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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  1. John Square

    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"

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Sky box in charge of your house

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

  3. Anonymous Coward
    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!

    1. ardubbleyu
      FAIL

      ardubbleyu

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

      1. Fred 24

        I dont want either

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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      They did ask

      There was a full public consultation.

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

      1. Fred 24
        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!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Fred 24
            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.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              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!

        2. Quirkafleeg
          Big Brother

          Where was it announced?

          BEWARE OF THE LEOPARD

    3. JaitcH
      Alert

      How about a ...

      Android OS for the meter?

  4. Ed Cooper

    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.

  5. Neal 5

    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.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    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".

  7. jules 4
    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 !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. Fred 24

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

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

    3. Inachu
      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.

    4. N2 Silver badge

      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.

  8. dervheid
    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!")

    1. John Square
      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.

  9. Mike Watt
    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.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  11. Simon B
    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!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  13. David 105
    Big Brother

    Seriously...

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      title

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

    3. breakfast
      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.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So you guys are saying...?

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

    5. PirateSlayer
      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.

    6. JaitcH
      Badgers

      How about ...

      sex?

      Hard to regulate for sure.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        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

    2. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

      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?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @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?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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!

    3. Fred 24
      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.

  15. MadMonkOfFunk
    Pint

    Power to the smart meter...

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

  16. Anonymous Coward
    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

  17. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    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

  18. Shadowfirebird

    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?

    1. Mike Richards

      Treadmill

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

    2. Deadlock Victim

      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...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  20. AndrueC Silver badge
    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.

  21. David Griffin
    Big Brother

    Hysteria anyone ?

    The "load management" idea is that devices which are opted in to be load managed (ie an overnight dishwasher or washing machine run) can be started at an appropriate time. If at the start of the night the elecCo know there are 50,000 dishwashers waiting they can ramp up a nuclear power station and then trigger the washers steadly throughout the night so as to use power steadily, or else wait for a predicted midight wind power srurge and run them all then.

    Clearly apart from shutting off the whole house they cannot access devices that have not been designed for this facility.

    But a pal of mine in this industry says that meters are simply not accurate enough yet to use for separating "scheduled" night use from ad hoc use, so they won't be able to offer cheaper tariffs for "book ahead" overnight slots (the only possible carrot for consumers).

    But the idea of being able to tell who is on holiday / out, or which non license fee payers are watching Corrie, is far more worrying. Especially if the govt approaches them asking fo rthe information. Can I trust someone like NPower (frequently caught lying on the doorstep to get people to switch) to keep that sort of data safe ?

    Of course, you might ask whether I can trust my visa card issuer to keep my purchases in the heathrow departure lounge (also an indicator of an unoccupied house) confidential.

    They probably cannot mandate this technology in a house but they can make you pay more if you don't install it, and insit it goes into new houses. Trueman show, anyone ?

    And anyway, soon the overnight elec won't be off peak at all as we'll all be charguing our prius's up then, won't we ?

  22. Andy 97
    WTF?

    A vote winner

    Someone must have put LSD in the tea at Labour Central.

  23. jackharrer
    Happy

    Cool

    Have you seen those big, funky displays made of windows on big buildings? You know, playing tetris, etc. Think about potential now! We can use whole cities as one big display. So much fun! All hackers rejoice!!!

  24. adnim Silver badge

    Another step

    This will be good for the power/gas supply business, think of the money saved when they sack all those meter readers. No doubt we as consumers will be charged more for the extra "features" this technology brings. A double plus for the gas/electricity suppliers.

    I think technology is awesome, I think computers, networks and the possibilities they bring are awesome. However my head is not so far up my arse that I want to rush forward into centralised technological control by third party of what is basically my life and the lives of every other person.

    Again this is about control, increasing profits and herding the sheep, not convenience. I guess the next step after the install of these smart meters will be laws ensuring that all white goods, televisions, computers and other consumer electrical goods have an interface that can communicate via the mains supply to these smart meters. Your fridge/freezer by scanning the RFID tags in packaging will know what it contains and so will those monitoring your meter. Your television will be able to report what is being displayed on screen, perhaps even supplying a feed back along the mains. All use of electricity, and gas will be monitored and all products capable of doing so will report as much data as is technologically possible back to a central server. Think of the profits from the sale of that data to marketing companies, think of the social profiling of populace available to government.

    The development of society and government of the people may not pan out exactly as in 1984, but we are heading inexorably toward control and monitoring of the populace, by the few in the name of security, convenience and cost savings.

    Am I paranoid? Is this a ridiculous suggestion? Wait and see, time will tell.

  25. David 39
    Stop

    erm

    Good luck gaining access to my house to install this

    1. The Mole 1

      Good luck to you

      Good luck refusing them entry when they have a court order to change your meter (as they can do) and come with bailiffs and a lock smith.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @adnim

      > This will be good for the power/gas supply business, think of the money saved when they sack all those meter readers.

      Good isnt it? Less expenses means cheaper prices. It also means I dont get massivly over\under changed for my useage and have to take half a day off to let a random guy come into my home and read a meter.

      >I guess the next step after the install of these smart meters will be laws ensuring that all white goods, televisions, computers and other consumer electrical goods have an interface that can communicate via the mains supply to these smart meters.

      Because asking your fridge to delay activating the compressor during peak usage is a bad thing?

      >our fridge/freezer by scanning the RFID tags in packaging will know what it contains and so will those monitoring your meter.

      This already happens. Got a Tesco club card, or a Nectar card? Wonder how Tesco can 'fill' your online basket from your normal usage on the very first time you log onto their site? Hell, you dont even need their store card as you can be tied with your bank card. Why would you bog down the power system with this meaningless data?

      > Your television will be able to report what is being displayed on screen, perhaps even supplying a feed back along the mains.

      Sky\Virgin already log everything you watch. As for a live stream back along the mains? Why have millions of houses streaming BBC 1 back to the provider. And on what magic bandwith will this be happening?

      >All use of electricity, and gas will be monitored

      So like it is now? You know, to charge you for what you use?

      >Am I paranoid? Is this a ridiculous suggestion?

      Yes.

      Now the cut off feature I'm against. Given a cort order has to be involved in the process, you might as well send a bod round to do the cutting.

      If you need to stop power for reasons like lack of generation, then you'd do a rolling brown out well up stream of the end user anyway.

      But transmitting what electricty im using back to the grid provider? Nah, thats fine. Smart devices that don't power up at peak times and thus saving me cash? Sure thing.

      Also think about what that data can do for you and your household.

      1. PirateSlayer
        Black Helicopters

        Fridges and Freeeeeeeedom

        The fridge you talk about already exists (for disabled people). Other fridges are being developed that can tell you things like your milk is going to run out soon, or the cheese you bought is going to go off soon. They can then suggest recipes for stuff you have. All very good! UNLESS it is linked in to some parasetical marketing/ad/control agency. I am all for things to help me run my life better/make things easier, but don't want any of them reporting back to the mothership.

        As for these smart meters making meter readers obsolete...what is that about?! I have been submitting my own meter readings online for years (Southern Electric, Southern Gas), and those uselss A-holes at British Gas have only just got round to implementing that. Pathetic. I get accurate bills every month and never, ever, ever have to deal with the company over the phone and especially not in person. Change your energy suppliers if they insist on sending people round to see you.

    3. Red Bren
      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...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Dig out the tinfoil hats

      "Clearly apart from shutting off the whole house they cannot access devices that have not been designed for this facility"

      Correct - but why let that get in the way of a right good paranoia trip, like the ones we're seeing from 98% of the commentards on this story?

      Total over-reaction / lack of brain engagement on the part of the conspiracy theorists (as usual). Black helicopters - obviously

      1. Quirkafleeg
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Dig out the tinfoil hats

        Of course. This is but a diversion and El Reg is in on – must go. I've said too much.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You think

        by 2020 everyone or even many of us will still be using today's appliances?

        Besides which, just like you get plug in timers (used to use 'em myself for, let's say, turning things on and off like lights and the telly while I was on holiday). You get circuit breaker plugs/sockets, as I'm sure you know. What is to stop them fitting sockets with the capbility? Ever live on a housing estate when the Council/Housing Association went round fitting double glazing to every property? Oestensibly it would be for the same purpose, too, only supposedly by 2020 rather more urgent.

        They just announced a successful trial of a thought controlled prosthetic hand. Do you think we'll still be using steam radios in 2020?

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

    6. Ted Treen
      Alert

      Think, Man!

      It's far cheaper & more profitable for the (mainly foreign-owned) to "dick around" with your supply than waste dividend/management-bonus funds on improving & upgrading a creaking infrastructure to the level that rolling or temporary cuts aren't in the picture.

      Providing a good service to the end-user just isn't in the equation for this cartel of trough-feeders and their bumboys in the Ministry of Cretins/Morons/Village Idiots/Retards (delete where appropriate).

  26. Shady
    Stop

    Gas cut off problem solved...

    ...two sequential valves - both cutting out when the supply is cut off, but after the supply is restored remotely (via the first valve) the second valve has to be reset by hand.

    Having said that, the contract for performing this simple feat of engineering will go to the lowest bidder, who will then outsource the contract to a factory in China, building them for a couple of quid a piece.

    The Chinese will not miss that trick and will embed a backdoor in the firmware, meaning they will just switch off every power supply to every military computer in the country seconds before launching the biggest fucking attack in history.

    Or something like that.

    In principle, this technology should offer amazing benefits to the consumer (on a price comparison site? click 'switch' and it's done - in real time, or an 'Economy7' like scenario - setup a schedule to switch suppliers if they have different tariffs for peak / off peak)

    In practice, there will be abso-fucking-lutely no two way benefits - this will strictly benefit the supplier, and only the supplier. They are not seriously going to spend money in order to give US more control over our utilities.

  27. Adrian Challinor
    Grenade

    GSM GPRS

    The spec on the Dept of Energy and Climate Change suggest that a GMS GPRS WAN is planned. So, all I need to do is put a nicely earthed faraday cage around the meters and they stuffed.

    And its probably people like me they want on their network. I refuse to let wandering meter readers in to the house unless they have pre-booked an appointment 2 weeks in advance, with full proof of ID that identifies them from the company I get my power from. As all our readers come from some service company, they get sent away with a flea in their ear when I tell them that I do not have a contract with Accuread and that their having my details breachs data protection law (I always right that they may not share any of my details with anyone, ever, unless for each case they have a written approval).

    I fill in my readings on line.

  28. Mike Richards

    The who? The what?

    'The machines will be run like Sky or TiVo boxes, under remote control from outside the home - users will have no control over them.'

    Can't speak for Sky boxes, but TiVo is completely under user control. The only connection to other computers is the daily phone call and you can switch that off if you want.

  29. PaulK
    WTF?

    Just Typical...

    This is typical arse faced politicing. The real problem is that generating capacity is decreasing because we don't dig our own coal out the ground any more and it is otherwise too dirty to burn, we haven't committed to clean gas burning power stations and we've no fucking gas anyway and our nuclear reactors are about to fall apart and the closest we've got to replacing them is to sell the industry to a bunch of frogs who don't give a stuff about a bunch of unwashed swampies. So the govvy response is to tax the fuck out of it or ban it and now we have direct load management.

    Knobheads.

    1. N2 Silver badge

      Did

      Anyone vote for this dickhead Mandleson in the first place?

  30. The BigYin
    Flame

    I cna see the future

    "Right, the Smith's power use just dipped, they've gone out. I'll just switch off their alarm...done...OK Fred, it's safe to go. I get 10%, right?"

    And other things of that nature.

    So not content with forcing us of have ID cards, Labour want to watch us in our homes now? What a bunch of twunts.

  31. Jolyon
    Black Helicopters

    I can only assume

    That the Reg is a government agency designed to smoke out the People Who Know The Truth by luring them from their tinfoil bunkers with tempting tales of totalitarian tentacles of terror.

    Black helicopters / white vans it's all much of a muchness.

  32. Dirk Koopman
    Unhappy

    and it will save an average of £28 / year..

    That is of course after one has:

    * paid for the meter (because big Electro ain't going to) cost: £340 + installation (say £200)

    * paid for an interface brick (say £50) for every movable appliance

    * or just replaced them all (who knows how much, other than £1000s)

    * paid for an electrician + interface hardware for the hard wired stuff like immersion heaters, gas boilers etc (say £200 a pop + callout charge)(or replaced it q.v. :-)

    * signed a form indemnifying big Electro for any consequences of them switching off stuff and it hurting you or yours.

    Maybe this the Government's way of "subsidising" solar panels or other micro generation?

    In the meantime, big Electro shareholders will rub their hands in glee as the divis roll in after sacking all the existing metering personnel and the charges have gone up by another 100% to cover this and "other investment".

    And we will have yet another government supported monopoly private company that will need to charge huge sums per annum to cover their <del>empire building</del>investment with complete impunity.

    "average saving", my a*se!

    Dirk

  33. JaitcH
    WTF?

    Keep Big Brother out - ferrites work wonders!

    My 'friendly' power supplier decided the sub-division I reside in was to be one of the 'lucky' beta test sites in our province.

    There was not much information forthcoming as to what these wonderful boxes would/could do so I thought tit-for-tat and installed a couple of large ferrites (similar to those found on computer power cords) and Hey! Presto! I am opted out of their monitoring although the house-side data feed works fine.

    The techs came around and probed with their test equipment and they were dumbfounded. They even changed the meter, with no effect.

    Before they departed they left a pile of mail-in cards as a substitute.

    Score one for the Luddites (and people wanting privacy).

  34. The Original Ash
    FAIL

    I for one...

    Welcome my BSkyB, utility-controlling overlords!

    What, you didn't actually mean "Sky box" in the headline? Shame on you.

    1. N2 Silver badge

      Twunts?

      I think the correct term is custards

      Its a single word that describes a cross between cunts & bastards

  35. Nigel Callaghan Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Meter readers?

    What are these mysterious 'meter readers' of which you all speak? When the job was farmed out to some external business I think the quarterly reading happened about once a year - and this was after I'd gone to the trouble of putting the meter outside to cut down on the hassle of 'we called but you were out' cards. Most of the time I was just getting an estimated bill. Now I just read it myself and phone the reading in (or go via their website).

    This is another case of government interference and overkill. The argument for saving costs on meter reading doesn't work because they don't read the meters anyway. The argument for giving people minute-by-minute readings of their consumption doesn't work either - well, it does, but one can buy a box that does that for less than £50 - and they are very effective - I'm really conscious of how much electricity I'm using now, and go round and switch things off. We don't need mega boxes at £250 each when we can do it for £50. The only extra is the remote control of our houses - which I have no particular need of - but the control freaks obviously love - and it means that they can just avoid providing new clean electricity generation capacity. So much easier to just ration what we have.

    The expensive solution of course is to buy a lot of batteries and plug them into the mains and then run your house off that - they can stop them charging at peak times but I'll decide when I switch things on and off!

    Or of course just get a load of PV cells and say goodbye to the grid for ever.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How it will work

    The "quango" will turn out to be a private company subcontracted under a confidential PFI contract that will involve vast payments over 20 years, after which period all of the meters and controlling infrastructure will belong to the private company (whose directors will include the relevant senior civil servants).

    The remote cut off will prove remarkably useful as the country runs short of power generation facilities due to lack of investment caused by spending so much extra on PFI contracts.

    Simples.

  37. Seventh of 7th

    ReVolting

    Shocking. Or not, as the case may be.

  38. JP19
    FAIL

    Huge waste of money

    The first generation of 'smart' meters will be shit and being hugely expensive to install won't get updated in decades. Early adoption of something expensive with vague capabilities and aims is really stupid.

    The real reason this is happening is FuLab find the idea of forcing us to buy household guilt meters irresistible.

  39. gbsallery
    Megaphone

    Consultation? What consultation?

    After El Reg covered this consultation when it was being launched, I was sufficiently motivated to download all the relevant documentation and have a wee think. I sent my thoughts back to the government, and posted a copy here:

    http://colour9.dyndns.org/blog/?p=5

    To date, I have had absolutely no sign of any response or acknowledgement to my input, despite repeated follow-up emails. I'm not suggesting that the consultation was a complete sham, but... oh, wait, yes I am. None of the points raised by myself (or The Register's earlier coverage) appear to have been addressed in the final proposal.

    Bah.

  40. John 48
    WTF?

    They have load management already!

    Its seems rather odd that "load management" is a selling point of these devices. Reasonably sophisticated load shedding capabilities are already built into the distribution network.

    At times when demand exceeds supply capability, parts of the 11kv network are equipped with smart transformers that can be remotely instructed to reduce the voltage of the network supplying an area in steps of 200V or so. This manifests as a small voltage drop on the low voltage part of the network feeding end users, and hence a corresponding reduction in load (most domestic load being resistive in nature, ohms law applies!). Unlike remotely switching things off, a slight overall voltage reduction generally goes unnoticed.

    1. JaitcH
      Grenade

      The basic ...

      load shedding device is a fuse.

  41. Inachu
    FAIL

    I do not like this at all.

    Just think if electrical companies start to act like internet companies and call you to

    say you have been using too much electricy and that your power will be cut off because of the demanding load you have been putting on the system.

    I could imagine a time when it comes down to that and soon each and every wire in the house willbe monitored and if you abuse the system then they will only offer electricy to your fridge and AC unit and stove and anything else will be at a higher electrical tax rate as it is considered non essential.

    This would raise bloody hell if someone wanted to run their business in their own house which needs to run 24/7. Lets say Bob runs a server farm(A tiny one at that.) for what ever hosting reasons and needs electricy and these monitoring devices can be used to snoop on his business practices? And to think the devices that let you use your house wiring as a lan could essentially and quite possibly be used to hack those metering devices.

    This is future fail waiting to happen.

  42. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    FAIL

    Spin, spin and spin again

    Climate Change Minister, Lord Hunt, said, “Smart meters will put the power in people’s hands, enabling us all to control how much energy we use, cut emissions and cut bills".

    Huh ? We can already control how much energy we use - They're called switches, and we'll still have to use them. At best we will get to be more aware of what we're using though I personally don't think anyone who wastes now is any less likely to waste then.

    No, Lord Hunt; smart meters will take power out of people's hands, it's just another nanny-state means of social control and forced compliance. More control-freakery.

    Now what would be worthwhile looking at is why it costs far more to use X units of leccy and a lot less to use more units after that. Getting one's usage down to X units doesn't actually save much so there's little incentive and low power users are subsidising the high power users.

  43. Inachu
    Unhappy

    Forgot to mention about the cut off details.

    Just think of the lawsuit when they cut off supply to a house who has a person hooked up to some lifeline and is getting IN HOME medical care and the cut off kills the person.

    They need to build in a safety switch or logical numerator that is checked off as meeting a logical condition of if person is in coma then keep home electrified.

    Or just build the house or room area that is not subjected to the rules of the non emotional remote kill switch.

    The above sample will happen. It will just be a matter of time as it has already happened here in the USA.

    1. PirateSlayer
      Big Brother

      Meter hogs

      Electricity, Gas and Water (in most cases) are metered so there would be no incentive to cut off a hog. Identifying unusually heavy users could highlight problems, ilicit activity or just plain stupidity. I am guessing that campaigns against waste could be far better targetted.

      Internet is another thing entirely. Cutting off, throttling and generally abusing heavy internet users is fair dos. You get for what you pay for. If you want 24/7 massive bandwidth to do whatever you are doing, get yourself an ISP that will provide that.

      I'd be extremely worried if bandwidth became so scarce that ISPs decided it would be politically acceptable to charge by the megabyte.

    2. Red Bren

      home businesses

      "This would raise bloody hell if someone wanted to run their business in their own house which needs to run 24/7."

      If you're running an energy dependant business from home, such as a tiny server farm, would you not have some form of UPS? You could also ask your supplier to put you on their priority service list, but they may expect you to pay VAT at full rate rather than domestic rate.

      "Just think if electrical companies start to act like internet companies and call you to say you have been using too much electricy and that your power will be cut off because of the demanding load you have been putting on the system."

      Only if they start offering fixed price, "unlimited" energy contracts. As we still pay per unit, there's less incentive to stop people using energy.

  44. OffBeatMammal

    who gets to see the data?

    In the US we already have smart metering in some states which seems fine if it had any benefit to the consumer... but I don't hear many success stories there.

    It doesn't allow me any more control over my home (despite Google and Microsoft having apps for that - eg http://microsoft-hohm.com) but it's certainly one more data point about me that someone could be seling either "scrubbed of personal information" or real-time so the crooks know when to hit my house.

    I would love to see data being made public on the consumption patterns of Govt offices (including the Houses) so the citizens can be assured their taxes are not being spent by people who leave the lights on long after they've left the office ;)

  45. Neal 5

    @AC 13.44 Nasty intrusive, unwanted etc,etc,etc yawn

    Thanks for ripping the comment apart line for line, what a boring life you must have. I really feel that I must apologise to you for my innoccuos opinion raising so much hatred in you. Still I'm sure that you'll be allowed out of the house on your own one day, many of the inhabitants of your hamlet must be quaking in fear, dreading the day your ASBO expires.

    It's not designed to control your life, or to make you switch off unnecessary electrical equipment, IF your usuage stays in normal parameters, ( I hope you understand the word NORMAL), it's for excessive usuage, ie eg if your normal usuage is say £100 month and your variance from that is minimal to slight, why worry. If otherwise say variance by a factor of 10 to 20, then yes,it will.

    In your particular case, I would reccommend any Life Support, as being non esential appliances.

    Good Luck with your rehabilitation into society.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Load shedding vs switched mode and thermostats

    I wondered a long time ago whether the load shedding (remote on/off) would be used to preserve supply at times of shortage for critical customers such as emergency services, the critically ill, MPs, accountants, lawyers, etc.

    I also wondered whether the classical wide area load shedding mechanism (voltage reductions) actually does anything useful in the era of thermostats, switched mode power supplies, and the like, which are widespread now at home and in commercial premises.

    Thermostats and switched mode power supplies both result in the energy input rate of a device remaining mostly the same regardless of slight variations in mains voltage. For a thermostatically controlled device (space heating, hot water, oven, maybe fridge/freezer) the device just stays powered up for longer to achieve the same desired temperature. For a switched mode power supply, if the mains volts go down the input current goes up to maintain the same output power.

    In other words, just as much output is needed from the power station as before the voltage reduction.

    Hence remote control for load shedding starts to be even more important than you might imagine?

    Comments welcome from those in the know. Anonymously, obviously. Wouldn't want to scare the public would we.

  47. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: fight

    Alright, guys, don't make me throw a bucket of water over you.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well...

    There is a lot of talk about how it is only this bit of trivial data or that bit of trivial data. How could it possibly be used to your detriment?

    Well, what a lot of people are missing is allowing for technological developments and laziness. Already, the data that people like google use, which was supposed to be completely anonimised, can be cross referenced with other, apparently unconnected data and with a bit of computing power, records can be reconciled and conclusions drawn until all that data can be used to de-anonimise the source data.

    So what seems like a little bit of irrelevant data over here, when joined up with some more "irrelevant" data over there at some point in the future can be used to work out things that we can't even guess at at the moment.

    If ever there was a meaning for the word synergy it applies to all this dispersed and "unimportant" data that at some point in the future will be brought together and used for some nefarious purpose we can't even dream of today.

  49. copsewood
    Welcome

    Client side choice perhaps ?

    If the smart meter delivers information about spot electricity prices to the smart meter, it will be the equipment programmed by the consumer that decides when to switch on and off based on electricity spot price changes.

    Very happy to program my dishwasher, heatpump and washing machine to buy wind leccy when the price falls below points I set in advance. This isn't remote control, it's how an efficient market operates.

  50. Henny
    Go

    *smug*

    So the big Uninterruptable Power Supply and Generator I just installed at my house will really screw their plans to control when I use my stuff up then? Cool... :-)

    Liking the idea of the large Ferrites on the incoming power cable too, JaitcH :-)

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    @"Client side choice perhaps ?"

    And what exactly gives you the idea that this has *anything* to do with efficient markets for the consumer?

    There's a UK spot market in electricity similar to the one you talk about, there has been since electricity was piratised, but Joe Public isn't allowed near it, it's for the generators and the distributors (regional electricity companies, as they once were) and the retailers, or whatever the various "value added" intermediaries call themselves this week. If you're a very big industrial or commercial customer you just might get a look in, especially if you know the secret handshakes.

    EdF have just reintroduced Economy 7 by another name [1] but we need something a bit smarter than that. And we don't need it to save money, we need it to stop the lights going out in five or ten years time.

    [1] http://www.savetodaysavetomorrow.com/

  52. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    The IT angle.

    Is still the security aspects of this

    Wireless protocols. let's see to save money they'll buy the same system merkins use.

    Which has already been cracked according to El Reg coverage of one of the security conferences. Score 0 for the usual security through obscurity nonsense.

    People will have their supplies cut off due to malice and utility companies will claim (like the banks with ATMs) "It'sa glitch. Our systems are secure etc etc."

    Security is *never* an accident, it's a process.

    But yes your usage pattern is no doubt a saleable commoditiy whose details this government will do *nothing* to safeguard.

  53. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    UK "Statutory right of entry"

    In the UK several organisations have this. No court order necessary. Gas and electricity companies have it for safety reasons.

  54. Inachu
    Heart

    A better idea

    Some home owners in USA are building their own solar equipment and some of them sell the electricity back to the city for profit.

    Green homes would make the electrical company go broke!

    Lets do it!

  55. Alfie Noakes
    Thumb Down

    Won't do "what it says on the tin" :(

    But by law the power companies have to check your meters every couple of years anyway (to make sure that they are still safe/haven't been tampered with) so these "smart" meters are not going to do away with the meter readers!

    And how long do they last before they need replacing/re-calibrating? More visits - probably before the initial roll-out has even finished?

    Obviously there are no higher priority issues going on at the moment, er?

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Smug mode one

    As someone not on the grid and getting power from a small wind turbine, I'm worrying about how they're going to monitor me and my house.

  57. This post has been deleted by its author

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    off the grid?

    What if your off all the grids? like we are?

    Some 37 yrs ago I wanted somewhere to live and work, without neibours, found a place derelict , with no road, no water no anything.

    suited me just fine, We provide all our own services, but still pay rates, worse luck, but were independent.

    Had a chap come round many yrs ago to read the e meter. Told him we were so far away from mains we didnt need one. He insisted we did, we insisted we didnt.

    eventually put him out of his misery by asking him to listen, the generator was running just then and he could just hear it.

    Lister 6/1 2.5kw.startamatic then, now an sr2, 5kw set coupled to an outback system with 1 ton of alcad batteries. Next yrs project is a wind generator and solar hot water panels.

    So were the odd ones out , with no meters of any sort.

    Like it that way.

  59. pAnoNymous
    Unhappy

    1984 almost here

    so they're going to install by force (through legislation) a device into my house that will monitor what I do (what time I'm in/how many people are here/what kind of devices I'm using). this device will be linked to a central network somewhere where it will update this data in real time and send back updates/etc - some of which I'll be able to view on a digital display.

    all they need to do is install a two way mic and 1984 will finally be here.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Time to invent a electricty cable firewall?

    new market opening up to create a firewall device that sits between your new meter and fusebox?

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Smart Meter Trials are in effect in europe

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/12/02/lhc_power_failure_again/

    Apparantly the cause of the above was that Tracy in the PowerCo call centre thought that their kettle may have stuck in the on position so she decided to help out by remotely killing the power via the smart meter.

  62. adnim Silver badge

    @AC:@adnim

    >>This will be good for the power/gas supply business, think of the money saved when they sack all those meter readers.

    >Good isnt it? Less expenses means cheaper prices. It also means I dont get massivly over\under changed for my useage and have to take half a day off to let a random guy come into my home and read a meter.

    Of course these cost savings are going to be passed on to the consumer...Wake up! I would guess you are not a meter reader with a family to support. And how many times have you taken time off work to allow someone access to your home to read a meter? Have you never filled in a little card and posted it back?

    >>I guess the next step after the install of these smart meters will be laws ensuring that all white goods, televisions, computers and other consumer electrical goods have an interface that can communicate via the mains supply to these smart meters.

    >Because asking your fridge to delay activating the compressor during peak usage is a bad thing?

    Did I suggest such? I was hinting at compulsory spyware in the hardware.

    >>our fridge/freezer by scanning the RFID tags in packaging will know what it contains and so will those monitoring your meter.

    >This already happens. Got a Tesco club card, or a Nectar card? Wonder how Tesco can 'fill' your online basket from your normal usage on the very first time you log onto their site? Hell, you dont even need their store card as you can be tied with your bank card. Why would you bog down the power system with this meaningless data?

    No I don't supply Tesco or Nectar partners with my data. I have never visited the Tesco website. Don't have a Tesco nor Nectar card. At this time I have choice. I consider Tesco and Nectar cards spyware. And no, I wouldn't, given a choice, bog down the system with this data, but those who have access and control of this system may feel different and just because the bandwidth may not be there to monitor all households at this time doesn't mean it won't be at some point in the future.

    > >Your television will be able to report what is being displayed on screen, perhaps even supplying a feed back along the mains.

    >Sky\Virgin already log everything you watch. As for a live stream back along the mains? Why have millions of houses streaming BBC 1 back to the provider. And on what magic bandwith will this be happening?

    Did I say anything about streaming back to the provider? A Dword would probably suffice, and no I don't use Sky or Virgin and never will.

    >>All use of electricity, and gas will be monitored

    >So like it is now? You know, to charge you for what you use?

    Not in real time nor is which device is in use is being reported, only how much is used over a three month period.

    >>Am I paranoid? Is this a ridiculous suggestion?

    >Yes.

    That's your opinion and judging by your response to my thoughts on this matter the populace of the UK who think the way you do will just blindly accept it. I did state in my title that this was just another step toward the total monitoring of the UK populace. I repeat a STEP.

    >Now the cut off feature I'm against. Given a cort[sic] order has to be involved in the process, you might as well send a bod round to do the cutting.

    Why? from your own view point this only costs more money and a reduction in cost can be passed on to the consumer. So a remote cutoff is a positive.

    >>If you need to stop power for reasons like lack of generation, then you'd do a rolling brown out well up stream of the end user anyway.

    Beyond my knowledge, I'm not qualified or knowledgeable enough to respond or know what you are talking about.

    >But transmitting what electricty[sic] im[sic] using back to the grid provider? Nah, thats fine. Smart devices that don't power up at peak times and thus saving me cash? Sure thing.

    Devices like your kettle, TV, cooker, server, water boiler etc, etc?

    >Also think about what that data can do for you and your household.

    My household runs just fine without that data, I am very happy in my ignorance of that data, I don't leave devices powered up that I am not using including lighting. This data is pointless to me.

    There may or not be a conspiracy amongst those in power to have full visibility and total control of the populace, but this is a step in that direction regardless of what you may think the benefits may be. Until we get a benevolent leadership as opposed to a leadership who's main concern is holding on to power and making themselves rich and even more powerful I will never trust such technology. Do you really think this has been approved for altruistic reason? When has a commercial interest ever thought this will be beneficial for the consumer let us implement it despite the cost? Until all the greedy bastard megalomaniac ideals that lead businesses and run the government are removed or replaced I will never trust the system. I will be dead before the potential nightmare future we are heading for becomes a reality. Unfortunately my children and their children won't.

    Basically I am as off the grid as is possible in todays technological invasion into every persons life, I want to and will remain that way as long as I can.

  63. John Munyard

    Here we go again

    If the utility companies really will have the capability to limit or cut off energy using these meters, I'm willing to bet one thing : That the David Beckham & John Prescotts of this world won't be the ones being 'managed'. It'll be us - the bloody serfs first. You can bet your house on it.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Numpty energy suppliers?

    If the technology gets the numpty energy suppliers in UK (for overseas readers that means ALL UK energy suppliers) up off their fat porky rumps to do something about the abhorrence and abuse of the poor and energy poverty then it will be a step in the correct direction.

    Most be surprised to learn that the people traditionally paying most in energy costs are the poorest in the country.

    It is a remarkable Labour achievement of which the Tories are deeply envious?

    Paris: because she knows what beauty is and how people with hearts of clay can make such an awfully, dull and destructive influence on the lives of many/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Err...

      What, rich people won't get cut off for not paying their bills? Or will the rich people actually not be cut off for not not paying their bills?

      or

      Do you mean that any appliances that are to be switched off or not on, due to times of peak load, would only be those of poor people? In which case, this is hardly likely, if they've got the meters and the equipment setup to talk to them.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They will need to monitor our leccy usage...

    ...because when we all have electric cars, we won't be paying fuel duty to run them - unless they have a way to tax the leccy supply.

    I rather doubt that they'll have overlooked a huge amount of tax like that disappearing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And when smoking is eradicated

      they'll have lost the other cash cow too! Perhaps then we'll all be taxed on notional cigarettes. Even the kids can have those (without cause for concern, that is), so they can charge us the tax on a pack of twenty for every member of the family. We could hardly object, seeing as how healthy notional cigarettes are.

      I suspect with the juice - if generated by nukes, as opposed to fossil fuels, for which we would still be paying the carbon tax anyway - we can offset the shortfall by each looking after a lump of spent uranium for them.

      They could stuff it up our arses. It would have the beneficial side effect of providing us with a portable reading lamp!

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    The spooks might be interested too

    How hard would it to be to have a little device inside that could serve double duty as a microphone? Then you could have remote monitoring of the house occupants too.

    Already, millions of people have one of a small range of modem routers supplied by the major ISPs with bespoke firmware. One can see how having a large part of the population using a standard networked box could be exploited.... upon authorisation, of course.

    Mind you, most of us have landlines telephone handsets that would probably do just as well.

    One can see how the paranoid could get very worked up about these things.

  67. Brian Miller 1
    Stop

    Has anyone asked them yet...

    How much power the meters themselves consume. I imagine it is a fair whack more than the tiny amount of energy it takes to spin the tiny analogue meters wheels. Especially if it contains a modern processor, networking gear etc.

    Also how much energy is it going to cost to produce these. And who pays for these nuggets of modern oppressive technology? OOOHHH we do. Thats right, the government says we all must install these as a matter of law. How conveinient for the few official manufacturers that all of the politicians and their friends just so happen to have money invested in.

    I am going to move out of this country so soon its not even funny. When the government and technology combine to oppress people in an endemic fashion its time to move on to another country where my taxes are used to BENEFIT people.

    Honestly I reckon we should all just boycott the uk and jump ship to the mediterranean. France and Spain seem to have a much greater realisation of what a government should be. Toothless and ineffectual and most of all, INEXPENSIVE.

  68. scatter

    It's very easy to put a sinister spin on this...

    But think about it for a moment. In normal operation, demand management works by reducing demand within certain parameters defined by the houselder or the device - they're not going to shut down your fridge completely but they may defer its cycle kicking in for 5 or 10 minutes to smooth the load.

    In the extreme case of a catastrophic supply failure such as a black out, if end users can be shut down remotely and then progressively brought back online, you can restore power much more quickly.

    What's the benefit of demand management to you the householder? By smoothing out demand, less plant is required to generate our electricity at peak times (very inefficient, very expensive). It also enables a much higher penetration of renewables on the grid (something Lewis is very scared of). This will keep costs down and allow for a much more flexible, diverse electricity supply.

  69. ElFatbob
    WTF?

    Strikes me...

    that this is timed to coincide roughly with the time that we will face power shortages due to the gap between decommissioning old power generation plants and the building of new power generation plants (if we ever get round to it. Thanks, BTW, Greentards. Lots of blocking power station building but NO fuckin practical alternatives. Wankers.)

    That and all the juicy control you will have over people.

    So just let me recap - see if i've got this right: Our government is putting direct control over the power supply in our home to, amongst others, the French government (EDF) and the other foreign power companies that own our utilities.

    Whilst they harvest lots of information about us and then sell it on to the highest bidder.

    We are royally fucked in this cuntry.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wasn't asked

    Like all this governments consultations, they know the answer before asking the question and then they only ask very, very quietly so you don't know the "consultation" exercise is actually being held.

    The last 11 years have seen the complete dismantling of the democratic process and has left us with a load of crooks and liars to tell us what we can and can't do and how much we are going to be charged for the privilege of doing it.

    It’s time to get rid of this extremely dangerous bunch of politicians who pretend to represent us based upon a non-existent mandate. The problem is, who do we replace them with? Can’t see a genuine candidate anywhere.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Stop this government snooping

    By placing a couple of powerful magnets either side of the unit to scramble the internal electronics, and by wrapping the unit with the type of lead flashing used for roofing will stop this government snooping.

  72. A Non 1
    Grenade

    Global Warming: A load of Hot Air

    Note how the left and the green lobby no longer uses the term 'global warming'. This is due to the not widely publicised fact global temperatures despite the hysterical and doom-laden predictions, actually stopped rising at the end of the last century. Current dogma is based on flawed science, which not only threatens future prosperity, but also condemn both us and our children to a lower standard of living.

    'Climate Change' is simply an invention to enable central government can impose new taxes, new surveillance and a further level of bureaucracy to suit a Socialist totalitarianism of control, repression and government inference in every aspect of our lives.

  73. Steve B

    old hat I'm afraid.

    Remote meter reading is very big in the States and has been for years.

    One of the plans afoot was to use Zigbee networks for devices.

    In the USA one major idea was to turn off Air Conditioning in empty houses/apartments at the hottest times of the day thus saving a lot of wasted energy.

    With a full zigbee enabled household, using your remote control you could connect back to your house via the zigbee network and turn things off and on, naturally the power companies would have master access!

    NuLab gets most of its ideas from the States but doesn't really understand them and therefore botches everything they touch.

    My old company designed and built meter monitoring equipment, some of which could also turn off services, most useful in the water market where proper monitoring could shut down a pipe to a leak saving often scarce supplies. Naturally not taken up in the UK!

    Unfortunately add ons to existing meters were ruled out for the UK market by this government ensuring that it is a very limited choice of supply as it has to be the complete Smart meter and all the old meters are obsolete.

    The other major problem is the governments breakdown of our utility supply companies, Why should company A invest in better meters when the customer can immediately switch to company B, who are cheaper as they haven't invested in new meters, with no penalty etc.? Thus no incentive has put us back several years so it may be new to the UK market but it is already in place elsewhere.

    Taking your meter reader as an example, in the UK it has to visit every house, climb in a cupboard, transcribe the reading into the handheld, whereas in the US, a meter reader gets in a car, fires up the laptop with a Sat Nav route plan, which is followed driving at up to 50 mph, reading every modified utility meter on the route. Problem meters or those showing signs of tamper are highlighted and can get personal attention. At the end of the route a quick file transfer and the meter readings are all in the Utilities database!

    This is not in real time, hence the move towards zigbee networking etc.

    With regards to Gas, I assume the idea is similar to our old water monitoring plan where usage was to be monitored and when it stepped outside certain parameters it raised alarms. Human beings would then investigate and if necessary disable the supply whilst further investigations were undertaken.

    Unfortunately as with all these good ideas, it is a lot cheaper to miss out the human interaction aspect.... and the investigation.... so we all now how they will be implemented, however rest assured there will be need for management committees to review and administer the results so all will not be lost.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    one good thing about it could be.........

    Compulsory smart metering needs a compulsory "always on" comms link. Whether this is to be provided via the electricity feed to the premises, or via the more conventional coms access network, it can only be good news for the provision of universal broadband access throughout the country, especially in remote or rural areas. Every cloud...........etc.

  75. spezzer
    Flame

    calling John Connor...

    Dont like the way this is going! Anyone heard of Sky-Net per chance? You know the one? where the machines take over the world?

  76. Gary 6

    Bend it----

    That which is made by man can be broken by man--------

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