Skip to content

Experts Warn Of “Significant Damage” From Smart Meters

September 27, 2016

By Paul Homewood  





From PEI:


Analysis from engineering experts suggests significant damage could be caused to the UK’s power infrastructure unless more steps are taken to improve security around smart metering.

The FT reports that the Royal Academy of Engineering and private technology companies have raised concerns about the meters’ security, according to a report from the Commons science and technology committee.

Nick Hunn, a wireless technology consultant, said he was worried about the risk of “rogue programmers” in metering companies.
Cyber security
“If I were working for one of those companies, I could insert code that would make every meter turn off on a particular date in a year’s time,” he said, adding the inclusion of an isolation switch in every smart meter was “an unnecessary risk”.

“If somebody could hack into that or turn off very large numbers of meters by mistake, the sudden shock of taking them off the grid … would cause significant damage,” he said.

The academy added that “disruption to energy and gas supplies at a massive scale is possible”.

Britain’s electronic intelligence agency GCHQ had assured the government earlier this year as to the steps taken to ensure meter security. These included security controls aimed at preventing mass disconnection, and special arrangements made to vet people with “access to sensitive system components”.

More than 3.6m smart meters have already been installed in homes and businesses and 53m are due by 2020, part of a £10.9bn programme.

Advocates say the meters’ ability to show people how much energy they are using will encourage consumers to switch off lights or buy more efficient appliances, lowering their bills and cutting greenhouse gas pollution from electricity generation.


Is there any length that the government won’t go to, to damage the country in its infantile obsession with climate change?

One of the original justifications for installing smart meters, was that they would mean cheaper bills as they avoided the need for energy companies to send people round reading meters. Like many things, their new technology has already been well and truly overtaken by something called the internet. We are all able now to read our own meters, and send them back to our energy supplier via our computers.

The idea, that we will now switch off lights because we had not realised they cost money, must assume we are all idiots.

The real reason for these things, of course, is that the Grid can shut us off whenever they feel like it.

And we are forced to pay £10 billion for the privilege! 

  1. AlecM permalink
    September 27, 2016 9:47 am

    The real objective is peak charging, possibly matching the purchase price of emergency supply. Thus the poor will be shafted to maintain Electricity distro profits.

  2. September 27, 2016 9:50 am

    I understand we cannot be forced to have a smart meter installed. Anybody know different?

    • tom0mason permalink
      September 27, 2016 11:40 am

      From the same PIE publication —

      UK smart meter rollout at risk’
      By Kelvin Ross

      The UK government could miss its target to roll out smart meters in 30 million homes and businesses because of a lack of investment in training engineers.

      That’s the warning issued today from ECTA Training, a trade skills course provider.‘Lack of engineers puts UK smart meter rollout at risk’

      The British government wants every home to have a smart meter by 2020,
      … …

      … ECTA Training director Dave Berry said: “The delivery of the smart meter rollout has called for the creation of a new breed of meter engineer, someone who can combine the practical ability of meter removal, installation and testing with the customer service skills that industry regulator Ofgem has placed at the centre of the project.”

      So how do you think the government will meet that ’30 million homes’, or ‘every home to have a smart meter by 2020’?

    • Dave Ward permalink
      September 27, 2016 12:21 pm

      “I understand we cannot be forced to have a smart meter installed. Anybody know

      Not as far as I’m aware. I sent a strongly worded reply (including the notice below) to my supplier when they informed me that “my new smart meter was waiting for me”, and I haven’t heard anything since…

      There’s a legal notice here (including a PDF version in a further link):

      And they also have some downloadable printable notices here:

  3. September 27, 2016 10:02 am

    There is a letter in today’s Times (£) which highlights another problem with smart meters that might well have a knock-on effect on other areas of life.

    I quote (freely) —The meters transmit data to the utility company via the commercial mobile phone networks. The engineer installed a smart meter only to discover that he could not activate it because he could not get a satisfactory signal from any of the mobile networks. This is despite my being only about one mile from the Greater London boundary, not in the depths of the countryside.

    The writer goes on to point out that the installation was several months ago and the situation hasn’t changed.

    Whatever the rights or wrongs of smart-metering (and I can’t help feeling my good friend AlecM is being just a touch paranoid!) if it doesn’t work and is liable to clog up the mobile phone networks when it does it is not going to add to the sum of human happiness. Or, for that matter, have any other worthwhile benefits!

    • Dave Ward permalink
      September 27, 2016 12:28 pm

      “He could not get a satisfactory signal from any of the mobile networks”

      More on the comms aspect here (c/o Euan Mearns)

    • AlecM permalink
      September 27, 2016 1:22 pm

      In February 2011, the CEO of the National Grid Company warned that by 2020, there would be no guaranteed grid supply to domestic premises.

      So, power will be rationed by price with the Public Utility having been converted to an oligopoly intent on a feeding frenzy.

    • Russ Wood permalink
      September 28, 2016 7:38 pm

      An experimental ‘smart meter’ installation in Randburg (a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa) failed because some people were stealing the SIM cards used for the cellular phone readings, and the Power company had to replace them with Bluetooth(R) readings from a cruising car. This crashed once when the meters went wild and began jamming the Bluetooth frequencies. Imagine – your remotes for electric gate, security alarm, car remote locking and even remote reading weather stations went kaput for 2 weeks. The jamming was finally cancelled by remote reprogramming of the meters. But then the maintenance company lost the contract, so no cruising car and no meter readings. So in Randburg, we were subjected to ‘average’ readings (just a guess) for the next year!
      So, UK, someone else DOES feel your pain!
      Oh, incidentally, SIM cards were also being stolen from ‘smart’ traffic light systems, and until the Council stopped the scheme, there was quite an illegal traffic in stolen SIMs that would give free calls – even internationally!

  4. NeilC permalink
    September 27, 2016 10:52 am

    This morning I recieved a pamphlet from Western Power Distribution entitled “Power for Life 2016” POWER CUT? CALL 105.

    It goes on to explain what we should do in the event of a power cut. Also “During a power cut we’re here to help. That’s why we have a Priority Service Register for vulnerable people.”

    Do you think they are expecting power cuts this coming winter?

    • David Richardson permalink
      September 27, 2016 10:56 am

      Same leaflet through my lettebox this morning as well. They are certainly getting the message out with an flashy leaflet.

      • September 27, 2016 2:10 pm

        I just received mine through the letterbox. Being in the sticks , my post doesn’t arrive till afternoon.

  5. David Richardson permalink
    September 27, 2016 10:52 am

    Well we are all pretty much agreed that this a bad idea with a huge price tag.

    All this predicated on the theory that one extra CO2 molecule in every 10k molecules of the atmosphere is a cause of warming, that doesn’t actually appear to be happening, and given that this increase is a % or so of the GHG effect anyway, will probably turn out to be indistinguishable from noise.

    As always follow the money and spot the rent seekers.

  6. tom0mason permalink
    September 27, 2016 11:15 am

    But about five years ago I was told (on another blog) in on uncertain terms that is facility would never be incorporated into ‘Smart Meters’. I was assured the ‘smart meters’ were for metering and forecasting load requirements in the short term. I did not believe it then and now they’ve proved me correct.

    No doubt suppliers still say they will not extend the ‘smart technology’ to turn-off ‘smart’ appliances at the behest of the generating companies, or needlessly switch them on to benefit the suppliers. I would not bet on it!
    Next call will be for new mandates and ‘standards’ that ensure this ‘smart technology’ is incorporated into all domestic appliances above a nominal rating (2kW?).

    So far everything I said about ‘smart technology’ is coming to pass. The future looks to be interesting — cold and dark, with consumers of what is considered excessive consumption being publicly vilified.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      September 27, 2016 12:53 pm

      @ tom0mason – If you were referring to the remote disconnect switch, it was ALWAYS part of the spec:

      5.3 Physical Requirements
      ESME shall as a minimum include the following components:
      i. a Clock;
      ii. a Data Store;
      iii. an Electricity Meter containing one measuring element;
      iv. a HAN Interface;
      v. a Load Switch; and
      vi. a User Interface, including a Keypad.

      ESME shall be mains powered and be capable of operating at a nominal voltage of
      230VAC and consuming no more than an average of 3 watts of electricity under
      normal operating conditions.

      I copied this from v2 of the technical document, which I downloaded some time ago. Surprisingly, I can’t find this version on the DECC site at the moment, but an earlier one is here:

      Gas meters also incorporate a cut-off facility. The observant will note “consuming no more than an average of 3 watts of electricity” which is 3 watts more than a traditional “dumb” meter, and something to be considered against the claims of “saving energy”. Also, they are capable of accurately recording “reactive” power (unlike the old meters), which means your bill will very likely go UP, even if your usage remains the same.

      • tom0mason permalink
        September 27, 2016 2:57 pm

        Dave Ward,
        You may be correct on that.
        Unfortunately my old PC died somewhat precipitously so I’m having to rely on my somewhat shaky memory.
        IIRC it was (maybe)on Bishop Hill blog about 6-7 years ago, maybe more. And the blog topic was not about ‘smart meters’ per se but a related topic. Anyway, someone who claimed to know about these things said that the British version of the smart meters would not have any customer cut-off in it.
        I naturally went off and looked-up what the supply companies say, and they said that they will have remote customer cut-offs, with one supplier intimating that other automatic ‘smart features’ *can* be incorporated — such as remote control of customer ‘smart devices’ and ‘smart appliances’ (I recall there being a quite list).

        All in all it looked pretty shocking to me at the time as most of the suppliers were talking about remotely controlling as they saw fit, not so much about what the customer needs were. Some suppliers sounded very gung-ho and gee-wizz at the time!

  7. September 27, 2016 11:38 am

    These things are now being seen for what they are – largely pointless since there is not much (near zero) likelihood that demand shaving has any merit on an individual consumer basis. There must be tens (hundreds?) of thousands of green virtue signalling energy meters produced over the last 10+ years that are gathering dust with flat batteries etc…

    What is noteworthy is that the possibility of forcing erratic producers causing electrical chaos in the grid to make (and pay for) their own load dumping arrangements rather than simply pillaging taxpayers for constraint payments is getting little mileage – “smart immersion heater switches” would address an acknowledged problem….

    Widespread tiered circuitry in dwellings and businesses isn’t on the agenda so these UK smart meters are an ineffective solution to what is pretty much a non existent problem – although outfits like Siemens have legions of PR people seeking to spin it different…..

  8. Joe Public permalink
    September 27, 2016 11:39 am

    Time of Day Charging – I suspect AlecM has it right, and Mike Jackson is being naive.

    My guess is ultimately tariffs will be offered which reflect not only month/season of use, but time-of-day.

    Large non-domestic customers on ½-hourly metering know their peak ½-hourly use affects their entire month’s commodity charge

    • September 27, 2016 12:08 pm

      You may be right, but the UK energy system is fairly tightly regulated. I doubt that attempts by the suppliers to tweak the metering specifically in order to screw the consumer would gain much traction especially since there will always be some bright guy with the idea of using other people’s misbehaviour as a reason why you should switch suppliers.

      Not to mention (still) a fairly thriving investigative journalism in the UK that is already happy to poke its nose into energy supply and would be even more so if there was evidence that suppliers were rigging metering as well as pricing.

      The reasoning behind smart metering is devious enough without adding other unnecessarily complex layers to it

      • AlecM permalink
        September 27, 2016 1:24 pm

        Cui Bono: Cameron’s in laws, the Mafia who use renewables as part of their property scams.

        This part of the scam was worked out a long time ago by the EU: reduce power consumption by 30%, also population as part of the Eugenics.

    • September 27, 2016 12:10 pm

      Even if the peak price is ten times the normal price most people will take the hit for the few really cold nights per year, i.e. peak demand will not drop by much. Of course, the green zombies don’t care about peak demand, they just want less CO2, so people turning lights off every evening/night will satisfy their wishes.

      • Joe Public permalink
        September 27, 2016 2:26 pm

        ” … the green zombies don’t care about peak demand, ..”

        Unless they have Powerwall-type storage, they may well learn to care.

        It’s all very well being green & having your own solar panels, but with time-of-day charging reflecting network use, they’ll only be generating/selling their own ‘leccy during periods of cheapest prices; and buying-in ‘leccy at the highest possible prices.

  9. September 27, 2016 11:42 am

    If you are a sane person would you, on the basis that you can save a few pennies by monitoring your energy usage obsessively in detail (or save the planet from thermageddon, depending upon your point of view!), sacrifice your personal privacy and security of supply and give complete control of your energy supply to a commercial company (and any nefarious personnel it might employ)? Would you possibly put your family’s health at risk from continuous 24-7 EMF pulses beamed out every 30 seconds or so? Probably not. But if you are a sane, woefully misinformed person, you just might.

    There is no law which states (yet) that a smart meter is compulsory. So refuse to have one installed and if you are being hassled by your energy company, give them written notice that you have no intention of having a smart meter installed and to remove your house and name from the smart meter roll-out list.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      September 27, 2016 12:58 pm

      “Monitoring your energy usage obsessively in detail”

      Someone published a graph showing just how accurately they display your consumption, and (more worryingly) how the various spikes and curves could be related to actual appliances. As previous concerns have pointed out, this could (can?) be used by the less scrupulous to determine a household’s typical behaviour, and make it dead easy to pick a time to break in…

      • September 27, 2016 6:09 pm

        Absolutely. You’re basically broadcasting your domestic routine in excruciating detail to your energy company over the mobile phone network. If you’re in debt, bailiffs might find that information very useful as well . . . .

  10. September 27, 2016 11:56 am

    The meters will be imposed by simple dint of billing wrinkles – just as with credit meters….

    Second class citizenship for anybody who resists – likely with some vilification element dreamed up by the PR crowd.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      September 27, 2016 1:00 pm

      Pretty much what I’m expecting, at which point I may invest in some large batteries, and an inverter/charger…

  11. Ex-expat Colin permalink
    September 27, 2016 12:00 pm

    If that device is on my side of the will be taken off. Little I can do about service side…and that is the worry.

    I know what my energy consumption is as per my meter reading and the annual-ish verification by an engineer (aka meter reader).

    Time bombs in software are well known. As is crap software/firmware! Add in the nut at the end of the wheel.

    I am not at all happy about electrical switching devices anywhere near a gas meter.

  12. Peter Donaldson permalink
    September 27, 2016 12:10 pm

    Smart meters are not being pushed to save customers money. Why would they want to do that. Surely they are needed for our glorious future when most of our energy comes from unreliable sourses. We will then pay much higher prices for reliable energy because its “bad for the planet” . So your smart meter will tell you that you are bleeding vast amounts of cash when the wind isn’t. blowing. You can then rush round and turn everything off . What a wonderful world.

  13. dwestonfront permalink
    September 27, 2016 12:56 pm

    Apparently the plan is for a (no laughing at the back) new government department to manage the communications infrastructure for receiving information from the meters:

    That’s a single point of failure right there. The devices will inevitably need a critical firmware/software update at some point and I can’t see the government arranging for intrusive physical visits to every household in addition to the first for installation so the liklihood is this “new” infrastructure (colour me sceptical on that) will include remote updates of the devices.

    Russian and Chinese hackers will think all their christmases have come at once.

  14. Gerry, England permalink
    September 27, 2016 12:58 pm

    Yes, I have two of those monitor thingys that since I moved are still in a box somewhere. I had lost interest in them even before the move. They were both free. Novelty wore off quite quickly. Only useful feature was the ability to turn things on or off and seem the immediate result on the mobile display. I haven’t had a personal reading taken by a utility for years. There must be few people not net connected – and there is the phone – that if you don’t provide regular readings and get estimated bills you are an idiot. I put them in each month and in fact some companies email you asking for readings.

    The motive behind them must be demand management. If you plan to have a generating system that can’t meet peak demand then you can use cost to persuade people to do things at other times. Ultimately with controllable appliances you can force change. Look forward to doing your washing during the night although using appliances while you sleep goes against advice from the fire brigade. Burning tumble driers anyone?

    • Dave Ward permalink
      September 27, 2016 1:08 pm

      I bought a £17 plug in monitor from Maplin which is very accurate, and also displays voltage, frequency, power factor (see my comment about “reactive power” earlier) and actual consumption. A few weeks experimentation gave me the important figures for things like TV/DVD/Sat box, Fridge, Freezer, and the Central Heating boiler & pump. Once you know what these things use in “real life” you can compare against the claims for newer equipment and decide if its worth replacing or keep the older (more reliable) stuff. I chose the latter…

    • Ex-expat Colin permalink
      September 27, 2016 1:25 pm

      Yes..Indesit offered me a modification or swap for new..just pay £19. So I did…done and await next scare. Interesting how manufacturers suddenly forget how to make safe stuff suddenly?

      I have installed all rotating machines out of the house and in a Utils room. Not easy for folk to do that now we have the Prescott jam housing in anywhere scheme.

  15. AlecM permalink
    September 27, 2016 1:25 pm

    The best approach is to surround the meter with Al foil so the comms break down.

  16. Joe Public permalink
    September 27, 2016 2:49 pm

    The Register now has a piece:

    “Ordinary punters will get squat from smart meters, reckons report
    Small savings for us, big moolah for gas ‘n’ ‘leccy suppliers”

    A Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee “evidence check” of smart meters noted that “although the scale and durability of such savings is contested and it would appear that the rollout could alter consumption levels by 2–3 per cent.”

    DECC’s assessment of the cost savings, contained in the evidence check, found that overall consumers in the UK would save £4.3bn, while suppliers would save nearly £8bn by cutting site visits and reduced inquiries.

    Nick Hunn, CTO of WiFore Consulting, told the committee he was sceptical of the extent to which consumers will change their behaviour for a relatively modest financial reward, arguing that “£26 a year or 7p a day is not a big incentive”, and that “there are far cheaper ways of achieving savings”.

  17. TONYA PARNELL permalink
    September 27, 2016 7:07 pm


  18. DreadUK permalink
    September 27, 2016 7:41 pm

    Sorry…….another ‘expert’. Sick of the phuckers.

  19. September 27, 2016 7:58 pm

    They’re not just electrons, they are M&S electrons

    They will be supplying coordinated little M&S covers for their meters ….

    I think the race tempo to turn electricity into a luxury product in the UK has just ratcheted up a notch.

  20. September 27, 2016 10:41 pm

    It has always been UN World Govt. and THEIR hand on your switch.It has always been about control,and when you control electricity,the world and its people are yours.
    Wake up politicians because you will not be forgiven-ever.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: