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 …

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

' That cost has now fallen slightly to £374.'

£374 per meter?, Funny that, the gas engineer who came to fix a meter fault this week put the figure at £830, and, as he put it, 'we'll all be paying for them'

For what it's worth, his opinion of the things, two words, 'bloody useless'

Silver badge

If I'm smart...

Does my meter need to be? I literally check the usage of items/devices and plan accordingly.

Oh, efficient washer + dryer turned up, and 3D printer that I just checked the cost/price of running.

Easy "shouting at everyone blaming them for costs and problems".

Hard "working things out yourself or with others".

Barrie Shepherd

Real reason for Smart Meters?

Am I alone in thinking that the real push for smart meters is so that at a date in the future our electricity usage will be measured in Apparent Power (taking power factor into account) as opposed to the current Real Power.

One reason for this is the appalling power factor of modern electronic units - ironically one being LED lights!


What was the point!

Had the visit to fit Electric and Gas ... already £30 up because of missed one ... but now we need one of the 'new' electric meters when they arrive as the one fitted can't access the gas meter, so they did not change that. I've still got to manually read the gas meter and the smart display is showing a blank usage quite often during the day. I'd had to wait for this meter as the previous ones did not support dual rate and one can see the joins where even this one has no concept of tracking day and night usage! SO as I say what was the point! Perhaps they should have built something that worked before they started pushing it out?


I've held off the push for installation...

...I attended an IT course last year, one of the other delegates worked for a major player in distribution of smart meters.

After a bit of conversation he offered up the gem that ALL of the smart meters share the SAME encryption key. My understanding was that the key was of sha-1 generation.

errr....It's a no from me.


My 50p in the meter

I've recently been hassled and there's no more accurate word for it by my energy company, who I used to work for coincidentally. Where the language they've used is that they 'have' to install the meter, which technically isn't a lie. The government want them to, they 'have' to, or will face fines.

Meter aren't compulsory, and they've been sent away and I'll be leaving them when this contract is up and telling them implicitly they've damaged their brand by doing so.

'Free' also being a load of BS, it's a subsidy applied to everyone's bills. I'll consider having one fitted when SMETS2 is more common, so I don't waste my money, but I'll not be forced into the wrong decision to meet their imaginary deadlines.

I'd argue against the point that the big companies want this set up of smart meters. They've tried to lobby and have some concessions here and there, but as I've just pointed out. They're scrambling arse over tit to throw these contraptions at customers to meet an arbitrary deadline to avoid fines.

Working there whilst earlier installs and trials were underway, they're no fans of the in home device, dreamed up prior to everyone having a smartphone (yes not everyone, but IHD could be optional instead of mandatory and offered to those without a smartphone)

I'd always wondered why the data wasn't sent over the power lines themselves, granted noise and as usual a cobbled together infrastructure would make it difficult and costly, but then so is trying to get a 2G signal from the location of some meters.

The only benefits I can see them offering is a small dip in usage when first installed for people who don't know or care about it. They'll go around turning things off for a while then get bored and go back to their usual habits.

Also, having to employ less meter readers, although by law they will still have to inspect the meters every two years anyway.

And, as some appear to be doing, making pre payment meters smarter so they don't have to pay a margin to payment networks at newsagents and can offer an app to take payments directly.

Whole thing is a bloody mess. But then it's a government run IT project in essence. So why wouldn't it be?

Gerry 3

No legal requirement to inspect meters any more

>although by law they will still have to inspect the meters every two years anyway.

That's no longer the case, the requirement has been scrapped.

David Hicklin

Re: No legal requirement to inspect meters any more

although by law they will still have to inspect the meters every two years anyway.

That's no longer the case, the requirement has been scrapped.

That has not reached the guy who read my meters a couple of weeks ago yet - he said they have to come annually to check that the installation was still safe.

graeme leggett
Silver badge

Not surprised

I login to my online energy supplier account.

Would you like a smart meter? It's free it says. Click here to arrange install.

OK, I think. I forget to do the read your own meter thing. And getting down on my knees to look in the back of the cupboard is no fun either. So I click. Screen tells me my install is already scheduled - for January last year. With no option to change.

At this point you know you're going to have to phone a call centre, and your heart sinks.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

They can do one.

I own several rental properties and have just experienced this BS first hand. One of my tenants switched to a supplier / tariff that demanded a smart meter be fitted. Except they decided to move out before the meter was fitted. I've received letters first from the supplier and then from Siemens demanding access to the property to install the new meter. I can't even switch supplier until this is completed they say.

Bronze badge

Wouldn't it have been cheaper, easier, and faster to just contact any utility company across the pond in the states where they've been using this tech for around ten years?


Sounds like a Thatcher problem.

Seriously, you guys had a nationalized electric system, and you gave it up. Ultimately the only fix is to re-nationalize it. Natural monopolies have no business being in the hands of private business, ever.

We don't have it everywhere, but at least in my part of the US, power is generated by the federal government, and distributed by the local government. There is no profit motive, and it's relatively inexpensive.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

How to save some cash with a Smart Meter

1. Detach from house

2. Place in fireplace

3. Place pan containing water over it

4. Ignite

Enjoy your tea.

Send more meters, the last ones burnt really well.

David Gosnell

SMETS1 lock-in

Can I reasonably assume the lock-in was designed into the standard for SMETS1, in order to appease the major "suppliers"? It seems more than coincidental that the roll-out came at the same time as the explosive growth of smaller leaner suppliers, and the market leaders will have been sh*t scared of the investment they would waste (or ultimately be spending on behalf of competitors with no capital to invest in infrastructure) if their efforts proved to be too easily portable. Now the market's settled down a bit, bingo, time for SMETS2. Might even think about it now, certainly wasn't going to touch with a bargepole thus far.


It will also give them the ability to start variable charging when usage across the county is nearing capacity. A quick text to your phone or even just a tweet saying the rate is going up in 5 minutes to manage the load across the country is all they will probably need to do. So the poorer you are the less likely it will be that you can cook dinner in the evening peak time as you won't be able to afford the electricity cost.

Many problems solved for the electricity companies in one simple go,

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

And another thing

Just remember that unless the specification has changed since I last looked, smart meters have the ability to be remotely switched off and to limit the maximum load to a value set by someone else!


Remind me of the benefit for me?

I can probably save more that £18 by switching provider every year; but in doing so, the chance of the installed smart meter continuing to act smart is low (MoneySavingExpert suggests as possibly being as low as 1.2%).

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

British Gas are appauling.....

They outsourced their call centre to India and these folks have sales targets.....

So, despite telling them, I dont want one and besides, didnt I under GDPR rules say I didnt want marketing ?

Oh, also, Im not allowed one - my landlord doesnt want it! So, its NEVER happening....well at least this side of the crap technology.....ontop of this I have a letter from BG saying they will not offer me a smart meter "in the near future".

So, anywhoo, they call me from this outsourced sales centre and tell me that I have already agreed to have the smart meter installed and when could they come to fit it.....

I ask to speak to a manager - this doesnt happen and Im put on a hold of death....

When I make a complaint - after several weeks, Im told that the GDPR rules dont apply as they arent selling me anything (eh, what...err???) and this is not marketting.

On top of this "in the near future" just means they can start bombarding me with phonecalls, letters, emails and knocks on the door after 6 months.

2 weeks later, I get another call and a letter......

Tom 35
Silver badge

They can do what we have in Canada

Time of use price. Costs double at peak time.


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