Tag Archives: smart meter

Smart Meters from hell – part II

As Grumpy has noted before, any time either the government or  big business promotes something said to be of value to a consumer, you can be sure that it is anything but. The plan to spend an estimated £11 billion on rolling out ‘smart meters’ is no exception to this rule. The oligopoly energy suppliers don’t spend that kind of money unless it is going to produce a real return for them; you are going to pay – and heavily.

In fact this is an unholy alliance between “I wasn’t driving”  Huhne (Lib-Dem Energy Secretary) and the energy companies. Touted as a something which is going to save consumers money (“We are doing this to benefit you”) in actual fact the program will allow the energy companies to earn more revenues and get Huhne off the hook of his mad wind power strategy by limiting peak power. Without this cap,  Huhne will have to up conventional CO2 heavy generation or sanction more nuclear stations to meet peak loads, ruining his green cred.

The story goes that consumers will become more aware of their energy usage profile via the meters and change their behaviour. Now, when Grumpy comes into the kitchen first thing in the morning  he switches on the kettle for his first coffee and drops two slices of bread into the toaster,making the meter wheels (currently hidden) no doubt whiz round.  So how will seeing this on a  meter change his behaviour?

The first mechanism is that the meter can contain over a 100 pricing rates and that early morning coffee will be much more expensive than one at, say, 15:00. It’s changing behaviour by pricing policy (“Time of Use rates”), forcing  people to switch off because they can’t afford to use it, but the marketing treacle doesn’t put it that way. [Notice how the policy of the lefties tends to hit the less well off?]

Grumpy, however, is not going to be deterred from his coffee and toast by price and will carry on as before – or will he? Actually, no, because the meters can limit the power the consumer can draw. If you exceed this for a given time the lights go out – yes, you get cut off. [Don’t believe it ? The specification says “the supply to the consumer shall be interrupted”]

Grumpy is relatively relaxed about the principles, but feels as strongly as ever about the sheer sophistry and opaqueness in the communications with consumers. If only politicians would realise that the vast majority of the electorate can take the truth, the political scene would be far less repulsive than it currently is.

Smart Meters from hell – part I

The UK government is in the process of ordering the  compulsory installation of  ‘smart’  metering devices for electricity and gas  in every home in Britain.  The first question that might come to mind is why the government is mandating that  these intrusive (and sinister) devices are placed in every home;  however, when one realises that the uber-architect of this plan is one  Chris Huhne (the chief proponent of  government policy  to cover half the land with windmills in the name of  green energy), all is explained.

Mr Huhne, Liberal democrat MP for the constituency of Eastleigh, is Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. He comes from an identikit ‘Conservocrat’ mould i.e. wealthy family, Westminster School (a sort of Eton for intelligent children), First in PPE at Oxford, and the Sorbonne.

The issues this plan raises are complex, and hence Grumpy plans to devote no less than three posts to cover the aspects of the policy which concern him most.

The first warning signal comes because the government is promoting the installation of smart meters as something which is  really going to benefit the consumer. Anyone who has been through at least one election knows that in reality this means that it is going to benefit one or all of  the government, consultants, large business, and most usually, HM Revenue and Customs first, and the consumer not at all.

Grumpy’s checked his  electricity supplier to see what the consumer advantages were, and their web site lists the following as the key benefits of smart meters

“you can claim credits towards the Code for Sustainable Homes – helping you meet your environmental obligations”

Grumpy had no idea that he had any environmental obligations, and as at of the time of writing he could not indentify any legal requirements with regard to energy use – what does the provider know that is yet unpublished?

“smoother handover to the new occupier”

This is scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of benefits … how often do people move? And when Grumpy last moved house 12 years ago, he called the utility company and informed them – that was it. How much smoother can it be?

“there’s no need for you to manually read the meters or send us readings”

It currently takes about 60 seconds per quarter to read the meter, and 5 minutes to key the reading into the internet. Done. If Grumpy were looking for savings of either cost or time in his life, this would be about number 1000 on the list, if that. They cannot really believe this is a serious consumer benefit.

“make a great selling point when marketing your properties”

Who writes these things? Every home will have a Smart meter, because the government is going to make it compulsory. So what’s the selling point? This guff must be written by Westminster School alumni in Chris  Huhne’s department.

Even more bizarrely, the website  also claimed that a benefit would be ‘accurate bills’. The clear implication is that bills are not currently accurate; this is certainly news to Grumpy, and rather disturbing. Moreover, if the provider has known that it  hitherto has furnished inaccurate bills, it’s frankly unacceptable for them to have been silent on the topic until now.

The paucity of logical and credible benefits dreamed up by the pathetic copywriter of this rubbish clearly hides a less benign rationale for their introduction – and the odds are that what it won’t bring is any free will benefit to a consumer. Further, this is a plan which involves changing over 50 million meters in domestic homes at a cost which is estimated at over £11 billion – and we all know what credence to give to government estimates.

No, this is a serious heavyweight project, rather than something giving dubious and at best  frothy consumer benefits; in the next two posts Grumpy will examine the real drive for this plan and how it links to the fantasies of  ‘Windmills” Huhne.