back to article Report: UK falls behind as smart meters rolled out across Europe

The number of smart meters installed in European homes is likely to "accelerate swiftly" over the next three years, according to research published by a provider of the technology. The report (1-page / 213KB PDF), which was commissioned by Cambridge-based supplier Sentec, predicted that although few regions in Europe were yet …

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  1. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    Maybe....

    ....the UK has better things to do than push the "Ours meterz cans talk to iPad, yes?" fluffery?

    I'd like to think so anyway.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Maybe....

      Smart metering means that a company doesn't have to send a guy around to read a meter, it means more accurate billing and it means they can better model and predict demand. And it allows a consumer to monitor their consumption over time and perhaps identify ways they can reduce it.

      I really don't see the objection to it providing it is implemented in a manner which takes appropriate consideration of privacy and security and a framework which permits consumers to change suppliers without being screwed financially for removing equipment.

      1. Mad Mike
        FAIL

        Re: Maybe........errrr.....No

        Dr Xym. Smart metering is a waste of time. It saves the company money because they don't have to read the meter, but that's all. They can already get then householder to send the readings in. A visit will still be required once in a while anyway, as safety is part of the readers job. To check the meter and associated kit for safety and avoidance mechanism. So, that won't change. This is certainly not worth £12billion+.

        The distribution companies can model demand over time by simply monitoring the feeds out from the substation. A lot simpler and easier. Modelling at individual houses doesn't give any additional information than monitoring the loop cable as comes from the substation. The consumer can already monitor his usage using various attachable meters, which they can do themselves for a fraction of the price. Pick one up for £30 from Tescos. You can even store the profile and look at it on a computer in nice graphs etc.

        Mind you, if a householder can't work out what's taking the power etc. themselves, they really need help. if the lights on, it's using the power as specified on the bulb etc. Hardly difficult. A simply plug in meter tells them what each appliance is using if they're really interested. Of course, most people aren't and most electricity use is not optional.

        Smart metering is pointless rubbish, especially at this point in time.

      2. annodomini2

        Re: Maybe....

        The main issue with smart metering as the regulations currently stand is that the supplier can turn off your supply at will at a moments notice.

        This is the primary issue with the introduction of Smart meters at this time.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. DrXym Silver badge

          Re: Maybe....

          "Sure, THAT's going to happen."

          Why shouldn't it happen. Legislation can ensure that companies are required to work within a framework that ensures privacy. Data would already be covered by the data protection act for example but it could be extended further.

          As for other complaints about cutting supply off I really don't see how that is an issue that couldn't be covered by some simple arbitration rules.

          Frankly people are getting their knickers in a twist about nothing and it smacks more of paranoia than any rational objection.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Maybe....

            Yes, perhaps legislation would ensure privacy, but not giving the info out in the first place would guarantee it.

            First rule of information flow : if information is valuable and known to more than one person, then everyone will find out eventually.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Maybe....

            @Dr Xym

            I'd give up if I were you, this is another commentard conspiracy, no matter how sensible your arguments you'll be shouted down.

            1. DrXym Silver badge

              Re: Maybe....

              I think you're right. Some threads are impervious to reasonable opinion.

            2. Mad Mike
              FAIL

              Re: Maybe....

              '@Dr Xym

              I'd give up if I were you, this is another commentard conspiracy, no matter how sensible your arguments you'll be shouted down.'

              What's wrong with people pointing out that it will cost a fortune and give almost no return?

              The cost is currently £12billion and is rising all the time. The government paper that suggests a £18billion payback is pure fantasy. I've read it and am involved in smart metering. The payback simply won't occur at anything like that rate. I'd be amazed if it is even 1% of that. For instance, one of the base assumptions is that electricity consumption will fall by 25% after smart metering is implemented. Doesn't say how. Doesn't say where the figures come from. Pure fantasy. The majority of electricity consumption is actually non-negotiable and cannot be removed by the consumer or shifted to other times of day. You want a cup of tea when you want a cup of tea, not when your electricity company says you can. Some things like washing machines, tumble driers and dishwashers could be moved to other times (overnight for instance), but there are even issues there. How do you move the clothes from washing machine to tumble drier at 3am? You don't want a combined machine as they are significantly lower performance and less efficient.

          3. Mad Mike
            FAIL

            Re: Maybe....

            @Dr.Xym.

            The point is it's due to cost £12billion and what is the benefit. Certainly nothing to the end user and nothing like this amount to the various companies and organisations that make up the energy sector. The markets are extremely complicated with generators, suppliers, distributors, meter operators, meter owners etc.etc. It's not as simple as a single company.

            The point is, there's almost no benefit for a hell of an outlay.

            All the consumption data has been deemed personal data by the dpa. If you really believe anyone can make a secure meter that is also capable of being firmware updated remotely etc.etc. whilst being on a customers all, you are wrong. The meter companies are working on this and nobody has a real solution that would survive a reasonable attack and several meter networks around the world have already been compromised. That's known.

            And why will people attack the meter networks? It won't be for the data. That's relatively worthless unless you're a supplier. However, being able to cause mayhem and disruption will be a major factor in drawing both government agencies (China for instance) and hackers in general to them.

            1. Vic

              Re: Maybe....

              > If you really believe anyone can make a secure meter

              I do.

              But I do not for one moment believe that anyone *will* make one.

              Vic.

              1. Graham Marsden
                Thumb Down

                @DrXym

                Let me give you another example of why smart meters are not a good idea:

                At the moment there are a plethora of supply tarrifs, each company has dozens, online, offline, with standing charges or without, dual fuel or electricity and gas separate, fixed price, capped price, different charges for up to X KWh and then over and so on and so on and even with comparison sites it's a bugger of a job finding if you're getting a competitive rate or being ripped off.

                Not only that, if you sign up for a tarriff and want to change you may get charged an "exit penalty" or, if the price drops, there have been cases where the company has charged people the higher rate for the *whole* period instead of when the price changed.

                So do you think that smart meters are going to make the situation better? Well the answer is "far from it". What's more likely to happen now is that your consumption data is going be used to create an "individually tailored" charging package just for you which is going to make comparison between companies virtually impossible unless you're willing to sit down with a spreadsheet and calculate your exact usage hour by hour, day by day.

                Who benefits from this? Not you, sunshine...

              2. Mad Mike

                Re: Maybe....

                'I do.

                But I do not for one moment believe that anyone *will* make one.

                Vic.'

                Unfortunately, even in an ideal world, the working parameters required in a smart meter make security pretty impossible, even without allowing for whether people *will* make a secure one. You have to remember that these things have to sit on a wall for at least 10 years with no hardware changes. Any encryption implemented today, with any improvements allowed by the hardware limitations, will almost certainly take only a few hours (at worst) to crack in 10 years time with the hardware available then in the home. In reality, the meters could well be installed for much longer. As the meter effectively becomes a small computer, you have to consider what security on say a Pentium 1 was like against the hardware available today.

                1. Vic

                  Re: Maybe....

                  > he working parameters required in a smart meter make security pretty impossible

                  Not impossible. Possibly "undesirable"...

                  If you want a secure system for these meters, give me a call. It won't be cheap, but it will be secure - at least for the lifetime of the meter.

                  > You have to remember that these things have to sit on a wall for at

                  > least 10 years with no hardware changes.

                  That's quite normal for embedded systems.

                  > you have to consider what security on say a Pentium 1 was like

                  But that wasn't so much a reflection of the hardware so much as a response to the threat level. I have systems with much less capability than a P90 hooked to the Internet today. They are secure. They don't exactly run like greyhounds - but that's fine, because they don't have to pass much data, just pass it securely.

                  Slow processors can run modern encryption standards - and if the encryption is implemented in software, you can upgrade over-the-air as the threat level increases (until you run out of memory, anyway). The trick is to keep the upgrades frequent enough such that an attacker can't upload malicious firmware that will be taken by the boot block as signed; if this isn't kept together, all the systems get taken.

                  Vic.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe....

        Maybe it also means they can switch off your electric and gas and water supply if you miss a payment or if they screw up thier billing system or how about if some chinky/(other nation) scriptkiddy hacker decides to do a bit of minor cyberterrorism and turns off the entire country.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why should us, the consumers pay over £300 for a 'smart' meter that provides the electric company with detailed usage data, the ability to cut our meter off remotely (possibly by accident or hacker) and saves them money as they don't need meter readers?

    I'll be the last person in the country to have one, assuming I can't avoid it all together. I could just refuse access to my property.

    1. ed2020
      Happy

      "I'll be the last person in the country to have one..."

      Don't bet on it. I'm competing for that title as well.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Err...

      They won't pay, the company will. Ok, so the company will fund it from customer income, but your meter is going to be replaced within the next 10-15 years anyway.

      1. Mad Mike

        Re: Err...

        'Err...

        They won't pay, the company will. Ok, so the company will fund it from customer income, but your meter is going to be replaced within the next 10-15 years anyway.'

        You are quite right, there is a cycling of meters for certification etc. However, a standard meter costs a tiny fraction of a smart meter, let along all the back end systems required to run the smart meters. Standard meters cost a few pounds (yes literally), whilst smart meters cost hundreds. Then, you've got the billions for the back end systems that are smart meter specific.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: your meter is going to be replaced within the next 10-15 years anyway

          Where do you get this figure from? I've never lived in a house where the meter was changed as part of any schedule and there's a guy posting at the bottom of this page whose electrics hadn't been touched since the 1950s.

          1. Mad Mike

            Re: your meter is going to be replaced within the next 10-15 years anyway

            @Ken Hagan

            "Re: your meter is going to be replaced within the next 10-15 years anyway

            Where do you get this figure from? I've never lived in a house where the meter was changed as part of any schedule and there's a guy posting at the bottom of this page whose electrics hadn't been touched since the 1950s."

            All meters have a certification date. They *shouldn't* be left in place beyond this. The duration varies according to the meter, but is normally between 10 and 20 years. I've had a meter changed (gas in my case) due to this, but it is not uncommon for them not to get changed. In theory, if they aren't and are beyond their certification date, you could refuse to pay the bill. The reason for this, is that the certification date is how long the meter is expected to remain accurate. Beyond this date, accuracy is considered dubious. Therefore, who knows what you should be paying!!

            Of course, meters are generally very accurate for long periods of time and this is more of a procedural thing than a likelihood of meter inaccuracies, but that's the rules. If you've had one in place since the 50's and it's never been changed, you really could try and refuse to pay the bills as your meter could be inaccurate and must be beyond it's certification date by now. Some companies put a sticker on the meter with the date. Others, just hold the data centrally and don't make it available. Phone them and ask for the date!!

            1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

              Re: your meter is going to be replaced within the next 10-15 years anyway

              Oh. (Or rather, ohhhhhhh in a rising and then falling tone. (I wonder how I could write that.))

              Thanks for that. I must remember to have a closer look at my meters next time I'm nosing around in the garage.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      unfortunatly you cannot...

      stop them entering your property to fit one.

      WHAT YOU CAN DO IS TAKE THE DOOR OFF A 1KW MICROWAVE OVEN and place it in front of said smart meter and turn it on (via timer switch, whilst being as far away as possible ) and nuke the buggers electrics.

      then ring up the leccy board and scream at them to change the (now!)dead meter and that you want your old meter back!!!

      (dont forget to refit the ovens door andput it back on the kitchen worktop, you dont want them coming round and finding microwave propped against now expired meter now do you ;p)

      keep repeating till they give up and refit a DUMB METER, it should take 3 or 4 trys before they get the message.

      repeat with all neighbours ;)))

  3. andreas koch
    Go

    The supplier saves

    by installing a device that the consumer will have to pay for.

    You have to admit that that is simply genius applied. I wish I had an idea like that.

  4. Thesheep
    FAIL

    Government says...

    "The government has said smart metering will help to slash unnecessary energy use, reduce emissions and cut consumers' energy bills, and that a fairy dies every time someone disagrees."

    At the level of detail they provide they will not give consumers any useful information. Great for power generators. Useless for domestic consumers.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder where the idea that the customer will have to pay for their meter? Hmm? Or the idea that such a device would cost £300?

    Or the often-stated misconception that it's the electricity companies who made remote cut-off a requirement? They didnt. They're largely against it.

    Anonymous because I've recently been working on the smart metering project.

    1. ed2020
      Thumb Down

      where do you think the money's going to come from, if not from end consumers?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So as your involved

      enlighten us, what benefit will, we as consumers, will get?

      I know that my oven consumes more electricty than a led night light.

      I know that leaving a light on for 24 hours uses more electric than if I use it for 5 minutes.

      And yes we will pay for this cash cow, either directly, through higher bills or through taxes.

      And don't even get me started on the London Airport Expansion Link, sorry HSR when it come to pork barrels.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So as your involved

        What benefit do consumers get?

        Not an enormous amount, to be honest. But that wasnt the point. I was pointing out the inaccuracy of the statement that they'd have to pay £300 for a meter. Meters dont cost £300 btw.

        In the end, what it all comes down to is this - that low-cost energy is a thing of the past and if we dont take steps to attempt to rationalise usage, it's going to be a whole lot more expensive than it is now. And that's taking into account the fact that for every £1 the industry are making in profit, they're investing £5 in power stations.

        Customers may benefit from sliding tarriffs however - making the choice to use things like washing machines, dishwashers etc at times when supply outweighs demand.

        And I'll repeat - the industry dont want remote disconnect. DECC do. You may choose to believe me or not.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The estimated cost comes from a story run by el reg not so long ago. The electric companies are going to say they don't want remote cut-off, but they do. Think about it, you haven't paid your bill, do the electric company start court proceedings and send a guy out to chop you off? Or do they click that button and bang you are gone? Which is going to easier/cheaper/better for the shareholders?

      After all it's the shareholders that will benefit from this, reduced costs, consumers paying for the meters (indirectly) - extra bubbly this year!

    4. Dark haired lord of the undercliff
      Black Helicopters

      I went to a smart meter meeting at the dept for Env. or whatever they call themselves this week. It was clear from case studies around the world that consumers reduce energy consumption by about 10% in the first week or so as they adjust there lifestyle. It then creeps back up as they lose interest in "clock watching". I challenged the energy co's present and they didn't disagree when I suggested that this was really about changing the tariff in real time to suit supply/demand.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stage 1: Collect underpants.

    Stage 2:

    Stage 3: "smart metering will help to slash unnecessary energy use"

    1. Vic

      Stage 4: Extinguish underpants.

      Vic.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    UK Falls behind Europe in smart meter roll out.

    Good.

    1. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: UK Falls behind Europe in smart meter roll out.

      I too failed to find any downside to the headline. They can be the guinea pigs.

  8. Brent Longborough
    Stop

    Meters too smart for our good

    Once the smart meter is installed, how long before it gets a smart switch?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Devil

      Re: Meters too smart for our good

      "...how long before it gets a smart switch?"

      About as long as it takes a hacker to fit one to his new botnet.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is "smart" about this?

    I notice that even the comments in this string accept the choice of the name "smart meter". But that is the power companies' very first propaganda stroke, slipped smoothly in before the discussion even starts.

    What on earth is "smart" about a device that does nothing more than measure my electricity consumption, broadcast it so every Tom, Dick and Harry can eavesdrop on it, and (quite possibly) allow them to cut it off as and when they wish?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is "smart" about this?

      Perhaps it's derived from the old gaming "Smart Bomb" - something that allows everything to be taken out with a single key-press.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What is "smart" about this?

        Thats Right...

        They will give everyone CANCER and other Deceases caused by the Microwave Emmisions that they will be pumping out 24/7 (the smart grid, hooking up with every other device on the 2.4Ghz band within range) the leccy bill for this addon will be through the roof!!!

        By giving everyone CANCER they will crash the NHS (which is what Big Industry wants) and reduce the Population that will reach Retirement age (cos those left will be the 1% who wont have meters fitted) and save the Govt. all that extra wonga they are currently looking at forking out for all the dementa and altzheimers sufferers (yes microwave emmiting devices give you those as well as ADHD)...

        As Alice Says so nicely

        YOUR ALL GOING TO DIE!!!

        and with the Governments Blessing its going to happen a lot quicker than you expected....

        (a Very Smart Idea, dont you think?)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "unnecessary energy use"

    "The government has said smart metering will help to slash unnecessary energy use, reduce emissions and cut consumers' energy bills"

    ... by remotely disconnecting punters who are deemed to be using power "unnecessarily", "emitting too much" or running up bills "too large for their own good". Also handy to "reduce demand" when the windmills aren't turning during a winter cold snap and all of the coal stations have been taken off line by EU diktat.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "unnecessary energy use"

      Spot on - these meters are **ALL** about imposing rationing by any other name.

      As you say, they are a required element to dealing with stupidly useless technology like windmills which have a load factor of under a 1/3 (ie they produce well under 2/3 of what the headline capacity says) and have a rather inconvenient habit of not generating at the right time. Ask some "pro wind" people about this and they'll "wave hands" and point out that smart metering will solve it, along with better interconnects*, and presumably a sprinkling of wishful thinking fairly dust. In effect, their answer is that people **WILL** reduce consumption when the wind either isn't blowing or is blowing too hard. Yes, I have had conversation where people really see no problem in having the availability of wind being the biggest factor in whether you can boil a kettle for a cup of tea !

      * That means - when our windmills turn off, we'll just buy power from France, Norway, Ireland, etc. Pity that many times out windmills won't be doing anything worth measuring, neither will those across Europe. So when we go to ask France for a bit more power, they'll be able to play us off against their other neighbours (note that Germany is throwing the baby out with the bathwater by shutting down it's nuclear) and get us to pay more.

      Meanwhile, Putin is back behind the wheel in Russia - so the availability and cost of gas isn't as certain as it might have been.

      So, don't expect all those coal fired stations to shut down on time. They'll stay running, and we'll just keep paying the EU fines.

      Of course, if the hair shirt and cold, dark nights brigade hadn't frightened the two previous governments from going ahead with some new nuclear a decade or two ago, then we wouldn't be in the position we are now, and we'd not be talking about keeping coal fired stations open (with all their nuclear fallout - there's Uranium in coal and it all goes up the chimney !)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Necessary because.

    Since your government has decided to reduce electricity use, this is how they are going to deal with your future electricity needs: they are going to install smart meters so that they can ration electricity. Is that clear? You are going to get these smart meters because you are going to get rationing, and you sheep better get used to the idea - because you will find that you are going to have no alternative.

    You can get a smart meter and get rationed, or you can keep your old meter, and get disconnected from the grid entirely. And at this point, there is nothing that you can do to stop it, because if you don't get these smart meters, your grid together with its infrastructure will completely fail under the strain.

    You have been striving for this for a century and more, and now here it comes! Welcome to Soviet England, chumps!

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: Necessary because.

      @AC. Interesting viewpoint. However, I doubt it.....at least, not unless the government is monumentally stupid. The same is going on with water supply. The reason we are short, is that water companies wanted to build more storage and were stopped by the government. Water companies loved the idea as its a great capital investment. We're now short of water. Companies would quite happily built loads of coal or whatever power stations, but were effectively stopped by the government through emissions targets etc. We're now short again. If water or power (both gas and electricity) start getting serious rationed like a third world country, the government had better be ready for widespread rationing.

      This isn't like the water shortages in the 70s when it was unexpected and largely for a single year. Governments have known about this for years and have even been telling people they've known for years. People are getting more militant and if any government thinks they will be able to turn off peoples power or have widespread standpipes without some serious rioting etc., they are really dumb. Especially after they've said it's coming for years and carried on with the same stupid policies.

      Come rationing (widespread), come some serious public order issues and the government will start falling.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Necessary because.

        I don't know what sort of capitalism they have on your planet but it doesn't quite work like that round here.

        Restricted supply means higher prices which means greater ROI for the private shareholders.

        Shareholders don't want their capital tied up in infrastructure that ultimately reduces the amount they can charge for their commodity.

        When the supply finally breaks down the government of the day will nationalise what is left of the business and the public will pay to rebuild what they paid to build in the first place.

        If a commodity is abundant it has no commercial value (air at atmospheric pressure)

        If a commodity is scarce it has great commercial value (gold)

  12. theastrodragon
    Black Helicopters

    Supported by muppets

    If the government thinks these are wonderful, marvelous and will save unicorns then I am against them. History proves this to be the correct decision.

  13. oioi
    FAIL

    thats just silly!

    Everyone already knows that when consumers cut their use by 5%, the price will go up by 20%.

    They have to keep their huge profits you see, so it doesn't matter what people do, it will have no effect whatsoever on the cost.

  14. paulxb
    Unhappy

    Solar?

    Will these smart meters still go backwards like my current meter when my solar panels are working? I think not!

    1. hplasm
      Devil

      Re: Solar?

      No they won't- they're smart like that.

      Follow the £££££££...

  15. squilookle

    Not in my house

    I don't trust my energy company at all. I recently got an aggressive letter saying they had been trying to get in touch with me to inspect my gas meter, and if I did not get in touch with them to arrange an appointment within 7 days they would be going to court. I contacted them and asked when and how they had tried to get in touch with me, and it transpired they hadn't: they had sent the wrong letter out.

    They try and put my direct debit up every 6 months stating I am paying under consumption, despite the fact I end each six month period in credit.

    With all the ways that smart metering could go wrong, they can forget any ideas they have of installing one at my house. I fully expect the same mistakes but with real time 'evidence' to back them up and screw me even more.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The phrase "falls behind" isn't really applicable when referring to something that ought not be done at all. It implies we should be rushing ahead doing it. Maybe, "has the sense to procrastinate" might be a better choice ?

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    *Realistically* this is the flipside of the dash for wind + no nukes

    With 20-25% of the UK electricity grid nuclear powered and near its end of life (c13-15GW) and the hell for leather run at ramping up wind generation to cut UK carbon emissions from *all* energy usage by 1/3 coupled with a govt department that seems to be *incapable* of dealing with more than one "unconventional" energy source at a time it's not looking good.

    BTW Tony Blair's office stated that was *not* a misunderstanding and he did not mean to say "electricity". He wanted a *challenging* target to aim for. And of course the fact he'd be long gone when the s**t hit the fan on what looked to be Gordon Browns watch was just a fringe benefit. Any El Reg readers who have a chance to thank TB for this "generous" gift to the British people might like to do so.

    So if your chances of making up the shortfall in time are slim to nothing you're going to have manage *consumption* rather than production. Hence the DECC's interest in remote disconnection (the companies would far rather change your band as they do with card meters, where poor people pay roughly 2x as much for the same unit of electricity).

    As for "energy displays" helping users manage their use that was in the trials but is not *mandatory* and how difficult would it be to do that yourself?

    Could the UK do better? Definitely. Could it meet *all* that shortfall in time? Who knows. We know there are *lots* of options that are more *reliable* than wind (even PV runs *every* day, but what's it's real *average* power output compared to the number on the rating plate?)

    I'll suggest one high tech bone. It's been talked about for *decades* but I've not heard anyone actually do it. It's simply a really *big* superconducting solenoid that acts as a massive (but compact) energy store. Sitting on a fixed site it could be as heavy as necessary to get the job done. Simple geometry, fairly available materials but very big.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: *Realistically* this is the flipside of the dash for wind + no nukes

      "really *big* superconducting solenoid"

      We could site it under Westminster, and then encourage it to quench...

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: a really *big* superconducting solenoid

      Er, yeah, coz the Daily Mail readers won't mind that in their back yard at all. I think you'd have more luck proposing a nuclear power station. At least their safety is a matter of public record, for better or worse. Whacking great magnets take us completely into uncharted territory.

      Oh, and really *big* quantities of superconductor aren't "fairly available" on my planet.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smart Metering

    I had my energy supplier pester me with calls about my meter being old and that they would replace them with smart metering.

    I thought it sounded a good idea let the installers arrange a visit. I mean what could go wrong!

    Nice chap turned up. Ooooh...you have an old type electrical junction box I can't install the meter as they run off the electricity supply and we are not authorised to touch the old metal junction boxes. So I can't install the meter. BTW your 1950's gas supply does not meet our new regulation standards, as the gas supply is too close to the consumer unit. I will have to turn your gas off and put a warning notice on it. Phone these electrity supply utility people to sort the junction box and we will then sort out your gas.

    Few days later nice electricty utility supply chap turns up. Ooooh....you have an old type 1950 electrical junction box that shares a loop with you neighbour. To replace that we will have to create an individual supply to your premises and dig up your 3 month old block paved drive. It will take around 12 days and you will lose access to the front of your house for that time.

    Would have been smarter never to have called them in the first place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smart Metering

      did you get the chance to tell them all to FO!!!! and restore the supplys.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Smart Metering

      What you should have done: Peel off warning notice, turn gas back on. If they bother to call back, tell 'em you've changed your mind.

      You cannot win against the "elf 'n safety" arsehats, so it's best not to play.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Follow the money...

    1. Who gains? Who supplies these meters? What is their lobbying relationship with Govt?

    2. With Electric I already have a cheap device that tracks my household usage already so no further benefit to me from a smart meter

    3. Don't forget smart metering can be applied to other services, gas, water

    4. If the smart meter can be read from a handheld device, the local crooks can get hold of one. They then walk down the streets and track, say, water usage. If a home isn't using water maybe the owner is on holiday - let's burgle the house. If the meter is read by powerline signal you just need a corrupt employee in the Electric Co offices to sell the "who's on holiday" data. I've heard suggestions that this already happens using airport car parking bookings to identify potential target homes.

  20. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Meh

    Interesting reactions.

    My simple gut reaction. 11 Up, 1 down.

    My more thought out comments. 1 down.

    Britards if you want to stop this happening you have to lobby your MP's. Force the security test issue. US meters have been shown to be *wide* open. I mean *no* encryption. Ask them why did a govt department push *so* hard for remote disconnect capability, and more importantly how secure is that. And what is the *actual* bulk price of these meters? Because in the end *you* will be paying for them through your bill.

    Ask them why (if they did) support a policy that bankrolls *hundreds* of generators IE Turbines that *might* work as little as 6% of the time? If their track record is *so* patchy what are you (Mr MP) getting energy companies to do about it?

    Tell them there *are* alternatives on your island. Scotland had invested in wave and tidal for example. Anaerobic digestion, nuclear, micro hydro, geothermal *can* run 24/7/365.

    "Alternative", "Carbon neutral" and "low carbon" do not have to be synonyms for "low efficiency" , "unreliable" and "expensive"

    I am not a utopian fantasist but I refuse to believe the world has to be like the *most* depressing elements of several 1970's end of the world TV series rolled into one.

    After all if everything else fails we can always put a few politicians on the fire. It would be "carbon neutral"......

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