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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Smart meters will hurt the just coping

The Mail carries a story today that reveals the electricity companies are recruiting charity muggers - chuggers - to doorstep householders and pressurise them into having smart meters fitted. 

I've written before about the risks posed by smart meters - chiefly the ability to remotely connect / disconnect the supply. A year ago, during yet another supply shortfall scare, the power companies let it slip that they needed smart meters to allow 'load management' - i.e. to impose rolling blackouts when demand exceeds supply, but to avoid disconnecting hospitals or households with dialysis machines. In a Ratner moment, they also let slip that wealthy customers who pay extra for their power could be exempt from 'load management' disconnections. Which is a useful reminder of the social effects of smart meters. 

For the wealthy and comfortably off, smart meters pose few problems except alerting hacker burglars of times when the house is empty. No sooner have they left for a weekend in their Welsh cottage than burglars are alerted that the kettle and toaster haven't been used and bosh! that's the Philip Stark spiraliser gone.   

For the poor, smart meters will add nothing to their misery. They're not allowed credit. They are already on smartkey supplies and pay pound-by-pound in advance for their power. At a rate significantly higher than the rest of us. If you've never stood behind some poor woman in the queue at the co-op as she empties copper coins on the counter to get another £3 on her key and not inwardly wept you have no soul. 

No. It's the borderline strugglers, the financial jugglers, the overdraft army who will really feel the impact of smart meters. They will already have switched from a fixed monthly direct debit (that always gives the power company a balance of around £1,000 of one's money) to payment on actual readings. By massaging-down their self-readings they can give themselves some wiggle room until the annual compulsory reading by the energy firm - and even then can delay the catch-up reading by a week or so. Then they can wait to 'pay on red' and even then can wait until the 'notice of intended disconnection' arrives. All of which currently allows them to juggle enough to keep a clean credit record and avoid disconnection. But not with smart meters. 

No wonder the power companies are so keen for smart meters. No more meter readers, and above all no more need for magistrate's warrants to break into a dwelling house to disconnect the supply. Just wait seven days after the red bill and -flic!- power disconnected. This will even give them the chance to charge, say, another £100 to -flic!- the power back on, so trebles all round.


DeeDee99 said...

Voluntary sign-up for smart meters is, apparently, well below the power companies' targets.

So it won't be long before Government will decide they should become compulsory.

I have no problem paying my bills, but I'm holding out as long as I can.

Stephen J said...

I have a flat that I restored before letting and that already had key meters installed, I found that topping these things up is generally quite tricky. The vendors, usually corner shops, will not accept credit cards and they often charge a pound to use a debit card. And as you say Raedwald the prices are outlandish to boot.

Fortunately I never added to my nightmare with tenants as my son needed a place and he has taken it and replaced the meters with standard old fashioned meters.

But on the subject of "smart" meters, I have read that these are to be made compulsory, but then I have also read that, "government" would like to see one in every household by 2021, but has no plans to make them compulsory.

Bearing in mind the UK government's (aka civil service's) disdain for democracy and citizen rights in general, I rather think the former will be the upshot, likely imposed on some spurious climate change wankery, or some such.

Does any reader know the truth, is it just another one of the finishing touches to the total communitarian invasion?

Raedwald said...

Likewise DeeDee - it's the prospect of an authoritarian government disconnecting dissenters that worries me, but it's alaso a vote loser for any party that *doesn't* declare it will remain a voluntary measure .. one more question to ask them all.

Yes, they're starting here, too - several years behind the UK, and still voluntary, but they'll catch up.

Domo said...

Its rolling blackouts or grid failure if you want windfarms.

There simply isnt another way around it.

The rich will just buy a battery to run the important stuff

Led DC lights right off the battery, a 2000w inverter to keep the fridge, freezer, boiler and tv going.
No electric no heat in most houses these days too....

Poisonedchalice said...

I think they are just a pointless waste of time - another government boondoggle scheme to waste yet more tax-payers money. How can a smart meter possibly save anyone money? Does a cheaper tariff come with it? No it doesn't! So it's all bullshit.

John Brown said...

“Load management” is coming for everyone if Parliament keeps giving in to the green lobby and attempts to convert all our electricity production to unreliable renewable sources.

I cannot myself see the general populace accepting this “load management”, even with all the efforts of the BBC, and there will be very strong demands (riots even) for the return of reliable gas power stations when they find they cannot run their TV’s and computers or re-charge their mobile ‘phones. Or left in the dark and cold all evening or when they get up in the morning.

But if I’m wrong on this point then many people will be installing petrol generators and the UK will sound like a third world country until Parliament also bans the use of these generators.

Then I suppose there will be an explosion in the purchase of personal electrovoltaic solar panels to be able to guarantee the production of small quantities of electricity for basic needs.

For load management to become acceptable it may be necessary for smart meters to be able to track and control individual appliances and for financial incentives to be given to those people willing to be cut off as and when necessary.

rapscallion said...

As you rightly point out Radders, smart meters are there purely as a "load management" system, anything else is just frippery to sell to a gullible public who swallow this sort of guff whole. Hell, they're completely insecure to boot.

Making them compulsory is hardly going to be a vote winner either - and compulsion always leaves a nasty taste in the mouth - especially when it comes to such a basic service as power.

The well off may well be able to pay, but for how long? One only has to look at the power car crash they are having in Australia right now to see that this way ahead is in now way sustainable. See

People should start asking the question - why is "renewable" power like solar and wind (both of which are free) is the most expensive?

Stephen J said...

@Domo, I think that there is some truth in what you say. We don't want power generated centrally if it isn't available on tap and delivered in an uncomplicated manner... i.e. x pence for each kw.

The purpose of smart meters is to manage the unreliable central supply that is inevitable with the "new technology" that is being foisted on us.

However, those that still have a couple of quid left over after the government has had its collective/communist/socialist/fascist/communitarian hands in our pockets, would be sensible to spend it on personal generation and storage products, the Musk wall battery, some roof gear comprised of photo-voltaic cells and inverse radiators (hot water), some ground rods, and a big fat diesel generator, all of which will help us maintain a smattering of independence in this difficult climate.

"Climate change" is nothing to do with climate, or weather, it is merely the penultimate act of the folk that have evil in their hearts... The bankers, the Soros's the Gates's and so on. They will not rest until they control everything, and when they do, they will realise that they have effed up, big time, the final act will be their own demise.

Anonymous said...

Of course some people won't need to pay extra to be on the priority list, these will be the policians etc. - 'the two-legged animals'.

The roll-out doesn't need to be compulsory, it will be like contacless credit/debit cards, your meter will become due for 'calibration' and replaced with a smart meter. Don't want one? Just as with the cards there will be no option or the only option will be the paupers card or meter, no credit, pay top-whack in advance, probably by your smart phone, which all poor people now have, (a priority before food/housing).

Sobers said...

While I'm sure the powers that be are pushing smart meters as a demand management tool for the future, they've f*cked up royally, because they didn't insist on a standard meter and IT control system. Different companies are using different smart meters, with different IT systems. So if you sign up to a smart meter with one supplier, it won't be fully compatible with other suppliers. Some might be, but other not. It will function as a pure meter, but all other functionality would be lost, as the new supplier doesn't have the systems to control it. So all you would have to do is swap suppliers and the ability to control your meter would be lost. I understand that a new common standard meter is now being developed, but all the currently installed meters would not be compliant, and thus can be bypassed by moving to a different supplier.
So if the plan is to control the entire UK energy grid demand via smart meters they've just spent the last however many years installing a bunch of junk.

Scrobs. said...

If the goverment are so keen on 'load management', why don't they start with the NHS, and stop interfering with power essentials even more important than a foreigner squirting kids in all directions and using my meagre pension to pay for the privilege.

Stephen J said...

@Michael, the NHS should be closed down. It should never have even been born. It represents the first nail in the coffin of the free British citizen.

Mind you, having taken a walk through Lewisham the other day, I am not surprised that we are in the state that we are.

John M said...

"Load Management" is a fallacy. The Greens wax on about it but peak loads are a fact of life. If the intention is to forcibly manage energy consumption then who is going to be forced to sit in the dark with no TV for the benefit of others? Perhaps everyone who supports the Green Party should volunteer to be the first so they can experience first hand that which they advocate for everyone else.

English Pensioner said...

Perhaps there are some hackers out there who will be able to send appropriate wireless signals to smart meters and, say, cut of the power from a few MPs and company bosses! Meters have apparently been hacked in the US and normally we don't follow far behind in such things.

Wildgoose said...

Sobers is correct - I am the Treasurer of a Charity keeping our local Library open. British Gas replaced our meter with a smart meter just two weeks before we changed supplier. The new supplier can't access the meter.

I also recently had a call at home from my energy company wanting to arrange the appointment replace my (fairly new) meter with a new smart meter. I forced him to admit this wasn't compulsory and to leave me alone.

Anonymous said...

"I also recently had a call at home from my energy company,"

First Utility won't bleedin' stop sending me emails and letters.

Not interested.

Doug Shoulders said...

Off grid wise.. the amount of rain that falls on my roof…methinks it might be worthwhile to rig up a water wheel or two. Either that or procure a large battery and keep it topped up with a couple of hours on a bike.
Didn’t they do that in Solyent green? The Dystopian future is upon us…nearly.
The only way to improve the take up of smart meters is to sell the benefits and there are none. The real issue for future consumers is the routine price-hikes.
Ask yourself what you were paying per quarter ten years ago compared to now.
Pricing people out of using the fuel is a more effective control of demand.

Dave_G said...

Living in Scotland poses smart meter problems without the actual Smart Meters.... being rural (no piped gas supply) many properties are all-electric i.e. effing-expensive. Add to that the Economy 7 tariffs for heating - which generally prevent you changing suppliers as the cheaper suppliers can't control the on-off times - and you're stuck with one of the two main i.e. most expensive energy suppliers LIKE IT OR NOT. Been there, tried that, got the fuck-you letter to prove it. We had to have the E7 supply disconnected to enable us to move supplier - no more off-peak heating now.

Smart Meters will only add to the problems - and with poor/zero mobile phone signals they wouldn't work reliably around here anyway.

And then there's the 'debt' issue. The calls for people to 'shop around' are ludicrous when those that NEED to change to a cheaper supplier are constantly in DEBT to their existing supplier and the new suppliers won't consider taking anyone who's not debt-free to begin with.....

If they want a fairer system of energy delivery then make the first (x)kWhr a NOMINAL cost and have a sliding scale of cost as more is used.

This would serve to provide low users, the most vulnerable, with the cheapest access and those that waste a lot can pay the most. Supporters of all-things-anti-CO2 should be CLAMOURING for such a process i.e .gov, the actual suppliers.....

Currently those least able to pay are SUBSIDISING those that CAN pay.

Smart Meters? Let's fix the EXISTING issues of electricity supply before adding yet more complication.

Anonymous said...

I put a lead shield around mine 4 years ago and it was put to the test - they can shut off your supply from a van outside your house. I've had a roll of lead for decades when I over purchased some for a roof I was re-doing. Smart meters use HAN (Home Area Network) and WAN (Wide Area Network) and both are now blocked at my house. Shielding myself against ultra-high frequencies is a thing of mine since I qualified in communications using them whilst in the forces. Over time it can affect your health as it rubs your DNA up the wrong way.

Shocking "Smart" Meter Effects On Human Blood

We live in an age of lying slags, dissemblers and treasonous gits so you have to look out for yourself and your kin these days. At the moment I feel like flooding the House of Lords with some serious amplitudes. I hate politicians.


Nick Drew said...

Well just so you know,

(a) although many of the technical and logisitical aspects of the UK smartmeter scheme are truly crass, and

(b) they are being wrongly promoted to many people (who are told they "must accept one" which is categorically not the case);

(c) the acceptance rate is in fact very high, with many users getting really hooked on frequent meter-checking, and then rushing round switching things off (this is a behaviour pattern that kicks in after 6 months on average - a bit odd, but there we go)

(d) the majority of people welcome them initially for one reason above all others: they hate estimated bills (to a degree you might find surprising)

and here's the killer fact ...

(e) health trusts are starting to get very interested in the data. For example: it has been established that early-onset dementia can be accurately diagnosed by sufferer's behaviour patterns vis-a-vis their appliances (they wander around switching random things on and off again at all hours). So health trusts are applying for permanent access to the data

(I can't imagine this thrills anyone around these parts but ... just so you know)

And no, I don't have one meself

Raedwald said...

Thanks Mr D - useful info.

And I'm not surprised that hatred of estimated bills convinces many consumers to take the things. The power company has powerful computers that can accurately model both household historical consumption and seasonal variances to I'd guess +/-5% or better. Then deliberately inflates the estimates to move the whole curve upwards by say 15% (never, never, downwards) to give them a healthy wodge of your money each month interest free ...

It's a bit like breaking someone's arm and then selling them a splint and some painkillers.

Rab said...

It's a similar system to the so-called Smartcards that the Government are so desperate to roll out on transport systems.
Purely an exercise in data mining as the passenger has no real way of ascertaining what is on the card ... many 'readers' don't work so the passenger has no way of proving they have a valid permission to travel.
"Don't worry, you can always apply for a refund if the incorrect fare has been charged"
How long before we all have to give up work in order to spend our lives switching utility companies, double checking we have been charged the correct fare for the journey etc.

Anonymous said...

Nick Drew: "and then rushing round switching things off "

I do that and I haven't got a smart meter.

Children seem to leave lights on, I run around after them switching them off.

Anonymous said...

Anon - 18:32 - Whenever my son or daughter comes to stay, I am constantly switching off electrical items that are left on their stand-by mode but I get bombarded with protests. I've come to give in to them but unfortunately, I quietly look forward to them going home again soon and then feel so guilty! I think it's an age thing.

I have already told all of the Energy companies not to Smart Meter me. I don't think they would dare to.

Anonymous said...

'Smart' meters?

It's the lies, the blizzard of lies......FFS.

If they're such a boon, why doesn't HMG trust us to make up our own minds about the 'benefits' of smart meters?

Could it, could it possibly be that, there are no benefits accrued by the consumer if they instal such dreadful kit?

And further to that, in fact all the 'benefits' actually are harvested by the energy supply companies and therein an ability to shut down supply in a moment of crisis with no warning and no redress.

If follows, ie it is anticipated by the BEIS and various other arms of government and not least by the energy companies that, at some future date - limitation of supply - euphemism for enforced blackouts are inevitable - and that should fill you, we, me - all of us with dread.

You see these fekkers, don't give a fig about the country, nor Brits, they're going green - even if it kills and you know who it'll be, the victims.

Obviously, wot a relief!....... provision will be made for the 'great and the good' and all public sector aristocracy/EU elite.

Chris Booker, recently (almost) gagged by the torygraph & PTB has been sidelined not even the Mail will allow him a voice. Booker, in times past has tried to bring (smart meters, rolling blackouts, the ruinable industry) this to the attention of the greater UK public but for some unfathomable reason - it doesn't resonate with the greater UK public, who seem to suffer under the delusion that by some stretch of a fantastical misunderstanding that, the UK government has their best interests and welfare "actually" at heart.

The UK, Brits, the People really need to wake up and see where the wind is blowing and just how much their wellbeing and security is disregarded, nay - totally mocked by TPTB.

A 'smart' meter, only, over my dead body.

Another anon said...

@anon (19:36)
In 2014 I told my electricity supplier that under no circumstances did I ever want a "Smart" meter. Colour me shocked when I had a letter from them noting that I had asked to be one of the leasers in installing a Smart meter in my locality, and they had staff available on the phones tight now to make an appointment to get it installed. When I complained through their formal process they would not shift from "administrative error".

I'll be moving soon. E.on won't be supplying my new abode. Can't think why!

formertory said...

Brave talk of refusal, but they'll get us in the end. "Smart meter discount tariffs" - achieved by jacking up power prices on non-smart meter installations - will flush out those who aren't changing simply because they can't be arsed. That'll be most refusers - the hard of thinking who, when they find themselves burning, think "move me!". Heaven forfend they should think for themselves.

Increasing the cost of non-smartmeter power bills will do the rest over time. Because, you know, it's unfair for non-smokers to have to pay for smokers' healthcare. For thinnies to have to pay for fatties diabetes. For smartmeter users to have to pay for manual meter readings and processing for non-smartmeter premises.

Just as an aside, I'd always thought part of the meter-reader's job was to eyeball the supply-side wiring, fuse, and so on to make illegal connections to the unmetered supply a bit more difficult. So will we still need people to wander round and look for things anyway, or are smart meters smart enough to defeat this?

rapscallion said...

Steve @31 January 2018 at 14:29

So basically, you've Tempest tested your meter - just like the shielding that was around all teleprinters in our communications centres. Good idea.

Mr Ecks said...

It was Camoron who decreed that smart meters should be a choice. That has not changed and NO is still the answer if the Fish Faced Cow should change it.

The smart meters are needed to black/brown you out because the Green piddle-power network can't hack it. You will find yourself having to do your washing after midnight on a Sunday say cos that'll be the only time they can supply the juice etc.

Also they are an instrument of control.

In Greece --which has a similar system to ours pre-SMs, they told all elec users they were to be surcharged 300 euros to go to Kraut bankers. Refuse and a leccy would be sent round to cut you off. Even in middle-class homes the leccy needed two coppers as an escort. In less polite areas up to a platoon of plod was needed. Vastly expensive. And once you have been cut off local leccs came around and reconnected the refuseniks in under an hour. The only other choice was to cut off whole areas . And then there would be no point in even the crawling cowards paying as they would be cut off also.

But with smart meters they just tap in your house code and you freeze in the dark alone. They could use that to pressure you about anything.

So refuse the smart meter. Even if they tell you you can't.

You know it makes sense.

Anonymous said...

"Children seem to leave lights on, I run around after them switching them off."

LED lamps use so little power that it really is not worth worrying about leaving lights on now. Heating water is the expensive thing.

Don Cox

Anonymous said...

If it gets to the point where remote disconnection via smart meter becomes a regular thing, surely they're all going to get bypassed? I'm a law-abiding citizen and pay all my bills on time, but if they start taking the p*ss like that, all bets are off.

"Man dies attempting to bypass smart meter so that his children don't freeze to death." Yeah that's going to play well.

Anonymous said...

Here in the Thames Water area we have had smart meters forced on us by law. The Thames Water area is, apparently, under severe pressure in respect of water supplies. How smart metering will deal with that is left unexplained since, according to the propaganda, metered water bills will be substantially less that the present water rating system. Accordingly, the logic is that consumers will embrace metering to save money and, presumably, at the same time will use less water. Oh yes drop the price for a necessity and its consumption will drop. When did that last occur in the real world?

What we're not told is how Thames Water is going to turn a profit (or just avoid a loss) if the consumer pays 30% (or whatever the current lie is) less for his water: it can't all come from savings created by metering.

Whatever, there is no choice in London: you get smart metering on your water. The response is a "Faraday" box which should prevent any transmissions from said meter: we'll see.


Anonymous said...

rapscallion said @ 08:29
Steve @31 January 2018 at 14:29

'So basically, you've Tempest tested your meter - just like the shielding that was around all teleprinters in our communications centres. Good idea.'

Yeah, it was part of my SIGINT training when we started using equipment in the gigahertz range - a time when Magnaphones were classified secret.


Budgie said...

Don Cox, White LED domestic lamps are about an eighth of the cost to run in comparison to incandescent, and I use them where lights have to stay on. Yet they have disadvantages too. They flicker on start up, only for c1sec but visible; and their light spectrum is horribly spiky because they use Red Green Blue (RGB) elements. They are a vast improvement on the ghastly environmentally unfriendly CFLs so beloved of the green loons a few years ago.