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Audit Office To Review Smart Meter Rollout

January 12, 2018

By Paul Homewood


h/t Dave Ward


Plans to install smart meters in millions of British homes will be reviewed by the government spending watchdog, the BBC has learned.

The National Audit Office says it will investigate whether the planned £11bn rollout will save customers money.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy says it will work with the NAO to "help review the progress of this important programme".

Smart meters show how much energy is being used and the cost in real time.

The technology is projected to save £16.7bn through reduced energy use, with the cost of the scheme funded through energy bills.

Meter readings are sent back to the supplier, with the promise of energy bills based on accurate use, rather than estimates.

But some users have experienced problems with installations, inaccurate bills or loss of the meter’s ‘smart’ features when they switch suppliers.

Now the National Audit Office says it will review the project.

Image copyright Smart Energy GB Image caption Smart Energy has used the ‘Gaz’ and ‘Leccy’ cartoon characters to market smart meters

Its study will "assess the current economic case for the rollout of smart meters and look at whether the government is on track to achieve its target to roll out meters by 2020".

The deadline for the government’s plan to install 53 million smart meters by 2020 has been questioned by MPs, with 8.6 million fitted so far.

The IT system that allows meters to communicate with suppliers, the Data Communications Company (DCC), has not launched yet, despite being due to go live in 2015.

The industry body responsible for promoting smart meters, Smart Energy GB, defends the pace of the rollout.

Its chief executive Sacha Deshmukh told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme that 8 out of 10 people with smart meters were "very happy with the meters and would recommend them to their friends and family".

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has also defended the plans.

A spokesperson said: "Smart meters are a vital upgrade to bring our energy infrastructure into the 21st Century."

The National Audit Office is expected to publish its report in summer 2018.


I don’t know why the NAO need till the summer to publish their report.

The whole smart meter strategy has been flawed from the start. It was assumed at the outset that avoiding the need for meter readers would pay for the £11bn scheme. However internet technology and online billing systems have made this assumption obsolete.

There is very little evidence that smart meters will result in significantly reduced bills. If people genuinely want to use them in such a way, then let them pay the full cost themselves.


Of course, the government let the cat out of the bag by saying:

Smart meters are a vital upgrade to bring our energy infrastructure into the 21st Century

This is the dirty little secret behind the rollout. The National Grid needs a way to manage our demand for energy, in a way that suits them and not us.

  1. January 12, 2018 4:32 pm

    Here when I hear “smart” or “better” my wariness button goes off.

    • dave permalink
      January 12, 2018 4:37 pm

      Hutber’s Law:

      • January 12, 2018 4:59 pm

        Ah! I remember it well… It was just as right in the ’70s as now.

    • January 12, 2018 5:15 pm

      Smart meters for dumb people.

      • HotScot permalink
        January 14, 2018 1:32 am

        Phillip Bratby

        Basing an advertising campaign on ‘Gaz’ and ‘Leccy’, like we’re all illiterate morons wasn’t a good idea.

        Blair unleashed University education on us, reducing a degree to a qualification for a job in McDonald’s, so why address us all like idiots after millions have spent £50K on an education?

        But it’s probably indicative of how our government perceives us.

        There will be some very wealthy advertising executives laughing like drains when this moronic campaign fails, and they have to dream up another moronic campaign.

        Tony the Tiger was more grown up than this idiotic offering. No wonder it’s failing.

  2. January 12, 2018 4:36 pm

    Reblogged this on Rangitikei Enviromental Health Watch.

  3. January 12, 2018 4:36 pm

    I think that this is true.

  4. January 12, 2018 4:39 pm

    These meters frequently up the power bill. By huge amounts. $400 to $1000 is one I heard. The ploy used to justify them. They’re not only a health risk they are also prone to causing fires. Folk need to watch Josh del Sol’s expose Take Back Your Fire for all the info these people are not telling us.

  5. January 12, 2018 4:42 pm

    Correction, Take Back Your POWER, (not ‘fire’).

  6. Bitter@twisted permalink
    January 12, 2018 5:01 pm

    I told my supplier to “foxtrot oscar” when they asked me if I wanted a “smart” meter.
    They haven’t tried asking again…..

  7. January 12, 2018 5:03 pm

    I heard Smart Energy GB’s chief executive Sacha Deshmukh on the BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme yesterday. He was nothing but lies and propaganda from start to finish.

    I can’t find out who is funding Smart Energy and its propaganda. On its website it says:

    “Smart Energy GB is the voice of the smart meter rollout. We’re independent of government, we’re not an energy supplier and we don’t fit smart meters. We’re here to make sure everyone in Great Britain understands smart meters, the rollout and how to use their meters to get their gas and electricity under control.”

    • January 12, 2018 5:16 pm

      I know the govt don’t pay them, because I foi’d them last year.

      My understanding is that the energy companies pay them, as they have their own targets to hit.

      Either way, it is us who pay ultimately

      • John Palmer permalink
        January 12, 2018 5:28 pm


    • Green Sand permalink
      January 12, 2018 5:44 pm

      We are! From their Annual report and accounts – Year ended 31st December 2016

      “C Turnover

      Turnover represents income received from domestic energy suppliers to meet our operating costs. The contribution from each supplier is agreed annually in advance and is recognised in the Profit and Loss account in the year to which the contribution relates.

      Contributions paid before the period to which they relate are recorded as deferred income.”

    • Derek Buxton permalink
      January 14, 2018 10:26 am

      I am sure we all know the real reason for the smart meters, to close down our supply at the whim of an idiot jobsworth at the “National Grid”. They do not save money, end of!

  8. iananthonyharris permalink
    January 12, 2018 5:06 pm

    A complete con – made even worse that changing your energy supplier as we are all urged to do, the meters are n’t compatible. It’s no great hassle to read the meter every 3 or 6 months and report the readings on-line. As said – it’s a way of rationing supply when solar and wind fail to provide enough energy, as is certain to be the case if the government persists with its legislative targets.

  9. Coeur de Lion permalink
    January 12, 2018 5:42 pm

    Worked thu’ the FAQs but did not find “can they switch me off without asking?”. Can they?

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      January 12, 2018 6:52 pm

      Reading the B/Gas Faqs:- Yes, they can be used to disconnect remotely, saving a man attending with some spanners/snippers/fuse pullers. But they muddy the situation by claiming that they have no more (legal) powers to disconnect than with the old style meters. But they do seem to have a new technical ability!

    • Dave Ward permalink
      January 12, 2018 6:59 pm

      Whether or not your supplier mentions (or admits to) a remote disconnection facility, one is built into every smart meter – as part of the SMETS standard – both for Gaz & Leccy (sarc).

      • Gerry, England permalink
        January 13, 2018 12:28 pm

        Yes, because one unfortunate who had a dumb smart gas meter installed had problems with it turning his gas off due to a fault with the internal battery.

        Open question here – do these meters require external power? My gas meter sits in a sunken box by my front gate and is not near any power source.

  10. rikstarling permalink
    January 12, 2018 5:53 pm

    This was a disaster in Ontario, Canada; the meters benefited neither the utility nor the consumer. Here is the auditor-general’s report: Complete 2014 report:

    • catweazle666 permalink
      January 12, 2018 10:57 pm

      Password protected PDF.

      • Geoffb permalink
        January 13, 2018 1:36 pm

        It downloaded ok all 500 pages but I had to open it manually in file manager app.

  11. Schrodinger's Cat permalink
    January 12, 2018 7:10 pm

    Smart Meter installation was an EU regulation but even the Green Germans refused them because of the high cost and low justification.

    They are not transferable when switching supplier. They are a hacking risk. They may be a security risk because they monitor electrical activity in the home.

    The alleged saving depend on not requiring meter readers as discussed above and the mistaken belief that consumers will reduce consumption. Many consumers say that after about a week they put the meter in a cupboard and ignore it.

    The scheme should be scrapped now to save further money being wasted.

    The big remaining question is whether smart meters can be used now, or in the future, to reduce, ration or cut power to homes.

    • Derek Buxton permalink
      January 14, 2018 10:30 am

      Yes, of course they can. The dumb government that we have would not blow these sums of money on a whim, it is patently deliberate to control us.

  12. Jack Broughton permalink
    January 12, 2018 8:16 pm

    The intention is almost certainly to shut-down the plebs, who will not be able to pay the future electricity prices, remotely so that the wealthy can have the power that they so-deserve when the wind doesn’t blow.

    After all if you make a cup of tea you will choose to use about 0.05 kWh, or not have the tea.
    Isn’t it empowering to see that your slice of toast took 2 minutes at 2 kW = 1/15th kWh rather than having to work it out!

    • Dave Ward permalink
      January 12, 2018 10:00 pm

      But a smart meter cannot tell you the consumption of an individual appliance (unless you switch everything else off), since it’s basically a current clamp meter on the main supply cable. I spent a few hours going round the house with a £15 plug-in monitor (from Maplin) and was able to catalogue each item separately. For things like the fridge and freezer it will also log the power used for as long as you leave it connected, and from that I soon deduced that the 22year old fridge was a real energy hog. I’ve now replaced it and the monthly main meter readings have dropped by almost exactly what I had calculated. This handy device also incorporates a volt & frequency meter as well as showing the power factor of anything plugged into it, which (as I’ve mentioned before) can be very instructive. It remains plugged into a convenient socket, and I check the state of the mains several times daily. Both the gas and electricity meters have large signs warning that I DO NOT consent to their replacement with a “smart” meter…

      • Gerry, England permalink
        January 13, 2018 12:32 pm

        It can tell you about an appliance if you turn it on and keep everything else the same. I have one of those plug in devices as well, somewhere… And I also have two of those current clamp devices, in a box somewhere….. Shows how much interest I still have in them.

  13. Phoenix44 permalink
    January 12, 2018 9:18 pm

    They are another waste of money based on ludicrous and fallacious reasoning.

    The savings we are supposed to make assume that we put a zero value on our time – that we will spend time looking at our meters and working out what to turn off to save 50p a day. But only those who are already very careful about their energy use will bother to do that.

    Assuming our time is “free” can make all sorts of things look viable.

  14. Svend Ferdinandsen permalink
    January 12, 2018 10:40 pm

    In Danmark the roll out is going smooth, But they are not smarter than the old ones except that the company says they measure the standing of the meter every hour. That is as smart as they are. And there are some differences in payment during the winter days for delivering of electricity with a rise during 17 to 20 and a small lower price in the rest of the day and year.
    I have a few options more to read out of the meter, but not enough to really call it smart.

  15. Joe Public permalink
    January 12, 2018 10:56 pm

    This cynic believes the reason the ‘leccy suppliers are so keen on them is that they enable time-of-day charging.

    Power will be cheaper when you don’t want much/any, and very expensive at 6:00pm every winter work-day evening.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      January 13, 2018 12:33 pm

      Exactly. All about demand management when your grid does not have sufficient generating capacity.

    • January 14, 2018 10:44 am

      Time-of-day charging is already in place e.g. in parts of California. Customers can opt for a tariff with lower rates outside the peak period in exchange for higher rates in it.

      Then it’s up to them to avoid using their ‘optional’ power-hungry devices in the peak period – washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners etc.

  16. Geoff Sherrington permalink
    January 13, 2018 4:29 am

    FWIW, smart meter rollout in Victoria, Aust., resulted in a few people in the know making a lot of money fast from the supply of meters bought for an undisclosed price and sold to the public at another price after being described as being compulsory to pay. I have not seen a single piece in the 2 years since then, that even mentioned smart meters and I have certainly not seen any public writing that they are productive of anything good.
    In simple words, it was a gigantic, government-assisted scam of the rtype we have come to suspect with things linked to climate change.
    You should press your audit office to look into the Victoria affair as an example of crime.

  17. Jacqueline permalink
    January 13, 2018 6:44 am

    I had a smart meter in my previous address and was very happy with it as I could top up on line and could see how much I was using and living on a low budget really helped and also I believe saved me money.
    When I moved I went to the supplier whom were already supplying the new house save messing about changing and was told I could have a smart meter fitted after a month. I waited then enquired only to b told they are not being fitted in my new area at present. To say I was not pleased would b a understatement as I was mislead and now wish I had moved my old supplier with me. I now have to go up and down the hill in all weathers to top up.

  18. Pete permalink
    January 13, 2018 10:54 am

    I just got a loop energy kit and fitted it to my dumb meters.
    Works well, I can check how much I’ve used each month against my direct debit. And works with any provider.
    It cost me £100 and saved me £300 when It suggested a cheaper tariff/provider at the end of my first year.
    I happily confuse my energy provider when they phone asking if I want a smart meter and say I’ve already got one provided by a third party… They even sent out a man to “inspect my meter” to make sure it wasn’t “tampered with”, no more phone calls since he’s gone back.

    • BLACK PEARL permalink
      January 13, 2018 4:40 pm

      Has the company that supplies these Loop kits gone into administration ?

  19. Mike H permalink
    January 13, 2018 3:03 pm

    We often hear that these meters will allow suppliers to “manage” demand but I have not read any details of how this would work. Does anyone have firm info on this?
    As these things are not integrated into the property’s fusebox/switchboard, presumably they can only switch everything off at once by acting on the main breaker in some way?

    • David Ashton permalink
      January 13, 2018 4:38 pm

      The Cisco annual report of a few years ago said that its goal was to have a ‘smart switch’ installed in all domestic appliances. I assumed that these could be switched on and off remotely through smart meters and a smart grid

      • HotScot permalink
        January 14, 2018 1:46 am

        David Ashton

        I may be incredibly thick (am incredibly thick) but my fridge switched itself off when it doesn’t need energy. My central heating switches off when the house reaches the required temperature. I switch lights on when I need them, and when I cook, I switch the hob/oven on when I need it. My dishwasher and washing machine are used when I need them….etc….etc…etc.

        I fail to understand how a ‘smart’ meter could help me, other than sending reading to my supplier remotely. Assuming, of course, compatibility isn’t a problem.

        A badly thought out idea with a simplistic and childish advertising campaign.

  20. Michael J permalink
    January 13, 2018 6:43 pm

    I only know three people with smart meters. One, a quality engineer, who was pleased that his bill has gone down, he told me, “But that might not be the final figure” he was told. ??? Another, a barber who thought smart meant pretty, and the bill for his shop tripled, with every other one an estimate. ?????
    The other, a colleague, was very keen and determined to have one despite my comments about power factor could increase the cost. “Got to get the cost under control”he said and “Too lazy to read meter”. Now he sounds a bit less confident. “I suppose they send an estimate so that they can charge you more” ??? Obviously they are not working right to be still getting estimates. Or are they called estimates to put the customer off complaining? Why clutter up the airwaves with daily readings when most people pay monthly? Why spend all this money, which will have to be collected through bills, as it is not mentioned in general taxation? The cost is now approaching that of renewing our nuclear deterrent. The meters cost ten times a ‘dumb’ meter, and will have to be serviced/ replaced/ reconditioned in ten years max, as the electronic parts will deteriorate- but will give them control over your energy use.

  21. Robert Christopher permalink
    January 14, 2018 1:50 pm

    The Gov. have spent £450m to develop a smart ‘smart meter’ that will allow for changes in supplier, yet there is no news of them producing one, yet.
    I post my gas and electricity readings every month on my ‘smallish’ supplier’s website, with no problems and no means of being selectively cut off.
    Smart meters reside within dim households.

  22. Dave Ward permalink
    January 14, 2018 5:10 pm

    @ HotScot January 14, 2018 1:46 am

    “I fail to understand how a ‘smart’ meter could help me”

    It won’t help you, but the plan is to make use of “smart” home devices to knock the spikes off peak demand. To do this things like your fridge/freezer will shut down for short periods, when the network is suffering, and then start up again when there is spare capacity. This (in theory) won’t have any noticeable impact on their ability to keep the contents cold, but could keep the grid from falling over, or so we are told… Other possibilities are washing machines and dryers being set to come on after peak demand, but this has been comprehensively rubbished by people pointing out that many fires have been started by them, and the possibility of this occurring at night, when people are asleep, is far to great a risk to take.

    • Michael J permalink
      January 16, 2018 10:31 am

      If I make a noise at night, the neighbour hammers on the wall, so no washing machine at night! Besides, it would keep ME awake!
      Auditor says smart meters have not really changed peak demand in Ontario, but customers do complain about their bills.

  23. John permalink
    January 14, 2018 11:30 pm

    Lets hope they have the guts to knock this expensive tomfoolery on the head
    They will be lucky to get £11bn back over many years

    It does nothing for the average consumer
    When I moved house the supplier kept contacting me to have one fitted, I have ignored them
    If it just turns up I will be displeased

    • Michael J permalink
      January 16, 2018 10:55 am

      Smart meters are not compulsory in UK, you can refuse. Or rather, the Government of the day said they do not expect the utility to go to court to have them fitted. A debt collector /bailiff told me ‘An Englishmans home is his castle” (If you rent I think it may be a bit more complicated)

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