Re: "Tariff Data"
"In earlier posts I asserted that "the network" would have to be able to download price / tariff information to consumers' smart meters, a point with which one or two others have not agreed".
Not so much as 'not agreed', but just pointed out that this is not how it works.
Look at your electricity bill; you are charged on units consumed. i.e. KWh.
An example bill on a dumb meter would be something like 'read on 1 Jan 2016 = dial shows 000. Read on 31 Jan 2016 - dial shows 744'. Therefore bill is on 774 units at 10p per unit - £77.40 bill.
Classic 'interval' billing.
Smart meter gets dropped in. Now every 30 minutes it measures consumption - say you had nothing but a 1kw heater on, you would measure 0.5 KWh (0.5 unit) per HH. 48 HH per day, 31 days in a month, then the smartmeter would pass 48 x 31 x 0.5 readings to the data-collector that would calculate the same 744 units of consumption.
Only difference is that if you choose a plan that had say 12-hour day and night tariffs, then the billing system would calculate that half the consumption was at say 5p night rate, and 15 cent day rate. Giving the same bill in my example.
"If the industry / government wants consumers to make "informed choices" then the information on which to base those choices has to be provided; without it consumers' decisions - assuming that they actually make those decisions - will be entirely random and equally random on their effects on overall demand at any given time"
Yes, it is called the pricing plan you are on. Your bill should be showing the rates you are on - i.e. day/night/peak rates. When you signed up with your retailer, you entered a contract.
You can choose what works for you depending if you are low use, high use, people at home during day, air-con user etc. Amazing how many people don't bother shopping around for cheaper/better util bills.
"Smart meters have to be able to do at least some of the the following:
>"1. Show the consumer how much electricity has been used in total" -
Yes, of course.
>2. Show the consumer how much electricity is being used "now".
No (not generally) as this is not needed for most residential billing. Some meters probably show this on the local display, but other than on TOU meters, information is not that useful, and some people (see on this thread) think that people watching your power usage is some evil plot.
>3. Be able to switch parts of the comsumers' demand off to reduce overall consumption at peak periods.
Not really a core bit of smartmeter functionality, as appliances and meters don't generally communicate. So maybe control over a hot-water circuit like with old dumb meters, but the idea is that you can get on your bill, the cost of using power during peak and off-peak, so are encouraged to set the dryer or dishwasher to go a delayed start. You save money, the network company smooths demand; win-win.
>"4. Switch the rate/kWh (between predetermined costs/kWh) and provide that "rate data" to consumers so that the consumers make the decision about what to switch off until later when the rate drops again"
No, I think you are getting confused with something like a TOU meters and Spot pricing. A big industrial user might opt into something like that and have people manage consumption, even firing up generators or shutting down machinery to manage costs.
Entirely different with residential customers getting a smart meter which enables a better bill at the end of the month.
"(3) can only work if there are duplicate ring mains installed (see earlier posting) or IoT technology becomes widespread, and even if it is ever adopted it will be a very long time before the total load it controls is a really significant fraction of the gross load; until then it will achieve little"
Yeap, but look at the amount of upvoted posts, where people claim that smartmeters will mean that appliances will get turned off at the whim of the government...
"I would argue that very little of a domestic load is in any real sense "discretionary"; the washing machine is an obvious candidate for this household but that is less likely to be true where there are children in residence"
Domestic load is of course relatively modest. I can't even tell from consumption graphs when people are home in summer as the LCD TV/tablets etc don't even register. The few devices that do consume say 1KW or more such as hot water heaters, dryers, heat pumps, washing machines, dishwashers often have delayed start or timer functions, or tend to be devices that can be time-shifted by a few hours if there is encouragement to do so.
"The more I think about it the more I cannot avoid the conclusion that the whole exercise is doomed to be an expensive con from which consumers will gain nothing unless they are profligate in their use of energy supplies and are somehow persuaded to repent. Improbable..."
Will give you this; the UK implementation does appear to be very expensive way of doing things. I understand the reasons for the change, but the way it has been done is pretty awful.
In the long run though, just a little nudge with tariffs that reflect the fact that peak electricity is much more expensive than off-peak (which seemingly a lot of posters don't understand), will help make the system more efficient.