back to article UK.gov's smart meter cost-benefit analysis for 2019 goes big on cost, easy on the benefits

The UK government has confirmed that electricity suppliers have an extra four years to hit targets for installing smart meters. The original EU target was 2020, now pushed back to 2024. The appraisal period has also been extended from 2030 to 2034. The project has been described as "a dog's breakfast" and faced criticism from …

  1. WonkoTheSane
    FAIL

    SMETS2?

    SMETS2 are STILL almost impossible to get north of the Watford Gap!

    Also, the primary purpose of smart meters is Uber-style "surge pricing".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SMETS2?

      >Also, the primary purpose of smart meters is Uber-style "surge pricing".

      I have a sibling who lives in South Africa and have witnessed load shedding first hand along with water restrictions, I strongly suspect that is the reasoning behind SMART dumb fucking idea meters however load shedding in SA is fair and doesn't discriminate between rich and poor.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: SMETS2?

      The broadcast network is different, I hear, between the north and the central and south regions. It's not really hit the press much, probably because it's (a) incredibly dull and (b) par for the course, but wireless telecommunications providers have been smacking each other over the head and lobbying parliament so that there's no nationwide monopoly on the contracts resulting from farming out to private investors what should really be a national infrastructure program. Capitalism at its very finest.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: SMETS2?

        "Capitalism at its very finest."

        So long as it keeps this intrusion in check, definitely the finest.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: SMETS2?

          It may keep this particular intrusion in check but it doesn't do so for the right reasons. It's synchronicity gorrrn maaad!

    3. antonyh

      Re: SMETS2?

      Surge pricing! Thanks, you've just added another fear to my list of reasons to avoid this crap.

    4. druck Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: SMETS2?

      No the primary aim is to allow selective load shedding when wind and solar aren't available and the grid starts to fall over, which is going to happen more frequently with increasing reliance on renewables.

      Instead of the situation which happened recently, of everyone in large parts of the country experiencing blackouts, they can instruct the smart meters to disconnect peoples houses. That is unless you are on the Priority Register (elderly, ill, or have small children), in which case they'll leave you on, so as to try to avoid any negative publicity from the deaths of vulnerable people.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: SMETS2?

        A number of Scottish hydro plants have pumped storage the hole in the mountain one at the head of Loch Awe has always had it. It is being retrofitted to more plants with a plan here in Scotland to do this to all the schemes where it’s feasible.

        This means you can use them as giant batteries to store excess power from renewables for when it is dark and calm.

        But also fear not, there are right at this moment an array of cowled turbines sitting on the bed of the Pentland Firth (between Sutherland and Mainland) getting power from the tides which run regardless of the time of day or the state of the wind. There are tidal races between lots of our offshore islands. It can run hard enough so you can’t paddle a kayak against it and at the north end of Jura there’s a whirlpool.

        When we are independent and the dead hand of Westminster is removed from our energy policies tidal will surge as will offshore wind and pumped storage.

        But you will have to pay for it if you live in Englandshire. The EU is building a HVDC interconnect from Aberdeen to Norway so we will have a choice who we sell power to. The EU also wants to build a HVDC superconducting spine up the middle of the North Sea, it will connect to our interconnect meaning we could sell renewable energy to the Germans or French or Spanish.

        When the lights go out in England post Brexit and post Scottish Indy you will eat your words.

        1. Mad Mike

          Re: SMETS2?

          Mmmm.

          Scotland certainly has a lot of natural resources that could be harnessed. Sadly, the interconnect you talk of is not being funded by the EU (bar a token 10 million euro). Not sure what you mean by the North Sea spine either, as it will certainly not be superconducting (at least in the scientific sense). To my knowledge, there's no idea for a spine as of yet, although it has been proposed the various windfarms could be interconnected, thus also connecting various countries at the same time. However, it's very much at discussion phase at the moment and far away from reality.

          As to Scottish Indy. Well, your glorious leader (Sturgeon) is both a rabid racist (her constant abuse of the English in rants) and hated by quite a lot of the Scottish as well. I've met many a Scottish person who thinks she is the worst thing to have ever come out of Scotland. Now that the oil is drying up, good luck if you choose to leave, but you'll be doing it outside the EU (despite her claims), as there's no way you'll get membership, which the EU itself has said (you have to apply like anyone else). And, everyone knows the French and Spanish will refuse the application, as they're scared stiff of their regions doing the same (Catalonia, Basque etc.).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: SMETS2?

            Dont confuse support for Scottish Independence with support for the SNP .

          2. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: SMETS2?

            Care to cite the instances of Sturgeon being racist about English people? or are you conflating scorn for Westminster or the looser term ‘London’ for ‘The English’?

            BTW there is a thriving independence group called English People For Indy. At marches and Rallies they fly the St George’s flag even and don’t get beans for it. In fact they are a much loved part of the Indy family.

            I’m a long term Yesser and my parents, eldest sister and most of the extended family are English. The English sister even went and married an Englishman, in New Zealand.

            So before you accuse all us Scots of being racist think about the above.

            Also Sturgeon, like Salmond before her is to my hearing scrupulous about using ‘The people of Scotland’ instead of ‘The Scottish people’ because the former includes everyone living in Scotland. Who BTW gets a vote in our IndyRefs if they are:

            From the Commonwealth

            From the EU

            A permanent resident.

            Aged 16 or over.

            After the Brexit vote she wrote a letter to every EU citizen in Scotland the govt could find telling them they were valued members of society and we value their contributions and that ScotGov would fight tooth and nail to keep them.

            Many of them have been on twitter recently telling us how moved that made them. Does that sound like a racist to you?

            1. Cederic Silver badge

              Re: SMETS2?

              While Sturgeon doesn't appear to be racist towards the English her party certainly is.

              Evidence: English students get charged to go to university in Scotland. Scottish students and other EU nationals do not.

              Fun fact: More people in Scotland voted to leave the EU than voted for SNP members of parliament.

              1. Just Enough

                Re: SMETS2?

                "English students get charged to go to university in Scotland. Scottish students and other EU nationals do not."

                It's a bit rich blaming Scottish education for a situation caused by English policy and EU regulation.

                Someone has to pay for the education. The Scottish government is picking up the tab for students who live in Scotland. The English refuse to pay for the students from England. Meanwhile, EU law makes it illegal for other EU nationals to be charged more. But the Scottish government has no obligation, or budget, to pay for students from England. And why should they?

                1. Cederic Silver badge

                  Re: SMETS2?

                  Umm. "The English refuse to pay for the students from England." is a blatant lie. The legislation imposing variable tuition fees was voted against by a majority of MPs representing England; it passed only because Scottish MPs imposed those fees on English students.

                  (SNP MPs did not vote to impose those fees)

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: SMETS2?

            Boris? Is that you?

          4. Just Enough

            Re: SMETS2?

            @Mad Mike

            "(her constant abuse of the English in rants)"

            You have any examples of that? Or are you talking bollocks?

            "French and Spanish will refuse the application, as they're scared stiff of their regions doing the same (Catalonia, Basque etc.)."

            Ah, questioned answered. You are talking bollocks. There is no chance on this happening in the Basque country, simply because demand for it is from a minority and declining, not increasing. And the Spanish have already specifically said that they have no problems with an independent Scottish being in the EU. The idea that these countries would refuse Scotland entry, just to deliver a message to their own citizens, is fantasy.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: SMETS2?

          But you will have to pay for it if you live in Englandshire. The EU is building a HVDC interconnect from Aberdeen to Norway so we will have a choice who we sell power to

          Utter crap like most of your post, the EU is giving a paltry €10m to a £1.75bn private enterprise venture that was your money anyway.

          Incidently the largest pump storage is in Wales which is bigger than all the current Scottish pumped storage schemes combined. Now do run along and peddle your SNP pamphlet nonsense elsewhere as this is a website for techies.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: SMETS2?

            "the largest pump storage is in Wales"

            There's also quite a tidal race that could be utilised in the Menai Straight.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: SMETS2?

              >There's also quite a tidal race that could be utilised in the Menai Straight.

              Tell me about it, scuba dived it and got the tides wrong, fastest drift dive I've ever had. Damn good fun though and the nearest thing I'm ever likely to get to flying.

            2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: SMETS2?

              "the largest pump storage is in Wales"

              That would be the Dinorwig pumped storage power station...

              https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/05/16/geeks_guide_electric_mountain/

        3. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: SMETS2?

          "But you will have to pay for it if you live in Englandshire. The EU is building a HVDC interconnect from Aberdeen to Norway"

          1) Norway isn't in the EU.

          2) Scotland (possibly) won't be soon either.

        4. Jove Bronze badge

          Re: SMETS2?

          TLTR: Just post a link to this drivel on your own blog, then we can all ignore it.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: SMETS2?

          The EU is not building an interconnector from Aberdeen to Norway, there is however an interconnector already under construction from Kvilldal in Norway to Blyth in England.

          http://northsealink.com/

        6. Franco Silver badge

          Re: SMETS2?

          :sigh:

          Firstly, the Cruachan Power Station is a net user of electricity, not a producer.

          Secondly, it has hee haw to do with renewables, it's construction was tied to that of Hunterston A so that the off-peak energy produced by the (nuclear) station could be used to fill the reservoir and meet peak demands and/or provide black start capabilities. That it can now be powered by off-peak renewable energy is incidental, it was not a contruction goal.

        7. John Sager

          Re: SMETS2?

          Good luck with trying to sell power to Norway. I expect they'll want you to pay for the pleasure of supplying it to them.

        8. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: SMETS2?

          Shame the Scotts are leaving the EU then ! typical brainless scotsmans dribble !

      2. bonkers

        Re: SMETS2?

        Selective load shedding?

        The vast majority of these meters have just one switch, a remote disconnection option for them, not you. Load shedding is supposed to keep the lights on and stop the oven momentarily, not plunge all their bronze accounts into darkness.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: remote off switch

          "The vast majority of these meters have just one switch, a remote disconnection option for them, not you"

          Correct - apologies if it wasn't clear that's what I was talking about.

          "Load shedding is supposed to keep the lights on and stop the oven momentarily, not plunge all their bronze accounts into darkness."

          At the moment, and as evidenced by the across-the-nation(s) disconnections on 9 Aug (and the subsequent chaos) the regional distributors have no functional means of selective load shedding (no distinction between "important" customers or random Joe Public customers), so if significant load shedding is required, it's pretty much all or nothing (at regional level).

          The off switch in a smart meter is a means of eventually providing that selective disconnection capability. It does rather increase the design and installation costs though, as 'meters' don't need an off switch and therefore can be designed and installed relatively cost effectively. But Joe Public will pay, they have no option...

          There's a discussion to have at some stage about the role of demand aggregators and about the (invisible on the 9th) embedded generators, both groups who in principle are paid to make useful amounts of 'capacity' available on a near-instantaneous basis, either by starting up a field full of containerised diesel generators or by shutting off the fridges and freezers in a chain of supermarkets (etc).

          And then there's a discussion to have about 'system inertia' and the role of high power DC->AC converters to introduce synthetic inertia without needing very large rotating masses as short term energy stores.

          What happened on August 9th:

          https://www.nationalgrideso.com/information-about-great-britains-energy-system-and-electricity-system-operator-eso

          NB there are still big oversimplifications in the description above, but...

    5. Scunner

      Re: SMETS2?

      Power surge pricing?

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SMETS2?

      Surge pricing for electricity isn't an utterly unreasonable idea. The price of power on the wholesale market varies with time - down to each half hour. If the marginal cost of electricity is several times the usual rate because there's an unexpected shortfall of power then it's reasonable to provide an incentive to not use quite as much of it.

      There are two alternatives: Firstly, a failure to meet all needs for electricity. Brownouts and blackouts are bad things. We don't want those. Secondly, we could pay to build more power stations and interconnections that will be idle for most of the year. As they don't make much money from running, they'd need to be funded by some other option, such as a regulated asset base or capacity mechanism, the costs of which will inevitably end up handed back to the consumer through higher bills, or recovered through general taxation.

      With a surge pricing model, those that cause the problem - either through consuming or failing to generate at times of peak demand - pay for it.

      The other side of the coin is that the wholesale price of power can and does go negative, especially on windy, sunny summer weekends when renewable generation is going full-tilt. No one wants to turn off, as they would stop getting their lovely subsidies from Renewables Obligation Certificates and Feed-In Tariffs. This means that often, you literally can't give the power away and have to get people to pay to take it. With a surge pricing model, the price could be reduced to provide an incentive to use more.

      1. Andre Carneiro

        Re: SMETS2?

        In the same way that petrol prices go up when oil gets more expensive but fail to come down when oils gets cheaper, I very much suspect “surge pricing” would only ever work in one direction.

        Still very much a “no thank you” from me.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: SMETS2?

        "With a surge pricing model, the price could be reduced to provide an incentive to use more."

        Or, with an EV, you could set your car to charge when prices drop below a certain point and not charge when they are above a certain point (unless the state of charge is below a certain level or you manually override the restriction). For people that work a 9-5 and have charge points at their workplace, one could pay the most paltry amount of money for "fuel" by buying only when rates are super cheap.

        Homes could be fitted with controls that receive price information in real time and certain things can be switched on/off depending on costs. Normally you would want to turn down the heat in the middle of winter to save money while you are not at home, but maybe it makes sense to turn it up a bit when power is very cheap. The same would apply to summertime usage for AC. There is a system in the US where rebates are given if you fit a power company relay to your AC unit so they can selectively turn off AC units to shed load. The promise is they will only turn it off for 15-30 minutes in each hour when they need to. I could see the same thing being applied to clothes dryers and other high usage items.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Electric supplier: "I've come to install your smart meter"

    Me: "I'm changing suppliers next week"

    Electric supplier: "Don't worry, it will still work fine"

    Next week, changed suppliers. Meter stopped working.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Electric supplier: "I've come to install your smart meter"

      Me: "Fuck off. I'm not in."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >Me: "Fuck off. I'm not in."

        Me: "Smithers, release the hounds"

        1. }{amis}{
          Mushroom

          >Me: "Fuck off. I'm not in."

          >Me: "Smithers, release the hounds"

          Me: Pull! Boom

        2. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

          Me: "Smithers, release the hounds "robotic Richard Simmons"

      2. Halfmad Silver badge

        I just tell them I'm not getting one, I don't see how me powering something for their benefit reduces my electricity bill. I already follow my kids around turning lights off when they leave rooms..

        1. jason 7

          Same here. I don't even call them up to give them my own meter readings.

          Some guy comes round and has to do it. I told him last time "You can thank me for keeping you in a job!"

        2. VinceH

          "I just tell them I'm not getting one"

          This. When I signed up to my current electricity provider, they offered me one and I said no. That was back in February.

          A couple of months ago they rang me "to arrange an appointment to install your smart meter" - not a follow-up question of do I want one; ringing to arrange installation. I said (again) that I didn't want one, but it's quite clear they're doing that to catch out people who don't realise they have a choice.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      I'm almost tempted to let them put one in - but only because there is no mobile signal where the current meter is.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "I'm almost tempted to let them put one in - but only because there is no mobile signal where the current meter is."

        I expect they'd figure that out very quickly and use a backup method of somebody cruising slowly by with a transceiver that will read the meter automatically. They aren't going to let you get by with not paying.

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      Electric supplier: "We are installing smart meters in your area"

      Me: "Can you confirm whether it is a SMETS1 or 2 meter?"

      Electric supplier: "Err we'll get back to you"

      This was nearly a year ago...

      Still got the dumb meter with an OWL attached.

      1. TheProf Silver badge

        Still got the dumb meter with an OWL attached.

        At least your vole problem is now under control.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Still got the dumb meter with an OWL attached.

          At least your vole problem is now under control.

          Woohoo.

        2. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Still got the dumb meter with an OWL attached.

          The cheap and nasty screen printing used for the regional language specific fascias of the OWL does indeed mean that the meter reports a value for the incoming Voleage.

      2. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
        Pint

        Bet the OWL doesn't give a hoot either.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      They keep writing letters to get us to set a date. We keep ignoring them.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Them "what day of the week is good for us to fit your smart meter"

        Me "none of them I have a job"

        Them "well let us know when you are going to be on holiday and we can do it then"

        Me "OK..."

        They must think I'm really keen not having a holiday in three years.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          That would suit me. The meter is inside the house. The feed is underground. Their documentation is bad enough that they probably wouldn't be able to work out where it comes from and f they did they'd need the live jointing crew to do the work for them.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          At some point in the future, you won't be able to opt-out. They'll just fit one if it's accessible from the outside, cut your power until you get one or charge you a hefty premium.

    5. MyffyW Silver badge

      Electric supplier: "I've come to install your smart meter"

      Me: Well it makes a change to "I'm here to fix the refrigerator". If we just cut to the poorly-stereotyped sexual innuendo can I keep my old Bakerlite one?

  3. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Stop

    Don't want. Don't need

    My electricity use is already well below average. All heavy duty demand is in off-peak times, and everything possible is energy efficient. Only special feature lamps are are filament, the rest are LED. I don't leave a bunch of kit on standby either. I long ago discovered this amazing device called a 'switch'.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Don't want. Don't need

      The linked report attempts to gloss over the shit-shower that are "smart meters". Table 6 attempts to quantiy the benefits in terms of energy reduction, but neglects to work out the "per meter" benefit. Doing some simple maths (and hoping this doesn't set me up for an epic maths fail), and the benefit per year to electricity users is £11.69 in savings, and for gas it's £5.45 (both on regular domestic credit contracts).

      Looking at the hardware, they have device installation costs of £88 / meter for single fuel, or £143 for dual fuel, and device costs (average over projected roll-out) of £36 for electric or £53 for gas.

      So, for the best case dual-fuel customer, total cost to become "smart" is £143 + 36 + 53 = £231, for a savings of £17.14, requiring 13.5 years to balance out!

      Costs/benefits I've ignored so far - not having someone wandering the streets reading every meter twice a year, O&M costs of the meters, the report also menstions a need for "communications hubs", then there's the in home display costs (£15 each), IT costs, DCC costs, marketing the dumb things, additional energy consumption for the displays (2.6W more power than traditional meter, plus comms hub power) which they reckon is £660m (p29) vs the total energy savings from folks being "smarter" of £159m (Electricity) + £61m (Gas), which doesn't seem all that good a balance so something must be off here!!!

      Looking at it another way, they project total costs of £13.4bn, and they've got 13.6m electricity meters installed and 11m gas meters installed. Therefore cost per fuel is approx £544.71. For a consumer savings of £17/year

      Either way you look at it, it's a shameless frittering of public funds

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Don't want. Don't need

        Just noticed the £660m energy bill for smart meters is over "the appraisal period", which is 21 years, so only £31.4m/year (and something was off in my calcs!)

      2. Sulky

        Re: Don't want. Don't need

        Looking at it another way, there were 27.1M households in the UK in 2016, that's a per household cost of £494.46.

      3. matt 83

        Re: Don't want. Don't need

        Don't forget that smart meters have a much shorter lifespan than traditional meters (in the case of gas meters they are battery powered!).

        IIRC 10 years is the max lifetime so at 13.5 years to recoup the cost...

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: Don't want. Don't need

          The report seems to imply a 15 year lifespan, but obviously YMMV (I believe the repeated application of a hammer somewhat impedes their functioning to desired operational standards)

      4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        FAIL

        "cost per fuel is approx £544.71. For a consumer savings of £17/year"

        Why would anyone in their right minds in possession of the facts do this?

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Don't want. Don't need

      I've got PV banging out 3.8KW as we speak. And the immersion is on and when that starts to boil I've got a bucket of blackberries to turn into jam.

      Now when a smart meter can advise my home control system there is nice cheap electricity to turn the immersion and storage heaters on (the conservatory is kicking around 30kw into the house at the mo so we wont need those tonite) then I might consider having one.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Don't want. Don't need

        I have a 12 panel 48v array, it's cloudy today but I am still getting over 600W, had a lot of rain and cloud over the last few days but have had no problems. The mppt panels produce power from light at almost any angle and at low levels.

        In a little over a year I have made 2.176 kWh of leccy, closest thing to a meter is the bluetooth app I connect to the controller with.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Don't want. Don't need

          "In a little over a year I have made 2.176 kWh of leccy"

          I hope there's a typo there, as I can beat that on a bike. In a month.

          1. JetSetJim Silver badge

            Re: Don't want. Don't need

            Maybe they live at one of the poles, but also in a valley? So they are currently getting 600W, so in 4 hours time the sun will set for them until next year. A bit niche, perhaps, for a solar panel installation.

            FWIW, the place with the lowest amount of sunshine per annum is Jan Mayen, a Norwegian island. A piece of land near Greenland. This is one of the darkest places on the planet that gets only 823 hours of sunshine a year

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: Don't want. Don't need

          $ solar.sh

          Device Status: Ok

          GridRelay Status: Open

          EToday: 15.337kWh

          ETotal: 13922.654kWh

          It's 19.50 local time, hence the GridRelay status. Total energy is since August 2017

    3. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Don't want. Don't need

      I don't leave a bunch of kit on standby either. I long ago discovered this amazing device called a 'switch'.

      I discovered an amazing device called a digital timer. That switches things on and off according to the fairly predictable pattern of my life. If I'm likely to be asleep or outside the house almost everything is powered off. My Sky box gets a little extra grace in case I want to record something that ends an hour or two after I've gone to bed.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Digital timer

        As there's a shift worker in my house, there's not a single hour of the day I can be sure everyone's asleep or out.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1/2 OT, bbc lies

    I want to point it out, because the beeb try desperately to portrait themselves as the good, impartial guys (why you can trust bbc news), but I have a strong impression that it's not the first time I noticed, recently, them trying to distort the history by claiming, on smart meters, that: "The promise of smart meters was that readings would be automatic, billing would be easier, and a new world of flexible charges would be ushered in."

    The way I remember the effort to "sell" those meters to the public was, predominantly, on the promise of CHEAPER ELECTRICITY. I can't believe that the beeb fail to remember that push, which brings me back to their current spin. I suspect they were "asked" to bury that old news (cheaper electricity) which has long been challenged but never publicly admitted. So, it's being buried, quietly.

    1. Graham 32

      Re: 1/2 OT, bbc lies

      You may well be right, I'm sure lots of bullshit promises were made at the time. My own recollection was it being about always having accurate bills. I knew this was bullshit too because utilities love to estimate usage and over-estimate by 50-100% so they can take lots of money through direct debits on sit on it. They also like to even out the bills throughout the year so, especially for anyone with electric heating, they can charge for more than is used.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: 1/2 OT, bbc lies

      The BBC is not the independent and balanced organisation it was.

      two things have pulled it down (they're linked imho).

      1) Govt. appointees to the board who's roles are frankly not far removed from political commissar -and who are involved with appointing senior staff and in turn commissioning editors

      2) False equivalence as a form of "balance". If they have a world renowned expert backed by a solid scientific consensus on to talk about something they truly understand they have to get some wazzak on who disagrees. Possibly an outlier, possibly just an opinionated talking head or paid lobbyist with no formal qualifications in the matter. Then they treat both views as equal and the presenter will write the subject off as disagreement/controversial.

      1. SpinningWheel

        Re: 1/2 OT, bbc lies

        Re "False equivalence as a form of "balance". If they have a world renowned expert backed by a solid scientific consensus on to talk about something they truly understand they have to get some wazzak on who disagrees. Possibly an outlier, possibly just an opinionated talking head or paid lobbyist with no formal qualifications in the matter. Then they treat both views as equal and the presenter will write the subject off as disagreement/controversial."

        It was clarified fairly recently that there is no need for them to do this, just like they don't need to find someone to contest every football score that they publish.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: 1/2 OT, bbc lies

          "It was clarified fairly recently"...

          Which is solid evidence that they were doing so. Until "fairly recently".

          There's no reason to think they've stopped. And they haven't.

          But the important bit is the presenters, because they don't challenge the witnesses or their credentials. The expert's comment and a rebuttal full of bollocks by a talking head from a pressure group are treated as equal. And indeed invited on in that role.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 1/2 OT, bbc lies

      The BBC are correctly reporting what the promise was. It was total bullshit, but it was correctly reported.

    4. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: 1/2 OT, bbc lies

      The way I remember the effort to "sell" those meters to the public was, predominantly, on the promise of CHEAPER ELECTRICITY. I can't believe that the beeb fail to remember that push, which brings me back to their current spin. I suspect they were "asked" to bury that old news (cheaper electricity) which has long been challenged but never publicly admitted. So, it's being buried, quietly.

      The BBC is stupid. For cost reasons, ie it costs money to hire decent journalists who understand science and engineering, so instead hires idiots like Roger Harrabin. He understands neither, but is a firm believer in repeating what he's told. Which becomes problematic when stuff gets complex, ie 'smart meters' being rolled into UK energy policy, which is about being Green, not being efficient or saving consumers money.

      But that was really the pitch, it'd save consumers money. Subtext of the pitch was electricity is going to get ever more expensive due to Green/renewable policies*. So to 'save money', we're meant to use 'smart' meters to manage our demand, ie reduce consumption and use less electricity.. Which doesn't really need 'smart' meters, just average intelligence and an ability to use an on/off switch. It may also have saved energy sellers money because they wouldn't need meter readers.

      Most importantly, it can allow those energy suppliers to make money by offering more 'flexible' tariffs. Which roughly translated means screwing you to the floor with or without anaesthetic. Or the ability to offer interruptable contracts to consumers as well as businesses, ie pay a premium rate if you want to avoid going dark when the wind's not blowing.

      What it doesn't do, but could have done is use the display on the meters to push a rate feed showing the best value supplier, and press a button to switch to them. Easily done through the platform, naturally unwanted by suppliers.

      *Given the oopsie in Saudi and spike in oil prices, I'm expecting energy companies to increase prices due to 'rising oil prices', even though we don't use oil, and gas prices are still low & unaffected. I mean it's not like we've seen bills fall when oil dropped below $100bbl. And as an example of just how dumb the BBC is-

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-49710934

      However, the Qasef-1/Ababil-T only has a range of about 100-150km. The distance from the Yemeni border to the closest target - the Khurais oil field - is about 770km. So if these recent attacks were carried out by a UAV it would have to have been of an altogether different design, with hugely increased range and a significantly greater level of reliability.

      Alternatively, the Houthis may have just smuggled plain'ol drones into Saudi and launched them from <10km away.. But a curious incident given satellite images show some pretty accurate targetting.

      1. John Sager

        Re: 1/2 OT, bbc lies

        Google Earth will give you WGS84 coords for everything so not a problem to program a GPS drone.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: OT, first casualty of war is.. lies

          Check this out-

          https://fighterjetsworld.com/air/satellite-images-show-the-scale-scale-of-destruction-at-saudi-oil-field-hit-by-houthis-drone-attacks/18084/

          Apparently 'official' images via the US. Image 2 from the 4-tank farm is.. odd given all the highlighted impact points are pretty much in the same position, which would suggest some rather precise targetting and navigation. I guess that could be down to commercial drones being precise enough, so drones for each tank farm had the relevant X,Y offsets but the same Z.

          Also note the compass orientation.. Which looks like the impacts were on the west side. Am curious if the other tank hits show the same precision.

  5. Mattjimf

    Electric Supplier: "Great news we're rolling out smart meters, contact us to get one installed!"

    Small Print: "Will not work with Solar Panels and FiT"

    Me: "WOOT!"

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Flame

      Electric supplier: Great news, we are rolling out smart meters, contact us to get one installed

      Me: Middle finger emoji

      Electric supplier: CALL US TO ARRANGE A SMART METER INSTALLATION OR ELSE

      Me: Contacts new supplier to transfer the service

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        'Electric supplier: CALL US TO ARRANGE A SMART METER INSTALLATION OR ELSE'

        At which point, I'd have been saying 'Or else what, exactly?' as you are under no legal obligation to have one of the things, despite the BS their saleswonks spout.

        If you have a threat in writing from the buggers, throw it in OFGEM's direction..

  6. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    In-House Displays

    Ah yes, I don't know anyone using these.

    Maybe thats how most people currently cut their leccy use by shoving this stupid thing in a draw.

    1. Gordon861

      Re: In-House Displays

      I have an in-house display from my old OWL meter reader amongst all the other junk near my computer, very good for telling when the oven is up to temp as the power draw will drop suddenly. They can be useful once you establish a baseline, just don't get too obsessive about trying to get too low.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: In-House Displays

        Have an upvote - exactly the same usage case I had for mine.

        At least until the batteries ran out on the bit that clamps around the mains cable (no I wasn't dumb enough to fall for the meter hype either, with the added excuse of incompatible solar panels on the roof) and then the whole shebang went back in the drawer.

      2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: In-House Displays

        hmm thats actually a really good idea (I can't remember a cooker ever telling me it was up to temperature), although for me it'll only work for the microwave (I have a Gas Cooker, so I am probably evil or something)

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: In-House Displays

          FWIW my last two (electric) cookers have beeped forlornly when reaching temperature. One a fancy Miele oven that comes with some bells and whisltes, the other a cheap Panasonic desktop oven that has the crappest UI known to mankind (doesn't show the temperature at all, and won't let you set a timer unless it has already beeped at you to let you know it is up to temperature)

        2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

          Re: In-House Displays

          Oh wait those things have gas on to, so actually should be able to see

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: In-House Displays

        They can be useful once you establish a baseline, just don't get too obsessive about trying to get too low.

        But it is useful to be a little obsessive in determining just what is in that baseline and then determining the major contributors to your bill. In my house this means we have hot water most of the time, but have a larger and better insulated tank - so the boiler can run less frequently and for longer (more efficient mode of operation with condensing boilers).

    2. }{amis}{
      Meh

      Re: In-House Displays

      > Ah yes, I don't know anyone using these.

      I have one the best use I've found for it is knowing when the oven is up to temp as the power demand drops.

    3. Not also known as SC
      Angel

      Re: In-House Displays

      Funny you should say that - ours is in a draw.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: ours is in a draw

        Like a raffle you mean?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A catastrophic waste of money that would have been better spent securing our future power supply by replacing closed down or soon to close down nuclear reactors, the wind doesn't blow all the time and we need a decent baseload. It's not perfect but doesn't release CO2.

  8. ExampleOne

    My exchange was:

    Supplier: Can we schedule fitting a smart meter?

    Me: No.

    Supplier: We have to replace all meters with smart meters by $date.

    Me: Bring a court order, and I'll think about it.

    Supplier: Oh, ok, will mark you as not wanting the smart meter.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      I like asking them what makes it "smart" and listening to them squirm as they try to con me that seeing how much I'm using will somehow (magic?) enable me to use less than I need for my daily life.

      More fun is when they try to argue it's not a glorified remote kill switch, the rollout isn't increasing unemployment, and it would save more money if they simply hadn't bothered in the first place.

      Talk to me when "smart" meters live-track the energy markets an seamlessly switch to the cheapest tarrif across all providers every 30 seconds.

      1. BeefEater

        After previously always saying that I was waiting for the SMETS2 variety I was a bit flummoxed recently to be told that this was now their standard. So I just stalled again.

        But after being a supplier of equipment to the electrical networks for 40 years I am now thinking of turning the tables and requesting a full technical description of the capabilities and a copy of an independent security report, which is what we always had to supply.

        On a separate aspect; I noticed that a recent TV Ad had moved from talking about saving money to saving the planet.

  9. adam payne Silver badge

    My previous supplier tried to put my price up when I refused to have a smart meter saying I had to have one. They didn't seem to believe me when I said smart meters were voluntary so I changed my supplier a couple of weeks later.

  10. antonyh

    Changed suppliers

    I dodged all of this by switching to a supplier that explicitly doesn't offer 'smart' meters. Bonus points for being green too.

    I know it'll come eventually and I'll have no choice, but I got sick of letters from EDF and when BG rang and were insisting on fitting one I jumped ship. These gadgets are all downside and no upside as far as I can tell.

  11. codejunky Silver badge

    Ha

    Dumb idea that was only going to cost money. People didnt want it, the suppliers didnt want it. Only the gov sold on green lies went with this dumb idea. And it turns out as expected.

    Whenever I get asked to move to one I just say 'not interested thanks'.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Ha

      Are you SURE the suppliers didn't want it? I mean, it would have enabled them to get rid of huge swathes of staffing costs, like meter readers, and consigned a particular genre of pr0nographic narrative to the anals annals of history.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Ha

        @TRT

        "Are you SURE the suppliers didn't want it?"

        I am fairly sure when this idea was being pushed (and even now are forced by the gov) the companies didnt want it. Like you I would expect them to be all over it if it was good for them.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Ha

          Company: "Hmm... sounds expensive. I mean, it's going to be cheaper just to get a fleet of minimum-wage Joes to do it."

          HMG: "We'll subsidise it..."

          Company: "We're in!"

      2. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge

        Re: Ha

        Meter readers...Oh yes, I remember them (strictly in the 'nothing to do with your last sentence' manner, I hasten to add).

        Now I get an automated 'phone call from British Gas asking me to read the meter and supply the result online or by automated 'phone line. Quick and easy. Supplier saves money on staffing costs. No infernal / unreliable/ hackable/ unnecessary smart meter required. (No, I don't have a smart meter. Funny you should ask).

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Ha

          Mine just asks me to take a photograph of the meter dials with my phone every now and again.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Ha

          "Now I get an automated 'phone call from British Gas asking me to read the meter and supply the result online or by automated 'phone line."

          I keep getting that. The first few tries they'd rung off by the time I got to the meter which is on the opposite gable to the front door. Then I tried the ring back and it assumed I had my account number to hand (no attempt to match CLI with the number they called on). So now I've given up and just ignore their calls. They might have improved things since then but how would I know - I ignore them? Moral: get it right first time.

          1. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge

            Re: Ha

            Hmm, weird, my experience with them clearly better than yours (and no, I'm still not referring to the last sentence of the 'meter readers' comment). My 'phone number is evidently linked to my account number, so 'phone back - system knows it's me (well, my house/gas account), select a couple of push button options, key in the meter reading. sorted.

            "Moral: get it right first time.", Yup, this.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Ha

              "My 'phone number is evidently linked to my account number, so 'phone back - system knows it's me (well, my house/gas account), select a couple of push button options, key in the meter reading. sorted."

              Mine obviously was, that's why they called - either that or they were calling the wrong number. And maybe now they could make the link if I called back, something they should have had in place from the start. But I gave up on them and have no intention of wasting time to see if they've debugged their system (if they were paying me to debug it for them it would be different).

              So I ignore them and they send somebody out to read it. Sorted.

      3. SloppyJesse

        What's a meter reader?

        "I mean, it would have enabled them to get rid of huge swathes of staffing costs, like meter readers"

        Really? Do they still employ meter readers?

        Haven't heard them mentioned since I was with British Gas (for my electric, obviously). And even they haven't actually read the meter since being outsourced. Every 12 months or so, BG would insist the outsourced reader needed to come round despite me providing regular readings (to guard against fraud apparently). The outsourced reader would leave a card, I'd write the reading I'd previously provided online and leave it stuck to the porch window.

        I don't think anyone other than me has actually read the meter in 12 years.

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: What's a meter reader?

          Certainly water meters, where fitted, are mandated to be read by a water board operative at least twice a year (or so I was told by Thames Water).

          For gas & electricity, suppliers are only obliged to read and inspect you meter once every 2 years, according to Ofgem

  12. Totally not a Cylon
    Boffin

    Are they emp proof?

    I have a nice big arc-welder which is used within 10 feet of our meters, so that's the first question anyone gets asked.

    Followed by 'when it fails does it fail power on or power off?'

    Why they can't just use a box which attaches to the remote reading terminal on both meters instead......

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Are they emp proof?

      "Why they can't just use a box which attaches to the remote reading terminal on both meters instead...."

      Because that kind of thing would be a meter, and therefore cheap and simple to design, install, operate and maintain.

      And the real agenda, as noted elsewhere in these posts, is selective remotely controlled load shedding, especially when demand exceeds supply, especially when there is a rgional rather than national problem.

  13. Red Ted
    FAIL

    Just a disaster from start to... well... it probably won't end.

    Not only do they cost lots, fail to work with other suppliers, there's also the extra opportunity for the back end to mess it all up. There's this article in the Guardian where they misconfigured the meter to be a pre-payment one, so it rapidly ran out of credit and cut them off.

  14. andy 103 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Horseshit

    Never had a smart meter simply because they're a load of horseshit.

    There are only ever 2 cited advantages. One is accuracy, and the other is helping customers save money.

    Let's examine these. Accuracy? No. If ever you have a new system installed you do not simply rely on the data from day one without any kind of manual checking unless you're an absolute idiot*. The best and most accurate way to read it therefore still involves the same manual check that you were doing before having one.

    Saving money? Why would an energy company want you to save money and furthermore how does a smart meter actually give you anything which does that**? They don't, and don't - are the answers to those questions. Where do you think the money has come from to develop/install them? Umm...

    Until they become a legal requirement (I believe the Gov are a bit busy sorting out something with the EU) I don't see the point at all. There's nothing in it for me and at least 2 very good reasons not to bother.

    * This applies to any device, not just smart meters.

    ** a device or interface that tells you when/where you're using energy does not correlate to you saving money just because you know you're using it. There are a worrying number of people who don't seem to understand this extremely basic premise.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Horseshit

      I believe somewhere I read there was an issue with accuracy of both highly inductive loads and loads which fed back a lot of transients.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Horseshit

        Yes, I think I read the same thing. However, the older meters weren't affected, it was the smart ones that had problems.

    2. Electronics'R'Us
      WTF?

      Re: Horseshit

      When I see statements like this:

      What is HAN?

      HAN stands for Home Area Network. It’s a secure wireless system in your home that links up your smart products and smart meters. (From OVO Energy)

      I laugh and wonder how long the things have probably already been cracked.

      Security costs money and computing resources, which also uses energy; so the so-called smart meters are using energy for all the communication links, the display and measurements (it is impossible to measure something without energy form somewhere - usually the quantity being measured).

      What bright spark thought that adding energy usage (for a very dubious reason - the meters and network) was smart?

      Sounds like an ID-ten-T error.

    3. Killing Time

      Re: Horseshit

      'Accuracy? No. If ever you have a new system installed you do not simply rely on the data from day one without any kind of manual checking unless you're an absolute idiot*. The best and most accurate way to read it therefore still involves the same manual check that you were doing before having one.'

      Don't really know what your interpretation of accuracy is but the above statement isn't even close to the mark.

      Instrument accuracy WRT electrical metering is a function of the 'class' of CT's/VT's being used and resolution / sample rate of the A/D converters handling the analogue to digital conversion.

      Its swimming against the tide to attempt to support so called smart metering on this site and I have no intention of doing so other than to say the primary drivers behind it are actually reduction of fraud and better load profiling data to enable improved load management.

      The rest is pretty much horseshit....

  15. DuncanLarge Silver badge

    Hmm

    As much as I will be annoyed about having to put up with another 4 years of pestering, maybe this will mean I can wait for a proper and secure smart meter design?

    Preferably one that does not go wrong and start charging me for generating solar energy like some poor guy on the radio this morning found was happening with his meter!

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Hmm

      Given how it's gone so far, I think we'll need to wait far more than 4 years for a proper and secure smart meter...

      And it's reasonably well known that the current crop aren't compatible with solar panels or other "in house" generation mechanisms. So the radio guy got suckered twice...

      1. Killing Time

        Re: Hmm

        'And it's reasonably well known that the current crop aren't compatible with solar panels or other "in house" generation mechanisms.'

        It is? Is there any published technical detail to back this claim up other than vague claims and hearsay? All the meter is doing is measuring the direction and size of the electrical current in the supply 'tails' to the property, nothing more nothing less.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      "Preferably one that does not go wrong and start charging me for generating solar energy like some poor guy on the radio this morning found was happening with his meter!"

      Your solar system has to be certified before your meter will be set to operate bi-directionally. The biggest concern is that it will stop feeding the grid if the power gets cut so linemen won't get zapped. They also want to make sure that you aren't going to try and feed-in more power than your service can handle.

  16. andy 103 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Save you money

    Whenever a company uses the phrase "save you money" it actually means "save us (the company) money".

    Which they may - or may not - pass on to customers.

    You can only "save money" by not consensually giving it away in the first place. If it's possible for you to save money it simply means you were being shafted to begin with. The saving was never yours.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No accurate bills

    I give my provider readings every month, it takes only a minute or two but despite them claiming this makes their bills accurate I still ended up about £400 in credit at the end of the year, I then switched to another supplier and it took me over 12 weeks and a lot of hassle to get my credit back. If I hadn't argued about their initial guesstimate and got them to agree to a lower DD I'd have been another £300 in credit.

    Anyway I note that my current provider is still (as per last provider) overstating my estimated usage for the year by about £400 again. Each month my usage is lower than their prediction yet the yearly prediction remains the same. For instance for August predicted gas usage was nearly 400% out and electricity was about 50% out.

    They of course explain any inaccuracy as ensuring you don't end up with a big bill over the winter months by building up credit during the summer.

    Time to go back to payment on bill I think.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: No accurate bills

      Estimating your bills on the high side is simply a free loan for the utility companies. It should be legal for everyone to charge interest to offset their loss of use of the money, I wonder how much bill over assessment money is held each year?

      1. Colin Bull 1
        Flame

        Re: No accurate bills

        This is not the only reason. By estimating your bill, they do not raise a VAT invoice and you are paying them the VAT element that they are not passing on to HMRC ( until a proper VAT invoice is raised, usually once a year). If they are getting a meter reading and still charging based on estimate I would call this defrauding HMRC. But HMRC are too stupid to care.

      2. jigr1969

        Re: No accurate bills

        OVO Energy actually pay you interest on the money you have in credit with them.

    2. Not also known as SC

      Re: No accurate bills

      If your gas is so high have you checked that the meter reading and billing units are the same? When I moved house into the one with the smart meter I gave the reading as xxxx kwh (as that was on the IHD) and they billed it as cubic metres (or vice versa) which gave me a gas bill way higher than it should have been. It was only when they went to treble my DD payment I realised what had happened.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No accurate bills

        Yes I am referring to kWh their nice graph shows predicted 582kWh and my actual was 155kWh, goind forwards they predict 730kWh for Sept, 1597 kWh for Oct, 2861 kWh for Nov and 3281 kWh for Dec

  18. Drew Scriver Silver badge

    Heat pumps don't like to have their power cut

    In the USA electric meters have been able to send reading to the power company for decades. Not quite sure what technology they use, but I suspect they might send the data over the power lines. The meter is pretty basic. Still has the tumblers.

    The big thing, however, is the 'smart' switch, which must be installed separately and allows the utility to 'balance' the load. It mainly comes down to shutting down the air conditioner or heat pump during times of high demand.

    Customers get a discount of a whopping $40 a year or so. Trouble is, air conditioners and heat pumps don't like to have their power cut abruptly. According to a number of HVAC experts it results in a lot of repairs. Bye bye $40 a year.

    Now that Europe is embracing heat pumps I imagine that the same problems might crop up there too.

    I had the electric company remove the 'smart' switch the first week I moved in.

    1. ilmari

      Re: Heat pumps don't like to have their power cut

      I’m in Europe,recently installed a heat pump. It has inputs for signaling “power is practically free now “, “power is cheap”, “power is expensive”, IIRC.

      Of course, the electricity supplier’s meter doesn’t have a single I/O despite being a “smart” meter. I’ve considered making a raspberry Pi screen scrape their website and signal my heat pump.

  19. batfink Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Savings of 3%

    None of this makes sense.

    I can picture a scenario where a household gets excited about switching off lights etc when a display goes in, but I would suspect strongly that this fades over time. And seriously, where is this 3% saving coming from? People aren't going to be doing less washing etc, so it may come down to turning off lights when you leave a room, or maybe not heating unused rooms.

    I did the "excited" routine when I bought a second-hand display. I went around testing consumption on everything I could find. So, now I know how much everything drags. Do we do anything different now? Nope. Has our consumption changed? Nope. (Although I did discover I had a mystery 300W draw somewhere that I still haven't tracked down...)

    Even if this 3% is correct, it can be achieved by simply providing people with a display. The Cost/Benefit analysis says £15 per display (which seems a bit high to me, considering the volumes, but hey...). There is no need to put in the comms infrastructure - these can just be sent to everyone in the mail, or whatever, with some instructions. £15x25M (say) households = £375M. How many £Bn is the latest estimate? Can we have the balance back please?

    As for the horror of estimated bills: if you don't want estimated readings, then read your fucking meter.

    So, as far as I can make out, this whole exercise is for the benefit of the suppliers, and therefore they can fuck off. Are the government seriously trying to tell us that the suppliers don't know how much power is being used at any given time? If they don't then they shouldn't be in business, never mind being helped out with handouts like this. And if the savings for them are so great, then they can pay for the fucking rollout themselves.

    </rant>

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Savings of 3%

      Initially I went around turning things on and off to see how much power they sucked up according to the meter. I don't do that so much anymore as I already turn things off when not in use and I now know how much power things take to run. If I'm out by the meter, sometimes I'll have a look at what I'm drawing.

      If you've trained yourself to turn out lights and not leave things on, having a remote display is less of a benefit. I already know that if every light is on in the house, it's about 200W. Everything is LED except for one bathroom that has odd lamp fittings and would be more money to buy the LED bulbs than I'd save in two years. When they burn out, I'll put in new fixtures.

  20. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Morons. Any meter replacement programme should have been part of the already-existing meter replacement programme that goes on to replace meters when their calibration certification runs out after a decade or so.

    1. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge

      That's how they tried to get me.

      Them: "Meter needs replacing due to its age, you have to have a smart meter".

      Me: "It's not that old, and I don't want a smart meter."

      Repeat twice more.

      Me...>thinks< "Oops, the meter is that old, and does need replacing", having downloaded the relevant legislation, "could be inconvenient next time they try and push the issue".

      Them: "okay we won't give you a smart meter, we'll just replace it with a normal one"

      Me: "Ok!"

      Two years pass.

      Them:"Meter needs replacing due to it's age, you have to have a smart meter".

      Me: "No, it needs replacing, and you promised me a 'dumb one' two years ago". Provide copies of this is writing.

      Them: "Mutter, mutter"

      New (dumb) meter installed.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wholly, exclusively and unnecessarily paid for in full by the consumer regardless of whether they have one or not. As ever the culprits should be lined up against a wall and shot, instead they'll get a seat in the House of Lords on 300 quid 'a day' or maybe a cushy job 'in Europe' paying many times that.

  22. Gerry 3
    Alert

    Mega Expensive when you want to use it !

    Smart meters mean Time of Use tariffs. Only 41.94p/kWh in SE England at peak time...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If "smart meters" are so good

    Why don't we have ones for gas, to save on gas, and water to save on water ?

    Or do they not actually save any power at all ?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Gerry 3
      Boffin

      Re: If "smart meters" are so good

      Smart meters for gas are included in the project.

      Smart meters alone don't save anything: they may help consumers to use slightly less energy.

      1. Justthefacts

        Re: If "smart meters" are so good

        *How* exactly would a smart meter help me to use less energy?

        The one thing it doesn’t do, is tell me which devices are using energy and when.

        I *could* do a bunch of experiments turning stuff off and on, and look at what it displays. I can do that with a dumb meter now, and just watch the spinning disc, and I have once on a wet weekend. I’m sad.

        If anything, in practice smart meters makes it harder/worse. If I really want to know what actions to take, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to add up the bulb wattage in the room and figure out whether ir makes sense to go out and buy leds. Using the meter to measure the usage of the washing machine is far less accurate than just googling for the power per wash, because of spin cycles etc, ditto fridges and freezers. The only thing the smart meter gives you, compared to waggling your head around the house + google + pen and paper, is the ability to run a bad experiment and draw an unwarranted conclusion.

        Put another way. This is a software site, and a fair few of us care about the power efficiency of the code we write for embedded etc. If you needed to do a power analysis of the impact of your software to present to the system architect, would you:

        A) Get a very large envelope, and scribble some formulae however simplistic, relating CPU usage, frequency, memory bandwidth yada yada, and a couple of use cases

        B) Find a bit of software that’s sort of similar and extrapolate because it’s better than nothing.....wait for it, you haven’t seen all the options yet.....

        C) Both A and B, and sanity-cross-check....

        D) Run the software on your Work PC, and read the current draw off the UPS that supplies your floor of the office.

        1. Jon 37

          Re: If "smart meters" are so good

          In the long term, a smart meter will help you save energy by automatically turning off the power when there's not enough generation capacity available, and/or by allowing the electricity company to massively raise prices during peak times, which will cause you to turn everything off.

          Because a lot of the UK's generation capacity is reaching end of life, and it's not being replaced with reliable capacity. So if the wind doesn't blow on a winter evening at peak times, expect blackouts.

          Smart meters have a remote controlled switch that lets the blackouts be targeted at poor and middle-class people, without affecting the rich people.

    3. ilmari

      Re: If "smart meters" are so good

      I would’ve benefitted from a smart water meter. If it would’ve let me look at usage history hour by hour.

      Eventually I figured it out, that the inherited washing machine, the finest mid 80s engineering from Germany, skillfully crafted from what was no doubt spare armour plates originally destined for the Bismarck (judging by its weight), was consuming around 5 bucks/quid/euro in water each wash!

      Although sometimes I wonder if the modern machine is worse, saving water by cheerfully claiming the wash is done when half the soap I put in is still obscuring my laundry from view.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: If "smart meters" are so good

        Sheesh - Thames Water charges £1.40 per m^3 (aka 1,000 litres), so your machine was using 3,500 litres per wash!!

  24. Franco Silver badge

    Step 1: Replace perfectly functional meters with "smart" ones that aren't fit for purpose

    Step 2: ?

    Step 3: PROFIT!

  25. Paul Herber Silver badge

    SMETS2

    More like SMEGS2

    Treating us like gimboids.

  26. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    Umm mine doesnt work

    Well it worked for 6 months then the IED, sorry what, that display thing stopped taking to the box on the wall. British Gassed out of their arse saying I had broken it and a replacement was £50. Well its still broken 2 years later. How is that doing for your smart metering coverage that doesn't like a tin foil hat on the door!

  27. The Basis of everything is...
    Big Brother

    Alleged benefits?

    I remember being told (quite possibly on El Reg) of all the wonderful benefits smart meters would bring.

    I'm currently looking for a new fridge since the current one after 15 years had developed a worrying blinkenlight of the I'm dying variety. I can get fridges that can let you use a smartphone to see how many goosnarghs are lurking at back, or can entertain the kiddies with a 4-ft tablet in the door. Not one can talk to your smart meter, decide the 'leccy is a bit expensive right now so shut down for a while to watch a 9-round deathmatch between salmonella united and campylobacter city.

    Whoever thought it is a brilliant idea to have your washing machine start up at 2am must live in a mansion and have servants to go down at 3am and put stuff in the drying or hang on the line if it's a warm and dry night. In the real world anything that wakes me up at 2am had better have damn good reason or be wearing body armour.

    But we're going to get stuffed by this farce one way or another. When the random disconnections, sorry, I mean load shedding starts to happen on a regular basis I can see a lot of people getting creative with jump leads. Just sayin'.

    1. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

      Re: Alleged benefits?

      Quite right, can you be more specific about the blinkenlight? I helped swap a MB on a fridge and the symptoms were very similar.

      Also a common problem seems to be failed start capacitors on the compressor/motor unit.

      Freon leaks are thankfully rare these days unless someone went cleaning ice out with a machete.

      I did look into running certain items off a salvaged UPS with a couple of recycled bicycle SLAs as these are sometimes perfectly good if long charged from solar after a bit of reconditioning: worked for me.

      Procedure here was after measuring it at 7.8V and less than 20mA available run it down to nothing through a 100 ohm 5W power resistor then slowly charge it for several weeks off a 12V 500mA solar panel during the hottest part of summer with periodic disconnections to test.

      This worked well, full voltage and enough capacity to run a B/W TV for several hours.

      Don't bother taking these apart, it won't help. Think the "depleted acid" variety have no available free oxygen so normal room air poisons the chemistry quite effectively. Old style lead acids are less fussy but aren't suitable for a domestic environment due to H2 production and other nasties like H2S if not charged properly.

      Note if the SLA in question has bulged or split he is dead, Jim.

      E-bike ones are good as the reputable makes are already optimized for high current use and better manufacturers even add thermal cutouts.

  28. liftman

    W T F

    I can't see what benefits I will get from having a "smart "meter .It won't reduce my energy consumption as I won't be checking the display unit to see how much I have spent .The only benefit to me is not sending my meter readings .the only people to gain from this are the suppliers.Another political ploy to show our government really care .

  29. earl grey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    this can only end in tears

    Tears in rain.

    Now i'm really sad.

  30. Stephen Wilkinson

    Got a smart meter, changed suppliers and smart meter doesn't work with any other supplier so back to filling in the meter reading online.

  31. jmch Silver badge

    numbers??

    "Total costs of the project are also going up – to £13.4bn compared with previous estimates of £11bn."

    "The government scheme assumed that this would cut domestic energy use by about 3 per cent."

    average domestic energy bills are £700/year (https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/blog/how-much-is-the-average-gas-and-electricity-bill-per-month), so the government is 'assuming' savings of £21/year/household. Not living in the UK, as far as I understand consumers aren't being charged for smart meters directly or through energy bills, so the 'project costs' mentioned are the costs to the government of buying (and installing?) the meters. 27 million UK households means the government is spending close to £500 per household for the meters.

    So clearly this isn't about reducing costs, but (a) reducing consumption and (b) being able to manage consumption / loads better. So, as others' above mentioned, surge pricing and load shedding?

    1. Gerry 3

      Re: numbers??

      You're right about the load shedding aspect: smart meters can implement much more granular power cuts compared to substations switching off whole neighbourhoods (including vulnerable customers such as those who rely on medical equipment or alarm systems). Smart meters can also implement load limiting. It's all down to forthcoming shortages in generating capacity: we couldn't even keep the trains running and the lights on a few weeks ago when there were a couple of glitches.

      But you're very wrong about the average bills (even the site you quoted says it's £1254 p.a., or £880 if you're on the cheapest tariff). Similarly, the costs of smart meters are being paid for by customers of the energy companies, not by the government. Even if the government were paying, there's no magic money tree: one way or another we all end up footing the bill. £13.1bn is now attributable to domestic premises and in 2018 there were 27.6 million households, so that's a whopping £475 each.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: numbers??

        "But you're very wrong about the average bills (even the site you quoted says it's £1254 p.a., or £880 if you're on the cheapest tariff)"

        My bad on the average bills, I was quoting only the electricity, not realising these meters can also be combination-meters for gas. But I guess the 'smart' aspects only really apply to the electric part, not the gas? Hence my quoting just the electric part.

        "the costs of smart meters are being paid for by customers of the energy companies, not by the government. "

        Erm... so in that case, what the effing eck is the government spending £13billion on??

        1. Gerry 3
          Boffin

          Re: numbers??

          Gas meters are also smart: they are battery operated and phone home via the electricity meter.

          The Smart Meter Roll-Out Cost-Benefit Analysis (2019) says "The total costs of the programme over the appraisal period are estimated to be £13.4bn, with £13.1bn attributable to domestic premises" and that "Just as with traditional metering, smart meter costs are recovered from energy suppliers’ entire customer bases."

  32. Adelio

    The "benefits of smart meters"

    I do not belive and have never believed that there is ANY cost benefit to the consumer of having smart meters.

    Sorry, there is one small benefit.

    As I have a smart meter now i can just look at the display to get my meter readings instead of crawling around to get them from the actual meters.

    B.T.W the meter was installed by EON quite a few years ago but since then I have changed supplier twice.

    As soon as I moved from EON the new suppliers have to read the meters manually (or I give them a meter reading)

  33. Mr Plod

    BG installed a type 2 smart meter in Nov 2018, including network kit. SSE came in Dec 2018 to install a type 2 meter but did not have instructions/permission to use BG network kit. SSe came again in July 2019 but could only install a type 1 smart meter (no interface to monitor). We await the installation of a type 2 smart meter from SSE. It seems that dual suppliers are the problem. maybe the objective is to make consumers get all their supplies from one supplier. What a cock-up and SSE down cost wise two failed visits.

  34. Lee D Silver badge

    Have a pre-pay meter on a Economy 7 tariff with immersion heater and storage heaters. I know, what is it, the damn 1970's? But that's what the flat I moved into has.

    They called about upgrading me so I wouldn't have to use the key to top up at the one newsagent who lets you do it (and who got shirty about my using a card to top it up once while carrying a basketful of shopping, at which point I stopped buying everything else from their shop and draw out the only cash I ever handle to top it precisely the card and nothing else).

    Top up from a credit card using the app seemed quite sensible, I'm really not bothered about the "smart" bit... I barely use any electricity anyway. They also offered £50 credit for changing it.

    They arranged a date, asked specifically if I had storage heaters ("Yes"), I booked a day off work because they're too useless to give an indication of time or tell you when they are on their way (unlike Amazon, Hermes, DHL, thousands of other companies).

    The guy from Siemens turned up. Took one look. Said they didn't have a meter with the extras for storage heating. Drove off immediately. Never came back. They never followed up. They send me another generic leaflet occasionally about it but until they recompense me for my day off work to let that guy in, AND another day to let the next guy in, AND my £50, plus interest, they can go fish.

    I wouldn't mind, but my meter is in an outside cupboard, so they could easily change it and if they had any kind of decent kit, they could do it without anything but the briefest interruption to supply without me having to do anything.

    And I *specifically* told the woman on the phone, who *specifically* asked, and then *specifically* clarified, that I have damn storage heaters. Which, incidentally, spend all of their time switched off, because the flat is warm enough even in the depths of winter because the poor sod below pays my heating, in effect.

  35. Krassi

    tinfoil hat

    Put it over the smart meter - no signal - problem solved.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Somewhat off topic but...

    I got an email from Scottish Power a few days ago:

    ...gas bill for the period 15th December 2018 to 7th January 2019 is now ready and the amount due for payment is £1002...

    Interestingly I'm not their customer and doesn't £1k for 3 weeks gas to a domestic property sound a little steep?

    Energy companies invoicing systems are a complete screw up and annual the need to change suppliers to keep on a decent tariff is a pain to the consumer and the admin costs to the industry must be considerable. Typically switching will save me £500 (last year paid just shy of £2k, this years quote £2400 to renew, but change supplier and I pay switchers rate of about £1900). A switcher moving to the current supplier would get a substantially lower quote. Existing customers can't get the current supplier's cheapest tariff. We need legislation to put an end to this pointless farce and require suppliers to offer existing customers that same rate as a new customer switching to them.

    On topic: smart meters. Installation of gas boilers in will be banned in new build domestic properties from 2025. As central heating accounts for the bulk of domestic use I guess builders will not install gas supplies so all heating in new builds will be electric. It can only be a matter of time before the ban is extended to replacement boilers in older properties and the gradual elimination of gas for cooking and other uses. In any case I guess the elimination of demand for gas boilers for new builds will lead to reduced sales for gas boiler manufacturers to which they will respond by consolidating into fewer manufacturers and increased prices so influencing boiler replacement decisions. At the same time there is the smart-home issue. Electronic control of conventional water filled radiators is difficult whereas turning off an electric radiator digitally is trivial. I have largely unused rooms with a radiator permanently on, bedrooms heated (to 21C) during the day and downstairs rooms heated at night (at night the thermostat cuts to 16C for the whole house to keep bedrooms warm enough).

    Wouldn't it be better to mandate smart-meters in electric-only households and after a few more years mandate smart electric for all but not bother with gas. In short "evolution not revolution".

  37. Moosh

    What about the rigmarole of trying to install them in rental properties where the tennants might not have permission to upgrade even if they wanted to?

    My fiancée keeps getting EDF letters (as its in her name, water in mine) about switching to a smart meter but i'm not sure we're even able to without the arse-ache of discussing with the agency who would then have to discuss with the landlord. I'm sure we're not the only people in this situation (were we ever actually considering a smart meter) - there's plenty of renters out there, especially now. How do they cater for them?

  38. albertfandango

    Testing... testing...

    The manufacturers of the SMETS2 meters seem unclear on how they work.

    "The manufacturers test the top layer of meters before they leave the factory. Typical good practice to make sure a batch works. But under the SMETS2 security protocol, it seems that a meter which has been tested will no longer work – possibly never again."

    via https://octopus.energy/blog/unblocking-second-generation-smart-meters/

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Testing... testing...

      Great link.

      If you test a meter, it never works ever again.

      And tested meters are ending up being supplied to customers because nobody knew which ones were tested and which were not.

      They also found out that if you turn the various components on in "the wrong order" (say, after a power cut reset them all!) then they can end up non-working or even permanently bricked.

      And in an all-parties install-fest / conference calls, they literally did not manage to install meters with all of the relevant companies sitting around a table checking their own systems and diagnosing things.

      Literally... just give it up now. Throw it all in the bin. The sheer farce of quality control, the companies themselves knowing how things are supposed to work, testing, delivery, integration, product design - everything in that list is just completely done wrong.

      Throw it all in the bin, start again. You have a few years now, maybe you can get a simple product like a digital electricity meter that can transmit a number back to home-base reliably running in all that time.

      But starting from that kind of position - no wonder nothing works.

  39. Neal L

    I moved into a new rental property recently and the landlord has installed a smart meter. Didn't really need one as I'm pretty good with turning things off and switching lights off after the kids have left the room. It did, however, come in very handy when we found out that the Eco function on our new oven used more electricity than the normal oven function.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Instantaneously, or over time?

      Because Eco cycles on washing machines pull far more power. But for much less time overall, and in smaller bursts.

  40. JulieM Silver badge

    Why I have not got a "smart" meter

    My existing meter uses a key which I can top up at any of several local shops, all of which are open until late.

    The new "smart" meters can only be topped up at a Post Office.

    I work nine hours a day, five days a week. My nearest Post Office is 25 minutes away from my workplace; it opens for business at the same time I start work, and closes before I finish. I get one hour for lunch, which leaves me ten minutes to queue up and pay -- minus any time required for shoe changing and drying off. And that 25 minute nominal figure is on a favourable day: rain, snow or temperatures above 25 degrees all add to the journey time.

    Limiting my payment options is a significant downgrade, compared to the present arrangement. I'd end up losing some weight, substituting one meal a week with the best part of an hour's walking; but I'm not sure that makes up for having to trek to the Post Office in the worst the British winter can throw at me.

  41. fajensen Silver badge
    IT Angle

    What is the problem, exactly?

    The "smart" as 'in being able to read it from remote' is a standard of-the-shelf thing from companies like Kamstrup. I have one, it came with the house, it is maybe two decades old. It has what looks like a ferrite antenna unit sitting on the wall next to the meter, connected with a two wire cable, unshielded, so the protocol is probably pretty large about errors.

    The "front-running the energy exchanges on your behalf"-type of "smart" meters are presently all work-in-progress, ever so slowly working their way through the peristaltic of standardisation. It would be nuts to introduce those at this time.

POST COMMENT House rules

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

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020