back to article What a pity: Rollout of hated UK smart meters delayed again

The timescale for the installation of 50m smart meters at a cost of £11bn is up for revision (again), junior minister and member of the House of Lords, Baroness Verma, has admitted. By 2020, the government wants everyone to have a smart meter fitted at a cost of £200 per household. However, the project has been dogged by …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Irongut Silver badge

      Re: S.M.A.R.T.

      Hopefully these meters are smarter than you, you cant spell!

      1. gerryg

        Re: S.M.A.R.T.

        You're right - have an upvote

        Sensible, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound (Drucker)

        not SMART - Smart meters

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: S.M.A.R.T.

        I ope yr appy irongut, he's gone now! And be the way the word 'cant' has an apostrophe between the N and T.

        1. gerryg

          Re: S.M.A.R.T.

          no, I came back... see below

        2. earl grey Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: S.M.A.R.T.

          And by the way, the word 'cant' has a U between the C and N.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it possible to stop this now?

    If so, who do we contact?

  3. Meerkatjie

    We had the engineer around this summer to install it for us - turns out he couldn't. The muppet who wired the apartment block up originally didn't split the cable before routing it to each of the apartments.

    The engineer's choice was to turn off the power for the entire block or to install the meter while the cable was still live. He went with option 3 - put it into the too hard basket and have an early lunch.

    1. Steve Crook

      You are not alone

      It's not that uncommon. There will be a significant number of people who will be denied access to a buggy, insecure and 'out of date on install' smart meter that will save them almost no money at all. But they'll still have to pay for it through their bills. That's progress for you.

      See: http://www.nickhunn.com/uk-smart-meters-delayed-again/#more-1585 for a completely depressing view of the whole UK smart meter fiasco.

    2. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Shared fuse - they have to write to everyone on the shared supply and give them a "Notification of interruption of supply" letter.

      Very annoying to find someone owing ten grand on their bill can't be switched to PAYG because someone forgot to send out the letters!

      If only Governments were still capable of admitting they'd been mislead. They could try scapegoating the liars who lied to them, perhaps even throwing some in prison for fraud, that would give them the "excuse" they needed... and then they could sensibly change track.

      How do I know nearly no-one cares about smart meters saving on their bills? Because I've been into dozens of houses with the little clips around the wire to report the electric use to a little wireless box on the table. Barely any have batteries in them, and most are still in the boxes, as they were given away by the power companies to anyone who wanted one. And still they aren't in common use - most houses don't care. They just run up a debt.

      1. nijam

        > How do I know nearly no-one cares about smart meters saving on their bills?

        It's not that they don't care. It's that the usage monitoring devices reveal very obviously that knowing what you are using makes no difference. (Plus, how many KwH do you need to save to cover the cost of 4 Duracell AAs?)

  4. Esme

    Pointless and dangerous fads

    This reminds me of some of the strange (to us) fads of Victorian times, for example the one where radium was added to lots of things, and various properties were claimed for radium without a shred of hard evidence, and no consideration of possible hazard to the consumer (yes, I know they werent; aware of radiation poisoning back then - but so far as I'm aware they didn't do any safety testing at all back then).

    Smart meters and smart homes are lovely ideas that would work fine in an ideal world where there are no malcontents and product producers always take consumer safety considerations in mind. This is not that ideal world. Such devices WILL be attacked by ne'er-do-wells , and the consequences of such attacks could be catastrophic, whilst the gains to the consumer are marginal at best and may actually be non-existent (or even negative)

    This being the case, such devices will only get into my home over my dead body.

    Thanks for reminding me about another issue I need to write to my MP about, El Reg!

    1. charlie-charlie-tango-alpha
      WTF?

      Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

      One of the /really/ cool things about these devices is that they can be used (remotely) to switch off supply. Guess how they need to be reset? Yes, that's rght - manually.

      Now imagine finding the resource to reset 20 million domestic units which have been remotely terminated in an attack.

      WTF we are still even contemplating this madness is beyond me. Especially with Crapita in the driving seat.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

        Until 3 months ago I was working for one of the big 6 on their smart meter rollout and your statement "Guess how they need to be reset? Yes, that's rght - manually." is not true. The power off switch is inside the meter and can be turned on remotely via the DCC.

        However, I can indeed confirm that Crapita are useless, the meters will require multiple firmware upgrades to fix many security bugs and they will not save you a single penny on your usage. Ideally this should be a public run national infrastructure project that the energy companies subscribe to, as it is they are all building their own capabilities at great expense which will get passed on to you and me. Also, Capita outsourced the DCC deployment to CGI Logica who surprise surprise are now touting their own DCC connector software to the Energy companies, no conflict of interest there then!

      2. tony2heads

        Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

        time to buy a backup generator?

      3. Flatpackhamster

        Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

        @ charlie-charlie-tango-alpha

        This is why we're doing it:

        http://ec.europa.eu/energy/gas_electricity/smartgrids/smartgrids_en.htm

        EU directives require us to do it. We are required BY LAW to have 80% of houses fitted with one by 2020.

        http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-12/21/smart-meters

        Doubtless the usual EU fanatics will be vigorously downvoting this, or claiming, as they usually do, that it's all 'optional' and we all 'signed up for it' or some such BS.

        1. Tapeador

          Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

          I suspect we had the opportunity to veto the rule and didn't? If so that would make it a law of our own making - not something imposed on us.

          1. JohnMurray

            Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

            Qualified Majority Vote.

            No veto.

            And the EU received it from some UN fly-by-night organisation!

          2. Flatpackhamster

            Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

            @Tapeador - No, we didn't. Feel free to keep making excuses. What's next? "If the UK left the EU we wouldn't be able to 'influence the decision making process"?

            And, just as I suspected, the EUfanatic downvoters are out in force. What is it you love so much about it and why do you always post as AC? I don't wonder.

        2. Esme

          Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

          @Flatpackhamster (love the name btw)

          ooh, I didn't know it was a requirement under EU law to have consumers fitted-up (I use the term advisedly) with 'smartmeter' crapware. Sigh. I'm actually in favour of the idea of the EU. It's just that I can scarcely believe that the politicians have managed to find just about the most non-optimal way to implement the idea. Right then - that's my MP AND my MEP about to get a scathing letter on the matter.

          1. Tapeador

            @ Esme Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

            You're right - a directive gives choice of how to implement.

            And in principle, smart grids actually ought to make for cheaper energy and thus less returns to foreign extractive industries and more to higher-monetary-velocity industries (which seems to me a decent enough policy for co-ordination among the member states, assuming this objective wasn't in one of the treaties signed from time to time, which it probably was anyway).

            1. TeeCee Gold badge

              Re: @ Esme Pointless and dangerous fads

              a directive gives choice of how to implement.

              Correct, so the way to go is with what much of the continent is doing.

              Advertise the things and get your power companies to badger their customers about having one installed. Eventually 2020 will come round and there'll still be nigh-on bugger all of the things out there. At that point two things can happen.

              The most likely outcome is that by 2020 the goalposts will have moved and nobody at the EU will give a shit anyway. Result!

              The second possibility is that the target remains in place. At this point you turn round, detail the actions taken and point out it's not your fault if nobody wanted one. The EU then backs down rather than instruct the country concerned to override the wishes of its people, as this damages the fig-leaf of democracy that serves to disguise the Stalinist oligarchy of the EU.

        3. nijam

          Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

          Actually, the document only specifies 80% coverage *after cost-benefit analysis confirms it's worthwhile*. It isn't worthwhile, so there's no requirement at all, in reality.

    2. Bert 1

      Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

      Can I stop the Ne'er-do-wells by putting it inside a faraday cage (biscuit tin).

      This would be a win-win, as I go back to having a normal(ish) meter, and I get to eat a lot of biscuits.

      1. MisterD

        Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

        The gas company recently decided that our gas meter was no longer allowed to live in a brick-and-metal box sunk in the wall of our house but instead must be moved to a fibreglass carbuncle mounted to the outside wall. The only reason I can think of for this is to prepare for the meter emitting RF signals.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

          There's nothing in the directive which means that all customers must have smart meters. I'm currently living in another EU country and have been offered one in a vague way and declined as it's not going to save me any money.

          So, job done, offer made, customer declined.

          Has anyone got any proof that the UK government voted against this? My understanding is that they were one of the leading protagonists. I think both this and the previous UK governments like the idea as it gives them some ammo to use if we run out of electricity over winter....... it'll suddenly become our fault for not using the tools they gave us!

    3. zebthecat

      Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

      Had this last year when they tried to convince me that they had to install a smart meter for safety reasons. I said fine but can i have a dumb meter instead if safety was their concern. They said of course and, 18 month on, have heard nothing more from them on the subject.

      I just cannot fathom how fitting a smart meter will magically reduce bills by 2% (unless they fit external insulation for free as part of the service).

      1. MrWibble

        Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

        "I just cannot fathom how fitting a smart meter will magically reduce bills by 2% (unless they fit external insulation for free as part of the service)."

        Because "they" think that if we're getting told that putting the heating on every night is going to cost us 50p, we're more likely to put a jumper on.

        The reality I faced, when I had one of those cheap plugin things supplied by Eon, was surprise how little the heating was costing compared to what I thought it was. So I put it on more often.

        And the meter plugin thing was "recycled" (WEEE) a long time ago.

      2. Tom Wood

        Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

        I think the theoretical savings come from not having to send someone round to read the meter.

        Not that anyone ever reads ours since they always come during working hours. They leave a card asking us to read the meter and put the card up in the window for them to check the next day, then it shows up on the bill as an actual meter reading and presumably the meter reading guy gets paid as if he really did read it.

        1. wikkity

          Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

          We've now got a smart meter. I miss providing my own meter reading, I used to add a bit extra on just before a price increase.

          1. Oldfogey

            Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

            So somebody else does that as well!

            Have an upvote!

            (This was supposed to comment on a remark about putting in high readings before a price hike. Don't know why it ended up here - if it did)

        2. Tom 35

          Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

          Once they have enough of them installed they can do what they did in Toronto and charge different rates for different times of the day.

          They started out with the peak rate 3 times the overnight / weekend rate. But it seems a lot of people moved stuff to the off peak time so each price change the off peak goes up more then the peak rate and now it's only half the peak rate. And even less with the next change...

          http://www.torontohydro.com/sites/electricsystem/residential/smartmeters/Pages/default.aspx

          Last fall we got a smart water meter, that's worse then the electric one since they don't even have peak use problems. Wonder when we will be getting a smart gas meter...

      3. nematoad Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

        Having just changed energy suppliers I got a letter from Siemens saying that they were coming to replace my electricity meter. Fair enough, but the plan hit the buffers when I pointed out that due to the lack of reliable mobile connection the proposed meter would more often than not be able to phone home. So the shitty broadband and mobile reception here means that they had to revert to a conventional meter.

        Which is fine, except that the bloody thing is about the size of a matchbox and the minuscule readout now means that I now have to get a ladder and a torch just to read the damned thing. The old GEC electro-mechanical one was readable from yards away.

        So I missed out on any potential savings plus I now have to scrabble about to read the thing. Ain't progress wonderful?

        1. rhydian

          Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

          The meter in my house is a Denis Ferranti electromechanical job. It allows me to view my energy usage at a glance (through the rotating disc) and simply works.No ifs. No buts. No phoning home. My electricity supplier requests meter readings, and I supply them. Someone checks it physically about twice a year.

          How on earth will a smart meter benefit me? My usage is allready minimal.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

      It may surprise you to learn that a significant number of homes in the world are already fitted with smart meters. In most of Australia, for instance, the rollout is more than 50% complete - that is, smart meters are now more common than dumb ones.

      And somehow, these "attacks" haven't materialised. There's not one even half-way convincing report of a hacker remotely shutting off someone's electricity.

      Why are you fretting so much about a threat that has no substantiation outside your own imagination?

      Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they're a great idea. They're expensive and badly designed in all kinds of exciting ways. But let's at least argue about real things, not imaginary ones.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Meh

        Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

        No, I wouldn't maliciously turn off one or more home meters. I'd monitor my potential targets to determine their behaviors and schedule my burglaries appropriately. Home or business. That's what immediately came to mind when the White House was pushing for every property owner having remote access to such data.

  5. 0laf Silver badge

    I don't need a £200 meter to tell me to try to use less energy. The massive bill every quarter (or month) tells me that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You are missing the point - these meters will allow them to switch you off if you are late in payment and also switch you off when they run out of electricity because the wind isn't blowing and they have shut down all the real power generators and the STORE diesels haven't started up.

      1. Esme

        But they've always been able to cut you off when they haven't enopugh leccy to go round right now, she says, remembering the power-cuts from her dim and distant youth. As for anything else, file under the 'when will society wake up to the fact that companies (which includes utilities) are supposed to exist for the benefit of humans, not the other way round?'. Sigh.

        (now standing outside trying to thumb a lift from a passing alien to take me back home)

        1. Matt 21

          Yes

          but with this solution they can cut off individuals remotely and say that they've exceeded "fair use" at a time of "short supply".

          Surly that's got to be the reasoning behind this. If they turn off whole areas there'll be an outcry but if they turn off 90% and push the message that it's because they use too much everyone will turn on each other and the government can walk free.

          Perhaps drop a few stories in the press about certain people running too many Christmas lights, or outdoor swimming pool heaters etc. then encourage us to watch our neighbours and then start using the SMART meters to switch some of us off if necessary.

          Anything to distract us from asking questions about the government failing to address the real problem.

          1. voltscommissar

            Re: Yes

            To Matt 21 who said '[energy retailers will] cut off individuals remotely and say that they've exceeded "fair use" at a time of "short supply".'

            In my experience this is not the way privatised monopolies operate. Local distributors will always encourage load growth and try to take conductors and substations above the nameplate rating at peak times (e.g. summer air-con hear in Oz). That way they get to grow the asset base next year.

            Retailers without hedge fund protection might wish to disconnect customers at times of high wholesale prices, but do they get to control the switch, other than for unpaid bills? Probably not.

            A "good" system from the industry perspective is one with enough generation and transmission capacity in the national grid to cover cold snap and heatwave conditions on a weekday, but with each suburb (zone substation and downstream HV/LV distribution) just weak enough to fail in streets where customers go ballistic with excessive consumption.

            Such a balance provides overall resilience to the national transmission grid, but provides group punishment (aka load shedding) for some locations where your neighbours (never you of course!) have more money than brains and love wasting electricity, cooking the planet with global warming, etc.

            Michael G, aka voltscommissar

            1. YetAnotherLocksmith

              Re: Yes

              The other w(h)ease(l) bit is the demand pricing. Just wait until they copy Uber's gouge pricing model, and those 3 units of power in deepest winter to save your toes from falling off cost you £40 each, while in summer when your own solar panels are making 3 units an hour, they will only be worth 4p each, because everyone else's panels are also making power.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    they say £200

    but used to say £120.

    so, come 2020, it will be £300. But wait for it, it won't be 2020. In 2017 they'll move the roll out date to 2025 (£500), at 2022 it will be moved back again to 2028 (26000 rubles). Etc.

    For once I applaud the government for being "efficient"!

    1. Peter Clarke 1

      Re: they say £200

      You got the 2028 currency wrong- it will be in Yuan

      1. pollyanna
        Trollface

        Re: they say £200

        My 'money' is that we'll be on the English Drachma by then, roughly 250,000 : 1 Yuan (which you're probably right will be the default global currency)

        (But the lucky Scots will have a Scottish Drachma at 1,000 : 1 English Drachma - Go independence !)

  7. system11

    "I am determined to bring the benefits of smart meters to GB consumers,"

    No you're not, you're determined to show that you can get something done for entirely self promotional reasons, regardless of the money wasted doing so, since none of it is yours.

    1. g e

      The Department of Energy and Climate Change

      The Gov't kickback money laundering dept, in other words, presumably.

  8. Jungleland

    Meanwhile....

    Water remains unmetered.

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile....

      Not where I live it isn't. (In the UK, just)

      Here you pay for what you use which caused cries of anguish from all those swimming-pool owners and those using lawn sprinklers.

      We didn't have a choice, it was compulsory, something that has been changed after our test run was over.

      1. SolidSquid

        Re: Meanwhile....

        For once you can literally thank Thatcher for that one, water was un-metered in England and Wales before it was privatized by her parliament. Since it was a separate system in Scotland though we got to keep un-metered water and just pay a flat fee as part of the council tax

      2. rhydian

        Re: Meanwhile....

        "We didn't have a choice, it was compulsory, something that has been changed after our test run was over."

        I take it you're in the South of England? Sounds about right for round there.

        Here in Wales you have three choices:

        1: Standard, unmetered water on a fixed rate based on the Rateable Value of your house. About as accurate a way of judging water usage as an ouija board

        2: "Assessed Rates". Your water usage is estimated on factors such as number of residents, number of bathrooms, dishwasher/waching machine and so on. Slightly cheaper than option 1

        3: A meter. Compulsory in new houses, but you can get one fitted to any supply for free. If you find that you're paying more on a meter (not likely unless you're filling a swimming pool) then you can have it removed (I think there was a limit of a year or so). Anyone who buys the house after you must keep the meter and can't have it removed.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Meanwhile....

          @ rhydian

          "A meter. Compulsory in new houses, but you can get one fitted to any supply for free. If you find that you're paying more on a meter (not likely unless you're filling a swimming pool) then you can have it removed (I think there was a limit of a year or so). Anyone who buys the house after you must keep the meter and can't have it removed."

          Almost everyone I know who went from rates to metered found the costs go up and very few of them waste water. I recently moved from a metered flat to a house on rates. It is the same cost even though I have gone from 3 small rooms and a hallway (inc kitchen/bathroom) to a 6 room house + front and back garden. I expect metered must be cheaper for someone somewhere but I dont know them.

          1. rhydian

            Re: Meanwhile....

            It was considerably cheaper for me to have a meter than to remain on unmetered. Then again I do live alone so it might be different for a large family.

          2. Graham Marsden

            @codejunky - Re: Meanwhile....

            > I expect metered must be cheaper for someone somewhere but I dont know them.

            Hello, I'm Graham, pleased to meet you.

            I own a 3 bed house, but live here on my own. Were I to be charged by the old system I'd be paying a hell of a lot more for water and sewerage than I do.

          3. Rande Knight

            Re: Meanwhile....

            It _is_ cheaper for me on metered.

            But then I was raised in rural Australia, know how to have a bath in 2" of water, only flush for No.2, never wash the car, and run the washing machine fortnightly.

            The meter saves me £20 a year. Not really worth it IMO, and totally not worth it for anyone with a family.

    2. VinceH
      Joke

      Re: Meanwhile....

      "Water remains unmetered."

      Lucky you.

      Some people have to pay for the amount of water they get through - and to make matters worse, they then have to pay again for that same amount of water to be taken away. Which is a bit of a piss take.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meanwhile....

        "Some people have to pay for the amount of water they get through - and to make matters worse, they then have to pay again for that same amount of water to be taken away. Which is a bit of a piss take."

        Alright then. Water's about £1.75 per cubic metre (or tonne) delivered, sewage about the same. So that's £4.50 for a tonne of water delivered and sewage returned, albeit varying by water company.

        Try that with your builders merchant, then, whining shit heads. Phone 'em up, ask them to deliver a tonne of ANYTHING for £4.50, VAT and delivery included. And then check that after you've shat in it, they'll take it away for no extra charge.

        Bloody water bill whiners. I fucking hate them. (For the avoidance of doubt, this wasn't against VinceH, merely a relevant response in the thread)

        1. VinceH

          Re: Meanwhile....

          "For the avoidance of doubt, this wasn't against VinceH"

          I should hope not - the joke alert icon was there for a reason! :)

  9. Truth4u

    dogged by delays and doubts over consumer appetite for the scheme

    When did they start caring about the consumers?

  10. MrXavia

    No chance they will install a smart meter for me then, you need a mobile signal for that, and there is no mobile signal in my house...

    1. tony
      Happy

      Don't Worry About That

      Having no mobile signal at your house is your problem; You can probably pay for a mobile booster box to enable you to get the benefits of scheduled brownouts to make up for the lack of investment in generation.

      "If the device can't connect at regular intervals it'll regulate the power by default... "

      Or so I was informed when I mentioned the Faraday like properties of my porch.

      1. Truth4u

        Re: Don't Worry About That

        Do you think Al Gore turns off the lights in his 27 room mansion before he flies to his 30 room mansion?

        Or (more likely) is his 30 room mansion lit all year round to save his butler the effort of turning on the lights for the 3 days a year Al Gore deems it necessary to actually stay there?

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. a_mu

    save how much ?

    so we 'save' 2% by having smart meters.

    i.e. we use less electricity and gas.

    The companies who supply have a fixed infer structure and overhead costs,

    so if they sell less they make less.

    QED the price will have to go up to allow the share holders to get their returns and the directors to get their bonus's

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: save how much ?

      The companies who supply have a fixed infer structure and overhead costs, so if they sell less they make less.

      QED the price will have to go up to allow the share holders to get their returns and the directors to get their bonus's

      It sounds cynical, but that really is how it works. All large companies are obsessed with Return on Equity targets, and all directors obsessed with the share price, due to its influence on your borrowing rate, but mostly because they get discounted shares the value of which depends on the stock price (it's one of the reasons share buy backs are so popular, but that's a subject for another time).

      I love capitalism, I genuinely do. But since your local water company are a monopoly from which you cannot switch, that is not capitalism. And in my view it does not work. The power market isn't great, but at least you *could* start a new energy company if you wanted.

      1. voltscommissar

        Re: save how much?

        To LucreLout who said 'you *could* start a new energy company if you wanted.'

        Well I have two 'energy companies' here in SE Australia. Both off grid, one I live in, typing this note on 100% off-grid solar, but it's not a regulation compliant system, more of a "noodlemeister" wiring arrangement for experimenting with energy supply at the cutting edge of extreme energy efficiency and *adaptation* (to cloudy weather). The other property is regulation-compliant, and my tenants seem quite chuffed not having to worry about electricity bills. They do however get to pay a daily battery charge if the 10 kWh battery array dips below 24.6 volts in any 24hr period. This is designed to cover my future cost of early battery replacement, but the tenants are so good at adjusting usage to the changing weather that solar is working out cheaper than the mains for them. Skyrocketing 'service charge' (monopoly network cost component) cost of mains electricity has a significant component due to smart meters, This is an own goal for the industry here, with our good solar resource, and acres of suburban bungalows. Electricity industry insiders here are talking about a "death spiral" to which I respond *** BRING IT ON *** -- fight against their unconscionable abuse of monopoly power -- and their GHG emissions --- by installing your own off-grid system. The economics of solar PVs in northern Europe clearly will not be on a par with Melbourne Australia. :-(

        The biggest stranded asset in the (Australian) energy market is 8 million privately owned residential rooftops. Start with insulation, energy efficiency, solar hot water, solar PVs -- in that order. In a deregulated energy market consumers can be owners of thier own micro power stations. Better quality of supply (I just *LOVE* setting my pure sine wave inverter to 220 volts to extend battery life), zero GHG emissions, no electricity bills, no EMR from a toxic smart meter, resilience, independence what is not to like about this?

        Save how much? --- save the planet for future generations = "priceless"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: save how much ?@ a_mu

      "QED the price will have to go up to allow the share holders to get their returns and the directors to get their bonus's"

      Oh, for god's sake, do you know NOTHING? I work for an energy supplier. We are legally mandated by the UK government to install smart meters, and they have passed that into UK law because that is their chosen interpretation of the rules from their uberfuhrers in Brussels.

      We don't fucking want to have to install complex, untried electrickery in your house. We don't want the complexity of a bureaucratic, penalty laden scheme administered by the hostile fuckwits of the regulators at OFGEM. We don't want to have to find billions of extra capital to buy the sodding meters. We don't want to have to work with meter makers who don't understand the requirements. We don't want to have a long term programme based on the SMETS2 specifications that are already clearly well short of the technical potential that could be delivered. We don't want to install devices to not merely enable, but encourage time of use tariffs, geometrically increasing the complexity of billing.

      GET THIS IN YOU LITTLE HEAD: Smart meters are an EU brainwave, and the UK government (of all persuasions) have enthusiastically rubber stamped it. As usual this involves them spending your money, other people (us) doing the work, whilst the cunts of Westminster and Brussels relaxing in expenses-claim heaven and congratulating themselves on a job well done.

      1. veti Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: save how much ?@ a_mu

        And you haven't even mentioned the cost of storing and analysing 48 meter reads per day, instead of one every 3 months.

        But there are legitimate cost savings to be made from smart meters. Easier to read means, well, lower reading costs. More reads means less billing on estimates, which means less financial risk, which is something electricity providers have to pay for currently. Easier to disconnect customers? - again, lowers the financial risk. More accurate consumption profiles? - aids enormously when the company comes to reconcile the bills they issue to customers with those they receive from the network.

        There are even, potentially, benefits to the consumer. In Texas, for instance, if your credit rating is shot, you have no choice but to get a prepay electricity meter. In conjunction with "smart metering", you can get one that will send you a SMS when your credit is running low, and - and this is important - you won't be cut off until your credit actually runs out. With a conventional meter, you'd be badgered by your supplier, and you'd stand a real chance of being cut off before your credit runs out - if for instance your consumption dropped suddenly 'cuz you'd gone on holiday. (Yeah, it's a barbaric place.)

        I'm not saying it's a great idea and we should all rush to embrace it. But there's a huge bandwagon that seems bent on demonizing smart meters. I just think there should be a little more balance and reason in the discussion.

  13. pewpie

    Smart meters

    Dumb fucking customers. Get one installed today - irradiate your family!

  14. Adair Silver badge

    British Gas tried...

    to tell me that I needed a smart meter. I asked them if things had moved on since this:

    http://tinyurl.com/oq3g5hb

    and copied them Chris's letter.

    I've heard nothing since (that was six months ago).

  15. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Dumb meter

    Not long ago I had to have a new electricity supply and meter installed*, and I feared that they might install a smart meter. They didn't, but they did position the tiny new meter up by the ceiling because that's where the big old electromechanical one was. When the meter reader next called I had to fetch him a ladder so he could read it.

    * The old supply consisted of a cable that branched off my neighbour's supply, went over the roof of his house, then connected to a pair of lethal bare copper cables on brackets along my side wall (evidently too hard to remove when they originally decommissioned the overhead supply in the village).

  16. kainp121

    assoles

    When they installed a smart meter here, the ass hole just popped the globe. No warning I lost my hard drive thanks to that ass hole. Oh I can go back to a dumb meter but it will cos me $150 plus a $5 a month meter read.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: assoles

      WTF does "popped the globe" mean?

      How did that result in you physically misplacing a hard drive?

      This commentard wants to know....

      1. kainp121

        Re: assoles

        In the US the meter are called globe. There is a locking ring on the globe. pull the locking ring of and you can pull the globe out. OF course pulling the globe out disrupts the circuit. Every thing in the house turns off in-till a new globe is put in place. Rapid power shut off. Rapid power turned back on.

        1. E Haines

          Re: assoles

          > In the US the meter are called globe.

          No they're not; in any place in the U.S. I've ever been, meters are called meters. Maybe in Redneck Hickville (judging from your writing abilities), they're called globes. If you lost your hard drive just because of that, you were going to lose it in the next power outage anyway.

          1. kainp121

            Re: assoles

            Internal you will here PG&E refer to the netters as globe as slang. Unless you are saying PG&E has no clue of what they are doing.

          2. kainp121

            Re: assoles

            First of Santa Clara County is nit hicks ville USA. If you have a problem with my statement debate that instead of personal attacks. Believe it or not I am a bright person, but to do dyslexia and brain damage from car accident things don't always come out right. So what I put to pen and paper does not always sound grammatically correct. Some days are better than others. But hey if you get you kicks off by insuring other and correct grammar who am I to stop you ?

    2. ElsmarMarc

      Re: assoles

      A battery UPS would have prevented that hard drive crash when the meter was pulled. Anyone with computer equipment and data which they value should have protection against electrical outages.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: assoles

        ...or use laptops; which gives you time to switch it off gracefully when you notice everything else blink off.

  17. batfastad

    Baronesses aren't qualified

    Are Baron(s|esses) qualified to make these decisions?

    "I am determined to bring the benefits of smart meters to GB consumers"

    Well Baroness Vermin can pay for them herself then, if she's determined to ignore the cost-benefit analysis which claims only a 2% saving.

    A 2% saving on bills that will keep increasing by >10% because of successive governments' obsession with windy energy and refusal to build any nuclear in the last 20 years.

    I can never understand how we have money for this nonsense, yet there are people who sleep in cardboard boxes.

    1. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: Baronesses aren't qualified

      Because Baroness Whats-her-pus and any other involved minister are determined that THEIR project will be finished so they don't get hung out to dry with another incomplete project story in the press.

      you can add the same mentality to numerous other projects that make little sense but have a minister driving them forward whatever the cost or objection, G-Cloud, HS2, Millennium Dome, education changes, NHS IT,....

      Same things happen in the US and probably every other country

    2. earl grey Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Baronesses aren't qualified

      Vermin - people perceived as despicable and as causing problems for the rest of society

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We've opted for one

    Pure laziness really. Our new energy supplier wants monthly readings from us. Our gas meter is a big old high up box, and the electric one is tiny and low down. Both in the cupboard-under-the-stairs so that we have to shift the ironing board, dog food, hoover etc. every time.

    However....

    We used to be with British Gas. They were meant to come and install one. And kept failing to turn up. Then behaving like they were doing us a favour even offering a new appointment. They don't seem to understand the concept of customer service.

    Our new supplier is a bit cheaper. But more to the point, so far they have offered good service.

  19. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    capita on the public's tit again...

    1. JohnMurray

      With all this free money floating about, I expect a certain Mr Branson to start Virgin Electric soon!

  20. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "there had been "some bumps" with the project"

    Yeah - like customers not liking the bloody things, seeing no benefit for them, and not accepting remote shutdown without recourse. The fact that £11 billion are needed to save a theoretical 2% of a £200 bill is a real deal clincher too.

    Isn't politics a bag of laughs ?

  21. PNGuinn

    I've got a better idea....

    Why not forget the whole idea and give everyone a DAB radio - or a chocolate teapot?

    Mmmmm .... chocolate....

    1. earl grey Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: I've got a better idea....

      Why not forget the whole idea and give everyone a bacon sarnie?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I've got a better idea....

        Why not forget the whole idea and give everyone a bacon sarnie?

        Coz we're under Sharia Law up north nowadays

    2. verloc

      Re: I've got a better idea....

      Don't get me started on the enforced downgrade that is DAB. What a sodding joke.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Engineer fits smart meter...

    As soon as door closed, smart meter fitted with mobile phone blocking bag. Sorted.

  23. Heathroi

    Here in the suburbs of Chicago, the Power co simply came and put one in. Didn't take long actually spent more time discussing an access panel on the meterbox that had pulled away from the chassis by a piss poor concrete pour when the house was built 38 years ago. They pulled my duct taping away but couldn't think of any other fix other than put their own on and said they would put an order in for a tech to fix it. believe it or not nobody has come back to look at that.

  24. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Trollface

    I'm ready

    Keeping the dogs hungry...

  25. Ilmarinen

    More here...

    An interesting piece on the subject here: http://www.nickhunn.com/uk-smart-meters-delayed-again/

    " This is not all bad news. It means that the growing population of consultants within DECC can look forward to what is fast becoming a never-ending gravy train of consultancy work, public consultations and project reviews. For the consumer it’s likely to mean even more unnecessary costs heaped onto future energy bills. But not until after the next election, so nobody in Westminster really cares."

    Well worth a read.

    h/t Bishop Hill Blog for link

    1. JohnMurray

      Re: More here...

      Can we change "gravy train" to "pork barrel" please?

  26. AJames

    Not effective

    We've had them here in our city in Canada for 4 years now.

    Result:

    - no energy savings

    - utility plans 60% increase in electricity bills to pay down the debt they incurred (and hid with accounting tricks)

  27. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    "I pointed out that due to the lack of reliable mobile connection the proposed meter would more often than not be able to phone home. So the shitty broadband and mobile reception here means that they had to revert to a conventional meter."

    Same here a month ago. Lots of 2g but little 3g signal (yet I've got masts 1 and 2 miles away serving a town of 15000+ people ... how does that work?)

    Never mind, at least I know my Nokia 1100 is as good as it gets!

  28. localzuk

    Security concern?

    So, as these devices have a remote "off" switch, what happens if, say, some reprobate comes along and figures out how to disable, say, 20 million of them in a very short period of time via a bot-net or whatever? Can the national grid cope with the excess electricity production at that level? That's suddenly a lot of electricity being produced and going nowhere...

    Also, at a cost of £11bn, how far would that go reducing real demand by, say, switching street lights to LED or insulating more homes etc...?

    1. PNGuinn

      Re: Security concern?

      More to the point, how will the grid cope when he switches 'em all on again?

      El Reg - we need a total darkness icon.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Security concern?

      "Also, at a cost of £11bn, how far would that go reducing real demand by, say, switching street lights to LED or insulating more homes etc...?"

      You're quite right that smart meters are a waste of money that could be better spent on insulation measures. £11bn would insulate every remaining cavity wall in the land, every under-insulated loft, and still leave enough over to insulate 700,000 solid wall homes with external wall insulation. Or, you could leave the cavity walls, and do two million solid wall homes and top up insulation in every loft.

      LEDs save energy in buildings because they displace less efficient sources like halogens, CFLs and incandescent bulbs. But that's not true in streetlighting. LED streetlighting is certainly a big improvement over low pressure sodium lamps in terms of light quality and a bit of an improvement in bulb life, but in energy terms it is hardly any better - the luminous efficiency of sodium vapour lamps is around 100 lumens per watt, and that's about the same as most current generation LED streetlight luminaries (both technologies efficiency vary but within a similar range). The top LED makers have developed diodes capable of 300 lumens per watt, but it'll be several years before they reach service, because in streetlighting you need to have long life certainty, and that involves long testing, and not pushing performance envelopes. So expect the UK to spend billions on current generation LED streetlights, and then to replace them all again starting 2022 because the ones we've fitted are using three times as much energy as their replacements will.

      1. localzuk

        Re: Security concern?

        I wasn't referring only to actual street lights, I was being more general and speaking of all the different random lights we have on our streets. Such as the little lights that highlight street signs, the millions of traffic lights that still use incandescents, the "bollards" that sit on islands etc... There are plenty of places where incandescents are still in use which could be switched out.

  29. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    50 million.

    But there are only 25 million-ish households in the UK?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 50 million @ ZanzibarRastapopulous

      "But there are only 25 million-ish households in the UK?"

      Actually 27m (plus 0.15m per annum) And 85% of them have both a gas and an electric meter....

      You can still delete your post and pretend you didn't ask that question?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: 50 million @ ZanzibarRastapopulous

        I honestly didn't realise they intended to do gas too.

        You must be one of those socially dysfunctional geeks you used to get in the '80s. I haven't seen any in a while.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 50 million @ ZanzibarRastapopulous

          "You must be one of those socially dysfunctional geeks you used to get in the '80s."

          That's about right, although given that there wasn't anything contentious in my OP, I'm presuming you're thinking that because of my recent spate of other, less polite posts? Re-reading them I think should reign my colourful language in for a while.

          "I haven't seen any in a while."

          Consider yourself honoured.

  30. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Too cheap to meter

    Anyone remember that one? In telecomms, metering, billing and mucking out the suspense account is a painful and expensive exercise so reduced some costs by not bothering. So customers can just pay x a month and provider figures out if the mix of light vs heavy users means x is about right. No reason why energy companies couldn't do the same and offer S/M/L/Cannabis Farm bundles based on XXkWh/month. No need then to pish £12bn+ up the wall on 'smart meters'. After all, our brilliant energy policy from DECC means our energy is cheap & plentiful..

    Oh, wait. It's not. Which is why Baroness Vermin talks about 'demand management' and reduction being the solution to our energy market. So the only smart thing about the meters is an ability to disconnect them when demand exceeds supply and customers have been foolish enough not to pay a premium for an uninterruptable supply contract.

    If however the lil displays did something more useful than emulating a 1950's meter, and showed a rates feed from competing suppliers.. That may actually be a consumer benefit and could save consumers some money, but that's not the objective here.

  31. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    A terrorist's wet dream

    Just imagine having a means to re-flash the nation's smart meters, turning them off and leaving them that way. Just how long would it take to sort that mess out, and just what state would the country be in after just a few hours, let alone a week or more?

    Yesterday it was reported Lenova had borked their own products with a forced firmware upgrade. Let's hope the leccy companies never do the same.

  32. Donchik

    Compatible with all suppliers?

    Just had ours installed. Took ovo 3 guys 2 hours!

    Effect Electric inaccurate, can't actually read the meter remotely.

    Gas simply does not work.

    Both tariffs wrong.

    Now the best news. When I change supplier this month the"Smart" meter does not work with any other supplier!

    New meter every time I change?

    What's that going to cost us as consumers?

    This has to be the worst idea ever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Compatible with all suppliers?

      New meter every time I change?

      In theory, no. Detailed rules and a standard specification (SMETS2) are supposed to mean that the new supplier simply uses the existing asset and pays to use it. Much like suppliers pay to use old style meters.

      What's that going to cost us as consumers?

      £11bn if you choose to believe government.

      This has to be the worst idea ever.

      I don't know. It's not a good or sensible idea. But HS2 is worse, and five times the cost (at least). And a holiday to the "Islamic State" sounds like an even worse idea, regardless of cost.

  33. Cynicalmark
    Thumb Up

    Oi

    who do I hand the bill to .... When they shut my home off and the freezer defrosts; the tropical fish worth 2 grand dies and my dialysis unit doesnt work....2% of never once they get 1 or 2 large lawsuits over loss of persons livestock or property. Fgs the bloody gas supplier has to check all appliances are off in our street before re-instating the supply following a shutdown. As usual snake-oil has been sold to a sucker in charge.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    By 2020...

    We will probably have a wind turbine in every field surrounded by panels below so the 'investors' will be getting tax free richer with FITs.

    The electricity companies will be losing out significantly to the micro generators that they will charge £1 per Kw/hr

    And the electricity will be so dirty that no appliance will work reliably for more than a day without rebooting. (Think im kidding on the last one, here in North Devon our voltage swings from 230 up to 255 almost hourly, UPS often kicks in due to under or over voltage depending on how windy or sunny it is. PCs, routers, printers, all lock up and need regularly rebooting. Fortunately, we usually get a daily powercut so rebooting is automatic)

  35. Buster

    Capita.......Smart anything.......Oh dear now I have to recalibrate my Ironic-shit-O-meter.

  36. Steve B

    The concept was good until the Government got into it!

    Automatic Meter Reading is big in the US, but our Add Ons, which utilised existing meters, were disqualified by the UK government of the time as a complete integrated Meter was their only acceptable option. In the US there are large towns with one meter reader nipping round once a month to read every meter, at speeds of up to 50 mph.

    There was a fixed network option and more in development, but with no UK business prospect the owner shut down the UK office.

    What the UK government has done to the utilities makes the implementation very costly until they improve aspects. There was talk about different suppliers having different smart meters, requiring a new meter change with every supplier switch.. Absolutely ridiculous. The protocol should be the same so that one electricity meter will do for all companies, one gas meter should do for all companies and one water meter should do for all companies. In fact there is no reason why it should not do for all three; ours used to.

    If they can't get that right they should stop the Smart Meter project now. If they need help I am available as I have been since being made redundant back in 2007! when this raised it's head seven long years ago.

    Apart from that, the main benefit of the meter is for the supplier, not the customer, and therefore the cost should be borne at source possibly by a government tax levied on suppliers so they can't shirk their responsibility.

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