back to article UK.gov was warned of smart meter debacle by Cabinet Office in 2012

The government was warned of the risks surrounding its controversial smart meter programme four years ago, according to a leaked internal report seen by The Register, but appears to have largely ignored those concerns. A review of the programme from March 2012 highlights the vulnerability of smart meters to cyber-attacks, and …

  1. A K Stiles

    Consumer benefits?

    I still haven't seen the compelling argument for how smart meters will benefit the consumer.

    "You'll be able to see your meter readings online" - if I'm bothered about seeing my meter readings it isn't exactly a chore to open the cabinet and read the numbers.

    "You can monitor your electricity use more easily" - well, as we don't tend to leave the oven and a bunch of fan heaters running 24/7 just in case we need them, seeing pretty graphs of energy consumption isn't going to suddenly enable me to use less.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Consumer benefits?

      I have a portable power monitor that plugs into an individual mains socket. That allows me to gauge directly the efficiency of any new device. After that it is up to me how much I run the device.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Consumer benefits?

        Sounds sensible. And by the way, isn't that the all-knowing, all-regulating market in action? Why would government want to spend so many billions of pounds overriding the action of the market?

        Incidentally, even the projected cost - let alone the actual cost - of smart meters would be enough to give the NHS all the money it is crying out for, and more. Wouldn't it make sense to spend the money on necessities, rather than fanciful schemes to enrich manufacturers and suppliers at the cost of taxpayer/consumers?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Consumer benefits?

      I have one of those little wireless devices that npower supply, and that provides all the information I need. It just doesn't supply it to anybody else.

    3. Richard Jones 1
      Flame

      Re: Consumer benefits?

      Still we could all stumble round in the dark with no heating eating raw food until frost bite, food poisoning or falling down the stairs put us in a hospital that was lacking enough patients. Oh dear we don't have any of those.

      We just deal in over priced half baked ideas that are no damned good.

      Just how was this supposed to do anyone who pays the bills any good?

      1. Ole Juul

        Re: Consumer benefits?

        "Just how was this supposed to do anyone who pays the bills any good?"

        Apparently that's proprietary information.

        1. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Consumer benefits?

          Yes, proprietary to those who will reap the profits. And to be kept strictly secret from those who will pay.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Consumer benefits?

      I still haven't seen the compelling argument for how smart meters will benefit the consumer.

      The "benefit" is that you can have "time of use tariffs" that vary according to when you use electricity, and that you can have "smart" appliances that turn off and on at the whim of system operators or in response to varying prices. As far as government are concerned this is "enabling consumers to participate in flexibility markets". BEIS (formerly DECC) have paid people to carry out unbelievably cretinous "research" that purports to show that three quarters of people would be willing to have time of use tariffs (if paid unrealistic discounts that then put up everybody else's bill). Isn't it funny that couple of year's back the energy regulator told energy companies that the tariffs were too confusing, and restricted them to no more than four, each of only a standing charge and a fixed rate - but now they can't wait to foist tariffs that vary according to time of use AND LOCATION on us? And that's no the high level DNO charging, but charging more at times and places of network congestion, so potentially those in urban locations will have to pay more simply because the regulator and the DNO haven't put in sufficient capacity whilst they've happily allowed new connections to be made.

      Smart meters are about moving from a world where the energy system was built to meet consumer needs, to one where consumers meet the energy system's convenience. As usual, all the prices rises, complexity and dissatisfaction will be blamed on energy suppliers.

      Anybody who wants to see how grim the future is should search "BEIS flexibility call for evidence"

      1. Harman Mogul

        Re: Consumer benefits?

        A propos of which, I see that 'techUK' yesterday posted a vacancy for Programme Head – European Exit whose remit is to play a "Central role in techUK’s policy team responding to Brexit and creating a coherent policy response to ensure that UK tech continues to thrive both through the Brexit process and once the UK has left the EU."

        Good luck with that!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Consumer benefits?

      Consumer Benefits ? er none that I can think of.

      So who benefits ? I can think of at least the following ...

      Highly paid consultants, with their power point works of fiction, working for the government get a nice pay packet.

      (not so) Smart meter manufacturers flog a lot of their insecure wares.

      Electricity companies can lay off meter readers.

      Finally, when we have controlled black outs due to the impending lack of electrical generation capacity the 'leccy companies will be able to remotely switch off the supply of users who aren't deemed "important".

      So a few different parties benefit, but me and the vast majority of end users aren't among them.

      So currently I've completely ignored the snail mail saying "We need to install a stupid meter" , and I hope to keep my good old piece of 1970s manufactured metering tech for as long as possible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Consumer benefits?

        So who benefits ? I can think of at least the following ...Electricity companies can lay off meter readers.

        Smart meters have much shorter asset lives than the traditional induction meters, for the most part energy suppliers don't have the capital to play with so we have to lease the blasted things from rapacious investment banks, and we have had to make loads of system changes to get them to work (and that's before the joys of half hourly settlement and time of use tariffs).

        By all means, choose to hate energy suppliers, but don't blame us for smart meters, and don't conclude that we're making money on the deal. Smartmeters are all part of the climate change agenda, brought to you by successive governments and the climate change "research" industry (which incidentally isn't powerpoint wielding consultants, but selectively funded scientists).

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Consumer benefits?

          "By all means, choose to hate energy suppliers, but don't blame us for smart meters"

          But I do blame them for the underhand methods being used to force deployment of smart meters. eg my supplier phoned to say they'd made an appointment to install one and would I please confirm the date was acceptable. Luckily I was home and told them that no date would ever be acceptable. My wife would likely have thought I'd arranged it and just said yes to them.

    6. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Consumer benefits?

      One problem that might be dealt with by simpler methods may be the tendency of those whose power is paid for by government to use it wastefully. I first read about this in "PC David Copperfield"'s entertaining and educational book "Wasting Police Time" (2010). As a police constable, he often visited suspects or witnesses living in flats or houses owned by local government, which apparently paid for the utilities. PC Copperfield said he could always spot these immediately on entering (if not before) because they would have immense TV sets continually turned up high, and the heat at maximum all day long.

      Call PC Copperfield and me any names you choose, but if any large number of people are in control of electricity supplies that they do not personally pay for, that is obviously low-hanging fruit in the effort to reduce wasteful usage.

      Most people are only too painfully aware of how much they pay for gas and (especially) electricity, and do their best to minimize those costs. Although well-paid civil servants and politicians working in comfortable offices, heated and air-conditioned according to the season at the taxpayers' expense, might find it hard to understand.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course we need it.

    Chairman May needs all the info she can get.

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Of course we need it.

      Does she know yet what the voters and taxpayers of the UK think of her? I hope so.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Of course we need it.

        "Does she know yet what the voters and taxpayers of the UK think of her? I hope so."

        Why would she or her mates even care, so long as money continues to flow from poorer (us) to richer (them). I'd say the same about power as well as money, but the ordinary folk in the UK don't seem to have any power (of the political kind) any more.

  3. Halfmad

    I still don't have one

    I'd have to take at least half a day off work to get one fitted as it's in our front hall. I don't see the benefit and my leccy supplier has twice lied to me about it being "compulsory by the end of the year" which just got my back up.

    Until I hear of evidenced benefits to customers I'm not interested. Like many I was given a power meter that connects to my existing supply so I could monitor use anyway, as far as I can see all the new one does is allow local meter readers to be laid off and I doubt that saving will be passed on.

    I can see my meter readings online, I don't need to see them updated 24/7 though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I still don't have one

      I'd have to take at least half a day off work to get one fitted as it's in our front hall

      Sound idea. I work for an energy supplier, and I'm not having a smart meter fitted. Colleague of mine pulled strings because he did want one, jumped the small queue....two vans turn up, spent a couple of hours removing old and fitting new meters. sadly, they didn't work for some reason the fitters couldn't explain...so another hour of farting around, calls back to EnergyCo, and a further two hours messing around removing then refitting the old ones.

      Smart meters are a complete waste of time and money. As an energy supplier we don't want them (complicated, expensive, pointless) but we have to play along to the tune of the government bureaucrats, who'll fine us an arm and a leg if we don;'t fit their stupid toys.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: I still don't have one

        "Colleague of mine pulled strings because he did want one..."

        But WHY?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I still don't have one

          But WHY?

          Not very technical, Apple victim. Sound bloke, I get on with him, but utterly taken in by anything sold as shiney.

  4. Uberseehandel
    Stop

    Just Say NO

    I'm getting badgered to install a new meter. I live in a modern purpose build apartment complex with centralised heating and hot water. There is no gas. My electricity bills are between £20 and £30 per month. The amount mostly depends on whether I use the hob to prepare a stock of dishes to freeze down, or not. Modern solid state computers, network equipment and television are pretty economical to run, my "designer" lamps have LEDs, appliances were all selected with a view to being economical to run.

    What is a smart meter going to to do, tell me not to pre-cook my dinners? Go out and watch a friend's television?

    Despite telling the garlic-munching electricity company that there are no worthwhile savings to be made, they still want to install a new meter. They must be making money out of this.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: Just Say NO

      > Despite telling the garlic-munching electricity company that there are no worthwhile savings to be made, they still want to install a new meter. They must be making money out of this.

      Their persistence is because they have a roll out target to meet, at the risk of fines from the regulator. So they will keep pestering.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Just Say NO

        Or alternatively, your meter is reaching it's end-of-life (they are only certified to be accurate for a fixed period of time) and needs to be replaced anyway.

        If this is the case, and it were me, I'd want to make sure a direct equivalent of the existing meter is installed, not a smart-meter.

        1. Uberseehandel

          Re: Just Say NO

          traditional meters mostly have an expected lifespan of 30 years. For smart meters it is 5 - 7 years. My apartment complex has quite a time to go before it is 30 years old.

          Power billing businesses will charge the consumers for the marked up cost of smart meters and their removal and installation costs at inflated rates. So they replace meters 5 times over 30 years . . . one can see why they like them.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    4 years ago? More like 2009.

    I have looked at is as an engineer in one of my previous lives.

    Plain and simple: SM requires data. There are no ifs, no buts, no coconuts. There is only one way for the SM deployment to succeed if data is provided by a telecommunications provider (for a given set of values of succeed):

    1. Universal Service Obligation on data delivery. No ifs, no buts, no coconuts.

    2. Making the end-user NTE a service point for M2M services regardless of what the end-user buys in terms of service from the USO provider contracted to provide M2M connectivity. It does not cost on in on SM alone - you have to deliver other M2M services such as alarms, etc for it to cost in.

    Like it or not - this smells like a country-wide regulated monopoly, talks like a country-wide regulated monopoly, walks like a country-wide regulated monopoly. It is a requirement for a country-wide regulated monopoly. Is this the grid with its own data channel via the power line, or it is a Telco it does not matter. That is what the technical requirements boil down to.

    Instead of that we ended up with the (very typical for the UK) idiocy of marketing droids and product managers who have no technical background and despite techies with a vengeance specifying the design as a combination of a mix of "best of breed telecommunications technologies" delivered by a "contractor". I talked to one such lady 7 years ago when looking for a job. They were one of the (many) fighting for that contractor spot without any technical resources to implement it so they were going to deliver a "best of breed" mix. At the end I lost it and told her that "you cannot breed a St Bernard with a Chihuahua. It does not work". As you may have guessed - I did not get the job (probably for the better - the further one is away from this shitstorm, the better for his career).

  6. Dabooka Silver badge
    Stop

    Pull the plug then

    Seriously, just can the project.

    The only benefit is that meter readings happen remotely, this guff about saving us money is, as we all know, utter bollocks. At least saying 'in hindsight it won't work so we're calling it a day' will give them a little credibility for once by showing they can acknowledge mistakes and deal with it.

    Instead I guess another £15b needs to wasted to save face and fill someone's back pocket

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Pull the plug then

      Killing the project is the kindest thing to do.

      The big reason for having them as so far as I can see is "grid management", which in plain English means that your electricity supply can be cut off remotely.

      Government is for this because it means that they can prevent blackouts by "managing demand", ie arbitrarily blacking out power to some people, so others on the grid don't have a blackout. This will of course be important in a few years when the green lobbies scorched earth policy on electricity generation starts biting as old power plants close without replacements that actually deliver electricity when needed.

      I'd only be in favour of this if the only people to have their power blacked out were the people who opposed building enough power generation capacity to keep the lights on for everybody, but even I have to admit that this would be a bit petty.

      The power companies are for this, because they can then force people to pay their bills immediately by cutting people off via software when they feel like it, rather than needing pesky court orders and that due process thing. Cutting off an old pensioners electricity in winter who has been using a fan heater to keep warm is bad PR should they then freeze to death as a result, whereas shrugging and saying that they didn't pay their bill and were automatically cut off is supposedly going to be somehow acceptable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pull the plug then

        "in plain English [...] your electricity supply can be cut off remotely."

        Kerching!

        The single most expensive component in the official smartmeter spec is probably the Off switch.

        Why does an electricity meter (a usage monitor) need the expense of an off switch, in fact a remotely controllable individually addressable off switch? It needs a remotely controlled off switch like a fish needs a bicycle.

        There is another purpose for the remotly controlled off switch, but the disastrously low penetration of smartmeters mean they won't even do that job effectively.

        Stock up on LED torches, if you haven't already done so. Just in case.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Pull the plug then

          LED torches are for amateurs. Stick a UPS on your lighting circuit, you'll be able to tell where IT Professionals live when the blackouts start because their lights will still be on. :)

          1. Timmy B Silver badge

            Re: Pull the plug then

            UPS are for amateurs. I know at least a dozen ways of making natural lamps and light sources. From tallow lamps to bark torches. You can tell where the true experts are because they will just make lights when they need them ;)

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: Pull the plug then

              "tallow lamps to bark torches"

              Hah, amateur! You can tell where the real clever people live because they grow their own carrots! We don' need no steenkin' lights at all!!!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pull the plug then

        The big reason for having them as so far as I can see is "grid management",

        That and Josephina Vissarionovich surveillance and population control obsession. Your power consumption is at least as revealing as your Internet habits. It is also invaluable during those last 30 minutes before the black shirts knock on your door to take you to Lark Hill (especially if they shut off remotely your power supply the moment they break down your door).

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pull the plug then

        The power companies are for this, because they can then force people to pay their bills immediately by cutting people off via software when they feel like it,

        Not at all. If you were on pre-pay meter (smart or normal) it works in the same way. If you're on a credit meter we'd have to jump through the same regulatory hoops to disconnect a customer. There is a semi-valid argument that we can at the press of a button turn a smart meter into a smart pre-pay meter, and that's technically true. But if that becomes bigger numbers than the rate of installation of mandatory pre-payment dumb meters, the press will be on it, the regulatory will backtrack on that, and we'll be back to square one.

        Please be assured, energy suppliers do see some small convenience in smart meters (principally far more accurate meter readings), but given a free hand we wouldn't be farting around with the whole misbegotten SMETS2 smart meter programme. The cost savings over manual meter readings are more than offset by the shorter meter asset life.. The whole thing has been yet another crap government plan.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Pull the plug then

          The whole thing has been yet another crap government plan.

          Another crap EU crap, actually.

          We are supposed to have rolled out smart meters to 80% of the country by 2020 under the "Third Energy Package", EU Directive 2009/72/EC & Directive 2009/73/EC.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Pull the plug then

            "Another crap EU crap, actually."

            Except that gov.uk obviously wants this to happen. Now that Brexit is going to happen, it would be easy to call a halt to the whole program "while we re-visit, re-test and re-build the network security, because hackers/terrorists" and then suddenly find we are no longer in the EU and don't need the smart meter commitment any more. Or any other apparently valid excuse to delay projects such as this.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Pull the plug then

              it would be easy to call a halt to the whole program "while we re-visit, re-test and re-build the network security,

              Despite catcalls to the contrary, the SMETS2 meters aren't too bad on security, following GCHQ giving the industry a wedgie on this matter. Unfortunately, all the things that smart meters are intended to enable are "Internet of Tat" release-to-manufacturing grade. Which is to say, totally, hopelessly and utterly insecure.

              The consequence of this is that the black hats don't need to hack the meters, or even a power station's SCADA to bring down the system, they just need to hack into some small beer aggregator's cheapo DSR platform for a single point of attack, or even easier, do an IoT hack on a big fleet of washing machines or the like.

              Nevertheless, this apparently is how our politicians will save us from climate change. Sadly it gets worse. In the nature of my job, I am involved in all this stuff. And at an industry workshop the other day it became clear that to meet the stupid, stupid, stupid "carbon budget" that our governments keep signing up for, we''ll have to plant half of East Anglia with fuel crops, and then we'll STILL have to use CCS on the combustion plant exhaust. The cost per kWh exceed the obscene values awarded for Hinkley Point.

              Personally, I think we need a civil war. Civil servants, arty farty fuckwits, and myopic scientists who believe religiously in the whole climate change deal, versus the rest of humanity. I know which side I'll be on.

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Pull the plug then

      "The only benefit is that meter readings happen remotely"

      My readings already happen remotely - they send me an email asking for a reading, I read the metre and send them the answer. If power companies still needed to employ an army of people to constantly wander the country reading metres, maybe connected metres could be seen as a benefit. But currently it takes me maybe 5 minutes per year, and the company precisely zero time or effort, to read the metre, so there's really no benefit to changing things at all.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pull the plug then

        "[...] they send me an email asking for a reading [...]"

        Eon do that with me too. About once a year they tell me I don't need to do it - and to expect the meter reader on that occasion. On the other hand British Gas do not send any invitations to give them a reading. Then they get shirty because you haven't sent them any. They are apparently only obliged to read your meter once every two years. They claim that they mentioned this change somewhere in a bill or something.

  7. Disgruntled of TW
    WTF?

    BGB fail, fail and fail again ...

    British Gas supply my business electricity to me. Three years ago they had the best rate, so I let them install a SMART meter. Year after EDF underpriced them, so I moved. Last year back to BGB ... BUT, they are "unable to read the SMART meter" due to the status "G4S pending SIM card activation".

    So the supplier that installed the original meter is now unable to read it. I wonder who is reading it?

    What a mess - the £390/meter number is no surprise given this level of competence.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BGB fail, fail and fail again ...

      My house came fitted with a smart meter 3.5 years ago (new build), it also uses cell network (2G/3G?) for the uploads.

      The remote reading stopped working about 6 months after it went in, and as far as I know they have never sent anyone out to check why.

      All they did (e-on at the time, now with Octopus energy), was to send me an automated email every 3 months, to ask me to do the reading for them instead, as that's presumably cheaper than sending someone round to give the meter a prod/thump to find out what's wrong with it!

  8. andy 103

    There's nothing good in this for consumers

    So, a few months ago I got a letter about why I should have a smart meter installed.

    There was absolutely nothing worthwhile about having one. Things like being able to monitor my energy online, save money etc. That's really nobodys business other than my own. I use the amount of energy I want, and pay for it, on time and in full. Nobody else needs to be concerned about that.

    The only reason for installing them is so energy companies can:

    1. Do away with meter reading staff.

    2. Bill people immediately - no waiting for you to submit your meter reading etc. They have the data.

    So far things were looking pretty shite. I don't need or want a meter, but they're going to be compulsory eventually, right? So I arranged for the installation.

    The installation team couldn't fit it due to some problem "wi't fuse neutral" (or some other electrical mumbo jumbo that means f-all to end users).

    They had to send a team out to do an investigation, before they could do some work, before they could do some other work to fit the sodding thing.

    In the end I told them where to stick it. They aren't (at the time of writing) compulsory and these energy companies can stick them up their smart arses.

  9. Lee D Silver badge

    Smart energy meters that can only tell me what I'm using? I have no interest as I could pay £100, have no inconvenience, not have to modify my internal wiring, and get the same effect - except that only I would have access to the data.

    Smart energy meters that can cut me off at the will / mistake of a third party? The day you make me use one of those, I ask you to remove all your meters, cables and equipment instead and I put a solar installation on the roof and feed down into MY consumer unit. You'll never see another penny from me again, even if it's at great expense to myself.

    There's a reason that we're stuck in the limbo between those two - no way will energy companies force the "cut back service" when they are profiting from providing you with electricity. And no way will they do anything more useful than put in a smart meter to save their guys having to come out to read your meter.

    At the moment, even the meter-reading is so infrequent, it's barely worth the price of a single always-on data connection to your meter, for any individual customer. Seriously, what does it cost a minimum-wage employee to knock on your door of an evening and take 2 minutes to read your meter, when you divide his hourly wage by even 10 minutes per household?

    The problem is the grand energy saving plans inspire NOBODY who wasn't already doing so (and why should electricity companies help save you electricity? That's like Google being asked to help you cut down on performing Internet searches), the next stage (cut-off / brown-out / separate circuits) is practically impossible to implement and counter to the whole purpose of supplying electricity, and there's nothing in between that anyone actually wants.

    Gimme a £100 voucher towards a clamp meter with smartphone app and we can skip stage 1 entirely. Try to implement stage 2 and watch my custom disappear from you forever, while ALSO massively increasing the green credentials of what I do.

    Sorry, but whether it's a lightbulb, heater, washing machine or computer, you're aren't going to turn my stuff off if I'm paying for it, proportional to its energy usage. Which leaves you stuffed in territory where you're just wasting money doing things I could have done for myself cheaper.

  10. HkraM
    WTF?

    No thanks

    My current electricity supplier don't bother to ever read my meter, so I have to do it for them. This is despite the meter being on the same external wall and 6 feet from the gas meter, which they do read.

    And even then I do not want a smart meter, even if it did mean they can read the damn thing remotely.

    1. Not That Andrew

      Re: No thanks

      My electricity meter is right next to the gas, which gets read at least 3 times a year, usually more. I'm lucky if the electricity gets read yearly. Same company, of course.

  11. Len Goddard

    Nope

    All suggestions, special offer of free fitting, talk-ups about advatages etc go straight in the bin (virtual or real, depending on delivery medium).

    I figure if I wait long enough and the project goes ahead they will mop up for free to catch the stragglers - hey, I got a free digital phone that way when they turned off the analog net - and if it doesn't go ahead then everyone will have saved time effort and money. More likely I will be a blip on the smart meter at the crematorium before they get around to me.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Nope

      Remember the ID cards that were going to be compulsory, but after a year or two they flopped and even the issued cards were "no longer valid for ID" and everyone who paid for one had basically wasted their money?

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Nope

        "...everyone who paid for one had basically wasted their money?"

        They trusted the government, poor misguided souls. One can only hope they have learned from their experience.

  12. Michael B.

    Biggest mistake I ever made

    I got one installed as I thought that it might show whether or not I was generating or consuming electricity as we have solar panels on the roof. Nope, it still showed generation as the same as consumption so if the meter shows 500W I don't know if that is used or generated. Oh and when we switched suppliers it reverted back to being a normal dumb meter.

    Don't do it even if the shiny shiny tech draws you in.

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Biggest mistake I ever made

      "Don't do it even if the shiny shiny tech draws you in".

      As many (or even most) Reg readers seem to have technical experience, I would certainly hope THAT isn't a motive. I think it may be about ten years ago that I noticed the leading edge of the massive hype about "wireless" everything. I was even fool enough to buy a small HP multipurpose printer that connects only by wireless or USB - no Ethernet. Oh dear, I won't make that mistake again. As I want access to the printer from all my computers, I have to use the wireless, so I have parked a Devolo power line network wireless adapter about nine inches away from the printer. That's the only way I've been able to make it work - any walls, or even doorways, and it's useless. So now I use power line networking, which is reliable.

      Since nine years ago, whenever I see anything advertised as "wireless", I mumble a string of curses under my breath and walk rapidly by. It's insecure, overpriced, and doesn't work very well.

  13. 0laf Silver badge

    Regular updates on consumption

    I've found this neat little trick that tells me when I'm using too much energy. I read this little bit of paper or an email that arrives every month or three with a number on it. A 'Bill' I think it's called.

    If the number starts to make me cry then I'm using too much.

    More seriously with all my appliances fairly well rated, all, my house insulated as much as I economically can, my incandescent bulbs changed to energy saving ones and switching stuff off when I'm not using it WTF else is a smart meter going to tell me to do.?

    Or rather is the power company getting me to pay for a way to let them get rid of meter readers and having a way to disconnect me remotely?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if the reason our provider hasn't tried to put a smart meter here is because my house has 3 phase as it's main supply.

    it's a large building (previously 2 houses) and used to have storage heaters as it's main heating, the original single phase supply wasn't enough to run the heaters so the supply was upgraded to three phase

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      You might be on to something

      I'm the same (except still have storage heaters and Economy 7) and haven't been asked about smart meters at all.

      I moving next month, assuming the solicitors pull their fingers out but that's a different story, I wonder if I'll be asked when I arrange my new supplier?

    2. DwarfPants
      Joke

      3 Phase Supply!

      That just means you can have 3 smart meters instead of the just the one.

  15. Jonathan Richards 1
    Mushroom

    Points from a briefing

    I'm fresh from a briefing about Smart Meters, and I brought away two important points:

    (i) whatever they tell you, smart meters are not compulsory. You may decline to schedule a change of meter, or indeed change your mind about declining it, as you wish.

    (ii) the "first generation" of meters, or the backend connectivity (it wasn't clear) won't talk to suppliers other than the one that installed it for you. I wish I'd known this prior to having EON install a SM, and then switching to British Gas for a cheaper tariff a couple of months later. Now the in-house display doesn't work as it did, and I'm back to reading the meter for BG. Waiting until the system works across all suppliers seems to be a good idea, but of course the suppliers won't tell you that: they have SM installation targets to meet.

    (iii) THREE! Three important points!! The installers are forbidden by a strict Code of Practice from selling anything else during the installation visit. They can give you marketing information, but they can't transact a sale. They will, however, inspect your gas boiler, and if it's unsafe they can condemn it, and turn it off. However, you wouldn't want to go on using an unsafe boiler, would you? [icon]

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Points from a briefing

      the "first generation" of meters, or the backend connectivity (it wasn't clear) won't talk to suppliers other than the one that installed it for you

      It's both meters and back end. The meters going in at the moment are SMETS 1 standard, and they talk directly to your provider (and won't talk to others if you switch). You do not want a SMETS 1 meter.

      SMETS 2 is a much improved standard, you can see GCHQ's input - for a start elliptic curve cryptography is mandatory. SMETS 2 meters don't talk to your provider, they talk to the DCC (data communications company) and your provider gets your readings from them. Equally, if your provider changes time of use pricing (think Economy 7, but with up to 8 bands a day), that has to be routed via the DCC.

      The problem with this is that Crapita has been awarded the contract to be DCC, hence the lateness, crapness, and security worries.

      The big thing about smart meters is not the remote switch off (unless you're paranoid) but the enabling infrastructure for time of use pricing. Once SM penetration gets high enough, expect providers to have two kinds of tariff - fixed price all day, or time of use pricing where peak times have massive cost and off peak rates are much cheaper. The former will be overall more expensive to "nudge" you towards accepting a smart meter and switch to ToU. At this point home battery storage will take off, with people charging batteries during off peak and running off them at peak, thus spreading the load, and reducing the grid requirements for peaking plant. We're also seeing a move towards grid level battery storage.

      We'll also see smart appliances that talk to the meter and adjust their loads depending on grid conditions and ToU pricing.

      If you want to take a look at the SMETS 2 standard, look at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/smart-metering-equipment-technical-specifications-second-version.

      1. inmypjs Silver badge

        Re: Points from a briefing

        "home battery storage will take off"

        No it won't because batteries are too expensive. If time shifting electricity to spread load with batteries were economical the generating companies would already be doing it and at a scale which would be much more economical than small home installations.

        If it 'took off' despite being uneconomical it would erode the peak/off peak difference and become even less economical.

        Smart appliances are potentially sensible and the only way smart metering can produce any significant benefit. I just hope that part of the system has been properly thought out and implemented, however, it is it a mess I wouldn't be at all surprised.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Smart appliances

          "Smart appliances are potentially sensible and the only way smart metering can produce any significant benefit."

          Maybe.

          If we're moving (voluntarily or otherwise) towards time of use pricing, the price will presumably reflect the relationship between supply and demand on the grid. Every mains-powered appliance already has access to that, via the mains frequency: <50Hz, demand tending to exceed supply, spot price will be high, don't run the appliance. >50Hz, supply tending to exceed demand, spot price will be low, run the appliance.

          $2ish (max) worth of extra electronics in the appliance, no need for smartmeter, no need for infrastructure changes.

          See e.g. the long-abandoned website

          http://www.dynamicdemand.co.uk/

        2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Points from a briefing

          No it won't because batteries are too expensive. If time shifting electricity to spread load with batteries were economical the generating companies would already be doing it and at a scale which would be much more economical than small home installations.

          Batteries were too expensive, but the price is falling in much the same way as PV prices fell, due to a combination of improved performance and increased production. In the UK today the low feed in tariffs for PV means that it's usually only worthwhile if you install battery storage as well, but people are still installing systems, or upgrading existing ones with batteries. In much of Australia battery storage is taking off because it saves costs massively.

          As for generating company level storage, the problem there is the scale needed which requires large batteries, but there are systems being rolled out now, in the 1-100 MWh range. Some of the latest GE wind turbines have optional battery storage to allow time shifting, and I know one commercial PV farm that's adding battery storage, and another that's doing the sums about it. Batteries are commercially viable - not for everyone, but definitely for some.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Points from a briefing

            Batteries are commercially viable - not for everyone, but definitely for some.

            This is true, but the real change comes with electric vehicles. In very broad brush terms the following are true:

            Buying an electric vehicle doubles the average house's electricity demand

            If more than about 30% of people have EVs the distribution network can't cope

            If more than about 5% of people have EVs the generation system can't support concurrent charging anywhere near peak demand

            With an EV you're going to have a 40-80 kWh battery on the drive

            ....so household batteries in the 1-10kWh range are a bit pointless

            And what this means is that the EV charging needs to be centrally and cleverly managed. The crappy auxiliary load switch on a SMETS2 smart meter won't cope. And if EV demand is managed automatically, then with more than about 2.5% of the car fleet as EVs, the price of "flexibility" falls dramatically, and the whole point of smart meters, smart appliances, and time of use tariffs disappear. BEIS are going to add vast cost and complexity to the energy system for the simple reason that they aren't clever enough to see the big picture (which is also why they threw vast subsidies at rubbish technologies for the UK like biomass and PV).

            1. Archtech Silver badge

              Re: Points from a briefing

              Perhaps the government should defer the introduction of smart meters, and concentrate for the time being on finding a few smart civil servants. (Politicians aren't worth the effort, to be honest - most of them lack the raw material).

          2. inmypjs Silver badge

            Re: Points from a briefing

            "Batteries were too expensive, but the price is falling in much the same way as PV prices fell"

            Pack prices are still looking like $200 per kWh and at say 15c/kWh that means the batteries need to do 1300 full cycles to break even if the charging electricity was completely free.

            Pack capacity over 1300 cycles and probably 5 years will likely average about 80% of new so add 20% cost to cover that and at least 10% to cover charge/discharge losses then add depreciation on the charge/discharge electronics and installation. How much do you value the space they occupy and fire hazard they present?

            Then try to make it work with not free electricity but the differential between off peak and say not off peak electricity, a differential that will diminish the more people try to exploit it.

            Doesn't look close to economical although idiot eco green tosspot politicians (the sort that are responsible for this smart meter fiasco) could easily artificially hike the price of mains electricity to make it so.

        3. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Points from a briefing

          "I just hope that part of the system has been properly thought out and implemented..."

          Is that really what you hope? Well, I guess Alexander Pope was right: "Hope springs eternal in the human breast".

        4. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: Points from a briefing

          Smart appliances are potentially sensible ...

          Err, only in a world where everyone lives in a nice detached property.

          How much noise and vibration does a washing machine on spin (or just the wash) cycle make ? How about a tumble drier with it's thrum, thrum, thrum ... ?

          Now imagine, it's 2am, you are trying to sleep as you have to get up at 7 for work ... and the b'stard next door/on top of you (flats) has his smart appliances doing the washing. No, these are not a flippin good idea - they'll be a colossal public nuisance.

          And that's before we get to the fire risk from running a tumble drier while you sleep - and Fire Service recommendations to not do it !

          So the plan seems to be :

          Ration electricity use by price - so the poor will cut back when they can't afford to use it.

          If that fails - use the remote turnoff for finer grained blackouts than we had in the 70s.

          And promote antisocial behaviour that will cause massive overload of council Environmental Health departments as people complain about the nuisance.

          And, cause deaths - from use of appliances which catch fire while people are sleeping, or from neighbours taking matters into their own hands when the local EH officer doesn't have enough time to intervene.

      2. David Pollard

        Re: Points from a briefing

        a move towards grid level battery storage

        When I did the sums a year or two ago this was far from being cost effective. I wonder now how the EROEI of batteries compares with building nuclear power stations so that we aren't short of energy.

        1. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Points from a briefing

          Actually you can look at a nuclear power station as a type of battery. Charged for our convenience by Nature, with enough energy to last for years.

          https://www.technologyreview.com/s/540991/meltdown-proof-nuclear-reactors-get-a-safety-check-in-europe/

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: Points from a briefing

            Not just nuclear. All bio and fossil fuels are carbon stores (a carbon battery?) that can be re-charged over years and megania (is this a word? A thousand millennia? It should be!) respectively from an outside power source (the sun).

            Unfortunately, all you're really doing is moving energy around (you never 'generate' energy - merely convert it from one form to another, including matter - E=mc2), and will continue doing this until the heat-death of the universe!

          2. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: Points from a briefing

            And https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602051/fail-safe-nuclear-power/

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Points from a briefing

      Unsafe boiler.

      The problem is that if your boiler is older than about 5 years, it is extremely unlikely to meet the current installation regulations. All it takes is for an over zealous gas-safe certified meter fitter to decide that even units fitted before this time should comply, and the majority of the country's gas central heating systems could be condemned.

      I recently has this happen to a member of my extended family who was persuaded to have a boiler check by another family member, only to have a "This appliance is unsafe" sticker attached, and the gas supply turned off (fortunately at the gas tap in the house) because there was a bed being stored (not used) in the room with a well maintained back boiler in it, and a fresh-air vent that was over-sized but could be shut (a real no-no in the installation regulations). They also insisted in some decorative trim being removed from around the sides of the fireplace, and some insulation stuffed up the chimney (supposedly to prevent exhaust gasses coming back down the chimney, although what was used - standard insulation rock-wool - looked pretty gas porous to me), even though a proper chimney liner and baffle were in place (they just could not see it).

      To be satisfied, the checker brow beat this family member to have another chargeable visit once the bed and close-able vent cover were removed.

      And the irony of this was that the regulations quoted came into effect after the boiler was installed, and that for non-rented private houses, there is no need (or indeed a formal process) to get a safety certificate for an existing installation in the first place!

      Still, I'm pretty worried anytime I have to let a gas-safe engineer into my house, because they could decide to condemn my elderly boiler almost on a whim!

    3. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Points from a briefing

      "...whatever they tell you, smart meters are not compulsory".

      THANK YOU, thank you, thank you - and God bless you, my son! That is indeed good to know. I shall cherish the knowledge.

    4. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Points from a briefing

      '...the "first generation" of meters, or the backend connectivity (it wasn't clear) won't talk to suppliers other than the one that installed it for you'.

      Ah, and those "smart meters" are being pushed by the same government that is forever reminding us of our duty to change suppliers as often as possible? (Because THE MARKET and MRS THATCHER).

  16. Nick Kew Silver badge
    Alert

    Principle vs Practice

    Our smart meters do have the appearance of a badly botched scheme about them. I'd want to escalate some questions above the level of the salesman before I'd accept one. The vulnerabilities (real or otherwise - I expect there's an element of both), the incompatibilities (strewth!), the bottom-line price comparison to France and Italy (insofar as that's like-for-like), and of course the failure to persuade the public.

    On the other hand, I'm perfectly comfortable with the underlying principle of demand management. We've had a lower-tech version called Economy 7 for decades, and even though I'm not on it, I find it convenient to run the dishwasher overnight when energy is (or would be) cheapest.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Principle vs Practice

      We've had a lower-tech version called Economy 7 for decades, and even though I'm not on it, I find it convenient to run the dishwasher overnight when energy is (or would be) cheapest.

      Unless you have more than 40% of your 'leccy use in the off peak period then you are worse off on E7. About a third of E7 customers can't do that, and you see tightwad pensioners like my dad spending a fortune on timers, but as he hasn't got storage heaters he's actually worse off. And when you stay the night the whole bloody house erupts at 02:00 as every appliance thunders into life.

      Curiously, E7 looks to me as though it is only economic if you have both storage heaters and bugger all insulation, which was certainly true for most 1970s towerblocks. If the property has decent insulation chances are most people would be better off using them in on-demand mode.

    2. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Principle vs Practice

      "Our smart meters do have the appearance of a badly botched scheme about them".

      That is one interpretation. I am coming to feel that Hanlon's Razor is missing a third alternative. Instead of "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity," perhaps it should read ""Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity or the intelligent pursuit of self-interest".

      "Cui bono?" I cry. "Follow the money". After all, something that big is sure to leave an enormous trail.

  17. Chemist

    I have ny own ....

    smart meter. Basically a Pi with its camera. It uses motion, points at the dial and if anything moves ... it switches all the power off. - oh wait

  18. Floydian Slip
    FAIL

    I thought the key goal of Smart Meters was to enable your utility provider to disconnect your supply for non=payment with the simple click of a mouse or the run of a simple script.

    With the IT c**kups visited on us by central Govt. I can see no end of erroneous disconnections occurring /CynicMode

  19. IHateWearingATie
    Alert

    Benefits

    I worked on this in central gov for a while, but some time ago.

    From the public documents on benefits I remember that a chunk came from better enabling micro-generation (I think the idea was if everyone has a smart meter that supports feed in to the grid, it reduces the barriers to entry. Or something).

    Another chunk of savings came from enabling smart appliances, so you could sign up for a tarriff that followed the market spot price, and link your washing machine to the meter so its triggered to run when the price drops.

    A third chunk I think was about 'demand management' (i.e. switching you off when the load gets too high). Large businesses can sign up to tarriffs that cover this - with smart meters (and home generation and power storage) you could sign up as an individual to this kind of thing as well, potentially saving you money.

    I'll leave you to decide how likely those benefits are.

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: Benefits

      Good post. Just about your "demand management" point though. There is already an annual industry "auction" process to cover this whereby large companies (or distinct parts of large companies) can bid for reduced tarriffs on large energy supplies in return for accepting the risk that they may be cut off in the event of a national energy shortage.

      Smart meters play no part in smoothing out or making that process more efficient.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Benefits

        "There is already an annual industry "auction" process to cover this whereby large companies (or distinct parts of large companies) can bid for reduced tarriffs on large energy supplies in return for accepting the risk that they may be cut off in the event of a national energy shortage."

        That's more like the way it *used* to be, surely?

        So far as I'm aware (as a long term outside observer) any large UK customer who can easily cut their electricity consumption on a regular basis is already doing so and is already being paid to do so e.g. on a routine daily basis at times of daily peak demand.

        So where now is the fast response (seconds to minutes) *emergency* reserve (which used to be handled in part by interruptible contracts)?

        It's not been obvious for some time what the impact would be of a significant unplanned outage in generation or transmission during a time of UK daily peak demand, when there are basically no interruptible customer contracts to disconnect because they've already shut down for peak lopping purposes, and when other despatchable capacity is already maxed out.

        Yes I'm aware of capacity auctions thank you, and also aware that some big suppliers who signed up have decided it's not worth their while, presumably despite penalty clauses.

        In a year or two's time we might have a handful of GW worth of fields full of diesel generators which on paper might start almost instantaneously. We'll see.

        All good fun, right. What could possibly go wr

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Benefits

      "link your washing machine to the meter so its triggered to run when the price drops."

      And, whether it's triggered or not, gets enrolled into a botnet to DDOS your smart meter.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Benefits

        Truly magnificent! The apotheosis of government planning.

  20. adam payne Silver badge

    "In addition, the technical delivery of the national platform behind smart meters, which is the responsibility of the Capita-run Data Communications Company (DCC), has been subject to a series of delays. That platform intended to lay the basis of the smart grid."

    More delays from Capita, when is the government going to tell them to jump off a bridge and stop using them.

    The cost of installing smart meters in Italy is £75 per meter and £127 in France, in contrast to £390 per household in the UK, it said, recommending a full review of the cost of the programme compared with other countries.

    Someone is making some money off this and i'm quite sure it isn't the taxpayer.

    The report accused the programme of having an "inconsistent evidence base", finding there was no analysis of alternative options, and proposed a three-month reset of the programme.

    Surely any inconsistencies would have been checked out before the project went live. No, OK that figures.

    Why not forget the reset of the programme and pull the plug on it altogether.

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Electronics 101

      "Someone is making some money off this and i'm quite sure it isn't the taxpayer".

      It's important to distinguish sources from sinks. The taxpayer is the source of all bounty. The sinks are many and various, and often carefully concealed. But I think we know where to start looking.

  21. RyszrdG

    Doomed to failure

    The projected consumer savings are so low that they could be achieved by installing a few LED bulbs so as a consumer I would say - why bother? Meters are not compulsory and the whole misguided project can be undermined by a general boycott of this completely unnecessary technology.

  22. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    I'm not having a smart meter either, but...

    Having worked on the programme for a major utility, one of the industry benefits sold was of having a quaint national grid of connected smart meters [in this world of uncertain energy suppliers] - to be able to analyse past energy use on a large scale, and then use that information to be able predict future demand to help inform our future oil/gas/coal demand and costs on the global energy and futures markets.

    This benefit when explained, makes sense - and I kind of support it theoretically (even though it's not actually achievable practically). Funny then how it's the driver of the core benefit that one no-one from the energy companies mention, as it should directly tally to lower customer energy bills from the supply side (thereby reducing their corporate incomes), rather than by reducing the actual amount you use (for which their is no science based factual evidence to support anywhere).

    This argument, if it was properly balanced totally in my favour; and if I was feeling in a utilitarian mood might convince me to even consider the question if I thought it would by any significant margin drive down my energy bills.

    But it won't.

    And I'm not.

  23. Pat O'Ban

    Not compulsory?

    Whilst you do have the right to refuse a Smart meter, you can not refuse a replacement of an meter that is past it's end-of-life. At that point "your" meter will be replaced by a Smart meter. It may be a decade or more away in some cases, but for safety reasons there will be no choice, mainly because "dumb" meters will no longer part of the operator's inventory.

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: Not compulsory?

      Agreed. But it's also not compulsory that it not be wrapped up in tin foil.

      /* No tinfoil hat icon anymore? */

    2. IanRS

      Re: Not compulsory?

      Which is why I am glad my meter was replaced about five years ago. I verified then that it was not 'smart'. The only problem is that instead of big, easy to read, numbers behind a large pane of glass, it has a very small display inset from the front of the box and can only be read from directly in front of it. It is eight feet up a wall.

  24. Dieter Haussmann

    We work in IT - we all know the EU's smart meter roll-out is about remote disconnection for enforced austerity and future sustainability rationing and tariff-shaping - want to cook your sunday dinner before dinner-time, ooohh gonna have to pay for that. Want a fan heater on when it's cold, sorry, so does everyone else, gonna have to pay for that.

    The customer is in a 360˚ lose-lose situation.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "the EU's smart meter roll-out is about remote disconnection"

      Didn't the UK vote to leave the EU?

      That's suggests this is not compulsory

      BTW Not surprising this report has been delayed. And note it was written by a sympathetic department for this, which suggests they would have chosen authors who were quite sympathetic to the idea to begin with.

  25. nkuk

    And in other news...

    "Finns have their heating systems knocked offline by a DDoS attack"

    http://www.scmagazineuk.com/finns-have-their-heating-systems-knocked-offline-by-a-ddos-attack/article/571722/?DCMP=EMC-SCUK_Newswire&spMailingID=15856885&spUserID=MTM4NTkyNTE5MDY1S0&spJobID=902901377&spReportId=OTAyOTAxMzc3S0

  26. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    GCHQ has worked more closely with DECC "to assure the security of the UK system".

    Even if we give GCHQ a free pass on this it's still a worrying statement. Why aren't they working to ensure security?

  27. Falanx

    It's never been intended to save money

    It was nothing more than a remote kill switch for the utilities, which they asked their shareholders, *cough* the Revolving Door of Government, for and were kindly gifted. Nothing like not even having to leave your office to shut off non-payers, *cough* the poor and elderly.

    Never ascribe to incompetence what is patently obviously malice from those with fat bank balances to protect.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Not compulsory?

    "Whilst you do have the right to refuse a Smart meter, you can not refuse a replacement of an meter that is past it's end-of-life. At that point "your" meter will be replaced by a Smart meter."

    Not here, in wildest Warwickshire. In past 6 months, aged, faulty Economy 7 meter was replaced with a simple box that did the same. This has since been replaced with a standard meter because tariff/usage changes now favour Standard Tariff. Nothing smart about either of the boxes.

    Supply agreement requires meter reads every month; and for personal interest, I pop them into a spreadsheet. This gives me a good overview of energy use. I don't need anything more.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real reason for smart meters is that eventually they will allow the energy billing companies to come up with zillions of complicated tariffs designed to screw as much money as possible out of the consumers. Just like cell phone companies but worse. Rather than charge your entire monthly bill at the same rate per kwh, they will be fiddling the prices up and down on an hourly basis and charging penalties for people who exceed arbitrary usage caps at particular times of the day. It is all about adding complexity to the billing process so you never really know how much you are being ripped off.

  30. Gerry 3
    Coat

    Are you a Smart Person?

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

  31. RW

    Power companies like to pretend that using power during peak demand should be penalized. But guess what time is peak time? It's early evening in the winter when lights are on, dinner's being cooked, and the house is warm: things you pretty much have to do at that time.

    The real reason behind this lying propaganda? It saves the power companies from having to build infrastructure to handle peak demand. This implies that some MBA's were involved in the decision.

    I'm waiting for a spell of seriously cold weather in the UK when snow and ice keep most people at home and the UK gubbmint announces that because demand exceeds supply, peak period people will experience automatic shutoff just when dinner's half cooked.

    The dimbulbs that come up with these schemes seem to rarely think through all the consequences.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      guess what time is peak time?

      It's not as simple as that these days.

      There's peak demand, countrywide, which as you say is typically winter teatime.

      There's also lowest capacity margin (demand vs supply), and that's when electricity on the 'spot' market is going to be most expensive. *nobody* knows ahead of time when that is going to be.

      " It saves the power companies from having to build infrastructure to handle peak demand."

      Right. Why invest when there's no penalty for not investing, and it's more profitable this year and next if they *don't* invest??

      "The dimbulbs that come up with these schemes seem to rarely think through all the consequences."

      Quite. GWh means GWh, and so the price per GWh is the same, whether it's a soft GWh (might or might not be there when you need it, e.g. wind/solar) or a hard GWh which generally will be there when you need it (nuclear, hydro, arguably fossil). Makes perfect sense. To the beancounters.

  32. Harman Mogul

    Boat anchor

    None of this is of the slightest help when a random accident such as a dragging boat anchor ripping up cross-Channel cables is capable of knocking out half of the grid's capacity, as happened in the recent Storm Angus. Search "channel electricity cables damage'.

  33. Harman Mogul

    Surge pricing?

    Sounds as though it's as intended as much to shape pricing as demand, rather like Uber's surge pricing.

  34. oldpaul100

    I had E-On smart metering (gas and electric) installed in 2011. This apparently worked (just) over a SIM card to an O2 connection that was read monthly.

    When I swapped to First Utility in 2014 I was told they could not read the E-On meters! Still the internal display allows me to read my meters without going outside each month!

    I all of the papers relating to mass install of SM there is no mention of the Data load that this would require, even greater when they switch to the Half Hour Settlement! For the normal domestic user having about 3 or 4 heavy load devices (cooker, washer, dryer, heating) the idea that we might be cajoled into altering our use pattern by small differences in tarrifs is straight out of cloud cukoo land! Cook a meal later? Perhaps do the washing later at 2.00am in a badly insulated Flat? so you ake up at 7.00 am with a load of wet washing?

    as to allowing utils to turn me off? No- way -Jose!!

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