back to article UK gov's smart meter dream unplugged: A 'colossal waste of cash'

On 23 June, the village of Alfriston in the South Downs hosted Get Wired, an event celebrating old-fashioned wired analogue power meters – or, more accurately, opposing their replacement by new wireless "smart" meters. Organiser Stop Smart Meters UK is worried about radiation, privacy, safety, higher bills and people losing …

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  1. Just a geek

    The Americans certainly haven't welcomed them and I was told by a meter reader that they have a habit of picking up every spike, especially those from older appliances which generate a voltage spike when turned on which leads to much higher bills.

    I was 'surveyed' for one of these meters the other day and I'll be doing what I can to resist having it installed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      People who read meters are rarely qualified in electrical engineering and power distribution systems and measurement of power, I seriously doubt that the person reading the meter is a credible source for information about "voltage spikes" causing higher bills.

    2. FunkyEric

      Well refusing to be surveyed might have been a good place to start ;-)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think the effect you are talking about is called Power Factor.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_factor

      CFC light bulbs, switching power supplies (as used in computers) and induction hobs are causes of this.

      But it just means that the smart meter measuring circuit will need to be very well designed. Just merely having a clamp on the meter tails isn't good enough.

      1. David Kelly 2

        Utility companies, Public Service Commissions, and free range lawyers are very sensitive to the accuracy of electric power meters. For this very reason when I worked for a "smart meter" company we declined the opportunity to design our own meter. We connected to "dumb" electronic meters via diagnostic port provided on the back by their manufacturers.

    4. BillG Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Money. It's a Gas.

      In Blighty the companies that make smart meters have already exchanged promises and contracts with politicians. It's not about energy, it's about political favors. Same in the USA. Then they justify it by telling you what they think you want to hear.

      Here in the USA they need permission to come onto your property, so they come to your door and say "I need to install a new electrical meter for you". My cross-examining:

      Me: "Why the new meter"?

      Him: "It's new"

      Me: "What's new about it?"

      Him: "I'm not sure"

      Me: "Is it a smart meter?"

      Him: "I don't know"

      Me: "If you don't know, then I don't trust you and I don't want it"

      Him: (stammers, mixture of confused and angry)

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Money. It's a Gas.

        "Here in the USA they need permission to come onto your property,"

        Fortuantely, in the UK too!

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Money. It's a Gas.

          I doubt that any special permission is required. When you enter into the contract to receive power from the local supplier (you do know that you signed a contract, right?) a clause in the contract gives the power company or their designee permission to enter your property to read the meter or conduct upgrades and repairs at any time. The power meter is property of the electric company even as the rest of the installation is property of the building owner. I was lucky I noticed the contractor coming around to install my smart-meter so I was able to have her give me a couple of minutes to shut down the computer before they cut power to make the swap. They were only running 5 weeks behind the schedule that was posted to everybody in my area.

          I haven't noticed any difference in my bill at all. It's the same as it's been for the time I have been in this house. I am a bit disappointed that we don't get an IHD. I have to switch things on and go out to the meter to see how much power they drawn. I really wanted an IHD with a USB jack. It would be quite interesting to combine the readings from my weather station with my power use.

          1. BillG Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Money. It's a Gas.

            I doubt that any special permission is required. When you enter into the contract to receive power from the local supplier (you do know that you signed a contract, right?) a clause in the contract gives the power company or their designee permission to enter your property to read the meter or conduct upgrades and repairs at any time.

            First of all, USA law states that they must knock on the door and notify you if they are going to interrupt your electrical power. This is in case there is an infant in the house, someone elderly, or someone on life support; any of these individuals may be dependent upon electrical power. Replacing a meter interrupts electrical power.

            Second, they most definitely do not have the right to enter your property...at any time. I do not have to let them into my house, and they do not have the right to demand entry, as you wrote, "at any time", say, at 2 AM. I forget the exact legal phrase but it's called "free and unencumbered use" or something like that (you do READ contracts, don't you?)

            1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

              Re: Money. It's a Gas.

              @Bill AFAIK you're correct, but you've missed the next step in the exchange. They then ask a court to grant them access under the Electricity Act 1989 (and various others). Magistrate signs off and they turn up with a warrant. At which point you're looking at ~£1000 fine if you still refuse.

              So, yeah, they have to ask your permission, but if you say No then they ask someone to over-rule you. They therefore don't need your permission.

              Having written all that I've re-read your post and seen "USA law states" - but as my response is applicable to the UK I'll post it anyway!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Following investigation, the American and Austrailan deployments showed that the issue with customers receiving higher bills was more to do with the inaccuracy of the meters being replaced than anything else. Some of the Austrailian meters had been installed for over 50 years without any kind of accuracy test at any point.

      This will be less of an issue in the UK due to the regulatory-imposed recertification process, wherein all meters are required to show an accuracy of within 2% either side.

      1. Why Not?
        Big Brother

        and that has been tested when?

        My meter has been in for 30 years and as far as I know no one more technical than a meter reader has seen it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "As far as I know"

          In the UK the safety regulations mandate that the meter is renewed every 10 years.

          It's probably in your interest as well. Old gas meters for example have a terrible habit of over-measuring.

    6. David Kelly 2

      Thats ignorant F.U.D.

      Dumb electronic meters have a port in the back and and IR port in the front for automated reading. It makes no difference whether you have a "smart" adapter behind it or not as to the meter's fundamental ability to meter.

      I worked for a "smart meter" company and designed two different adapters which fit behind conventional meters. One used a cellphone relay, the other used ethernet for FIOS systems.

    7. E Haines

      We had smart meters installed a year ago; as far as I know there wasn't a choice. So far my bills have been the same, maybe slightly lower. The main difference was not having to shovel a path to the meter during the winter, which was kind of nice actually. I'm sorry but I just can't really get worked up about the whole thing.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Organiser Stop Smart Meters UK is worried about radiation, privacy, safety, higher bills and people losing control over their homes."

    First on the list "RADIATION" WOOO!!!! The bogeyman! Are these the same people as the "Stop WiFi" people from the Panorama program?

    1. Ragarath

      I hope they are talking about the radiation interfering with other appliances and not with it affecting people. If it is otherwise it is just scaremongering and they should be given no credence because of it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do these people stay indoors when the radiation of the sun is out?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Do you want to live in Fukushima?

        1. Don Jefe
          FAIL

          @UndefinedNaN

          I'm not sure you know what the word radiation means.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @UndefinedNaN

            From Dictionary.com:

            a. the emission or transfer of radiant energy as particles, electromagnetic waves, sound, etc

            b. the particles, etc, emitted, esp the particles and gamma rays emitted in nuclear decay

            I think that covers just about all of it ...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @UndefinedNaN

              Do you want to live in Devon or Cornwall, where radiation levels are also high (over a lifetime, you'll get about the same dosage.?

              A little light reading...

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Background_radiation

              Little more technical that yahoo groups I'm afriad though...

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @UndefinedNaN

              Ok, so you've got a definition. That doesn't mean you know anything about the subject and you're proving that you don't with the posts you've made.

              The main difference you'll be needing to understand is between ionising and non-ionising radiation.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Do you think that the makers of smart meters are filling them up with radioactive caesium? Or is it possible that you don't know what radiation is, much like my original point. Sounds frightening, we all know that radiation is what nuclear bombs and blowing up powerstations make, therefore that's all there is to know about it.

          Wooooo! Bogeyman!

        3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          @ undefinedNaN

          Leaving aside your ignorance about the difference between ionising and electromagnetic radiation, which has already been pointed out to you, I'll answer the other part of your question.

          If I were likely to live in Japan (which I'm not, and have absolutely no plans ever to do), and supposing that Fukushima was on the right island for whatever I planned to do, and then assuming that the Japanese authorities were allowing domestic habitation of the area, then I would have absolutely no fears of living there. In fact, I'd live there today if need be, just as I'd happily live in Pripyat.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Boffin

        Do these people stay indoors when the radiation of the sun is out?

        If they have any sense, yes. If not then suitable precautions need to be taken.

        You should see the people that fix the roads around here. They dress like someone cleaning up Fukushima despite 30+ shade temperatures.

    3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      See that great big orange blob in the sky? That's the world's major source of raydeeayshun.

  3. Ragarath

    The system is designed to be secure end to end, with data encryption and no identification of customers in what is sent.

    No identification of what has been sent but, we can and will bill you on it. That does not sound like no identification to me!

    Personally, I think all this money should be spent on developing better ways to generate energy and in a cleaner way. And no I do not think wind and solar can do what we want. Instead it is all wasted on helping the energy companies make more money and will make little difference to most peoples usage.

    If someone wants a cup of tea, the kettle needs to be boiled. They are not going to wait until a time predefined by the energy companies when the cost is less just to do that, or watch their favourite TV program, cook their dinner, do work on their computer and the list goes on and on.

    1. IHateWearingATie

      @Ragarath

      I think what they mean is the data doesn't contain any direct customer identification info (name, address etc). It'll have a unique identifier that can be matched with a customer record at the other end. Someone intercepting the info would also need to have the data table matching identifiers to properties and people.

      The eventual plan (you can decide whether you believe it or not) is that you'll have appliances that talk to the smart meter and can (if you want, and have signed up for the right tarrif) wait until the spot price is low (as a proxy for demand being low) before they switch themselves on. Obviously there is a set of demand that can't be time-shifted in this way.

      The other cost saving in the business case is the removal of the current requirement to have a meter read from a visit at least once a year.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Ragarath

        "It'll have a unique identifier that can be matched with a customer record at the other end. Someone intercepting the info would also need to have the data table matching identifiers to properties and people."

        Available for 1p per record from some Indian call centre manager.

      2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: @Ragarath

        @IHateWearingATie the smart meter and can ... wait until the spot price is low

        The hell with spot. I want a smart meter that can do futures and swaps!

    2. IglooDude

      What they very likely mean is no identifying information being transmitted alongside the usage - just a customer ID of some sort that they can match to your account with actual identification in their database at home. At least, that is how such services traditionally work (like with personal medical device monitoring).

      And yeah - radiation, really? Do they have a problem with the cellphone in their house, or wifi, or bluetooth, or cordless phone, or... *sigh*

      There are good reasons to oppose this, but 'radiation' certainly is not one of them. Security of the data may be, but that's entirely dependent upon the architecture of the implementation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Do they have a problem with the cellphone in their house, or wifi, or bluetooth, or cordless phone, or... *sigh*

        Actually 'they' do. It's also very annoying when you really want use this technology, but are unable to because you spent too many nights sleeping in the same room as the wireless router, and are now paying the consequences. If you stop and think about it, you'll realise that while we can tolerate certain forms of radiation (eg. sunlight - and even that we have to be careful with!), we also have to be extremely careful about other forms (X-rays, Gamma, etc). As far as I'm aware we're not exposed to radiation at current wi-fi, DECT frequencies in nature, so it's not beyond the realms of possibility that we may find there's a problem somewhere along the line. I pretty much used to think like everyone else on this forum: that there's no chance of it physically affecting people, but it can.

    3. PlacidCasual
      WTF?

      Read Lewis Page's article on energy costs

      Npower's recent report throoughly debunks the oh so convienient myth of power company price gouging and excessive profits. Lewis Page breaks it down in another article today. Smart meters whist pointless are only a small element of the massive costs our elected representatives are heaping on us.

      1. Ragarath

        Re: Read Lewis Page's article on energy costs @PlacidCasual

        Thanks, I did read Lewis' article earlier and agree with it. But the cost of rolling out the smart metres affects every household. They may be small to you but they are unnecessary and the cost of rolling them out to millions of homes is not small and can be better spent elsewhere.

        That is what I was trying to get at in my post.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      @Ragarath

      "Instead it is all wasted on helping the energy companies make more money and will make little difference to most peoples usage."

      No it isn't helping us make more money. My employers are not making any money at all on the back of this. It is mandated by your good friends in the EU, and the clowns of Westminster and Whitehall have (as with all other matters) not had the spine nor sense to say "get stuffed" to Brussels. The power companies will be fined draconian amounts if we don't do as we're told.

      The real cost savings are marginal, about £6 per meter per year, with an annual cash cost of about £25 per meter given that it is a £265 piece of kit, guessing it'll last an average of ten years before refurb or replacement. Even those cost savings have an offset (nationally) because if we don't have full employment, then there's welfare costs from anything that puts people out of work, and they assume that the capital is free. If you assign a value to the capital of say 5%, then your amortisation and interest take the meter cost to £40 a year, to save that £6 a year operating cost. Spending £40 to save £6 is only sensible if you're a bureaucrat spending other people's money. And better still, the £14bn cost of this government mandated scheme don't appear on the government's books - a tax that is hidden, wahey!

      All the other "savings" are wishful thinking by DECC, in a "business case" that includes all manner of spurious and unlikely savings - for example, smart meters will make electricity theft less likely, reduced network losses (yeah!), over half a billion quid of savings from "reduced network investment through introduction of time of use tarrifs", reduced consumption because you have the option of a meter display on the wall, a billion quid of savings from "global CO2 reduction" and so it goes on. The business case probably comes from the same Booker fiction prize winning authors of the HS2 business case. It's worth searching for the highly critical NAO report on DECC's smart metering programme, and looking at the made up numbers (page 27 of the full report).

      This is a colossal waste of money, deamt up by the eco loons of the EU. The money spent could useful be spent resolving the looming capacity gap, or even replacing all the coal stations that will run post 2015. And in fact, we could throw out this Chicken Little "climate change" claptrap, and stick with what we've got, rather than spend tens of billions that as a national we don't have, in a manner that will cause the remainder of British manufacturing to relocate elsewhere.

      1. Ragarath

        Re: @Ragarath @Ledswinger

        Yes it is helping you make money and you even said in your post it is. You do not have to read metres and the cost of the metres will not be borne by the energy companies, it will be borne by the bill payers.

        So if the cost of the metres will be paid for by the bill payer, yes over time maybe but still by the bill payer thus making it cost the energy company nothing.

        Yet the metre readers are no longer needed. Without going deep into it, that is a cost saving right there.

        The money spent could useful be spent resolving the looming capacity gap, or even replacing all the coal stations that will run post 2015. And in fact, we could throw out this Chicken Little "climate change" claptrap, and stick with what we've got, rather than spend tens of billions that as a national we don't have, in a manner that will cause the remainder of British manufacturing to relocate elsewhere.

        I totally agree with you we are on the same page, except it seems about the energy companies saving money (no matter how small you think it is / will be.)

        1. Ragarath

          Re: @Ragarath

          Reply to myself for not realising I have been using the wrong meter *sigh* sorry pedants.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Joke

            Re: @Ragarath

            Oh. I just thought the meter on your house was readable from the street.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Ragarath part 2

          "Yes it is helping you make money and you even said in your post it is. You do not have to read metres and the cost of the metres will not be borne by the energy companies, it will be borne by the bill payers."

          The cost savings are presumed by DECC to be passed through to customers. And the evidence is that they always have been - at the supply business level, your energy suppliers barely cover their cost of capital (and in many years haven't). If you look across the whole energy supply chain, then things only improve marginally - take SSE, who are present across almost all of the electricity value chain of generation, trading, distribution & supply: Return on assets, 2.06 miserable percent. I can do better than that with a high street savings account (with some shopping around).

          Ultimately the cost of ANYTHING has to be paid for by customers (or taxpayers) and that's why it matters that there isn't a genuine business case. If it made the energy companies more profitable, but was neutral for customers that wouldn't matter because the higher margins would attracts more investment into the industry, the profits would bolster your pension, makes your insurance cheaper (up front premiums are invested), help life savings rates.

          Profit isn't a bad thing. What's a bad thing is that there's too little of it in this country.

          1. Zack Mollusc
            WTF?

            Re: @Ragarath part 2

            Companies make no profits, you say? Well, let's use this handy magic wand here....

            Zap! Customers pay double what they usually pay ( finding the money from somewhere)

            Hurrah! The company is suddenly making lots and lots of profit!

            But, what is this? Oh noes! The people running the company have just voted each other huge pay increases, bigger expenses and have pissed away the rest on conferences in posh hotels in Monaco!

            Now the company makes no profit again!

            What a terrible and utterly unforseen outcome.

      2. Alan_Peery
        Thumb Up

        Re: @Ragarath Smart meter discussion good, then sudden turn into...

        Your post was very good up until midway through the last paragraph, then someone appears to have grabbed the steering wheel of your argument and given it a sharp twist.

        However, the first part was really good, so you're still getting a +1. :-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Happy

          Re: @Ragarath Smart meter discussion good, then sudden turn into...

          "Your post was very good up until midway through the last paragraph"

          That could apply to several of us...but let me leap in and take a bow anyway!

      3. Al Jones

        "a £265 piece of kit"

        How exactly does a smart meter cost £265? The BoM can't be much more that £30 or £40, can it? Any design costs are amortised over 10's of millions of units, so should be fairly negligible pr unit.

        I know it has to be built to last for 20+ years in outdoor locations, but given the volumes being produced, what is the real cost per unit?

        1. Brenda McViking
          Angel

          Re: "a £265 piece of kit"

          Its an industrial grade product and has to last 10 years. It is not a consumer-grade item, therefore you won't get a consumer-grade price. Besides, the government has "mandated" them, and that means that the company that makes them will suck as much blood out of that government mandate as they can possibly get away with. It's a bit like anything "military spec" - build it for market price, then move the decimal point to the right.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "a £265 piece of kit"

          "How exactly does a smart meter cost £265? "

          Total programme costs divided by number of installations.

          I would guess that at least half the total costs arise because of the inefficient install programme that is inevitable.

          1. I Am Spartacus
            Stop

            Lets do maths

            Each meter costs £265. There are 53 million households according to the article which need to be fitted. so the total is £265 x 53,000,000 = £14 Billion.

            How much electricity is this going to save?

            1. Nigel 11
              Alert

              Re: Lets do maths

              Each meter costs £265. There are 53 million households according to the article which need to be fitted. so the total is £265 x 53,000,000 = £14 Billion.

              How much electricity is this going to save?

              Lots. You and I, the energy consumers, are going to be paying for the meters, through higher electricirty prices. Those who are having trouble paying their bills, will have to cut back on something, and that something may well include electricity usage. Also it gives them the ability to cut off anyone who is in arrears with their bills far more easily. Also it gives them the ability to inflict a power cut on most of us, without the opprobium that goes with inflicting one on those for whom a power cut might be life-threatening.

              Probably not the answer you wanted? What, me, a cynic?

      4. FatGerman
        Thumb Down

        @Ledswinger

        I was starting to think you were talking sense, and then you went and did the energy supplier thing of calling climate change "claptrap", thus proving you're full of shit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re:@FatGerman

          "I was starting to think you were talking sense, and then you went and did the energy supplier thing of calling climate change "claptrap", thus proving you're full of shit."

          Well, my teutonic friend, I've studied the subjects at hand to graduate level, so I think I've got a valid degree of education to doubt the claptrap. But taking your moniker at face value, who's government is phasing out CO2 light nuclear in favour of gas and coal?

          From my point of view that's common sense, from the point of view of AGW conformists, well.........

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: FatGerman

            "I've studied the subjects at hand to graduate level"

            Even more worrying if you have done that and can still doubt the overwhelming observable evidence, and near universal scientific opinion on the subject. There simply isn't any reasonable doubt about climate change anymore. It is happening. The only remaining question is how much of it is due to us - and the answers seem to vary in a narrow band from all of it, to nearly all of it...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: FatGerman

              " There simply isn't any reasonable doubt about climate change anymore. It is happening. "

              You should read what I have written more carefully before leaping in with your own opinions. When did I deny that climate change has and continues to happen? It always has changed, always will change. Just because (as per the Climategate emails) the high priests of this new religion seek to disparage, discourage and discredit those hold different views doesn't make them right. The targeted funding of research will inevitably find evidence in a complex system that matches what the funding issuers want to hear, particularly since fools seem to have already decided that the case is proven. If you think this is proven, then you're not much of a scientist, since your mind is not open to alternative theories. Maybe you've forgotten the mad, inaccurate plagiarism of the IPCC? If they can't be relied upon, who should we trust?

              Let's park AGW for a moment, and look towards the longer term: Fossil fuels are not likely to be sufficient to power our societies. We therefore need alternatives, and renewables or fission/fusion technologies may have a part to play, along with making more efficient use of energy. But the short term, panicky Canute like response to Thermogeddon is not a sensible policy. Globally, emissions are higher because Europe has pushed industry offshore to less efficient and "dirtier" parts of the world. Society is poorer because of the unproductive investment in renewables - so we've spent £30bn in the UK on windmills, but because of the panic, that's been on immature technologies and rubbish assets - small generators, low hub heights, crummy onshore locations, primitive materials, unreliable and short lived hardware. If instead of that (which I'm taking from your tone you think is a grand thing) we'd replaced all UK coal with CCGT at a cost of £6bn then we'd have done far more to reduce emissions than our fleet of subsidy-harvesting windmills, we could have still spent £4bn on reasearch into energy storage, or advancing wind turbine performance and reliability, or fission & fusion, and still be £20bn richer as a nation. And from such a policy we'd have had lower emissions than we will do in the near future, and we'd have been able to make much more effective future investments in non-fossil technologies. Even if that was common or garden nuclear, the 3x cost over-runs on EPR show that either the underlying technology, or the basics of construction needed a lot more work before trying to build the things. Meanwhile, the UK government are desperate to bribe EdF to build an EPR at Hinckley Point, in order to meet their own spurious "climate" goals.

              So my proposal is not based on burning coal forever. It isn't based on denying climate change. It simply involves looking at what you need to achieve, doing so efficiently, and not having panic-driven policies inspired by suspect theories and the European Calvinist guilt ethic.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "graduate level"

            LOL

            You're not even approaching a minimal level of understanding required to make such general wide-sweeping observations about a controversial scientific subject.

            I have seen the kind of work that people get awarded degrees and Master's degrees for. I have also seen some of your other posts.

            Come back when you are an internationally-acclaimed professor.

    5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      @Ragarath

      "Personally, I think all this money should be spent on developing better ways to generate energy and in a cleaner way. And no I do not think wind and solar can do what we want. "

      You'd be right.

      But you didn't bung the relevant peer the necessary wonga to get an amendment in the relevant legislation (climate change bill IIRC).

      1. Ragarath

        Re: @Ragarath

        If I had that much wonga I may have tried, regrettably I don't and would rather feed my family.

  4. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    "bettering the appliances"

    I for one welcome this betterification.

    1. Someone Else Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: "bettering the appliances"

      Maybe, but if I'm working from home to save myself some gasoline/petrol (and because it's hotter 'n Hades here today), and some wank at The Power Company® decides to brown out my block to save power for the more uptown areas of my fair city, and that horks up my computer, I am not going to be a happy camper!

      (And like the Incredible Hulk, you don't want to make me angry...you wouldn't like me when I'm angry. Just ask my co-workers...or my wife...)

  5. Professor Falken

    Bring them on....

    I'm constantly forgetting to send in my meter readings and have had several occurances of being told that my meter has been read when it is quite clear that it hasn't (apparently "our meter reader took a reading but you weren't there" applies even if said meter is locked behind the front door!).

    I'm also looking forward to being able to hook it up to my graphite server and start charting energy useage vs. outside temperature/time of day/other because I'm a geek and I like data analysis.

    ID cards and the like are completely redundant as we already all have passports, NI Numbers and Tesco Clubcards, these meters strike me as actually being useful.

    There are risks with everything and people that work in IT should be more aware of this than most. You are never secure when attached to a network, you just hope that the pople running the system at the other end know what they are doing...

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: Bring them on....

      "There are risks with everything and people that work in IT should be more aware of this than most. You are never secure when attached to a network, you just hope that the pople running the system at the other end know what they are doing..."

      Absolutely true, but a pipe dream. These meters are designed to sit on the wall for at least 10 and probably more like 20 years. Anyone who seriously thinks security can be maintained over that timespan is living elsewhere than mother earth. Yes, firmware etc. can be upgraded, but the hardware effectively can't be. And, unless they completely change tact, encryption needs more and more processor power as it gets more and more complicated, hence more secure. So, the chances of a 10 year old meter having the processor power top perform a secure level of encryption? Pretty slim I suspect. Even worse for 20 years.

      And, bear in mind, we're trying to defend against nation states. Not just some spotty youngster in his bedroom. The meters must be able to withstand attacks from agencies with the resources of nations, say for arguments sake.....China. Likely? Don't think so.

      1. James Hughes 1

        Re: Bring them on....

        Is encryption really that processor intensive? Even in ten years time? A simple and cheap ARM core running at 500Mhz should be more than adequate I would have thought, for 10 years worth of software changes. After all, it's not like these things run in real time. You can afford to spend 30s encrypting something (and lets be honest, its not a huge amount of data, 30s should be more than enough) without affecting the overall performance of the system.

        1. Mad Mike

          Re: Bring them on....

          @james Hughes 1

          Given the power budget they've been given for the processors....yes.

          By the way, don't underestimate the amount of data being sent either. It's a lot more than you might expect. It's also being sent once a day only as well, rather than nice and evenly spaced.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bring them on....

        @Mad Mike: These meters aren't going to be sending vast amounts of data, it's pretty easy to encrypt small amounts of data when you don't have to do it particularly quickly. Also, the encryption in cable TV and most Sat TV systems has remained uncracked for really quite a long time now.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bring them on....

          Also, the encryption of cable and satellite TV systems was cracked within weeks of rollout.

          Fixed that for you.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bring them on....

            It really wasn't. At least in the UK, with the current systems. I am not aware of a single person, even anecdotally, who has cracked Virgin or Sky.

            1. Brenda McViking
              FAIL

              Re: Bring them on....

              do a search then- El Reg is a good place to start - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/09/16/vm_fraud/

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Bring them on....

                "do a search then- El Reg is a good place to start - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/09/16/vm_fraud/"

                That was the old analog based system which was replaced a good few years ago. As far as I know Sky Digital and Virgin Media's digital solutions remain uncracked.

        2. Mad Mike

          Re: Bring them on....

          @AC.

          TV encryption (as in Sat etc.) was broken (or got around) almost as soon as it was launched. Also, don't underestimate the amount of data being sent; it's more than you might think. Finally, you have to realise that the encryption will also be used for things like firmware upgrades etc., all of which have to be from assured sources. Have a look around the web at what these meters are supposed to be doing and you'll find it's a lot more than at first sight. Finally, check out the power budget they're giving for the processors as well. Even ARM processors are struggling to get under it!!

      3. dajames Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Bring them on....

        ... encryption needs more and more processor power as it gets more and more complicated, hence more secure. So, the chances of a 10 year old meter having the processor power top perform a secure level of encryption? Pretty slim I suspect.

        Any encryption can be broken, given enough time and computing power. Security depends on a balancing act between the value of the data being protected, the length of time it needs to be protected for, and the probable cost (to the attacker) of breaking the encryption within that time. If the attacker can't profit from the attack he probably won't be stupid enough to carry it out (H.L.Mencken notwithstanding).

        What's the value (to an attacker) of the data each of these meters will be asked to encrypt?

        I'd guess that something currently unadventurous like AES-128 will still be massively more expensive to break in ten or even twenty years time than the value of one household's electricity bill, so there really shouldn't be a problem.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge
          Boffin

          @dajames Re: Bring them on....

          I agree that brute-force cracking AES-128 is likely to remain too expensive to bother attacking an individual Smart Meter for at least a decade.

          However, you're assuming there are no other points of attack.

          There's only two ways to implement the security on smart meters:

          1) Every meter has its own, individual key. This requires either a large backend database of SN:Key or an algorithm to generate a key from the meter serial number.

          - So a miscreant attacks the database or keygen algorithm. This is a high-value target because once cracked, the miscreant has all the meters. The database is as secure as the weakest organisation with access to it.

          2) Every meter has the same key (or there are a small number of keys). This key will be written down somewhere.

          - So a miscreant only needs to find a copy of the key.

          Both methods leave the system open to attack without even touching the meter - and assume that the implementation is perfect, which is highly unlikely.

          You're right that if cracking these meters only gave you "free energy", it probably wouldn't be much of a target because there are easier (if more dangerous) ways to do this already - just bypass the meter. Yep, it's live working but you don't die too often.

          However, cracking these meters gives you control over whether power is delivered at all. What would happen if a "terrorist group" decided to cut off a significant number of properties at the same time?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      First Rule of Network Security

      If you want something to be secure, don't put it on a network.

    3. dmck

      Re: Bring them on....

      I don't have a passport as I don't travel more than 100 miles from the house.

    4. ilmari

      Re: Bring them on....

      (Disclaimer: I don't live in UK)

      Yeah, biggest fun with getting a smart meter for me was that it has a blinking led, which is easy to interface with an arduino to log and plot power use. It was much harder to read the old spinning disc type meter.

      As a result, when the inhabitants can see how much power the dish washer, washing machine and tumble dryer use, we've been much better at running them at night when the electricity is cheaper. The old myths about fridge and freezer being energy bandits have also been proven wrong.

      As for the other issues, people here are mostly concerned about the smart meters' alarming tendency to spontaneously explode and charr the wallpaper. On the other hand, people are enthusiastic hoping they get a meter that just silently fails. It typically takes 2 or 3 months before the distribution company notices the meter is dead, so you get 2-3 months free power :)

      It doubles as thunderstorm comfort, if you forget to unplug your computer when leaving the house, and you get a lightning strike somewhere within 3km of the 10km long aerial wire feeding your house, when weeeping over the charred remains of your computer, you can comfort yourself with that the meter probably also died, and you can enjoy free power for a few weeks :)

  6. Charles 9 Silver badge

    The thing about household appliances is that they're typically built to last for some time. Sure, planned obsolescence exists to an extent, but the average homeowner expects things like refrigerators, washers, etc. to last for a decade or so at the least (my fridge is going on 20 and only the icemaker's broken). They won't replace the appliance until it breaks, which means if someone's only a few years into an otherwise-inefficient refrigerator, there may be a while before it's replaced with a more-efficient model.

    1. Don Jefe

      But the new models really aren't any more efficient than the old ones. There is some small improvement during operation but if you figure in the tremendous spike in idle energy use its pretty much a wash. It's fairly misleading on the part of the manufacturers. Why actually make things more efficient when you can just move the target around.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Charles 9

      "(my fridge is going on 20 and only the icemaker's broken)."

      I offer you a very sincere recommendation: Buy a good plug in energy monitor (that'll cope with power factor correction) and use it work out how much that fridge is using over a week or so. Maybe wait for weather to cool down a touch before doing this (otherwise you'll be reading very high use numbers that are not representative), and compare to the expected annual usage of a new fridge.

      Older fridges and freezers are utter bastards for wasting energy, probably worse than any other appliance because they're always on. They were designed for an era of cheaper electricity, and there have been big improvements in the compressor efficiency and insulation over the past fifteen years. Moreover, as fridges age the hinges droop and the door seals harden, leading to continual heat loss. Maybe at low rates - still seems like the door seals - but its those continuous losses that have a big influence on the energy use. In some cases you can save the cost of the new fridge in reduced electricity costs over less than two years.

      1. Don Jefe
        Thumb Up

        Re: @Charles 9

        Ledswinger is right about the fridge. I should have qualified my statement better.

    3. dajames Silver badge

      That's exactly as it should be ...

      ... if someone's only a few years into an otherwise-inefficient refrigerator, there may be a while before it's replaced with a more-efficient model.

      The cost -- in both energy consumed and carbon dioxide (and other pollutants) produced -- of manufacturing a refrigerator is large compared with the cost of operating even a fairly inefficient one for some years. The cost of disposing of a 'fridge isn't trivial, either, as the refrigerant has to be recovered.

      We should certainly not encourage people to replace good working kit just because there's something new that works very slightly more efficiently - that benefits nobody but refrigerator makers.

  7. Thomas 6
    Alert

    I'm gonna need a bigger house

    It plans to put 53 million smart meters into every home in England, Wales and Scotland by 2020 (Northern Ireland has its own policy).

    1. edge_e
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: I'm gonna need a bigger house

      Tea and keyboards don't mix

    2. Magister

      Re: I'm gonna need a bigger house

      The text could have been written a bit better; but there is a real issue with the numbers.

      "The total number of households in England increased by 7% from. 20.2 million in 1999 to 21.5 million in 2008–09."

      Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/6695/1750765.pdf

      Scotland has about 4 million houses, so total of around 25 million? And they are talking about 53 million smart meters?

      Going to be a very large pile of unsused meters methinks.

      1. sanity_bites

        Re: I'm gonna need a bigger house

        I guess they'll be poking the business community as well...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Holmes

        Re: I'm gonna need a bigger house@Magister

        "Going to be a very large pile of unsused meters methinks."

        No, the balance of those numbers is because gas meters are going to have to be replaced with smart meters as well. Which is unfortunate, because the fairly advanced trials of gas smart meters have established there's no reduction in demand even from the self-selected early adopters.

        So we're replacing 23 odd million gas meters at a cost of about £6bn to save £138m a year in manual meter reading and call centre and billing costs for incorrect bills. That''s a 44 year cash payback. Unfortunately, bad as that is, when you include the cost of capital at 5%, then the £138m savings per year become a net cost of £163m a year.

        1. Antonymous Coward
          Facepalm

          Re: I'm gonna need a bigger house@Magister

          So we're replacing 23 odd million gas meters at a cost of about £6bn to save £138m a year in manual meter reading and call centre and billing costs for incorrect bills.

          I'm old enough to remember when Labour policy was to squander obscene sums of OUR money on demented schemes to artificially create jobs and thus keep people in work. Now instead they squander obscene sums of OUR money on demented schemes to artificially destroy jobs and thus put people out of work? I think, if I had to choose between the two, I prefer the old policy.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm gonna need a bigger house

        This is UK government we're talking about. Wouldn't suprise me to learn they've signed binding contracts (with eye-gouging penalty clauses) for the supply of 53 million meters. Compare with the Tamiflu clusterfuck.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm gonna need a bigger house

          "Wouldn't suprise me to learn they've signed binding contracts (with eye-gouging penalty clauses) for the supply of 53 million meters"

          Your cynicism is well founded, but inaccurate. DECC have veerrryyyy slooowly developed a specification for all smart meters. But the actual contracts are signed energy supplier by energy supplier. For a large company with several million customers the loss of economy of scale (cf national purchasing) is more than offset by the commercial skills of the buyers. For smaller energy companies its more of a problem, but that's not my problem.

          However, its not all sweetness and light. DECC's specification is so convoluted and market specific that these meters aren't the same as most European countries are using, so there's a cost to developing a new toy with a UK only specification. And we all know how good government and civil servants are at that sort of thing. Expect something bad to be discovered after they've all been installed.

      4. Dieter Haussmann

        Re: I'm gonna need a bigger house

        Because each house will have two meters, one for gas and one for electricity = ~53,000,000.

        These need to be installed for electricity rationing, complex tariffs, remote shutdown of 'smart' appliances during lean times and such like.

        e.g. You will probably have to go onto a more expensive tariff to be allowed to use a dishwasher during the day, or when it's not windy, only your fridge and freezer will work and everything else will be blacklisted.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm gonna need a bigger house

      D'you think they'll let me put some of mine in the shed?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SOP

    A typical government project. It simultaneously:

    1. Ignores the real problems (how are we going to generate enough power in the future? how can we expect industrial output to grow while energy usage shrinks? why would households not use heating and/or aircon when shops and government departments do?)

    2. Makes the politicians "look busy". They're doing something, aren't they? (Even if we would all be better off if they didn't).

    3. (The really important one) Puts a huge amount of business the way of industry - making, installing, and running kit that no one needs and that does no one any good. And that - ironically - will chew up lots of extra energy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Re: SOP @ Tom Welsh

      "A typical government project. It simultaneously: 1. Ignores the real problems (how are we going to generate enough power in the future?...."

      Well, you have to think like a DECC bureaucrat. And as with all Whitehall pension-harvesters, they're fighting the last war. In this case, the last war was that peaking plant was very expensive, and therefore if you could, reducing peak demand saved you bucketloads of cash that would otherwise have been squandered on expensive but rarely used thermal plant.

      Unfortunately, with the advent of gas plant, power stations are now surprisingly cheap, say half a billion quid for a stonking great 2 GW CCGT. Rather than spending billions in a risky scheme to shave marginal points off the peak demand, they should just tell industry to build and operate what is required. Keep an eye open for new technologies that might help (eg storage), but certainly not spend £14bn on useless smart meters that will be obsolete before the roll out is complete. And it was a bad idea to spend £30bn on crappy wind power that just gets in the way of efficient running of gas plant, but that's another £30bn of value destroyed by incompetent government policies.

      When can we march on Whitehall with our pitchforks, and stick some MP's and civil servants' heads on pikes?

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: SOP @ Ledswinger

        "When can we march on Whitehall with our pitchforks, and stick some MP's and civil servants' heads on pikes?"

        What are you doing next Saturday?

  9. HamsterNet

    Hack away

    I read there is a booming black market in the US for hacking these "secure" smart meters. Its apparently quite easy to rig them and significantly lower your bills..

    I can't see anybody doing that here!, not one person, ever!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hack away

      "I read there is a booming black market in the US for hacking these "secure" smart meters. Its apparently quite easy to rig them and significantly lower your bills.."

      I'm not surprised. But the berks at DECC have balanced the smart metering business case by assuming that smart meters result in quarter of a billion quid savings from reduced electricity theft, and an additional half billion quid of avoided supplier losses (apparently smart meter users will always pay their bills, unlike today).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    " smart meter ... cutting people off from their supply"

    "a smart meter would be used in the process of cutting people off from their supply,"

    Of course it would.

    At least in the UK, demand will exceed supply in the next 5-10 years.

    Voltage reductions (brownouts) no longer have any meaningful effect due to thermostats, switched mode power supplies, and other post-1960s improvements.

    So to match supply and demand, consumers have to be disconnected.

    But if you disconnect everybody in an area (eg by disconnecting the 11kvolt incoming to the area), there'd be some discomfort, hopefully not riots and looting though.

    Whereas if you have some means of selectively remotely disconnecting some proportion of consumers, that might not have such dramatic effects as wide-area disconnections. You could even ensure that the essential services (police, lawyers, politicians, etc) don't get disconnected at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Devil

      Re: " smart meter ... cutting people off from their supply"

      Shit, That's who I'd disconnect first.

      Or better yet, sort by income and disconnect starting at the high end. EVERY TIME.

      The first time they selectively disconnect Parliment during a visit by the monarch... HA. Can you imagine how many executions would follow if they selectively shut off power to Windsor Castle? Think of the possibilities.

    2. Suricou Raven

      Re: " smart meter ... cutting people off from their supply"

      Hello, giant UPS!

      Once they turn the power back on, I'll suck all the energy to charge the batteries.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: If the meter will have a data connection...

      5Gb cap, 100kbps throughput after deep packet inspection...

      Cynical, Moi?

  12. Matthew 3

    Mobile signal?

    If it relies on the mobile phone network what will they do where the signal isn't good enough?

    Presumably the tinfoil hat wearers will just, er, wrap the meter in tinfoil anyway to block 'them' from doing whatever nefarious things it is that 'they' might do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mobile signal?

      Actually, I'm going to wrap mine* in screen-wire so that a live person will be able to walk up and read it with no problem.

      * My electric bill is only $18/month, so their cost recovery time will be measured in decades...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who is paying to power the smart meter?

    1. ed2020

      Who is paying to power the smart meter?

      Who do you think?

  14. sanity_bites

    New supplier = New meter?

    So each energy provider uses its own Smart Meter. What if i decide to replace my Energy Supplier? Will they have to replace my meter(s)?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Re: New supplier = New meter?

      " What if i decide to replace my Energy Supplier? Will they have to replace my meter"

      Supposedly not. All mass roll out smart meters are supposed to be compliant with DECC's standard. Your new supplier can choose to replace the meter, or to rent the existing one. As they are supposed to be like for like the assumption is they'll rent it, but as you can see it makes the industry finances even more complicated. It is a bad idea overall, but if you were going to do it then the distribution network operator should have been the people to do it.

      But no sensible ideas were allowed during the development of this awful idea.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: New supplier = New meter?

        Suppliers already effectively to pay to rent meters - it's an industry role known as MAP (Meter Asset Provider). The difference will be that at the moment most meters are owned by the Distributors or the Host Area supplier(s) and that the asset rental on a Legacy meter is such a pittance that most MAPs don't even bother to claim for it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: New supplier = New meter?

          "Suppliers already effectively to pay to rent meters "

          I know. And if you're going to mandate smart meters, that would have been the model to follow, because you know who you're paying to rent the meter and its the same as the DNO who you have to pay DUOS charges to. The way DECC have bungled smartmeters, the suppliers still need to pay DUOS to the distribution network, but they also have to track and pay any one of thirty or so retail suppliers who may own the smart meters, plus during the transition they'll have a lot of old meters still owned by the distribution company. What could possibly go wrong?

  15. Graham Marsden
    Holmes

    "Opt-in"?

    "unless customers explicitly agreed it being passed on for each 30 minute period"

    So we'll probably get "options" like "Unles you want to pay more for your energy and be denied tariffs which we claim will save you money (whilst giving us a boat-load of data on you), tick this box!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Opt-in"?

      Under the obligations laid out by DECC, Suppliers must justify why they want customer data at anything beyond a monthly level and tell customers what they will do with it.

      They would be in breach of their obligations if they made the offer you stated, leading to the usual threat of a fine up to 10% of Turnover.

  16. Roger Greenwood
    Go

    "The suppliers are enthusiastic about the scheme’s potential to . . ."

    . . . . make them lots of money making and fitting useless kit. No wonder they are keen.

    Also, lets get real, how many people are actually going to check their consumption and then do something about it? 5%? The other 95% care about the cost, they do not care about the details. A simple case of life's too short to stuff a mushroom.

  17. Tony W

    Has this been tried on real people?

    An elderly relative of mine was sent a remote electricity consumption monitor by her electricity company, and I installed it for her. She tried hard but couldn't understand the complex and hard to read display, and in the end put it in the bin. As her house is heated by electricity and has been insulated so far as possible, the only way she can save a significant amount of energy is to freeze so the whole thing was pointless anyway.

    As far as I can see, people who are worried about saving energy already do it. What more information might do is stop them worrying unnecessarily about devices on standby and chargers, once they realise how little money these things are costing them.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Has this been tried on real people?

      What more information might do is stop them worrying unnecessarily about devices on standby and chargers, once they realise how little money these things are costing them.

      Hmm, reminds me of when No. 1 son got his eco-indoctrination at school. Cue finding things unplugged all the time.

      Do you know how you reverse the programming of a stroppy teenager who's been subjected to the eco-newthink brainwashing regime? Boot him out of bed every morning at 6am to plug everything back in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Has this been tried on real people?

        You don't want to actually reverse the programming, unless of course he unplugs the devices without turning them off first. I've been trying to convince my girlfriend's daughters to turn appliances off when they're through. Does it work? No, I got up at 5 this morning, and the tv, blueray, cablebox and 1 light were on...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Has this been tried on real people?

        "when No. 1 son got his eco-indoctrination at school. Cue finding things unplugged all the time. Do you know how you reverse the programming of a stroppy teenager who's been subjected to the eco-newthink brainwashing regime? "

        Can he read and do numbers? Some folk can, even if their particular teechers can't.

        If he can read and do numbers, you could do a lot worse than have him read Mackay's very readable and well referenced "Sustainable Energy Without The Hot Air". Mackay is a professor of physics at Cambridge and knows that your switched mode charger for the phone really doesn't matter much, but the 67" plasma TV and the electric shower might.

        http://www.withouthotair.com/ - highly recommended (albeit not perfect). Please ignore the colour scheme.

        When he's read that, if he's truly geeky, he might also want to read fellow Cambridge academic Ross Anderson's various analyses of the security of smartmeters. If he's truly geeky he'll find it without my help.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W

      "As far as I can see, people who are worried about saving energy already do it. "

      Indeed, and as per Roger Greenwood's post above, there's evidence that the early adopters of smart meters do reduce electric power consumption by a few percent, but that's not been compared to the results for those using a simple £30 electricity monitor, or for the fact that smart meter trial participants have for the vast majority self selecting, and therefore engaged with the idea of saving energy. Take out the beard and sandals types and the savings in reality won't occur in this way.

      However, there's more sinister plans afoot to force people to "save energy". In the DECC smart meter business case, there's almost a billion quid of benefits "through the take up of time of use tariffs". Which is to say that all this current government claptrap about simplifying electricity bills is merely noise and propaganda, as their intention is to encourage or force energy companies to charge multiple different tariffs on the same day. Sounds easy when you put it like that, no different to economy 7. Except that to work you'd need at least three tariff rates per day, ideally more, and they should vary seasonally. How will you ever know what you're paying?

      Government don't understand the mechanism of supply and demand. The Oxbridge educated fools think that if price increases, demand goes down, because (hopefully) the undeserving middle classes all use a bit less. In reality, its like petrol: There's no good substitutes, and rises in price reduce demand only a little, and usually by the poorest having to do without because they simply can't afford it.

      Come on poor people, turn the lights off and put on a jumper, you're killing the planet!

      1. itzman

        Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W

        Half right. Its easy enough to cut out pure waste, but once the low hanging fruit have been plucked, it gets increasingly hard to save electricity.

        Sure out go incandescent bulbs, 50Watt servers and 500Watt plasma displays etc, but in the end, you end up with necessary fridges cookers and washing machines.

        I have taken car usage down from 50k miles a year to 5k, but I cannot get it any lower than that.

      2. Justicesays
        Unhappy

        Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W

        "How will you ever know what you're paying?"

        Simple, you will be paying more, no matter how they tweak the tariffs

        In fact, unless you do chase the optimum tariffs I expect you will pay a lot more.

        For about 30% less electricity that is, apparently we can all save that much (probably by sitting in the cold and dark, not washing ourselves or our clothes, and moving back to salted goods for long term food storage)

        Nice job in doing fuck all about future power requirements until far too late, moronic politicians.

        I hear they are just talking about possibly getting someone to look at designing new nuclear power plants.

        So by 2050 we might have enough power again.

        Turns out you cant run the whole country on the power produced by a few windmills,solar panels and failed tidal schemes.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Devil

          Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W

          "I hear they are just talking about possibly getting someone to look at designing new nuclear power plants."

          Well, we could have done it ourselves, but the same arseholes who signed up for all this eco bollocks sold Westinghouse to Toshiba. So now we've got to ask Johnny Foreigner to come and build us some new nukes. In the grand scheme nukes are still too expensive to be justified, but at least they're better than "renewables".

          So, DECC are talking about giving a big bribe ("strike price") to Electricte de France and Areva to build a new nuke plant at Hinckley Point. Of the same EPR design that's already six years late and 3 times the original cost at Olkiluoto in Finland, and a similar design at Flamanville in France that's likewise 3x over budget and at least four years late.

          Unfortunately, this approach of building advanced one off plants (in each country) is a guarantee of excessive cost, delays and price rises. The only reason France got their original nuclear fleet out at an acceptable cost was building loads to a proven US reactor design.

          So not only does the UK stand no chance of having any new nuclear plant by the government's promised 2020 start date, but it'll cost an arm and a leg, and be years late. DECC and cunts like Ed Davey know the facts. They know they and the last government have engaged in a wilfully misguided energy policy, that we risk blackouts, that costs are going through the roof, that it isn't going to reduce emissions, and that nuclear is the wrong solution, too costly and too late. But they won't admit it, because they are all congenital liars. It is unsurprising that a recent energy minister ended up being convicted of perjury and perverting the course of justice.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W

          "Nice job in doing fuck all about future power requirements until far too late, moronic politicians."

          Lots of informed and trustworthy people (inside and outside the industry) did point out prior to UK energy piratisation that "the markets" were unlikely to be ideally placed to manage energy policy (let alone actual energy supply) on the five year timescale or longer. Wind turbines may be quick to build, but nuclear powerstations aren't. Neither of them is the sole answer.

          I really don't want to say "you were warned", so I'll just ask "why didn't you listen?"

          Tell Sid, he used to own all this.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Unhappy

            Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W

            "Lots of informed and trustworthy people (inside and outside the industry) did point out prior to UK energy piratisation that "the markets" were unlikely to be ideally placed to manage energy policy"

            You twit! The asset owners and operators don't "manage energy policy", they execute commercial strategies that are defined by the policy that government sets. It wouldn't matter if the CEGB and all the electricity boards still existed, because government still wouldn't have made the necessary or right decisions, and energy policy is largely dictated by Brussels now anyway. But you'd have CEGB brand windmills, you'd have the continued slow expensive fuckup that was the state nuclear programme (remember Sizewell B?), so no new nuclear either.

            Here's a thought for you. On latest data, the much more commercial Yank set up has lower emissions per kWh than Europe does, because the less regulated market has allowed shale gas development, that's reduced the price, and commercial operators have responded by replacing coal generation with modern efficient gas plants. In Europe we have the lunacy of German energy policy, plus emissions trading systems that don't work, plus forced plant closure dates that have encouraged the burning of coal (not that I care, but at odds with what bunglement say they want to achieve).

            Face it, energy policy is a mess, because government is composed of arseholes, all worshipping at the altar of climate change. They aren't reducing emissions as the Yanks are, or reducing costs (again, as the Yanks are), but they are putting costs and complexity up, with plans to make it exponentially worse. Foolishly, Obama and others are pushing for America to follow Europe's lead on renewables, so things aren't all plain sailing, but once again, the problems are caused not by private ownership of assets, but by bureaucrats making stupid rules to improve the world.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W

              "they execute commercial strategies that are defined by the policy that government sets."

              And the government policy is and was largely written by the lobbyists acting on behalf of the asset owners and operators,no?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W

                > And the government policy is and was largely written by the lobbyists acting on behalf of the asset owners and operators,no?

                No. Government policy is and was largely written by lobbyists acting on behalf of organisations like WWF, Friends of The Earth and Greenpeace. When Ed "lets have a public enquiry" Milliband and Chris "I wasn't driving' Huhne were in charge of DECC there was a constant stream of lobbyists from WWF, FoE and Greenpeace passing through their doors. The only thing that FOIA requests revealed is that they didn't take any notes from their meetings so there is no record of what occurred.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Has this been tried on real people? @AC 13:46

                "And the government policy is and was largely written by the lobbyists acting on behalf of the asset owners and operators,no?"

                You really think we said to government "Go on then, sign that Large Combustion Plant Directive into law and make 12GW of our generating capacity obsolete, and at the same time twiddle with the market structures so that we've got no certainty to invest in new plant, that's what we want. And while you;re at it, could we have a hugely complex set of social obligations thrust upon us, with draconian fines when we struggle to complete them because the rules are difficult to meet, and your guidelines, make sure you don't finalise them until halfway through the timescale we've got to deliver. Ooh, almost forgot, could we be mandated to roll out a vastly expensive, risky and complex new metering programme, also with draconian fines for non compliance, even though the main cause of delay is your stupid, rules and regulations, and lack of common sense".

      3. Richard 81

        Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W

        "Government don't understand the mechanism of supply and demand. The Oxbridge educated fools think that if price increases, demand goes down, because (hopefully) the undeserving middle classes all use a bit less."

        It's not just the politicians. The morons that run our railways think it works like that too.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W

        "Come on poor people, turn the lights off and put on a jumper, you're killing the planet!"

        Funny, isn't it, how since we supposably won the "Cold War", life in Britain has been steadily getting more and more like life in the USSR?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W

          "Funny, isn't it, how since we supposably won the "Cold War", life in Britain has been steadily getting more and more like life in the USSR?"

          Ssssshhhhh.

          What if UK plc *is* reliant on gas from Russia (and Libya?) and "our" companies (in UK plc) do their manufacturing in China.

          Rejoice! We won the war!

  18. Jo 5

    quote: " 53 million smart meters into every home in England, Wales and Scotland by 2020"

    - ho lee fuk! Wouldn't just one or two in every home be enough??? Think of the children!

  19. thegrouch

    I'm sure there's some kind of payback to the Treasury here. Just like the panic over petrol price hikes gave a boost to the VAT take last year, or the scam over child booster seats a few years back. There's got to be VAT on the cost of buying and installing these things, assuming independent contractors are farmed out to do it. Ker-ching Mr Chancellor!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "There's got to be VAT on the cost of buying and installing these things, "

      Only 5% on the bit recovered through the electricity bill (all the rest is B2B and deductable). That's only worth about £65m a year. More useful is the raised income tax and NI from slightly raised employment during the installation programme, which at a guess would be about £150m a year, plus a tiny bit from the incremental profits of the meter makers.

  20. Ted Treen
    Unhappy

    Too many words...

    "UK gov: A 'colossal waste of cash'

    There. Fixed it for you

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Radiation WoOOoOOoOooooo

    You don't want to RAD your NADS!

  22. itzman
    FAIL

    "The UK’s big shift to wind power reduces carbon emissions"

    The is no evidence whatsoever based on actual measured data that this is in fact the case.

    Nor has the government made any attempt to gather any.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "The UK’s big shift to wind power reduces carbon emissions"

      "Nor has the government made any attempt to gather any."

      Nor is it going to. So it can go on saying "We know of no evidence that..."

      Lord Nelson had no idea how much harm would be caused when the politicians and bureaucrats copied his ploy.

  23. ted frater

    being off grid

    It was some 43 yrs ago i had the choice of sticking in an urban area ie with all main services OR going totally off grid, ie independent for everything a long way out in the UK sticks..

    glad i did as theres no point in any meter wether smart or not if there aint any local grid supply to fit it to.

    nice being independent.

    As to generating power, no problem up to 25kva 240 V and 11kva 3 phase.

    1. Richard 81

      Re: being off grid

      Great if you can do that. Not really practical for everybody though.

    2. Yet Another Commentard

      Re: being off grid

      @Ted

      What generator(s) do you use?

      Curious, as we are literally at the end of the grid so somewhat vulnerable to problems.

  24. Tom 35 Silver badge

    TOU rates?

    We have "smart" electric meters, and they use them to charge you almost double when you need power. It's not as bad for the summer rates, but winter you pay peak rate when you get up for work, and get home for dinner.

    http://www.torontohydro.com/sites/electricsystem/residential/yourbilloverview/Pages/TOURates.aspx

    But now they have given us "smart" water meters. I don't get the idea for that as it's easy to store water so there is no advantage to shifting the time of day you flush. They were only reading the old meter about once a year, with then just sending a post card in the post to report my own reading the rest of the year. It's battery powered and they claim it's good for 15 years. The notice about installing the meter came with a nasty note about court orders if you tried to refuse the new meter.

  25. Nick Davey

    Using my best...

    back of a napkin maths..... these IHDs at £25 a pop, compared to the 53 million homes they want the meters in (imaging of course that they bung everyone a display unit) comes out to £1,325,000,000. Surely that amount of money could be used far more wisely in researching cleaner and more efficient tech for the production and supply of our leccy.

    1. Yet Another Commentard

      Re: Using my best...

      It's a reasonable chunk of the EU wide cost of fusion research. Yes, it could be better spent.

  26. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Stop

    "fewer disconnections" and "manage payment problems earlier" don't mix

    "Slade adds that their introduction should lead to fewer disconnections, as the improved data will make it possible to spot and manage payment problems earlier."

    I think that's bollocks. I think that "managing payment problems earlier" means disconnection when payment is getting close to overdue, and if you don't pay you freeze in the dark until you pay again.

    After all, a payment problem is only a problem for the power companies if they distribute power and don't get paid. If they have the power to selectively shut down bad payers, in today's NSA-watched society I can't for the life of me imagine why they wouldn't do it and blame it on some malfunction until payment has resumed. They probably already have a chart outlining how many "involuntary interruptions of service" are necessary before pretending to "fix" the "affected" unit becomes economically acceptable for them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "fewer disconnections" and "manage payment problems earlier" don't mix

      Disconnections would still require a warrant, as per nowadays. The difference is that when you pay up you can get your electricity/gas back almost instantaneously, unlike now where you could be waiting anywhere up to 24 hours to do so.

      Managing Payment Problems earlier will be a whole strategy, including sending messages to the IHD up to and including Load Limiting - literally limiting the amount of electricity that can be consumed at any particular moment.

      1. Mad Mike

        Re: "fewer disconnections" and "manage payment problems earlier" don't mix

        @AC

        I don't think the issue is disconnections in the sense of making more efficient those done these days. The issue is that the security will be breached (almost certain and has already occured in the US) and somebody who shouldn't be will be controlling your power supply. Also, the load limiting and remote cutoff can be used for 'additional' purposes beyond what's used today. Such as limiting your supply, applying cutoff periods etc.etc.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Stop

        Re: "fewer disconnections" and "manage payment problems earlier" don't mix

        "Managing Payment Problems earlier will be a whole strategy, including sending messages to the IHD up to and including Load Limiting - literally limiting the amount of electricity that can be consumed at any particular

        Which shows the idiocy of the specification, as kettles and water heaters consume more than flat screen tellies. Are you going to let people who are deemed to be able but unwilling to pay* sit and watch Jeremy Kyle all day, but stop them having a shower or a cup of tea? The whole DECC specification reeks of vile civil servant control freakery, and shit-headed stalinist logic. But its not quite as bad as the business case.

        * that's what disconnection is supposed to be for, as there's a welfare state and special rules for the "vulnerable"

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Hi, I work for a Law Enforcement Agency. We have heard about your Smart meters deployment, and there's a few requirements we'd like to see added to your must-have list. As follows:

    - A process whereby we can request usage data from you, with appropriate warrant, in order to prove likely human activity in any premise at any time.

    - An ability to cut-off power to a house upon demand (via warrant), aiding us in premises raids.'

    The above is obvious. I'm sure they wont ask for a microphone to be installed though :)

  28. MathiasW

    Seems unlikely they would be used for cut-off...

    I think it very unlikely that the costs of including a 60A remote controlled switch in EVERY meter would be part of the design.

    To say nothing of the possible litigation if the meter accidentally restored a previously disconnected supply, into a house where all the appliances were turned on, chip pans lefts on rings, and so on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seems unlikely they would be used for cut-off...

      Remote disconnection is a key feature of SMETS2 meters and is included in the meters currently being used by suppliers for Trials.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seems unlikely they would be used for cut-off...

      " think it very unlikely that the costs of including a 60A remote controlled switch in EVERY meter would be part of the design."

      Au contraire, a load switch (of undefined rating) is part of the specification to cut off supply from the grid.

      https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/smart-metering-equipment-technical-specifications-second-version

      There's other unwelcome bits like "load limiting" capabilities, capability for half hourly tariffs, remote disconnection, remote management of anciliary loads (though you'd have to install kit of matching capability before that does anything).

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Seems unlikely they would be used for cut-off...

        How the heck does 'load limiting' work? (without the loads themselves co-operating)

        As an electrical engineer, all the methods I can think of would either damage or completely destroy many types of connected equipment, or are simply "blackout after X kWh" - normally called "demand management" in the newspeak of "Let's black out the whole nation."

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Seems unlikely they would be used for cut-off...

          Thanks for the link. They really do mean "Black you out after X kWh"

          So just like the old pre-pay coin meters, except able to be 'activated' remotely (thus wrongly from time to time). Brilliant.

          How long before somebody dies because of this?

          - I'm serious. There are a lot of pieces of equipment that could kill if shut off at the wrong moment. The most obvious are the ventilators used by some paraplegics, but there are many other, less obvious ones.

    3. Graham Cobb
      FAIL

      Re: Seems unlikely they would be used for cut-off...

      The cut-off capability is my most serious concern. I raised all these points in my response to the government consultation.

      1) My electricity supply is unreliable enough as it is. ANY switch (even if there are no deliberate attempts to use it) will decrease that reliability even further -- some proportion will malfunction. I asked for the government to require that overall power reliability (measured at the consumer's side of the meter) should have to IMPROVE as part of the programme. But there is no such requirement -- does anyone know how much it will actually decrease?

      2) Reducing the costs to the energy companies of cutting people off is extremely bad social policy. It will encourage the companies to cut people off in cases which are marginal today. Cutting someone off should be an absolute last resort -- and the cost to the companies of doing it must be kept very high for that reason. If their promises that disconnections will decrease because of smart meters are right then it doesn't matter how expensive disconnection is -- no need to reduce the costs!

      3) I have, in the past, had a problem with my energy company collecting their bill payment -- they messed up the direct debit but didn't notice. The first I heard about the problem was receiving a call from a debt collector. Of course, I got this resolved (after some weeks) and a suitable compensation payment and apology made to me. But with a smart meter, might the first thing I heard about this be a "load limitation" or even a disconnection?

      4) And then there is the hacker/security problem. How long before it will be possible to remotely disconnect someone for kicks or as part of a harassment campaign or protection racket?

      For all these reasons, I asked that the government require that there be a physical by-pass for the remotely operable switch which can be installed by the householder and can only be removed by the electricity company if they have a court order (and physical access). The company could even be allowed to put you on a punishingly expensive tariff if you use the local override (so you would only use it if you knew you were in the right and they we wrong), but it should be there. It hasn't happened of course.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Costs of Deployment

    All those disputing costs of deploying Smart metering - the meters themselves aren't the only costs involved.

    Suppliers are having to:

    Put in new infrastructure to handle the meters (Meter Data Management), both in terms of the incoming consumption data and the outgoing configuration/maintenance messages. This will have to be integrated with their existing estate(s) whilst continuing to support their ongoing Legacy-metered customer base and not having a major negative impact on their ability to serve customers (which is under stress as it is, as we see in the news.)

    Organise/upskill Field Forces to be able to deal with Smart Meters - not only this but a large volume of the Big 6 make use of exisiting Electricity and Gas Meter Operators, who they will have to either renegotiate or sever contractual ties with.

    Organise Supply Chains and Logistics to cope with demand - linking to the point around field forces, suppliers have to source and deliver enough meters to cope with 5k-10k installations a day in order to meet their obligation to install smart by 2020. This is compounded by the fact that there are no SMETS2 (the official UK "Smart" standard) meters available right now, until at least the middle of 2014.

    This is a small part of the picture that you're not privy to right now. Around four of the Big 6 have business cases for Smart that sees them losing money on the deal in the region of hundreds of millions.

  30. Kath_Brentford
    Alert

    Who owns the companies that will supply these smart meters and how close are they to the government?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    when are they doing the changes? My clockwork meter is old as the hills, its just about to go around the clock probably in about 3 or 4 months it'll be back to 000000!

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Looking forward to your umpty-squillion pound refund for minus ten million units of 'leccy? :)

  32. MrGoggle

    A lot of FUD

    Those that are against having smart meters are spreading a lot of Fear Uncertainty and Doubt. A few months ago I installed an energy monitoring device that measure my electricity usage fairly accurately over time and it has saved me money including getting the money back for the cost of the device and service.

    I used it to tweak the water boiler so it tries to heat the water more efficiently at the right times of the day. It also meant getting a thermometer for the fridge and adjusting the settings so that it is set to the correct temperature not too much, not too less.

    There have been other behavioral changes that have become second nature when it comes to electricity usage. The device uploaded my usage on a server where the data can be accessed via a web browser and see your usage over time, how much it has cost you and also compare your electricity bill with other suppliers.

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: A lot of FUD

      @Mr Goggle.

      There are several issues with your answer. Firstly, pretty much all trials and surveys have shown that people may care for a month or two, but after that.......nothing. Also, you have paid a few pounds (maybe 30) for a cheap, easy clamp device I imagine. This is great and I would encourage people to do this and make the changes you have. However, there is a world of difference between that and spending thousands per household on smart meters. These smart meters are doing no more than your cheap device. So, why not just send them out free to everyone and save loads of money?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A lot of FUD

      Figures from Ofgem show that electricity usage is not decreasing.

      Over the 8 year period from 2003 to 2011 we had 100+W incandescents banned, massive give-away of compact fluorescents (you even got one free with your morning paper). Efficiency drives to increase loft insulation together with cavity wall insulation. Campaigns to turn thermostats down, to switch equipment off rather than put it into standby. More and more energy efficient home appliances. Televisions moving from high power CRT to lower power LCD and plasma.

      The end result of all this and more?

      The median household electricity consumption in 2003 was 3,300 kWh.

      The median household electricity consumption in 2011 was 3,300 kWh

      No change at all.

      Smart meters are not there for the consumers benefit, they are there for "demand side management". Which means that when the wind doesn't blow they will disconnect you.

    3. hplasm Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: A lot of FUD

      Do you have an Economy Flush?

  33. Lennart Sorensen

    Where I live (Ontario), we have smart meters for electricity (but not gas), and time of day pricing. At least for me, it has resulted in a lower bill than before the smart meter came in, given I do run the dryer off peak when it is cheapest, as well as the dishwasher and such. So works for me.

    I don't have a display telling me my current usage in the house. I would have to walk outside to look at the meter's screen to see that.

    Of course given heating the house and water is done with gas, it is only the air conditioning that uses a lot of power during the day time when prices are high. Having a high efficiency model and good insulation in the house helps with that though.

    1. Mad Mike

      @Lennart Sorensen.

      It's interesting that you mention dishwashers, tumble driers etc. and time shifting them into cheap periods. Unfortunately, this runs into the problem that the authorities (via fire brigade etc.) and manufacturers tell you not to run these appliances without someone in the house and awake. Trying to timeshift under those circumstances is almost impossible. This is for safety reasons due to the risk of fire, and quite a lot do happen.

      So, which is it to be? Allow timeshifting to lower costs and level out the demand, whilst burning some people alive, or the opposite?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " Unfortunately, this runs into the problem that the authorities (via fire brigade etc.) and manufacturers tell you not to run these appliances without someone in the house and awake."

        Ah, this must be the famous "joined-up government" I have heard so much about.

      2. Lennart Sorensen

        Our cheap time is from 19:00 to 07:00. I can easily handle running the dryer and dishwasher in the evening before going to bed. That is not a problem.

        I have never noticed a manual for either a dryer or dishwasher telling me not to run it without someone around, nor have I ever heard any such suggestion from the fire department or anyone else, until I read your comment. You are the first I hear of that.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge
          Flame

          Google for "Dryer fire"

          (Obvious icon is obvious)

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      FAIL

      and the

      other thing with time shifting is the number of properties built close together over here

      All it take is 1 idiot with a clapped out washer deciding to spin dry the clothes at 3 am to wake up 1/2 the neighbourhood.

      But then I know my power consumption rate (140-160 units a month) and what eats the most power (the kettle and the PC) , having a smart meter would make no change to that, nor a big read out in the TV room saying how many Kw/whales/ seal puppies/ amazon rain forests I'm consuming.

      Bet I get my smart meter changed every 6 months when the power co. notices I use exactly the same every month .........

  34. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Happy

    When was the last time you read "Germans did bugger all"?

    Lazy Germans?

  35. Zack Mollusc
    Facepalm

    Dag nabbit! If an energy company which currently supplies one grilllion watts to the public and receives £1 squillion in revenue has all it's customers reduce their consumption by 50%, what will happen? They will scream that they are losing £0.5 squillion a year and double their prices.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds dumb!

    The pious idea that Brits will plug in their IHD then sit monitoring and optimizing their power use all the time sounds like Socialist Utopianism, or worse, like someone was getting too cozy with energy companies. This looks to be a glorious waste of time.

    Better spend the money on some power generation, but not one of those wind farms...what did the Germans say? Renewable electricity costs 3x the real thing?

  37. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    I've had a smart water meter for years. I *asked* the nice man from National Grid if I could have a smart gas meter too instead of a bunch of threatening letters saying that I have "refused entry" to a meter reader (lies; they come when there's no-one home. They are not refused entry because they don't actually ask anyone if they can come in).

    He told me that we couldn't have a smart meter because then they'd be able to read the meters from a van at the kerbside and that would cost jobs.

    So that's all right then.

  38. Roger Mew

    I worked for the electricity supply industry for a long time, after that I was an electrician / electrical engineer and subsequently ran my own business and taught electrical.

    Now going back many years, I was told that the unit cost of electricity was a guesstimate as there is no way that an audit could be done. It gets worse, initially the government made the cost per unit and it has "just gone up from there!

    Here in France it is just as bad, many supplies are nuclear, nobody has worked out the cost as they do not know how much it will cost.. In the UK some suppliers are using chicken sh1t, however these units are actually gas stimulated, eg the gas is helping the "fuel" to burn, do not get me wrong, it is a good system, but again no one has costed the real cost out.

    In fact it MAY be more economic to run a generator when one considers all the infrastructure costs, breakdowns, losses.

    These meters still will only record your usage and be able to forward the info to who ever and regulate your supply. Hopefully they also will record low voltages, power outages, spike etc. but I bet they do not. THAT would be to YOUR benefit!

    I am currently looking at different things, like charging batteries at night on the off peak, turning fridges and deep freezes off 2 hours before the off peak comes on to force off peak usage, water heating from solar, and lots of things on 12 volt (modem, phones, TV's, computers, etc)

  39. Dawud

    Fraud

    If the smart meters are anything like those used on this side of the pond (USA/Canada) the potential for fraud is staggering.

    Just check out how much has been lost in Puerto Rico for example.

    http://krebsonsecurity.com/2012/04/fbi-smart-meter-hacks-likely-to-spread/

    How many times, in your memory, was an old meter changed?

    How many times do you think your new meter will be changed/updated in, say, 15 years?

  40. Ascy

    Of course they aren't going to save electricity

    How the hell will these things save electricity? Surely they'll in fact use electricity?! I mean, who the hell puts on their tumble dryer for a laugh? And they can be turned off remotely? No thanks, not in my house.

  41. John Fielder

    each company instaalling it's own meters?

    great, so to change supply company you will need to change meters. no doubt thet will incure a charge from the old company for the removal, ands the new company for the installation. that'll stop them changing.

  42. pikey

    mmm

    "The system is designed to be secure end to end, with data encryption and no identification of customers in what is sent."

    So how do they know if your using to much electricity to inform you, and how d they do a remote cut off then?

    of course they have details of you..

  43. Anonymous Brave Guy
    WTF?

    News just in.

    No one cares about going green, or their impact on the environment! - only politicians like to pretend that the public actually care when they don't give a crap how much they use.

  44. Adair

    Boondoggle.

    That is all.

  45. LordTryfan

    More importantly

    Recent research in the states has proven that Bees are severely effected by the signals put out by these smart meters. With even well established hives being devastated within a few weeks.

    1. A J Stiles
      FAIL

      Re: More importantly

      Anyone who actually understands SI units can work out that the wavelength of these signals is bigger than a bee's body:

      299 792 458 (metres per second) / 2 400 000 000 (cycles per second) = 0.124 913 524 (metres per cycle).

      But then again, Americans believe the world was zapped into existence by a magic sky fairy 6000 years ago, so a little thing like the laws of electromagnetism probably isn't going to stand in their way much.

  46. ad47uk

    Next door neighbour had smart meters a few months back, the display just ended up in a drawer, not ever been plugged in, so what is the point?

  47. despairing citizen

    Delivery Capability and Risks

    WARNING: this make exceed your RDA of scarsam

    OK lets look at this....

    Broadband UK can not roll out connections to north yorkshire, and large chunks of bedfordshire can only get 56kbps dial modems, yet with the magic pixie dust of central government consultancies, we can get wireless access to every house, outhouse and barn in the UK, including sheep farms in outer-nowhere scotland, who can't even get radio 4 on FM!

    If the national switch off grid is delivered, how many weeks do we think it is going to be before somebody decides to do the ultimate DDOS attack and switch of all the electric supply in the country?, it's not like we have been involved in unpopular wars abroad, proped up dodgy governments, etc., I'm sure there are no motivated and organised people on a planet of 7bn that hold a grudge and would view DDOS UK as the ulitmate payback!

  48. lowtechwins

    Energy saving? Not quite.

    I have read my own meters every month for years. I have all the energy saving lightbulbs and when I replace something I try to choose low power appliances. My power consumption has barely changed in all that time. What really matters is if we have colder spring, summer and autumn months, as this means more heating and tumble drying, plus how many times we use our washing machine a week. Everything else is background noise. A smart meter will make no difference to me whatsoever unless I can get cheaper electricity to use the washing machine overnight.

  49. OllyL

    What's all the fuss about?

    We had one of these smart meters from Southern California Edison (SCE) when I lived in Long Beach...it's was superb. Their website gave me 15min breakdowns of energy usage in the house and gave me a good heads up of when the ass clenchingly high bill was going to come through the door. (Also helped me isolate a bug in my cooling controller that turned he AC on for 3 hours at 3am every day).

    I find now that I've moved away from LB that my current supplier doesn't do this and just gives me a lump bill at the end of the month with no further information on when peak usage hours etc...were.

    My supplier already knows who I am, where I live and what my ssn is, it doesn't overly bother me that they get an itemized breakdown of my usage. They even offer me a discounted tariff (that I'm not forced to subscribe to) if i give them the option to turn my AC off when demand outstrips their ability to supply.

    I'm yet to meet an American that has this feature from their power company and 'longs for the days of the anonymous usage and the chimp that comes and reads the meter.

  50. Equitas

    Had one of these for years. Installed when that particular electricity supply was through British Gas. Meter is still read manually because, allegedly, British Gas won't pass on the reading information to any other supplier. Whether that's the real reason or not, it's still a crazy situation.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    The initiative is older than you think

    "The UK’s smart meter scheme was introduced by Labour leader Ed Miliband, when he was energy and climate change secretary."

    Not true, the idea of smart metering in the UK was first mooted when Margaret Thatcher was PM. The industry has succeeded in faffing on and filibustering ever since.

  52. Potemkine Silver badge

    A clear demonstration of Newton's first law

    "The vis insita, or innate force of matter, is a power of resisting by which every body, as much as in it lies, endeavours to preserve its present state, whether it be of rest or of moving uniformly forward in a straight line."

  53. Ubermik

    About how many people believe in current times that a central collecting point that then forwards customer information to the relevant supplier WOULDNT keep or divert a complete dataset to any government body that it was told needed it

    I think we are way past the point where we should blindly believe our government wont at any given chance snoop and pry into any of our data they can get, generally misuse it and THEN sell a copy of it to corporate users

    as this scheme is only valid if it makes economical sense I must assume the government has other reasons for wanting to push it so stridently when they cant afford to keep libraries and sports centres open

    My main suspicion, call me cynical would be that the technology has a far wider ability to interface with our in home "technology" than is being stated and that the only realistically viable reason for the governments level of interest in what seems like a disproven and financially invalid concept is

    A) many MPs have already bought shares in the companies making, installing and managing the devices

    B) the devices will allow the government to spy into homes to catch "terrorists" as well as anyone doing anything they don't like or having views they don't like

    C) (by far the most likely IMO) Both of the above

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