1966) - we've had it almost 25 years. If they did a hybrid system upgrade for it, we'd get that done too)

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Go

Electric Morris Minors

>Apart from the Morris Minor (made in 1966) - we've had it almost 25 years. If they did a hybrid system upgrade for it, we'd get that done too.

You can do better than that - your Morris Minor can go fully electric !

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Electric Morris Minors

Have to admit, I've had my Gen 2 Pious for 9 years now, replacing a Rover 100 series... I've always had better mpg from the Pious than the Rover for a car much bigger and heavier. For a car that was right at the forefront of hybrid technology, I reckon it's doing pretty darned well even against today's cars. Lifetime mpg is 50, and on one of my infrequent motorway trips, I'm getting 79/80, all verified by the spreadsheet/database where I enter all my fuel receipts (yeah, I'm a bit anal like that; I get the receipt from the petrol station and write the trip computer reading on it before resetting it).

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Re: How are these supposed to save energy

"The theory is that by seeing how much energy you're using, you'll realize how much energy each appliance uses and will either minimize its use or buy a more energy efficient model."

Except we do this already, in the form of a monthly bill :)

If your power use is high, you can poke around and work out why. If you don't care, then a smart meter won't change that.

Buying every household a kill-a-watt or equivalent would do more. Since then you can actually see the load a device is drawing, and multiply that up to kWh per day/month/year.

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Re: How are these supposed to save energy

"The theory is that by seeing how much energy you're using, you'll realize how much energy each appliance uses and will either minimize its use or buy a more energy efficient model."

That would be great. If only the radio signal from the meter cupboard were strong enough to be able to use the monitor somewhere other than the loo (which doesn't have a wall socket to power it from).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How are these supposed to save energy

"Once all of the one-off cost savings have been made the only thing left to cut is home heating & regular bathing."

That was done as well. Luckily my genes gift me with a fair bit of brown adipose tissue (brown fat). This burns off calories as body heat without invoking shivering. Even better - if the body is subjected to lower temperatures (IIRC <17C?) then it produces more brown fat instead of the excess white fat that gives us potential health problems. The brown adipose tissue is not noticeable as "fat" - my body weight has always been in the "good" range for my ectomorph shape.

Instead of a shower or bath I do a daily "sponge bath". Some of the potentially smelly areas of the body are a result of too much washing - which upsets the bacterial balance***.

***wiping the top of a bottle of alcohol with a towel can wipe out a whole advanced civilisation on the towel.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How are these supposed to save energy

" Thus you should be better off using a kettle."

I tried the modern kettles with a flat element - they didn't last very long. In our hard water area limescale build up soon reduces the efficiency of electric elements in kettles.

The superheated "volcano" effect isn't a problem unless you microwave it for too long. I have heard that making tea in a microwave can spoil the taste due to the hots spots in the water. Works ok for individual ground coffee bags.

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Re: How are these supposed to save energy

"Also you are unlikely to run a washing machine/tumble dryer overnight (to take advantage of cheaper tariffs) since fire safety advice is generally not to do so."

And in most average sized houses, you probably don't want the washing machine starting up at 2am, least of all the spin cycle, especially those times when the load balance isn't quite right. Or for the clothes to be left for hours wet in the machine. Combined washer/dryers are generally less efficient and you lose both if one bit breaks,

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Mushroom

Re: How are these supposed to save energy

Also you are unlikely to run a washing machine/tumble dryer overnight ... since fire safety advice ...

Not just fire safety, but safety from having your brains bashed out by the neighbours kept awake by the vibrations. The icon suggests my feelings if I were unlucky enough to live in a flat with a neighbours (above or at the side) running such a machine in the early hours.

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Coat

"You can do better than that - your Morris Minor can go fully electric !"

An electric Moggy.*

*Not to be confused with an electrified Mogg, which would be a back bench Conservative MP wired to the mains.

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Re: How are these supposed to save energy

@Chemist "superheated liquid"

Sheeee-it,... I've done that sketch. Microwaved some coffee, put a spoonful of brown sugar in it, ,,, and WHOOSH, it went off like angry Coca Cola. Totally emptied the mug, ended up all over the counter, and I copped a bit of spatter. I'm now much more careful with the timing.

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Re: How are these supposed to save energy

"Microwaved some coffee, put a spoonful of brown sugar in it, ,,, and WHOOSH"

It's essentially an example of kinetic v thermodynamic effect. Thermodynamically the water has enough ( more than ) energy to boil but no initiating pathway. In the lab we used little fragments of glass or wooden sticks ( added before reaching boiling I might add) to promote smooth boiling. Your sugar just trigger very rapid boiling. Almost like a mild explosion in fact. Cryogenic liquid gases added to room-temp water can sometimes behave in a similar manner - the initial turbulence promoting more and more rapid mixing until the evolution of gas become very violent.

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Meters are passive

Householder won't save a penny unless they actively change behaviour.

To change behaviour requires a lot more interaction with the device than merely reading the numbers once a month. The naff adverts are very misleading.

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Re: Meters are passive

i thought smart meters made it easier for electric companies to disconnect you? That drops ypu electric usage fairly promptly

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“The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy"

AKA: "I'm sorry, I haven't a clue"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: “The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy"

AKA: "I'm sorry, I haven't a clue"

That, sir, is an insult to the memory of the Home Service or wherever Sir Humphrey of Lyttelton and his lovlely handmaiden Samantha are now workng hard.

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Re: “The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy"

I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue is far more entertaining and creative than anything some Whitehall department could dream up. And greater longevity too.

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Megaphone

I'm loathed to say this but this is an EU driven order and those espousing Brexit might have a point when using this as an example of EU stupidity, waste and political dogma.

I DO NOT WANT A FUCKING SMART METER !

Apologies for shouting but this really grinds my gears.

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As an EU directive, I wonder how it is going in the other 27 countries? I have seen some very dodgy wiring over the years (looking at you Greece and also your attachment to cash with no paper trail).

I imagine it will be just as difficult to get folks to accept these in many other places.

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I haven't looked at this case, but Britain has a long and proud tradition of "gold plating" European directives. So I suspect, if I bothered to follow the link in the article, I'd find we were doing way more than was required. It's a habit which has fed our distrust of the EU and yet it originates in Whitehall.

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"As an EU directive, I wonder how it is going in the other 27 countries?"

France is having fun with their Linky devices. A friend of mine is a translator and asked all sorts of questions about transducers, so I found out just how well their rollout isn't going. I remember El Reg doing a story about it at some point.

Edit: for example, Linky smart meters in France do not apparently allow you to actually monitor real-time electricity usage.

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Re: I do not want a fucking smart meter!

Neither do I but I'm not convinced the EU ordered it to be implemented in such a fucking moronic way, The simple fact the meters appear to be non-transferable between suppliers suggests it was a deliberate UK fuckup,

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REad the damn directive :)

" but this is an EU driven order and those espousing Brexit might have a point when using this as an example of EU stupidity, waste and political dogma."

No, this is (yet another) example of the UK using an EU directive to do what it wants anyway, and when they fuck up the implementation they can blame it on the EU. It's not unique to the UK, it's quite common for countries to put unpopular legislation as optional parts in an EU agreement, then opting to use it and saying "not us guv".

Here's a couple of the relevant parts. Yes, I do read a lot of EU legal documents. Yes, it is exactly as dull as it sounds :)

"(55) It should be possible to base the introduction of intelligent metering systems on an economic assessment. Should that assessment conclude that the introduction of such metering systems is economically reasonable and cost-effective only for consumers with a certain amount of electricity consumption, Member States should be able to take this into account when implementing intelligent metering systems."

"2. Member States shall ensure the implementation of intelligent metering systems that shall assist the active participation of consumers in the electricity supply market. The implementation of those metering systems may be subject to an economic assessment of all the long-term costs and benefits to the market and the individual consumer or which form of intelligent metering is economically reasonable and cost-effective and which timeframe is feasible for their distribution."

Notice some key points. Economically reasonable and cost effective for consumers. Only useful for certain classes of consumers. Economic assessment of benefit to market. Economic assessment of benefit to consumers.

Now, it's pretty fucking clear to me (and those who actually know about this) that these studies were clearly bullshit. Thus an honest study would have said don't rollout to domestic users unless they request it. So if the UK followed the EU directive honestly (LOL) then no rollout. But it turns out the surveillance state would very much like smartmeters, thanks.

So, like almost everything fucked up in the UK, it's all Whitehall, all the time. They decide how to interpret EU directives, they fuck it up, and it's they who have managed to dodge accountability.

There are plenty of issues with the EU. But almost all the ones that the brexiters are shouting about are, in fact, British issues. Immigration is under UK control. How directives are implemented and enforced are under UK control.

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Anonymous Coward

"It's a habit which has fed our distrust of the EU and yet it originates in Whitehall."

An MP asked a farmer in her constituency why he voted for Brexit. He said because of the way the EU body DEFRA had been regularly late with his subsidy payments.

He was rather nonplussed to be told that DEFRA was a UK department - and it had been fined by the EU for making late payments to farmers. After Brexit DEFRA will still have responsibility for subsidy payments - if there are any under the new arrangements.

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Re: I do not want a fucking smart meter!

"The simple fact the meters appear to be non-transferable between suppliers suggests it was a deliberate UK fuckup,"

To the extent they ordered the roll-out to begin before a standard was ratified for interoperability, yes, it was deliberate.

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Gimp

"all the ones that the brexiters are shouting about are, in fact, British issues."

Reminding us once again "Europe" (or the EU) is not the enemy.

Whitehall OTOH.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I do not want a fucking smart meter!

Correct. Living in the Netherlands, they are not required and if you want one they are installed just once. When you change suppliers you do not have to re-install the meter. And you can choose how often they report back, including turning it off. And also they do not allow power to be turned off.

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I'm loath to say this but I'm sure you are loathed for your bad language.

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pros of the smart meter

Can't speak for anyone else but I've found a couple of occasions they've been useful.

One time I noticed the electric usage was quite high, it turned out to be an outside light left on running a 100w bulb that the previous owner put in.

And more than once I've left the oven on after cooking.

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Re: pros of the smart meter

Does the previous owner sneak back and replace the 100w bulb occasionally?

Leaving the oven on is just moving some of the load from your heating system, we've all done it. but do you not spot the warmer kitchen before looking at the smartmeter?

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Re: pros of the smart meter

Perhaps you should get out more!

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Re: pros of the smart meter

And more than once I've left the oven on after cooking

Repeat after me - your incompetence does not constitute my emergency..

(Harsh - maybe a bit. But forgetting to turn off the oven after cooking has an easy fix - a small poster tacked/bluetacked above saying "Have you turned off the oven?" might help..)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wait...

How did you not realise you left an outside light on?

Oh, you mean they used a 100w bulb? you waited for a over £300 smart meter instal, read the dial on it when everything else was turned off... instead of looking to see if you had bulbs/tubes/leds in a light? OKAY.

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Re: pros of the smart meter

A one off check would find surprise lightbulbs etc.

Oven left on ..well it was heating your kitchen

A hefty 2MW oven left on for 5 extra hours costs you 10 extra KWh = £1.30

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Boffin

Re: pros of the smart meter

If your oven was 2MW you'd need a substation to power it !

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Anonymous Coward

>And more than once I've left the oven on after cooking.

I'm reminded of the old David Beckham joke:

David Beckham goes to the hairdressers wearing a set of headphones and sits in a chair.The stylist walks over and asks him what he wants. Explaining that he'll need to take his headphones off. "No, no,I cant" says David, "I must leave them on." The stylist looks confused,but does his best to wash & cut his hair,around them.David leaves a happy chap.

A week later the same thing happens again.The same stylist does his best to get David to remove his headphones,but again with no luck.Once more he washes shaves & colours around them,as best as possible.David is pleased with his new look.

Another week later,David comes back yet again.This time,he falls asleep whilst his hair is being cut.So the stylist carefully removes the headphones,& carries on with his cut.When he has finished he realises that David is DEAD."Oh my god," he shouts."I have killed David Beckham." Suddenly, remembering what David had said about the headphones.He picks them up and puts them on to hear what is being played through them...........

.............."Breath in,breath out, breath in, breath out........."

Learn to think for yourself and don't rely on something else to do it for you.

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MJI
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David Beckham brought his new toy along for a training session.

"What is it?"

"A Thermos flask, keeps hot things hot and cold things cold."

"What have you got in it?"

"A choc ice and a mug of tea."

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Happy

>>>David Beckham brought his new toy along for a training session.<<<

Generally in polite society it's considered bad form to mock low intelligence.

However in this case the afflicted has £squillions & Posh so I'll upvote!

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David Beckham’s at a press conference, fielding questions. In response to one request for his opinion, he pauses for a while, then says “Well, they taste nice and make my breath fresher”

There’s a stunned silence, then the journalist wearily says “No, I asked about TAC-TICS”

(But then, as my mum - and someone above, I see - likes to point out, considering he has a net worth of £lots, and those mocking him don’t, which of us is the thickie?)

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MJI
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We may mock but we don't hate.

Supposedly a very nice person who would probably find these funny

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Not so smart!

'Smart meters' are only glorified automated meter readers and don't achieve energy savings, as this would require the smart meter to do more than report on energy usage and actually control devices. A case for the Advertising Standards Authority.

If it is about awareness, then watching an 'old money' electricity meter spin at top speed when you put the kettle or electric shower on provides some straightforward education.

Seriously, all the potential positives of smart meters (I can think of only one for the consumer - not having estimated bills anymore) are quickly offset by the very real negatives that are now a reality - spiralling costs (borne by the consumer), device failures and incompatibilities (barrier to switching if you want the smart meter continue being 'smart' in the very limited meaning it currently has), spiralling costs (did I mention that already?)...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not so smart!

"[...] then watching an 'old money' electricity meter spin at top speed when you put the kettle or electric shower on provides some straightforward education."

You then need to extrapolate the total energy used for the device's typical running period. Many people do not seem to be able to do basic arithmetic when shopping - so I doubt they can evaluate electric devices' consumption. A high consumption device for short period can be less of a concern than a medium one that's on much of the time.

In my house the fridge/freezer motors make up a big part of the daily load. I keep the freezer fully packed to minimise cold air losses when the door is opened.

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Re: Not so smart!

"Advertising Standards Authority"

I've wondered about whether there'd be a case to answer on that score too...

"not having estimated bills anymore"

I get an email once a month from my (non-big-6) supplier, asking for a reading ... takes 2 minutes to reply with the numbers (might as well use advert breaks usefully after all...), so why install a gadget to do it for me?

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FAIL

Re: Not so smart!

Smart meters are for "demand-side management".

In order to reduce the cost of standby generation for intermittent renewables, the idea is to modulate down demand in times of low supply.

Some of this will be by paying industry to shut down. Yes really.

But the other side of it is to cut domestic usage. In other countries, "load shedding" is used, i.e., power cuts.

That's not politically tenable here yet, so instead there will just be variable pricing. We will implement our own power cut when the smart-meter-display-thingy tells us we are paying £5/kWh.

This has been quietly admitted in certain quarters.

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Re: keep the freezer fully packed

The bodies of smart meter installers do take up a lot of space.

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