back to article Ordinary punters will get squat from smart meters, reckons report

Smart meters will benefit suppliers nearly twice as much as consumers in terms of cost savings, according to an assessment by the late Department for Energy and Climate Change. The government's £11bn smart meter project will require energy suppliers to offer 53 million meters to homes and small businesses by 2020. Smart meters …

  1. John Mangan

    No, thank you.

    Was there anything else?

    1. Lusty

      Re: No, thank you.

      Avoiding the need for a person to come in and check my meter regularly? YES PLEASE! I don't care about who saves money from this - my life has been improved because the meters can be read remotely and is always up to date with no estimated bills.

      Even if it is the gas company saving money on home visits - surely that will eventually trickle into savings for the consumer anyway.

      The cost of implementation is covered by the cost of savings so I don't see a downside in this.

      1. psychonaut

        Re: No, thank you.

        just log into a web page and enter the details. no remote bollox necessary. how difficult is it?

        1. Lusty

          Re: No, thank you.

          "just log into a web page and enter the details"

          That works for a while, but the supplier still has to do a real check once a year to ensure you aren't lying.

          1. psychonaut

            Re: No, thank you.

            "That works for a while, but the supplier still has to do a real check once a year to ensure you aren't lying."

            thats a fair point, i hadnt thought of that.

            are we saying though that they will truest the smart meters to report the truth forever without having a man to check? how long till someone hacks them and releases the details on the web....could be fun

      2. The obvious

        Re: No, thank you.

        "the meters can be read remotely and is always up to date with no estimated bills."

        ...and how long until we see a situation where someone's supply is shut off remotely after a numnuts callcentre-monkey cocks up, a supplier thinks you owe them money when you don't (which happened when we moved into this house), when someone in some crappy outsourced IT service on minimal training and a bowl of rice a day cocks up 1,000's of accounts, or when yet another security vuln is discovered in the kit.

        1. johnfbw

          Re: No, thank you.

          Cut off supply? I would imagine it will happen on day one.Some people will just bypass the meters just to get electricity and make real savings

          1. RegGuy1

            Winner!

            The lecy company cuts off your supply because of some numptie or other. Instead of getting back to them to connect you again, you just do it yourself (with big rubber gloves) or get a friendly electrician.

            Your meter won't register any usage -- hey, you've been cut off. No one comes round to check -- they are all on the dole.

            Winner! Free electricity. Bring it on!

      3. inmypjs Silver badge

        Re: No, thank you.

        So I can pay to get someone to drive a van to my house, pick up a parcel, transport it half way across the country where another man in a van drives and delivers it to another house and still get change from 3 quid.

        Just how much do you think can be saved by not having a man read the meter once a year?

        1. iRadiate

          Re: No, thank you.

          Saving of 3 quid in monetary terms by your delivery van analogy which is not quite correct since a Meter reader requires slightly more training because unlike in your blinkered world some Meter readers will be qualified to do more than just read your meter and therefore costs more to employ but I'll go with 3 quid for now.

          Also a saving in terms of reduced CO2 and other crap from his vehicle by not needing to come to my house for such a trivial job. A nominal saving in terms of slightly fewer cars on the road.

          A saving in my time in the sense I don't need to be at home to have my Meter read.

          A saving in my time in not having to phone or email a correct reading when a home visit hasn't been made in over 2 years. There are probably other minor savings.

          1. Jimmy2Cows

            Re: Meter reader requires slightly more training

            Pretty sure parcel delivery drivers can read numbers too. Well, most of them. Maybe not Yodel.

            1. iRadiate

              Re: Meter reader requires slightly more training

              Sure but can they install or exchange Meters? Are they certified gas and electricity engineers ? No? Well many meter readers have to be because reading meters is just part of their job.

              1. Jimmy2Cows

                Re: Meter reader requires slightly more training

                Sure but can they install or exchange Meters? Are they certified gas and electricity engineers ? No? Well many meter readers have to be because reading meters is just part of their job.

                Citation needed.

                Seems highly unlikely. Why exactly would a trained, qualified sparky slum it reading meters?

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: Meter reader requires slightly more training

                  "Seems highly unlikely. Why exactly would a trained, qualified sparky slum it reading meters?"

                  Yep. Meter reading is already outsourced. The once per year visit is one guy coming out to read both gas and 'leccy and I have different suppliers. I'd be surprised if his training involved any more than being able to read numbers, copy them down and have a valid driving licence.

                2. Tom Paine Silver badge

                  Re: Meter reader requires slightly more training

                  FWIW I had a chat with the guy who came to install mine (slightly more complicated than plug and play as it involved replacing the ancient spinning-wheel type old meter completely.) I asked if they were just doing SM installation, were they doing a lot, etc. He said they were full blown* electrical engineers (as in, real capital-E Engineers, not like the vending beverage unit engineer who comes to clean out the chicken soup nozzle on the drinks machine); they were doing SMs for a few weeks or months and then would be rotated back round to doing,er, Other Stuff. (I didn't ask.)

                  Just an anecdotal data point.

              2. inmypjs Silver badge

                Re: Meter reader requires slightly more training

                "Sure but can they install or exchange Meters?"

                No an neither can smart meters So you are arguing that cost savings replacing them with smart meters are higher because they do things which smart meters can't do which means they can't be replaced with smart meters anyway....

        2. Andy 66

          Re: No, thank you.

          "Just how much do you think can be saved by not having a man read the meter once a year?"

          Probably quite a lot if you give that job to a woman… much more efficient

      4. Jimmy2Cows

        Re: No, thank you.

        The cost of implementation is covered by the cost of savings so I don't see a downside in this.

        Then you are not thinking hard enough.

        Smart meters are:

        a) an attempt to increase profits by eliminating the cost of meter readers. The cost of this will be passed on to consumers, so that 2-3% a tiny minority of consumers might save by having a smart meter will be more than wiped out.

        b) a step toward live tracking of the supply costs and variable pricing. No more certainty about how much your electricity and gas bills will be each month. And you can bet your arse that tracked prices will go up as fast - faster - than the supply cost, but fall much slower, if they fall at all.

        c) adding the potential for remote cut off from the comfort of the outsourced, offshored control room. No more pesky engineer costs to actually, physically disconnect someone who hasn't paid.

        d) the opportunity to mess up millions of peoples' day with a single bad software patch.

        Shit, if the banks don't make sure they get a patch right, power companies sure as hell won't bother. But who cares...? Their CEOs and directors will not be on smart meters.

      5. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: No, thank you.

        I don't expect my tariff or bill to do anything but increase, so smart meters I just shove in my mental "meh" file. I like my privacy and not having the meter maid prowling around my house is a good thing.

        Does anybody else find it odd that cars used by the electric companies (not trucks) are ICE? I would expect that their "fuel" cost would be as close to zero as it's possible to get and they can install high output charging points all over the place for employees to use when in company cars. Hmmmmm.

  2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    I'm not in favour of smart meters, but supplier cost savings and consumer cost savings are the same thing in the long run. Competition makes them consumer savings.

    1. StephenD

      Possibly. If the market is functioning perfectly. Which few do.

      1. Pete 2 Silver badge

        Many sellers, with identical products

        > If the market is functioning perfectly. Which few do

        They don't have to function perfectly - just well enough.

        In the electricity market, the overheads are crucial.

        Everyone uses the same electricity, bought on the same market, using the same currency hedges. It's sent down the same wires and comes from the same power stations (although some suppliers own their own power stations, they still buy and sell openly).

        So in the end, there's little to differentiate the price from one supplier to another except how well they run their businesses: i.e. the performance of their C-levels and their overheads: offices, IT, call centres and metering (which is generally outsourced anyway).

        1. Dave 15

          Re: Many sellers, with identical products

          Market... pah, no its not. **they** know we **need** the power, they also know they can cartel well enough (like the supermarkets) so surprise surprise prices go up in case prices go up, prices stay up because they bought at a higher price, they go up because there might be an issue, they stay up because they had hedged their bets, they run the generator is a different company so the supplier can claim it is making nothing out of over charging youl

          1. psychonaut

            Re: Many sellers, with identical products

            "they run the generator is a different company so the supplier can claim it is making nothing out of over charging youl"

            THIS

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But us shareholders will be happy!

        Woo hoo! Take out the labor costs. Take out the labor costs...

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          There are two shops on the same road. They both decrease their costs by having robots stack the shelves. One drops its prices in line with its lower costs in order to win more customers. The other doesn't. The one that doesn't loses sales and either lowers prices too or goes bust.

          If neither do it, then somebody else sees the opportunity, sets up their own shop and puts the other two out of business.

          If there were room for lower prices in the energy market, there would be a new player ( or existing one ) to come in and take everybody's custom. But there isn't, so there isn't.

          1. tiggity Silver badge

            Despite ability to switch suppliers there is a lot of inertia in the market, few people change supplier on a yearly basis to make sure they are on a near optimal tariff.

            Customer loyalty is not rewarded, it is abused (stay with same supplier and you end up paying their most exorbitant rates, not their attractive rates)

            You must have missed all the recent reports about bait & switch from energy companies.

            A good offer dangled so consumers switch, then after the offer term (e.g. year) is up, if customer does not switch again they are on the way more expensive standard tariff and huge profits for energy company as a good chance that after a recent switch someone might not be switching again instantly.

            So, in the energy market you can have a few nice deals but many people paying over the odds and still thrive.

            So your fantasy economics model of only the cheapest suppliers thrives can go straight into the bin, it's real world behavior that counts.

            1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

              People choosing to stay with a provider when they've put their bills up is them choosing convenience over price.

              People switching to save money is customers choosing price over convenience.

              Either way, the consumer gets what they want. I really don't see the problem.

      3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        If you believe that, set up your own energy company with half the margin of the existing companies. You'll be a billionaire.

        But you won't, because you can't. Selling energy is a highly competitive low margin business with a low barrier to entry.

        You'll find you pay a lot for energy ( thanks government intervention! ) and sell it for a tiny fraction more.

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      " Competition makes them consumer savings."

      Hahaha! Welcome to Earth. You must be new here.

    3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      31 socialists and counting. What happened to this place?

      1. cantankerous swineherd

        not really a socialist, but 32.

        what happened round here? people got wise to MBA bollocks.

        1. Tom Paine Silver badge

          MBA bollocks is what pays your salary and grows your pension fund (and implements all the other goods and services you get via the private sector.) A bit less living up to "arrogant techie" stereotype, please.

          I used to have a case of that, 20 years ago. Marketing, sales, people in ties... tossers and idiots, all of them, and we could do their jobs but they couldn't do ours. Then I got a job where I saw near the sales droids. Holy shit... I could never, ever do that job; I wouldn't last a week.

          I suggest you go read a bit about the syllabus for a decent MBA course. Here's Havard , for instance. Pick a topic at random and go research what the actual content is. Still sneering at "MBA bollocks"?

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    Doesn'nt Brexit make this optional?

    Brexit.

    "Taking back control" (of your stair cupboard)

    And no "supper savings" are only the same as "customer savings" if the suppler decides to pass them back to the customer.

    BTW Aren't most UK utility suppliers foreign owned, so most of those savings go back to more profit to their (foreign) parent.

    And you can bet that won't change post Brexit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Doesn'nt Brexit make this optional?

      Yes, isn't this exactly like the ill-informed policy of adding the number of wild weasels, stoats, and badgers, and dividing by the number of semi-domesticated wolves? I mean 700000, WTF?

      We're gonna need more guns.

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: Doesn'nt Brexit make this optional?

      Look, if you want to start up your own electricity retail company that's completely British-owned and controlled, knock yourself out. It's not that hard. Basically, all you need to know is SQL. The rest is just a bunch of specs and regulations that can be looked up as needed.

      It's also not that profitable, which is why more people don't do it. The margins are pretty slim.

      Disclosure: I work for an electricity retailer (although not in the UK).

      There's an astonishing amount of bullshit talked about smart meters on this site.

      Insecure? Look, there are over half a billion of the things installed worldwide, in places they've been operating for 10 years or more, and as yet I haven't seen a single verified report of hacking. I don't think they're invulnerable, I just think they're not a very exciting or lucrative target.

      No gains for the customer? Are you telling me that UK retailers don't charge their customers when they send a guy in a van out to reconnect their meter? For us, that charge is fully 70% lower when the meter can be reconnected remotely.

      No competition? Which? lists 192, that's one-hundred and ninety-two, different tariffs, from more than 30 different companies, to choose from for my old UK address. How much competition do you need, exactly?

      Wrongful disconnection? Newsflash, we can do that with an old-fashioned meter too - the big difference with a smart meter is, it's a lot quicker to reconnect - and in either case our liability and your recourse are exactly the same.

      It's not all roses, there's some perfectly valid arguments to be made against smart meters. But 99% of what passes for debate on this site, as on most others, is pure FUD - spread, I can only imagine, by electricity retailers whose databases are crap, and meter manufacturers (Landis & Gyr, I'm looking at you) whose meters are crap.

      1. cantankerous swineherd
        Mushroom

        Re: Doesn'nt Brexit make this optional?

        the hacking one should be concerned about is of a nation state coming along, bricking the meters in London SW, then making a polite request for readjustments to UK foreign policy on pain of the rest of the meters getting it.

        smart meters are a virtual neutron bomb. --->

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: Doesn'nt Brexit make this optional?

          @cantankerous swineherd: If you wanted to screw with the UK's electricity supply, it'd be far easier and more effective to hack the National Grid, rather than trying to hack 100,000 separate meters made, installed and administered by 30 different companies.

          Or you could just take down some of the baseload generation. Which is why it's such a dumb idea to rely on the Chinese, or the French for that matter, for that. Either of those countries could do more damage for way less effort than you're suggesting.

          1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

            Re: Doesn'nt Brexit make this optional?

            > ... 100,000 separate meters made, installed and administered by 30 different companies

            But all built to a common standard for comms and security, and linked up by one network, to one database.

            And like the data is going to be ours (as per the article). Presumably that will mean it's ours in the same way as our health data - only as long as we are vigilant and kick up a sh*tstorm every time the government spots an opportunity to flog it if we don't realise and opt out. Or, of course, until it's leaked or the database is hacked, or ...

            As has been said many times, almost all the benefits of "smart" meters can be done without any of the security problems or privacy intrusions. Remote meter reading doesn't need a detailed analysis by 1/2 hour of our consumption - it just needs a reading of each register.

            But this is a "we can collect it, we don't bother with whether we should collect it".

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Doesn'nt Brexit make this optional?

            You could shut down London for a couple of weeks with five guys with cars, a map, and a very small amount of explosive. (You wouldn't actually need explosive, you could do it with any tool capable of breaking steel: blowtorch, arc welder, possibly just an angle grinder.) I never understood why the IRA never tried it. It's super easy, very hard or impossible to defend against, and would cause -- well, imagine Greater London without electricity for ten days. It wouldn't be pretty.

            Not going into details for obvious reasons.

        2. Tom Paine Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Doesn'nt Brexit make this optional?

          Oh noes!!! You mean they'll bring the country to it's knees because the electricity supply companies will have to fall back on estimating readings and a man in a van, again?!?? PANIC! HEAD FOR THE HILLS!!!

  4. HollyHopDrive

    Once more nice to see the government subsidising big business. Thats a lot of cash to give to essentially, foreign businesses. If I was state owned (oops, I sound like a right leftie there!) I'd accept it, but it isn't.

    Smart meters should allow INSTANT changing of tariffs and companies and you should be able to buy your electricity and gas the same way you buy your petrol. If BP looks a bit expensive on a given day just go down the road to Tesco etc etc. I don't understand why I can't just buy power in the same way, by the Kwh. I want 100 kwh at the agreed price or even just I'll use company X until I switch to company Y. Pay my bill, switch and so on. I'm telling you now, we'd get a very competitive market, low prices and stop getting ripped off.

    The two blockers to this are

    a) the energy companies, they make far too much money the way it stands. Why would they want to make less money. (I remember working for one that pretty much admitted that's why fuel bills/tariffs are so unreadable, stops you comparing to others easily!)

    b) the government, they make VAT from fuel. So higher bills mean more money for them.

    Weirdly I suspect if consumers actually had to pay attention to how much you are paying on a more regular basis (like when you fill up your car) you'd probably use less fuel so you'd achieve the fuel reduction they are looking for while saving money.

    Still, logic, when has that ever got in the way of headlines and cash/tax grabbing from our overlords?

    1. Richard Jones 1
      WTF?

      @ HollyHopDrive No Evidence To Date

      I am not sure that most people do not know that turning something on will increase their bill and I thought that under the Dumb Meter scheme you can have a drawer filler, oops sorry a monitoring device to watch as you turn things on and off.

      I do not want to disagree with what you said because I think you are broadly right but we turn things on and use them because we want them to do something and turn them off when we are done. Watching drivers act like they are on a drag strip or tyre testing course suggests that many are not aware of the relationship between heavy right foot and fuel bills.

      Large utility bills do have some impact but who wants cold water baths, weeks old unwashed clothing etc.? I am guessing not too many.

      However, I agree that the present system is about as broken as it can be, while still being able to minimally function.

      1. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: @ HollyHopDrive No Evidence To Date

        we turn things on and use them because we want them to do something and turn them off when we are done.

        YOU might do, but WE, the "great" British public do not. We leave lights on (round my way, idiots floodlight the outside of their houses, ALL NIGHT, on the spurious grounds of security.) We leave TVs, radios, computers,.. etc etc plugged in, powered up, pulling current and doing nothing but keeping a red LED illuminated and watching for the "on" button to be pressed. We leave chargers and transformers attached to wall sockets. We waste a lot of electricity. If you don't believe me, put the price up x10 and see how demand goes down.

    2. Dave 15

      that would require

      The companies to have some flat price per kwh and you to have continual access to all prices, and if that were possible we could devise software that kept switching all the time which would give them all a big headache

      Far better to join you in the leftie revolution and take the whole lot into public ownership. Frankly I don't really care if that means employing too many people as that would mean paying less dole, and I dont mind if the company makes too much money as it would go back to the exchequer and mean less of an overdraft on the countries finances.

      Unfortunately no political party is run by mere plebs who have to work to pay the bills, they are all run by the rich who have shares in all these companies and dont give a rats about the UK or the UK economy as long as they are richer by the week.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Once more nice to see the government subsidising big business. Thats a lot of cash to give to essentially, foreign businesses.

      Actually, over the medium term the only people making money in the energy markets have been people operating regulated assets (distribution networks) or following the money trail on subsidised renewable toys. Wholesale generation and supply businesses have been net losers.

      If I was state owned (oops, I sound like a right leftie there!) I'd accept it, but it isn't.

      No, but it is fully state controlled. The whole system is a series of jerry rigged markets created by the state, just using private capital. The whole networks operation is state directed and the spend and return dictated by the state. The state dictate what volume of renewables suppliers have to buy in the wholesale market. The state dictates the content and format of bills. The state approves the network codes that all participants have to abide by. The state says who has a licence to participate. The state sets the terms and effectively the cost of power by picking winners like wind turbines, solar PV, and nuclear. The state says when it wants to force existing fully functional coal plants out of the system. The state decides on daft rules like stopping offshore windfarms building their own connection to shore (adding vast costs to offshore wind's already high price). The state dictates that suppliers have to install millions of low-functionality smart meters. The state dictates what suppliers have to do to address fuel poverty (because heaven knows, high energy costs are all the fault of suppliers and not anything to do with this full state controlled system.

      Now, in all of that, do you see the hand of private enterprise or competition? Or any customer-centric innovation? I'm as right wing as sane people come, but markets don't work in utility energy markets. Sadly, governments don't understand and it looks like the water market is going the same way. Before you castigate the current shower of piss over that, note that this has its roots in a process kicked off by the government in the Blair years.

  5. Nik 2

    Supplier savings = jobs lost

    Just another victim of the rise of the machines.

    https://despair.com/products/motivation

    1. nematoad Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Supplier savings = jobs lost

      Not round here.

      The mobile signal is about as poor as you can get and still see any life in your phone. So "smart meters" don't work.

      Now unless the government either wants to level the hills casting the radio shadow or prod the networks to actually provide a service I can't see anything changing. So denizens in this neck of the woods are safe, for now, from our machine overlords.

  6. Blofeld's Cat
    Facepalm

    Hmm...

    "We were assured that consumers will own their data and be able to decide who can access it."

    If that assured you then I have a bridge you may be interested in buying.

    "Wider questions about processes for anonymisation and the ethics of data usage and consent will need to be considered carefully by the Data Services Ethics Council being set up by the Government following our big data dilemma report."

    Government ethics have been unfavourably compared with those of an incontinent dog on a croquet lawn.

    1. Lamont Cranston
      FAIL

      Re: "We were assured that consumers will own their data and be able to decide who can access it."

      I must be into my fourth year with smart meters. During that time, they've been read once by the energy supplier that had it fitted (as I was leaving them), and subsequent suppliers have been reliant on me taking the readings from the display on the meters (the portable display that came with the meters can't do even this simple task, so I've long since disconnected it).

      If nefarious third parties are pilfering my data, perhaps they'd like to offer their services to the energy companies?

    2. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Hmm...

      incontinent dogs on croquet lawns

      ahh, class warriors you mean

    3. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Hmm...

      You DO control your own data. Put down the knee-jerk conspiracist manual, read the damn small print and have a look at ICO.gov .

  7. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    What savings?

    This is such a load of theoretical nonsense. My house also has "smart" meters, they measure the usage of the heater and they can be read from a distance, so the company doesn't have to actually enter my house. Works fine for me.

    But even though they save money that doesn't mean that their benefit will also find its way to me. I continue to pay the same amount of costs.

    I always hear those stories about "it'll save money" but no one bothers to tell us where that money is supposed to be coming from :P

  8. Frederic Bloggs

    Botnets

    And how long will it take the ungodly to crack this monoculture of devices? And what will they do with them once cracked?

    1. The obvious
      Joke

      Re: Botnets

      I was planning to give myself free electricity and play tetris or maybe snake using the tower block up the road from me as a low-res screen...

    2. I Am Spartacus
      Mushroom

      Re: Botnets

      A previous commentator said that they had seen no evidence of hacking a smart meter. This may be true, but once the whole of the UK is on Smart Meters, there will be a desire to hack them.

      Imagine this: A hacker uses a botnet to break the master key. It then turns off a number and changes the "secure" password. Then it tells the electricity company to pony up a couple of billion in bitcoins to get the keys back, or they will switch off some more. Which because the leccy company are such ludittes they prevaricate, so the hackers switch off a couple of thousand or so.

      The press gets to hear about it now, and all hell breaks lose and every one on el reg says "told you so".

      Let's get real: These are devices on an open network. Yes, they may have encryption, but how long will it take to hack?

      How long will it take to hack when Quantum Computers become affordable to a rogue nation state?

  9. Picky
    Unhappy

    The consumer pays again

    The stupid and unfair part is that the cost of "Smart" meters is added to the consumers bill. Suppliers save billions and we pay to let them.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: The consumer pays again

      ...and our bills won't ever go down.

      Now if the supplier said something along the lines of "pay us £150 to install a 'smart' meter in your home and we'll give you a permanent 5% reduction in your bills which will allow you to save money after X months" then maybe they'd be onto something.

      However they'd never do this because this isn't price gouging the customers enough, instead it will be "take money from the government for the devices", "charge all customers more for the devices", "never drop prices" and "save money on meter readers". Even if they did promise a reduction in bills they'd offset this by upping the price elsewhere and increasing the annual price rises to counter the reduction way before the customer would make a saving.

    2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: The consumer pays again

      And the market redistributes those savings into lower bills.

  10. Known Hero
    FAIL

    FFS

    I've been in a new build for 3 years now. My stupid smart reader already need replacing so I am told as it is no longer compatible .....

    I personally don't worry about monitoring for the following reasons.

    A: I am still on estimated readings ...

    B: my meter already needs replacing

    C: somebody is going to find a hole in the system some day and going to F*CK things up bad.

    D: who is going to listen to little old me, 90% of people on the street could tell you its a bad idea if you gave them the facts. So why worry :/

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: FFS

      You didn't think smart meters last as long as the old ones, did you.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FFS- are you sure?

      "90% of people on the street could tell you its a bad idea if you gave them the facts."

      Are you sure? It didn't work for 52% of Britons who voted in a recent opinion poll?

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: FFS- are you sure?

        Well they were being fed sh*t by both sides - evidence, accuracy and truth abandoned by most on leave and remain I am afraid

      2. Known Hero

        Re: FFS- are you sure?

        I still remember a few days before the vote, I had a leaflet in the door.

        It was a folded poster. it was Pitch Black, with a Lady stood on the edge of a cliff, and BIG RED WORDS with Ripped stylized font stating "DONT RISK IT, VOTE STAY"

        The amount of fear mongering, lies and attempted manipulation was downright revolting from both sides.

        Personally I voted Leave but for my own reasons and conclusions. Not everyone that voted leave was a mindwashed nazi sympathizer.

      3. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: FFS- are you sure?

        Are you sure? It didn't work for 48% of Britons who voted in a recent opinion poll?

        There, fixed that for you ;-)

        Yes as already said, there was an enormous amount of crap spouted on both sides. I voted leave for none of the mainstream fear mongering reasons - but because I thin that the pain we'll have from leaving will be less than the ongoing pain would be for staying. It's clear that those with the controls in the EU have no intention of listing to any of the voices warning of the impending shipwreck when they hit the clearly visible iceberg dead ahead.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can you switcj on/off via the keypad?

    I would actually find it useful to be able to turn electricity on and off via the smart meter keypad to more safely change a cable in the CU. Is it possible? (liberty 100)

    1. oomwat

      Re: Can you switcj on/off via the keypad?

      Pay your electricity supplier £70 to install a master switch before the CU, then you can switch your power off at will without endangering yourself - that's what I did.

    2. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: Can you switcj on/off via the keypad?

      "I would actually find it useful to be able to turn electricity on and off via the smart meter keypad to more safely change a cable in the CU."

      I wouldn't trust my life to a software-controlled switch; this sounds like a recipe for getting yourself electrocuted. If it doesn't have an isolator already fitted, there's a 100A fuse that can be removed by authorised/qualified electricians when the CU needs maintenance.

      @oomwat - Good advice!

    3. Velv Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Can you switcj on/off via the keypad?

      I don't know the answer to your question but the cynical side of me says this would be a very bad thing to allow.

      Sparky turns electricity off at meter and starts working on internal wiring

      Supplier notices Smart meter is off and decides to restart it remotely

      Phzzzzt BANG!

      Can't beat a good old fashioned BFOMS* to isolate the circuit.

      * for those not familiar with the proper terms the first word is Big and the last two are Mechanical and Switch

      1. Wim Ton

        Re: Can you switcj on/off via the keypad?

        The supplier cannot switch on remotely for safety reasons. The command is "enable switch on by the consumer".

        Furthermore,if the meter's switch is not certified as a safety device, an appropriate warning is printed on the meter.

    4. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Can you switcj on/off via the keypad?

      Isolate and LOCK OFF.

      It's not off until it's got a padlocked off and the only key is in my pocket.

      1. kmac499

        Re: Can you switcj on/off via the keypad?

        "It's not off until it's got a padlocked off and the only key is in my pocket."

        Plus If like me you've worked inside any big industrial kit (mixers and conveyors in my case) as well as the padlock I've even taken the fuses with me.

    5. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge

      Re: Can you switcj on/off via the keypad?

      In Scotland, modern (non-smart) LCD meters have a built-in switch. There is a little white screwdriver slot on the front panel. It's very handy for upgrading the CU.

  12. Peter Christy

    How much space do these things need?

    The man came to try and install smart meters at our home some months ago. They have to do the electric first, because it apparently feeds info back via the mains. Our mains units are in their own little closet, about 8 ft high (I need steps to reach the breakers, should one trip), 2 ft wide and 18" deep. The breakers and existing meter occupy about the top two feet of the closet, the rest being empty space.

    "Won't fit in there, mate!", says the installer, "we'll have to send a special team around!"

    "Don't bother!", says I, "I don't want the d**n thing anyway!".

    Not heard anything since, but just how big are these things???

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How much space do these things need?

      About the same size as a mechanical meter. The special team are two guys with a pair of steps, one to do the work the other to hold the steps as per H&S requirements.

    2. Mutton Jeff

      Re: How much space do these things need?

      I had the exact same thing

      <Sucks through teeth>"Oooh it a'int gonna fit in that cabinet guv"

  13. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Mass rollout?

    Presumably that means a campaign of disinformation (more so than up till now) and fitting them evenings and weekends. If not, how do they intend to start the mass rollout?

  14. c1ue

    The real reason for smart meters

    It isn't the data - although there are plenty who will find a nefarious use for it.

    It isn't to save the consumer money.

    It is to make it easier for electricity utility companies to not have to spend capital building supply in order to match demand growth.

    Electricity utilities almost everywhere are heavily regulated. The only ways they can make additional profit without going through bruising showdowns with public utility commissions is to maintain the smallest amount of supply generation possible. A smart meter will allow utilities to save in a number of ways:

    1) When a customer fails to pay on time, the utility company can shut off supply much cheaper, faster and easier than traditionally

    2) Detailed demand profiles allow ever more blatant messaging from said utility companies to consumers to reduce consumption in the name of conservation. The utility company benefit because it is the spikes in demand (during hot weather for example) that add relatively huge costs to supply generation (think diesel and generators). Previously, all the company could do was add flyers in their monthly bills which would get tossed anyway.

    3) Let's not forget the subsidy harvest dynamic. The installation of "smart meters" allows all manner of opportunities to upgrade IT kit on the public's dime. After all, the influx of so much data requires that much more infrastructure, wot?

    1. Gerry 3
      Alert

      Re: The real reason for smart meters

      @ c1ue: You're on the right lines, but only lukewarm so far...

      1(a) When Nudge comes to Shove (instantaneous demand about to exceed available supply), expensive tariffs won't be enough. Time of Day (see below) will become Time of Darkness - it'll be the Kill Switch unless you've paid a whopping premium for an Uninterruptible Tariff*.

      2(a) The "ever more blatant messaging from said utility companies to consumers to reduce consumption" won't be messaging, it'll be Time of Day tariffs. At times when you want to use electricity, it will be prohibitively expensive: the weekly wash, Sunday lunch, evening meals, breakfast time - GOTCHA !

      2(b) Time of Day tariffs will work wonders for Confusion Marketing. You'll never be able to compare tariffs in a meaningful way because Big Energy 1 will take great care to make sure that their ToD parameters are very different to Big Energy 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 etc. Think RyanAir on steroids....

      2(c) As 2(b), except that there will lots more lovely confusion when using more than, say 3kW, attracts a hefty surcharge. Only when almost everyone has been conned into having a Smart Meter will Big Energy activate all the tricks that can be used.

      Smart People have Dumb Meters. Dumb People have Smart Meters.

      *Excludes area power outages

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The real reason for smart meters

        3) At some point those people without Smart meters will find themselves on a prohibitively expensive tariff that has been imposed by the supplier.

  15. SteveG

    Hmmmmm

    It's not the spy (sorry, smart) meters that I don't trust, it's the people reading them.

  16. fidodogbreath Silver badge
    Holmes

    This just in

    Smart meters will benefit suppliers nearly twice as much as consumers in terms of cost savings

    Our top story tonight: large companies bend governments to do their bidding, and consumers are forced to pay for it.

    This has been a breaking news alert. We return now to our regularly-scheduled programming.

    1. earl grey Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: This just in

      Our top story tonight: large companies bend governments to do their bidding, and consumers are forced to just bend over.

      There, fixed that for you..

  17. batfastad

    Dumb meters!

    It turns out all these dumb meters monitor is the total energy consumption of your house. Larger consumer savings could be gained by buying smart sockets or by spending the money on modern and sustainable energy generation capacity, not just chucking some windmills about and installing remote kill-switches in everyone's houses.

    Is there an API accessible by the home owner? Am I able to programatically switch provider/tarriff based on spot market prices etc? Unfortuately these are better described as dumb meters.

    We've not had a meter reading meatbag around here for years, because it turns out I am a human and able to read some numbers off a screen and type them into a website or write them onto a form and put it in a free post envelope.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Dumb meters!

      ISTR 'Smart Meters' were going to negotiate with multiple suppliers to find the best price, instant by instant.

      I don't think these will be doing that. 'Dumb meters' is correct.

  18. 80sRelic

    No One Likes These "Across The Pond"

    Left-wing Luddites fear the wifi grid network that they use, Luddites fear Wifi: https://corp.sonic.net/ceo/2008/03/23/sebastopol-voids-wi-fi-contract/

    The rest of us fear the privacy intrusion: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/03/new-smart-meters-energy-use-put-privacy-risk

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: No One Likes These "Across The Pond"

      Most people don't care, not "No One Likes These". I'd be much happier with mine if it was capable of broadcasting it's information to a remote display in the house so I could monitor usage. As it is, I have to turn something one, go outside and wait until the display shifts to current consumption.

      Usage data could be useful to somebody if they also had other bits of data to correlate it to. I would be very unhappy if the electric company was selling my data with my address and personal information.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do these things help me....

    ...I don't see any benefit, if I want to give them a reading I can log onto and fill in a few numbers - easy. If I want to save money I could switch some stuff on, but then it's on for a reason, I want it on. If I didn't want it on, it would be off.... what a waste of money.

    ...and making the meter reader (are there any anyway) unemployed saves money how ?

    1. Gerry 3

      Re: How do these things help me....

      There won't be any manpower savings - they will still have to visit customers every two years for a 'Safety Inspection' - to make sure they haven't bypassed the meter.

  20. Herby Silver badge

    Smart meters...

    Dumb users, dumber utilities.

    It really doesn't matter much. One of the purposes of a "smart" meter is to have a finer granularity of usage detail. The utility can they plan (or not) their capacity accordingly. If they can shift demand from a high time of the day to a low time of the day, they won't need to build as many power plants (of whatever persuasion it good/bad). The real reason is to shift this demand and only smart meters which can charge by time of day can make it reasonable to do so.

    I seriously doubt that consumers will change habits without a financial incentive. Money drives everything.

    1. Gerry 3

      Re: Smart meters...

      "The real reason is to shift this demand and only smart meters which can charge by time of day can make it prohibitively expensive not to do so.

      "I seriously doubt that consumers will change habits without a financial penalty. Money drives everything."

      FTFY !

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Traffic

    If these so called 'Smart Meters' were equipped with HTTPS one way protocol, I'd be quite happy.

    Tx and NO Rx..not even for a firmware update.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “£26 a year"

    in savings?! ON AVERAGE, I bet? Well, I'm only interested in this: is is compulsory, and if not, WHEN will it become compulsory to install one?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just tell the meter company, not the supplier, that you don't want a smart meter - simple enough ( they may whinge a bit about "the government want", but you can ignore that ).

    Of course you will still be paying for the smart meter roll-out through your bills.

  24. -tim
    Boffin

    Wrong location for smart meters

    If they were "smart", they would mount the new meters on the poles where a cheaper device could measure 4 or 8 houses and talk wireless to the next meter without pesky things getting in the way. The things could use current clamps require no modifications to existing wiring unless they needed the remote shutdown (which isn't a consumer or green issue at all). It would also get rid of the pesky liability issue of dealing with 40 or 60 or 80 year old wiring that will work just as long as no one touches it causing the insulation to fall off.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Wrong location for smart meters

      You get your power via poles?

      Our supplier is french...

      (Capitals removed for comedic continuity)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wrong location and what smart meters actually do.

      Obviously meters could be installed at the transformer feeding the buildings and early on some were.

      The problem comes when it is time to pay the bill. At that point remote metering for billing fails in many ways. Not sure of your background but consider the losses in undersized cables owned by the utility. Then there are the many opportunities for illegal connections. If my neighbour has a long cable feeding their property I could hide a connection, even easier if each phase has it's own cable.

      When it comes to billing, best to have the meter located at the end of the utilities lines and the start of the customers lines.

      The fact that meters can much more easily be installed at the last transformer shows how bogus the claim is that smart meters are needed to monitor use and adjust the system to meet present and future demands.

      1. -tim

        Re: Wrong location and what smart meters actually do.

        A meter on the pole (or transformer or other hard to tamper with place) meters would help locate these issues. People can check their old meter (as it would still be installed as it would be easier and less risky to just leave it there) and the new one should be more precise. If someone's old meter reading doesn't match, something is wrong and it should be investigated. One of the major problems with the Victoria rollout was so many old meters had worn out bearings they were reading low so many people were shocked when the smart meters were reading the correct power which resulted in a much higher bill in a few cases.

  25. armyknife

    Well informed people?

    Better to roll-out smart consumers, but that would require some investment in education and an interest in understanding things by the customer.

  26. Tromos
    Joke

    I'm hoping...

    ...there's a tiny hole in the side where inserting a straightened paperclip resets the billing to zero.

    (Using insulated gloves just in case)

  27. All names Taken
    Trollface

    Dreaming on?

    The guvmint announced options of extra savings or a one off payment to UK subjects/residents by scrapping its £11 billion plan to roll out smart meters.

    A guvmint spoeksperson from Whitehall said that the guvmint will comply with Whitehall wishes to adopt an evolutionary roll out of smart meters rather than a forced £11 billion meter update indulgence?

  28. ecarlseen

    A government boondoggle that favors...

    ...a well-connected special interest over consumers? Surely you jest, sir!

  29. David 132 Silver badge
    Flame

    Colour me not surprised.

    I'd always assumed that the entire point of these "smart meters" was to allow the power companies to remotely switch off customers, in order to manage demand at peak time. The electricity supply network is now more about generating subsidies than generating power; between the intermittency of wind/wave and the complete fustercluck that is Hinkley, we can no longer guarantee to keep the lights on for all customers at all times.

  30. batfastad

    Take back control!

    Brit politicians and civil servants sure know their stuff. Take back control!

    People wonder why nuclear suddenly got all expensive on us?

    50 years of virtually no investment in virtually all of the country's infrastructure except for a few marquee projects. It's cheaper to build it before you need it instead of 30 years late.

    The 4-5 year lurch between red and blue parties in Government in the UK seriously holds back long-term investment and planning of the evolution of core infrastructure. Every few years a new task force or re-branding of a Gov dept, going around in circles. Sigh.

  31. kmac499

    Extra Ordinary Punters left behind as well

    AFAIK those of with our own personal nuclear powered electricity generators, i,e, solar panels; will be left behind as well, The current range of smart meters can't handle the export of power generation.

    Which is double dumb as they would allow the grid generators to get a measure of how much solar power is being produced so helping to manage the grid. Also solar PV owners tend to be energy savvy anyway and would be the most likely users to be early adopters of gadgets like smart fridges.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Extra Ordinary Punters left behind as well

      Nearly all of the Smart Meters can read in both directions, but it's better for the electric company if they don't. With mechanical meters, the electric company didn't have a choice.

      A concern they have is the cheap Chinese grid-tie inverters one can get on eBay and other etailers. The electric company wants to make dead certain that if the lines are off in an area that punters with solar panels aren't keeping voltage on the wires via under-engineered and untested One Hung Lo kit. Part of the permit/planning process is the installation of approved devices that will be checked before one is allowed to switch on and start feeding power back.

  32. Jimbo1954

    How long....

    ...before the blackhats find a way of intercepting the data, and using it to find when houses are regularly, predictably empty, and so good targets for burglary?

    Can I "Just say no" and retain my existing meter?

    And I'm assuming they use mobile phone technology? So what if I was to create a Faraday Cage around my meter and prevent it delivering data?

    I got one thing to say to Big Brother....Fek Off!

    1. Gerry 3

      Just say NOOOOOO....

      Yes, you have the right to refuse to have a smart meter, although your existing meter may have to be replaced if it's spinning round or more than about 10 years old.

      But expect a barrage of letters trying to make an appointment !

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Just say NOOOOOO....

        You also have the right to live in the dark (in some areas, this is not allowed). It would suck to have the electric company come by and remove your unsupported mechanical meter and fit a blank security plate in its place.

  33. PassiveSmoking

    Don't knock 7p

    That's like... 1.4 carrier bags! With those kinds of savings I can start buying carrier bags again, woo!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Increased productivity, lower costs, are not passed on to you.

    People who think an increase in productivity, efficiency or lower costs are passed on to the users or consumers have not been paying attention.

    Sure some benefits trickle down but look at the massive increases in productivity over the last couple generations and now look at the standard of living increases. If you think those trends are going in the same direction you'll believe the economists when they tell you concentrating the wealth of nations into the hands of the few is a good thing.

    Smart meters enable the energy companies to get more money from their customers. They are a an industry, a business. Business cares only about profit, it's a fiduciary requirement. That's why they flood you with propaganda and buy politicians.

    At the very least think. No one is looking out for you in our democratic systems, the past increases in productivity resulting in the concentration of wealth should have made that clear to everyone by now.

  35. OurAl

    The purpose of smart meters is to manage future power cuts on a much more accurate basis.

    No more large area cut-offs and brown-outs, important and special users can continue uninterupted, whilst to proles shoulder the cuts.

    It were ever thus.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019