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UK Smart Meters Cost £28m Each!

June 5, 2018

By Paul Homewood



Nick Hunn, who writes the Creative Connectivity blog, has over twenty years experience of mobile and wireless communications. He has been writing about the cockup that is the Smart Meter roll out for a long time now. He probably knows more about it than most of the so-called experts, who are supposed to be responsible for the roll out.

This is his latest post:



That’s right.  Britain’s smart meters are now officially the most expensive smart meters in the world.  For those of you who have not been following the story, let me provide a brief précis.  Back in 2010 the Government mandated that every home in Britain should have a smart gas and a smart electricity meter by 2020.   Instead of using off the shelf smart meters, they decided to design their own.  DECC worked with some vested industry interests to do a classic Government IT committee job, producing the most complex smart meter specification the world has seen.  That design was called SMETS1 – short for Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specification.  Not only was it the most expensive, but it was also insecure.  When GCHQ looked at it and considered the potential implications of connecting it to our national infrastructure they demanded a redesign, resulting in the SMETS2 specification.  SMETS1 meters look as if they won’t work with the SMETS2 software infrastructure, so any SMETS1 meters already installed will probably need to be replaced.  Throughout this fiasco, the Government has not relaxed its requirements for every home to have a smart meter fitted by 2020, which means fitting around 50 million new meters.

Which brings us to today.  The SMETS2 meters are enormously complex and are pushing the limits of the industry to design them.  With the 2020 deadline barely 30 months away you’d hope that the bulk of them would be fitted by now.  But I’ve just been talking to contacts in the industry who have told me that currently there are only around 80 SMETS2 meters fitted.  Do the sums based on what has been spent so far on the GB smart Metering programme and you’ll find that it equates to around £28 million for each of these meters.  It is an obscene example of a Government IT project going wrong.  But it gets worse.  Not only will the overall project cost consumers around £12 billion, it has the potential to destroy Britain’s leading position in the development of the Internet of Things.  It also seems to be exerting a curse on any Government minister involved in the project, with Amber Rudd, our former Minister for Technical Illiteracy the latest to feel its effect.


The full post is here.

  1. quaesoveritas permalink
    June 5, 2018 10:18 am

    In a recent discussion on radio 4, a spokesperson (unfortunately I can’t remember who), seemed to assume that the installation rate would remain at least the same as the rate to date.
    However, it seems to me that the rate will decline, as it becomes harder to convince people to install the meters.
    The people who have had them installed so far are probably the most in favour and would benefit the most, i.e, the “low hanging fruit”.
    Unless they used coercion or bribery in the future, installation rates will surely decline.

    • dave permalink
      June 5, 2018 10:40 am

      The meters seem to have been designed to be smarter than the Ministers. Not difficult to do that, of course.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        June 5, 2018 12:45 pm

        I think the current meters outshine ministers by having a useful function.

    • roger permalink
      June 5, 2018 10:43 am

      Compulsion is the only way they cross my threshold, nor will I vote again for any tory leader that has adhered to the climate change scam over the past four years and still pushes the global warming meme.
      There has now been enough visible and sensory evidence for any rational human being to conclude that we were all sold down the river by inept, venal and in some cases criminal scientists and politicians over the past quarter century.

      • HotScot permalink
        June 5, 2018 11:46 am

        No longer will I vote for the Conservative socialist party. They are ‘encouraging’ (read mandating) smart meters and imposing electric vehicles on the country by 2040. TM’s handling of Brexit is woeful and the current rail crisis will only empower labour for their call for nationalisation. Tragically people can’t remember how disgusting the trains were when they were nationalised.

        I’ll be supporting the UK Libertarian party in future.

    • Ian permalink
      June 5, 2018 12:27 pm

      I know of just three people who’ve “taken advantage of the offer of a ‘free’ smart meter”. In all three cases it was merely because they were offered “free”. In all three cases, the interface unit sits in a drawer somewhere, never examined or used. In one case, that was the advice of the Siemens-employed installer! None of them has made the £290/year saving promised by the Fair Claire (or even the 2% saving currently being claimed in the radio ads). I don’t know whether any of them has tried to switch supplier since.

      As an aside, the meters are presumably battery powered. How long is the battery supposed to last?

      • Gerry, England permalink
        June 5, 2018 12:46 pm

        My two electricity monitors remain in a box somewhere since my move in March 2015. My regular weekly readings tell me what I need to know.

      • David Hulme permalink
        June 5, 2018 6:32 pm

        It’s connected to the incoming electricity supply genius 😂😂😂

  2. Peter Murray. permalink
    June 5, 2018 10:55 am

    As I have mentioned previously, any ‘advance’ labelled as ‘smart’ by some bureaucratic nitwit is almost certainly anything but smart. The same goes for the ‘smart’ motorways which are already proving to be a disaster of epic proportions.

    • quaesoveritas permalink
      June 5, 2018 11:17 am

      I have found that anything labelled “smart” is usually anything but.
      The same goes for “Artificial Intelligence”, such as a computer, just because it can beat a human at something like chess.
      What also irritates me is the tendency to call a living organism “smart”, just for following the rules of evolution.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        June 5, 2018 12:48 pm

        Like the Artificial Intelligence in the self driving uber that decided the woman on the pedestrian crossing was a paper bag so ran her down and killed her. Brings to mind ‘Maximum Overdrive’ – with the superb AC/DC soundtrack.

  3. June 5, 2018 11:28 am

    hosing that much money into something that fundamentally flawed takes some considerable incompetence or corruption or , just possibly – an overdose of both.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      June 5, 2018 12:48 pm

      or a government….

  4. Ken Pollock permalink
    June 5, 2018 11:29 am

    We may have bought the idea of smart meters if HMG had been honest at the start. They had nothing to do with the poor consumer observing his meter whizzing round and deciding to use less electricity.
    It had everything to do with variable pricing, so the energy companies could charge much more when their capacity was being stretched, giving us the incentive to switch off then and use electricity when it was cheap – an extension of the old “white meter” idea, but with complete flexibility.
    Naturally, HMG did not want to tell us that, as it would be to admit that our national energy capacity was often stretched to the limit – hence all those diesel generators on standby, and the scheme to get industry to shut down when we were in danger of seeing the lights go out…
    At some stage, they will have to scrap the whole smart meter scheme, or come clean on the real reason. Better to start investing in sensible electricity generation – CCGT, SMR nuclear, but NOT tidal, or more expensive and short life off shore wind…

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      June 5, 2018 12:33 pm

      And that, Ken, doesn’t include the feasibility — if not now then in the future — of being able to control energy consumption remotely.

      This is the Holy Grail of the enviro-activist: to be able to “prove” we can function according to the environmental and general living standards that they set. If implemented it will guarantee a return to pre-industrial standards and quality of life within a century.

      At that point they will have “won” and much good may it do them. There are only two kinds of people who are in favour of “subsistence living”— those who have never tried it and those who know nothing else.

      • June 6, 2018 9:13 am

        I was at a meeting in Portcullis House in, I think, 2014 whereby one of the people developing the roll-out was very clear that the only point of smart meters was so that a smart grid could be developed to allow the batteries in electric cars to be used as storage and for the white goods to be turned off remotely.

        He specifically said that the battery in person x’s car would be depleted of power as we had informed “them” that we wouldn’t use it the next day and that eventually smart appliances would allow “them” to turn off all dishwashers etc at times of peak demand.

  5. Colin Brooks permalink
    June 5, 2018 12:38 pm


    I am curious to know why you support the ‘internet of things? To me it is simply a way to hand over control of my equipment to someone else, ultimately that someone will be the government (just like electric cars).


    • Gerry, England permalink
      June 5, 2018 12:50 pm

      I think it is the article writer who supports IoT – not necessarily Paul. It does seem a very flawed concept prime for hacking. Wireless security cameras where burglars can see if you are out anyone?

  6. Jack Broughton permalink
    June 5, 2018 12:50 pm

    As I noted elsewhere, I am changing supplier and the suppliers are packaging the smart meters into the offers as a fabulous extra! I’m not sure if the offers are conditional on accepting the meter as yet: still looking.

    Wouldn’t it be exciting to see how much electricity it needs to make a slice of toast? Would seeing this cost spoil the toast?.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      June 5, 2018 12:52 pm

      You can buy a plug-in adaptor – probably cheap at Maplin right now as their end nears – that you can use to do that without a £28m ‘smart’ meter.

    • Ian permalink
      June 5, 2018 3:03 pm

      I have a BG contract one intended to run with a smart meter. One of their “rewards” is free electricity at certain times for a limited time. Obviously only works with a smart meter, so not interested.

    • richard verney permalink
      June 5, 2018 9:03 pm

      if you know the wattage of your toaster, all you need do is time it takes using your wrist watch.

      These meters are not smart, nor are they truly part of the internet of things. As I often mention, if they were truly smart, they would monitor the consumer’s usage practices over each 3 month period, check the comparison websites utilising the energy usage data which is unique for the individual consumer, and automatically switch the consumer every 3 months to the cheapest supplier given the individual consumer’s habits and usage of the individual consumer.

      Why was that not built into the design specification? Presumably because the big 6 energy companies would not have supported the scheme as they would rapidly lose customers!

      • quaesoveritas permalink
        June 5, 2018 9:39 pm

        None of that would be necessary if there was true competition in the energy market. There should be some way of buying your energy like you buy groceries in a supermarket.
        The way the energy market is currently configured is like signing up to one store at a time and buying all of your groceries from that store, then having to sign up for a different store if you didn’t like the prices. Nobody would stand for it.
        It is a pity they can’t find a way of buying energy vouchers in stores, with prices clearly on display.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        June 6, 2018 7:20 am

        And within a very short period of time pretty much everybody would be paying the same for energy. Individual useage is just not that variable, particularly by time, and if people could easily vary by time (say the smart meter could turn on the washing machine at the cheapest moment), then the time variable arbitrage would narrow considerably very quickly.

        Highly competitive markets for commodities produce either identical prices or wacky attempts by suppliers to vary prices through “offers” that get some customers to subsidise others.

      • richard verney permalink
        June 6, 2018 12:08 pm

        The energy market is skewed by silly offers.

        I recall at one time, one of the large firms had about 28 different tariffs!

        Energy firms, insurance companies, banks etc take their loyal customers for granted, and rather than giving a loyalty bonus, rewarding longstanding customers for their support and loyalty, usually loyal customers get the worst deals.

        What is needed is a drive down to the lowest price. By promoting genuine competition that ought to be possible, but we have an all but monopoly situation, and consumers are complacent and don’t have the time (or some the wherewithall) to keep switching to ensure that they get the best price.

        Of course the biggest problem is the way prices have increased due to the green agenda which has doubled the price of electricity, and by preventing fracking for shale, gas prices are considerably higher than they would be had we by now started exploiting our shale reserves as has the US.

        We need cheap and reliable energy for a thriving economy. With Brexit, this ought to have been one of the goals. We could supply gas to Germany rather than Russia, but our Government has no foresight and is totally incompetent.

  7. Bitter@twisted permalink
    June 5, 2018 5:01 pm

    Whenever I see the word “smart” applied to any product I instantly think “scam” or “useless”.
    These two words are not mutually exclusive.

  8. Kenneth Maley permalink
    June 5, 2018 5:21 pm

    This will only benefit the electrical company’s
    Costing us a vast amount of taxspayer’s money
    Should have used the money to take off people bills the government say the rollout will only save a customer. About. £30 per year it seem a lot of taxpayer money for little return .

  9. June 5, 2018 5:35 pm

    Smart meters are for something nefarious in conjunction with 5G!

    Whether it’s for surveillance or a weapon?
    I suggest they cost so much due to the nature of the unspoken purpose!

  10. June 5, 2018 8:19 pm

    The purpose of Smart meters is mainly so that your power/gas can be cut off remotely when, as is shortly to be the case, rationing of energy comes in.
    It’s a bit like the (currently useless) Galileo satnav system – we would be (hopefully we’ll actually be out of it) compelled to have transponders fitted to our cars (and pay rental) so that
    a. we can be charged per mile (or per Km) as an EU tax
    b. We can be automatically fined for speeding
    c. Can have our car disabled if we exceed our ‘carbon’ ration or are perceived as being a criminal of some kind (eg voting leave).
    If we attempted to block the transponder then they would know (because we’d be automatically flagged up as having gone ‘offline’) and we’d be in trouble.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      June 6, 2018 1:01 pm

      The government deny the road pricing use for Galileo but then they are using the common technique of ‘lying’. They need Galileo for this as the US will not allow such use of GPS.

      I would look forward to human ingenuity dealing with the transponder issue and selling the solution on ebay. The GPS signal is so weak it can easily be blocked and I don’t see why Galileo would be different. and it has proved surprisingly easy to spoof GPS so you could appear to be somewhere completely different.

      • June 6, 2018 2:09 pm

        What the system WILL tell ‘them’ is that you’ve gone ‘off line” – and in due time this will be a prosecutable offence – they will ‘know where you live’ via your registration number!

  11. Bill permalink
    June 6, 2018 8:18 am

    Consenting to be governed by the voluntary action of handing your name to the state which it then records in its electoral roll ensures you get governed, no matter how insane the government of ‘the day’ is and over my five decades there has never been a sane government anywhere on earth.

  12. DMP permalink
    June 6, 2018 12:27 pm

    The only real use of meters is for accurate bills. There was a British company (I can’t remember its name) 50 years ago developed a system for reading meters. It never got off the ground because of meter readers opposition

    • quaesoveritas permalink
      June 6, 2018 7:53 pm

      One problem now is that the people reading the meters just turn up unannounced, and there is no provision to arrange an alternative visit when you are in. They must waste hours and gallons of petrol on unnecessary journeys.

      • Up2snuff permalink
        June 8, 2018 7:20 pm

        With some suppliers, they are happy for you to read your own meters and supply the readings to them via e-mail. All they need to do then is make a very occasional spot check.

  13. Dave Ward permalink
    June 6, 2018 4:04 pm

    Changed your mind? Want your Smart Meter removed? That’ll be £150 please…

  14. dave permalink
    June 7, 2018 7:02 am

    Smart meters have a “pre-payment mode.” I read that this can be activated by remote control – that is certainly true in Italy. One may anticipate that, eventually, such changes of mode will be implemented, simply to punish people.

  15. Up2snuff permalink
    June 7, 2018 2:20 pm

    There is an error in Nick Hunn’s article. He states “Throughout this fiasco, the Government has not relaxed its requirements for every home to have a smart meter fitted by 2020, which means fitting around 50 million new meters.”

    Unless every dwelling has two SMART Meters, we only need 25 million (in round figures) meters to cover all the households in the UK.

    Am I right in thinking SMART meters require more electricity to run? If so, manufacturing, delivery and installation emissions apart, introducing them appears to be a really stupid thing to do to be ‘green’.

    • June 7, 2018 4:05 pm

      One for gas and one for leccy

      • Up2snuff permalink
        June 7, 2018 4:33 pm

        May explain it Paul. Thanks. How does the gas one work, though? Electricity and gas tend not to mix too well.

        The big question for Government is, why cannot people monitor their demand via the existing meters. If they are too lazy to monitor a mechanical flow meter and the electricity demand meter, will they really keep looking at their smartphones to check the readings?

  16. Dave Ward permalink
    June 8, 2018 9:21 am

    @ Up2snuff – the gas meters have a long life (supposedly 10 year) lithium battery to power it.

    • Up2snuff permalink
      June 8, 2018 7:12 pm

      Dave, thanks for that info. As I understand it, the electricity Smart Meters do not survive a change of supplier, at present. If the gas one measures gas flow, converting a mechanical movement to a signal, then that is putting a lithium battery in close proximity to gas. I know the old ‘new North Sea Gas’ was less explosive but IIRC our gas is now quite mix from a variety of sources. It could be that some households will not even survive long enough to get to change gas or electricity supplier!

      The whole thing seems a very bad, very wasteful idea. The carbon emissions just from making the SMs and the display unit must be colossal.

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