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Evidence check: Smart meters 

Science, Innovation and Technology Committee

The Science and Technology Committee invites views on the strength of the evidence in relation to smart meters.

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586 Contributions (since 05 January 2016)
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Total results 586 (page 59 of 59)

alex henney

26 January 2016 at 11:47

The Ghastly Mess DECC is continuing to make of smart metering, Alex Henney*, January 2016 1. The smart meter programme is a case study of Whitehall at its most incompetent. Officials “helped” things along by grossly overstating the benefits to £4.9bn. Thus, for example, the appraisal assumed for electricity savings of 2.8% consumption; a big study in the Netherlands found savings of 0.6% on average. 2. The implementation is expensive – our electric smart metering costs twice what Italians and Spanish are paying including wasting £½ bn on in-home display which are chunky; should not be necessary; and most will be thrown away. 3. Our roll out is grotesquely complex because of the choice of suppliers to roll out the meters and the method chosen for interoperability. Texas required about 250 pages of public documentation, we have 6118 pages. In 2000 ENEL in Italy started to design a smart electric meter and by 2008 it had rolled out 32M. 4. The communications are a complete mess. Instead of using power line carrier and making the distribution network companies responsible for backhauling data as is done in most European countries, DECC decided to use wireless and to set up the Data Communications Company (DCC). It chose 2G for transmission from comms hub to the DCC – it will only function in 70% of dwellings, and is being phased out by 2026 so comms hubs will have to be replaced at a cost of up to £2bn. Because of the limitation of the “reach” of 2G DECC is trying to develop an 868MHz standard, which is proceeding slowly. DECC chose the Zigbee standard for communicating between the meters and comms hub, which cannot communicate with PCs and smart phones and the chips are being phased out. We are going to end up with obsolete and expensive technology. 5. If DECC in its obstinate ignorance proceeds with the roll-out, at worst there is a possibility that like the NHS records system it will not work. At best there is a strong probability that it will splutter on with faults and not provide the benefits claimed, which will be obvious by the time of the next election. Sometime soon the dudu will hit the fan. 6. My main recommendations are the project is stopped and recast:- • DNOs should be responsible for backhauling data from meters so that time-critical network data can be made available to network operators quickly and at lowest cost • DNOs may be required to provide smart meters for those consumers who consume over 6500kWh/year (electricity) and similarly for large gas consumers • The DCC should be scrapped or de-scoped to manage messaging between supplies and customers • The proprietary in-home displays should be scrapped and systems designed to work with smart phones and computers using secure methods in the same way that banking is now enabled on these platforms • The comms and security model should be replaced with future-proof current technology which is fit for purpose DECC should set the framework for the project, but leave the implementation to the electric industry. In particular it should not involve itself with comms for which it has demonstrated manifest incompetence. The guiding principle should be the benefit of consumers, not the grandstanding of politicians with buzzwords they do not understand and grand claims of saving consumers £5 bn, nor the “face” of DECC. What we need is not smart meters, but a much smarter DECC. *Alex Henney was board member London Electricity; first person to propose a competitive electricity industry in 1987; and involved in the early days of restructuring after the June 1987 election. Advised on electric market restructuring from Norway to New Zealand, including a multiclient study of smart metering in 14 jurisdictions. Wrote “The British Electric Industry 1990-2010: the rise and demise of competition”, which includes a chapter “Smart metering provided unsmartly”. This note is a summary of a further paper that the Committee Clerk has.

c jones

26 January 2016 at 11:14

I notice the Gov completely ignore the 'invasion of provacy' aspect of smart meters and the bad health effects experienced by countless people all over the globe. As if that wasn't bad enough most 'consumers' with smart meters have seen a huge increase in their bills. Doctors and scientist around the globe are calling for the removal of 'smart' meters, so unless the Gov actuallt address each of these areas of concern, and in detail, consumers are unable to give 'informed consent' - and I bet a million quid that's the idea. If the public knew the full truth about these meters the meters would be history. The Gov also say we have a choice and can refuse to have a smart meter fitted, ha ha, yeah right!! In America people who refuse these bloody health hazzards are having the doors kicked in and meters fitted by force. WHICH says the meters can operate in 'dumb' mode - has the Gov mentioned that to customers and if they can indeed operate in 'dumb' mode and supposing 90% of the public opt for dumb mode, what's the point of the meters anyway. It's all a big con job. Has the Gov addressed the problem of Smart meters causing fires? Are they going to inform the public of every recorded problem, people all over the world, are experiencing with smart meters?? I don't think so, we'll get their biased 'everything is perfectly safe and will save money' BS. So why then ARE countless people all over the world fighting to get these meters removed? People ought to be asking very serious questions and doing their own research, not relying on the Gov to tell the truth. Want to see what smart meters can do to your body? Start here: Onve the meter is in your home you'll never get them to take it out again.

Tony Moss

19 January 2016 at 11:32

Anecdotal reports suggest there is incompatibility of meters across the energy market and this can curtail consumers ability to change supplier. To preserve competition, suppliers need to be forced to accommodate any existing meter - if necessary by their standardisation.

Ray Cope former director Gas Consumers Council

15 January 2016 at 16:12

Smart meters will be no more (if not less) accurate for gas than the existing meters. The opportunity was missed to correct for temperature and pressure. A probe was introduced into ultrasonic meters many years ago to correct for temperature variations but has never been activated. Pressure can be adjusted by establishing the height above sea level of the property and then all that is needed is a simple arithmetical calculation. Many millions of perfectly sound meters are being scrapped because the spec for smart meters requires a gas valve. A simple solution would have been to connect via the R5 to existing stock (where possible) and have a derogation period of say ten years for gas valves. The existing meter stock must register within plus minus 2%. Smart meters are covered by the EU directive and must register inservice by plus/minus 3% down to one fifth rate and then plus/minus 6% a retrograde step in my opinion. I don't know what safeguards are in place but if the system were hacked, could millions of supplies be turned of as the gas valve was designed to do just that remotely. I am not surprised that smart metering in other countries has fallen mainly to the distribution companies unlike in Britain where ownership is with the supply companies. It is easier to plan the rollout dealing with complete streets at a time and everyone knowing who owns the meters. With consumers switching from one supplier to another the ownership of meters is surely best left where there is some consistency. Ofgem were in my view over keen to promote competition in metering in the early years which has led to the present position that meter ownership is moving almost in its entirety towards the supply companies. I said at the time that meter competition should be steered and not driven and we have now ended up in what can only be described as a confusing and complicated situation for consumers. It will take years to put right but I would like to see distribution companies taking responsibility for replacing smart meters in the future and becoming owners of those replacements. I also have some concerns about the Data Communications Company which will be responsible for handling all the data connected to smart metering. It seems to have had its share of problems and I think with hindsight it would have been better if initially the task had been given to National Grid and perhaps transferred to a separate company when it had been up and running for a few years. Its pricing formula looks unusual I say no more than that and should be reexamined by experts to ensure consumers get a fair deal. There are other problems with the accuracy of gas billing but as they do not relate to smart metering I will not go into them. To sum up gas bills could be more accurate for little cost but for some unknown reason the specification did not address any of them. We have a regulator with an annual budget of £80m who should have dealt with these issues. We are lacking a dedicated consumer body for energy since the demise of Energywatch which was not up to the job. With the rollout of smart meters and the introduction of shale gas we could do with an effective consumer body to help consumers, question and challenge Ofgem. I hope you can follow some of this but I would be happy to explain it in more detail.

Peter England

06 January 2016 at 15:12

The current smart meter will not allow/tell the consumer to identify how much energy each appliance is using so is no better off. There is a general concern that once a smart meter is fitted that it will lock the consumer into the company who supplied the unit service contact without changing the smart meter at additional cost. A smart meter will allow hackers to enter the home internet and access to data, and open home security is effected allowing outsiders to know when the house is unoccupied. We smart meters replace pre-paid meters? Will energy companies be allowed to switch off supplied via the smart meter. Will smart meters really help the low income and vulnerable. My mother of 90 years old is unable to read the digital meter..

Gurpal Singh

06 January 2016 at 09:01

Smart meters are going to be an enabler for Suppliers to introduce 'time of use tariffs'. Legislation needs to be brought in to stop Suppliers looking introducing these (I know they are looking at them). The reason being is that when you need to use this energy costs will go up. E.g. Consumers still need to cook for afternoon meals at the usual times e.g. 6-8pm however Suppliers would like to increase consumer tariff prices during these times, and reduce them when consumers don't need the fuel. This will be perceived negatively by customers as it will have driven up their bills and smart metering will be blamed.

Total results 586 (page 59 of 59)