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OFGEM Tell Energy Companies To “Ramp Up Smart Meter Installation”

May 20, 2018

By Paul Homewood

 

From the Mail:

 

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Big energy suppliers are acting like naughty children whose parents have failed to set clear boundaries.

Money Mail’s Stop The Smart Meter Bullying campaign has repeatedly warned that customers are being brow-beaten into fitting new smart meters in their homes.

The devices show your usage by the minute and send the readings automatically to suppliers — but many of you tell me you don’t want them and feel huge pressure to sign up, even though they’re optional.

We raised the alarm by sending a dossier of evidence to Ofgem. Yesterday, the watchdog had a golden chance to lay down some ground rules to end the bully-boy tactics — but it failed miserably.

Some homeowners love the idea of smart meters. But many thousands absolutely hate them, and will keep resisting as long as they're optional

Some homeowners love the idea of smart meters. But many thousands absolutely hate them, and will keep resisting as long as they’re optional

And, as we reveal here, its toothless attempt to tackle the issue could actually make matters worse.

Rather than slow the blizzard of aggressive mail, Ofgem gave firms the green light to ‘ramp up’ their efforts by contacting customers who have already refused a meter.

While firms were told not to upset homeowners, Ofgem refuses to outline what this means in practice and where to draw the line.

That’s left suppliers in a pickle. The reason they are desperate to get smart meters in every home is the Government’s threat of a multi-billion-pound fine if they fail to do so by 2020.

Currently, they face missing that unrealistic target — and they have no idea how hard they can push to get there. It’s a recipe for disaster.

It’s time for Energy Minister Claire Perry to let Ofgem off the leash and launch a proper crackdown.

For starters, firms must be banned from making installation appointments without permission, and barred from contacting customers who ask to be left alone.

Some homeowners love the idea of smart meters. But many thousands absolutely hate them, and will keep resisting as long as they’re optional.

Unless Ms Perry plans to write a new law forcing everyone to switch to a smart meter, she should stop trying to rush through such a big change and scrap the ridiculous 2020 deadline.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/comment/article-5733429/DAN-HYDE-Theres-no-sense-smart-meter-rush.html

 

According to the Mail’s detailed analysis:

And in a move that will infuriate many homeowners, Ofgem said firms can continue setting up installation appointments for people without obtaining their permission. The letter said these so-called deemed appointments, which upset many Money Mail readers, were ‘appropriate . . . as part of a wider suite of consumer engagement tools’.….

A spokesman for the watchdog said our file had been taken into account when it wrote to suppliers, published online yesterday.

One of the worst offenders in our dossier, E.ON, has already been ordered to change letters which did not make clear the meters were optional. E.ON’s letters now include the words: ‘If you don’t want a smart meter at this time, please call us and let us know.’

 

It seems that it is now up to customers to ring up to tell energy companies they don’t want a smart meter.

The responsibility for this coercion lies fair and square with Claire Perry and the government. Instead of hiding behind the coat-tails of OFGEM and the energy companies, Perry should either abandon all targets and threats, or make smart meters compulsory and send everybody a bill for £400 to pay for them.

40 Comments
  1. dave permalink
    May 20, 2018 9:55 am

    It will be made compulsory.

    The obvious first step will be to force landlords to install them, as their businesses can be smashed with one swipe from the paw of Big Brother.

  2. Charles Bradshaw permalink
    May 20, 2018 10:36 am

    We were advised to install a smart meter and got the Eon technician in.
    He found there is no telephone signal to support it and installed an old style one.
    In rural areas this may be a big block on compulsion to install them

  3. Joe Public permalink
    May 20, 2018 10:54 am

    Of the ~8.6 million installed by Jan 2018, approx 8,599,500 were the primitive SMETS1,with only approx 500 SMETS2 installed as of 8th Feb 2018.

    https://utilityweek.co.uk/around-80-smets2-devices-operating-homes/

    Ofgem will be pressurising the industry to install any so-called smart meter simply to get the numbers up. The government even extended a deadline for continued SMETS1 installations.

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/19/smart-meters-first-generation-hinder-switching-rolled-out

    Meanwhile, costs for the fiasco just keep rising. The scheme was originally estimated to cost £5billion, it’s risen to £11billion, and may end up costing approx £14billion.

    The National Audit Office is to investigate whether the planned project will actually save customers any money.

  4. It doesn't add up... permalink
    May 20, 2018 11:11 am

    The government threat of a multi billion pound fine is of course really just a tax on consumers, since bills will inevitably rise to pay it (or the lights go out, because the companies can’t afford to keep generating?). Perhaps if consumers understood this they would reinforce the Mail’s anti smart meter campaign. I note that radio advertising is now making false claims about smart meter “savings” that are clearly based on selected households being educated to switch things off after their meter is installed (or perhaps the sample was carefully chosen with other factors in mind, such as a divorce or child leaving home for university). At this stage, the meters do nothing to reduce usage – unless they disconnect the user altogether.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      May 20, 2018 8:52 pm

      “Unless they disconnect the user altogether”

      Which, of course, they are capable of doing…

  5. Bitter@twisted permalink
    May 20, 2018 11:33 am

    I have threatened my supplier with legal action if they continue to harass me to fit a “smart”
    meter.
    No further calls/emails/junkmail since.
    I can recommend this action.

    • mikewaite permalink
      May 20, 2018 6:58 pm

      Am I right in thinking that the Data protection Act , which comes into force in 5 days time, means that they have to ask for your clearly stated permission to contact you, if they are using their database with your details on it (and not a random flyer to “the occupier”) , apart from the regular invoice statements to you as a customer.. If you have not given that permission they can be prosecuted.
      I have been contacted by several companies this last week, from whom I have bought goods online, asking for permission to send further promotional data.

  6. Colin Brooks permalink
    May 20, 2018 12:05 pm

    My meter is behind a seven foot locked gate and fence and I am considering a steel cage built into my house wall.

  7. Jeff permalink
    May 20, 2018 12:07 pm

    I don’t understand what the problem is with them.
    It is a huge saving not to have teams of meter readers walking around for miles.
    They are being rolled out to everyone here in Australia.
    I can now read my usage online every day and look at daily changes.
    Very useful.
    And no more strangers coming onto my property.
    I still have the option of a one fixed rate or time of use rates.

    • May 20, 2018 12:12 pm

      They work out at £400 each, so would you pay that for one?

      I have no need for meter readers, as, along with most I would guess, I have an online account. Every 3 months, the supplier emails me for a reading, and I send it back, which automatically generates an invoice. Could not be simpler really!

      • Jeff permalink
        May 20, 2018 12:34 pm

        I see, that’s not good at all having to pay £400
        I would refuse too in that case.
        We got them installed for free.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        May 20, 2018 1:14 pm

        “free” you mean. i.e. it is just one of the many things pushing up your power bills that is not itemised.

      • Jeff permalink
        May 21, 2018 12:58 am

        Well in our case the cost of meter readers would far outway the cost of smart meters very quickly.
        Which should mean cheaper bills.
        And we can freely switch suppliers since they all use the smart meter data in the same way.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        May 21, 2018 11:17 pm

        “Well in our case the cost of meter readers would far outway the cost of smart meters very quickly.”

        The estimated cost of the “Smart” meters WAS £11 billion.

        Now, because the initial roll-out was bodged, many of those already fitted will have to be replaced, adding a few billion more.

        I reckon you could pay a hell of a lot of meter readers for that.

    • Colin Brooks permalink
      May 20, 2018 12:36 pm

      Jeff

      What they advertise as the reason for fitting a smart meter is entirely desirable but the unspoken ability it gives them to shut down my supply and to (using ‘the internet of things’) switch off individual electrical appliances that they do not like is not something I will agree to.

      • Jeff permalink
        May 20, 2018 12:44 pm

        Colin, I didn’t know any of that.
        Shows how ignorant I am about it.
        I don’t have plans to get any IOT appliances. so not too worried about that at least.

    • mwhite permalink
      May 20, 2018 1:20 pm

      2nd problem is if you change your energy supplier. The meters are supplier specific, the government knows this and the energy companies know this.

      So even if you want one of these meters, they’re a waste of space.

    • HotScot permalink
      May 20, 2018 2:39 pm

      Jeff

      You didn’t get your smart meter free, it’s just added to the cost of your electricity bills over time.

      • Jeff permalink
        May 21, 2018 1:01 am

        And the greater saving of no meter readers is subtracted meaning cheaper bills overall.

    • Joe Public permalink
      May 20, 2018 4:43 pm

      “I don’t understand what the problem is with them.

      It is a huge saving not to have teams of meter readers walking around for miles.”

      Meter readers are the first line of defence against energy theft, spotting meter tampering or illegal by-passing, which the rest of us end up paying for.

      • Jeff permalink
        May 21, 2018 2:51 am

        An electrician swapping in a smart meter will be 100x more likely to catch electricity thieves than meter readers.
        And that’s probably why some people are so upset about the change.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        May 21, 2018 11:20 pm

        “An electrician swapping in a smart meter will be 100x more likely to catch electricity thieves than meter readers.”

        The thieves will strike after the meters are installed, of course.

        There is also the problem that the “Smart” meters communicate using mobile technology, and many ,may homes are in mobile dead spots – mine for example – so will still need meter readers.

  8. May 20, 2018 1:35 pm

    94% of my energy use is heating and transport. Electricity usage is not significant.

  9. HotScot permalink
    May 20, 2018 2:44 pm

    The ludicrous thing about smart meters is that the expensive lump of hardware sitting on your counter top isn’t necessary. With a simple wireless connection to the elec/gas meters, almost every household in the UK could have used a computer or mobile phone to monitor usage and send meter readings.

    So a £50 site visit, with a £50 bit of kit would have done it. And even that’s being generous.

  10. Pat permalink
    May 20, 2018 2:58 pm

    Add in that the current batch of smart meters cease to be smart if/when there is a switch in suppliers and the whole scheme is pointless.

  11. May 20, 2018 3:28 pm

    Not enough space to replace my 50 year old (my guess) meters apparently.

  12. Rowland P permalink
    May 20, 2018 3:31 pm

    Hackers could have a field day with these things!

  13. May 20, 2018 4:16 pm

    My old meter is locked away in the garage, next to a big switch to use the generator. No way will they get in to fit one of these new-fangled smart meters. Smart meters are for dumb people.

  14. Athelstan permalink
    May 20, 2018 5:38 pm

    “smart”

    the green agenda, strangling the life out of you and me and that’s not a metaphor.

  15. John Smith permalink
    May 20, 2018 6:26 pm

    Perhaps it’s just a Scottish thing, but I have never been asked if I want a smart meter. I don’t want one of course.

  16. dennisambler permalink
    May 20, 2018 6:32 pm

    “Yesterday, the watchdog had a golden chance to lay down some ground rules to end the bully-boy tactics — but it failed miserably.”

    They are not going to challenge goverment policy….

  17. Richard Phillips permalink
    May 20, 2018 9:18 pm

    How many times must it be stated:
    OF THEMSELVES, SMART METERS CAN SAVE NO CHARGES. ALL THEY CAN DO IS ADVISE THE USER THAT THEY ARE SPENDING A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF MONEY. ALL THE USER CAN DO IS SWITCH OFF.

    Really helpful, anybody unaware that switching anything on, costs money, needs serious help.

    It a national scam of scandalous proportions, promulgated to save the cost of meter readers.

    Richard Phillips

    • May 21, 2018 3:38 pm

      It’s not quite like that. You could select a tariff package where the charges are variable on time of day and/or day of week, e.g. you could get a lower rate outside certain (usually busy) hours in exchange for a higher rate during those hours.

      Or if not interested, just carry on as before. Coercion isn’t likely unless there’s some kind of crisis – not impossible, of course.

  18. buffin47 permalink
    May 21, 2018 8:40 am

    This feels like inertia selling, which was made illegal years ago.

    Even the brash, insensitive Claire Perry would not be stupid enough to make this costly, obsolete technology compulsory. I *think*.

    But if the government do go for it, once these things are installed we should all change suppliers. We could warn our supplier of that, if they pester us: install it and you lose my business.

    If they did make an unsolicited appointment and when they arrived we just told them to go away … what then?

    I could imagine a Corbyn government mandating this, though.

    • May 21, 2018 3:42 pm

      They could employ certain arm-twisting tactics e.g. higher charges for old-style meter customers.

  19. Russ Wood permalink
    May 21, 2018 2:11 pm

    Some years ago our suburb of Johannesburg was ‘forced’ to fit ‘smart’ meters, which could be read remotely, and were wired to switch off one’s hot water geyser when a critical power state occurred (this was during the electricity ‘load shedding’ era, caused by pure incompetence at ESKOM). However, the cellphone connections didn’t work, so the meters were remotely read by a guy driving around the suburb with an antenna connected to a computer, interrogating each meter using Bluetooth(TM) technology. All OK, until suddenly, no remote device (car, gate, garage door, alarm, etc.) in the suburb would work! It turned out that some glitch was causing many of the meters to continually broadcast ‘jamming’ on the whole Bluetooth frequency band. This was finally fixed, by remote reprogramming, but then the load drop-out capability was lost. Eventually, the City dropped the supplier (who was also doing the meter readings) and for the next year, until I moved, the meter wasn’t being read, and I had ‘estimated’ consumption billing.
    So, basically, the only useful thing about those meters was the remote reading capability – and even that ended up compromised!

  20. James Wardle permalink
    May 21, 2018 4:00 pm

    In America they in some areas install without permission so much so residents put up signs no smart meter. Smart meter electricity is what people in the game call dirty energy as its exspensive and crap. That’s why the bills go up. It’s also dangerous emitting 10x the pulse rate that’s acceptable.

  21. Clark Cross permalink
    May 21, 2018 4:52 pm

    Even more sinister is the fact that in the event of a shortage of electricity – no wind no sun – and no coal and in Scotland soon no nuclear power the smart meter will be used to turn off electricity in area.
    Putin also has the ability for cyber attacks so another point against smart meters which are in fact not so smart.

  22. Jacob Frank permalink
    May 22, 2018 9:24 am

    I’m guessing somewhere the data from these things is being used by google to build our digital profiles and god knows what else.

  23. Maurice McLaren permalink
    May 23, 2018 7:22 am

    Hello.
    We have a smart meter from British gas but onless my supplier is B G it is useless not compatable with other suppliers so it is useless why didn’t they all get together in the first place and use the same one so much money wasted my money in the end.
    Kind regards Maurice McLaren

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