OFFICIAL: Smart meters won't be compulsory
No offence to refuse in Blighty
Vid So-called 'smart meters' will not be mandatory, the energy minister has confirmed. The pledge was made by Charles Hendry last Thursday, and confirmed to us by the Department of Energy and Climate Change today.
The energy minister in the previous Labour government, one Ed Miliband, introduced legislation to make smart meters mandatory for homes and small and medium-sized businesses by 2014 as part of the condition for licensing energy companies. The electronic devices must collect information every 30 minutes, and use wireless chips to phone home. The cost per household, including installation, was estimated at £340 per household, or £9bn countrywide, with customers footing the bill.
The advantages for suppliers are considerable: laying off thousands of employees, including meter readers and call centre staff, introducing per-minute variable pricing, and cutting off the energy supply remotely. It also promised a boom for the IT sector.
But Hendry told the House of Commons that:
We believe that people will benefit from having smart meters, but we will not make them obligatory. If people are concerned about the electromagnetic issues, they will not be required to have one. We have been willing to give assurances to Hon Members on that account.
A DECC spokesman told us:
This is not actually new. While smart metering brings significant benefits, it will not be an offence for householders to refuse to accept a smart meter and we have made it clear that we do not expect suppliers to seek an entry warrant simply to fit smart metering equipment.
Until the licensing conditions for energy utilities change, however, we must assume it's full-speed ahead.
"We are determined to take the scheme forward, with ministerial oversight and safeguards for consumers built in," Hendry said last month.
And it's not just the suppliers who stand to gain from the installation of smart meters. Earlier this week the Wi-Fi Alliance teamed up with the ZigBee crowd at DistribuTECH to demonstrate how marvellously their respective technologies can deliver Smart Grid applications, based on the recently published Smart Energy Profile 2.0.
ZigBee is a low-power mesh-radio technology which has been looking for a killer application for a few years now. It has had some success in industrial settings, but is a prime contender for IP-addressable smart meters.
Voluntary smart meters might not be so compelling, despite this jolly video which would surely convince the most adamant sceptic to sign up:
Smart meters will not be compulsory, but they'll just put you on the most expensive tariff if you don't have one. I wouldn't even like to think how smart meters would work for people on pre-pay tariffs.
Mandatory Standard API's
I've got gas and electricity smart meters supplied and fitted by eOn. All good, all working, very happy with it. I've now moved to nPower who were cheaper at that specific moment in time, and they don't support these smart meters. So now I'm back to reading the meter reading off of the 'consumer' read-out panel and typing that into their website every month because their computermabob sez no. However, I have been put on their waiting list to receive a NEW smart meter as and when their trial moves to the next stages.
Its a frankly dumb way to work and I'm sure all it involves is sending a man out to change the modem strings, but logic and utility providers is like water and oil.
I can't even write an API to do it myself as no-one will give me the encryption details of how to information is sent from the meter to the consumer display, and they didn't see the logic of adding a USB port to be able to download the data.
So, in my experience, smart meters are just dumb meters with blinkenlights.
Not mandatory but expensive if you refuse...
Bit of a straw many argument he gives there. Why would they need to introduce a criminal offense of refusing to have a smart meter, or a requirement to force entry via a warrant to fit one? Surely the energy companies just telling the customer "it's a condition of service for provision of electricity that you use a smart meter, so arrange to allow us to fit one by this date or your supply will be disconnected" would suffice. Which the minister notably didn't exclude from happening. Or perhaps the energy companies will introduce a non-smart-meter tariff, with the same monetary penalties that apply to non-direct-debit paying customers, and enforce compliance that way...