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.