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Government’s smart meter roll out ‘will lead to gas and electric surge pricing’

June 29, 2018

By Paul Homewood


h/t Paul Matthews


Further to the letters to the Telegraph post earlier, it appears that one of the writers, Jerry Fulton, is former head of gas and electric meter meterology at Ofgem, so ought to know his stuff.

The Telegraph have followed up his letter with this article:



Smart meters will allow energy firms to introduce "surge pricing" to charge households more for gas and electric at peak times, a former senior Ofgem manager has warned. 

So-called "time of use" tariffs would see households pay more for watching television, charging gadgets and running the washing machine during popular times such as in the mornings and evenings. 

The controversial deals would see energy prices peak on special events like Christmas Day and Easter when millions of households are all using ovens to cooking lunch at the same time.

Under the Government’s £11bn smart meter roll out every home in the UK will be offered a smart meter by 2020, in an effort to help people save money and use less energy. 

Unlike ordinary meters, smart meters transmit information about when households use most energy to suppliers. At present customers will smart meters are charged a flat fee per unit of energy used.

According to Jerry Fulton, former head of gas and electric meter meterology at Ofgem, the energy regulator, the introduction of smart meters will soon give suppliers the power to increase bills at busy times, just like paying off-peak and peak time travel. 

He told the Daily Telegraph: "I believe that the hidden agenda behind smart meters is that they will allow half-hourly charging.

"Instead of having two charge rates (day and night) the price of energy will change every half hour, so when solar and wind generation are low and usage is high the price of electricity will rise steeply.

"What would make more sense than smart meters is smart appliances that could be automatically switched on or off depending on electricity-grid demand. For instance, fridges, freezers and some battery chargers could be switched off at peak demand periods, as could some washing machines and dryers.

"It is claimed that smart meters are safe and secure. Not having one, because they are not needed, is even more safe and secure."

Switching service USwitch has also said that "time of use" energy deals will become commonplace once the Government’s smart meter rollout is complete.

Such deals will begin to dominate the energy market once so-called "second generation" smart meters have been installed in people’s homes, it said.

Energy firms have said they would be open to introducing such tariffs as an option alongside normal tariffs.   

Mr Fulton added that switching to a cheaper deal would become "a complete nightmare" once time of day tariffs have been introduced, as fluctuating prices would be difficult to compare.


The bottom line is that the total cost of producing the nation’s electricity is not changed by smart metering. If somebody gains by getting up in the middle of the night to do their washing, somebody else will end up paying more.

I checked out the Economy Seven tariffs a couple of years ago, which offers lower prices at night. Because tariffs were higher than standard ones during the day, average bills were actually higher in total. I doubt whether much has changed.

The last sentence is also particularly important. If surge pricing is commonplace, forget about shopping around for the cheapest deal.

  1. Harry Passfield permalink
    June 29, 2018 6:05 pm

    People out at work all day won’t care, but pensioners and nursing mothers will.

  2. June 29, 2018 6:42 pm

    Smart meters are for dumb people; most people are easily fooled by the propaganda (use of the word “smart” is pure propaganda which dumb people fall for). It’s just like a “smart” grid is not smart but is an expensive solution to use of dumb renewable generators.

  3. Joe Public permalink
    June 29, 2018 7:06 pm

    Has anyone actually discovered what a ‘smart gas meter’ actually does?

    OK – it multiplies the gas-flow rate by the unit commodity charge, & displays it in real time. Big deal.

    The electricity distribution network stores zero kWh; the gas distribution network stores approx 2-day’s worth of gas.

    GB has a massive 33GWh of electricity storage; and, even post-Rough closure, just 15,840 GWh of gas storage.

    There is no within-the-day surge pricing for gas.

    Interestingly, the specification of a smart gas meter includes a Local/Remote operation Disconnect Valve.

    Click to access EDMI-GS60A-A4-Fact-Sheet.pdf

    • June 29, 2018 10:54 pm

      33GWhs is not massive. It is tiny. It will only supply 33GWs for a measly 1 hour. Try that on a windless day.

  4. Svend Ferdinandsen permalink
    June 29, 2018 8:45 pm

    It is introduced in Copenhagen by the distributer Radius (the one that transport the electricity).
    The transport price has dropped a bit in the summer time, but in the winter time it is raised between 17 and 20, and it is raised to more than double the normal price.The normal price is around 0.35 dkr/kWh.
    The argument is green painted and says that there is a peak at that time, and they have to invest in more cables if the peak is not lowered.
    I just wander, if the peak actually is higher in absolute demand, or is the demand outside the peaktime just lower, so that the peak shows more.
    All these saving campaigns have lowered the general demand, but cooking and washing takes around the same amount of electricity.

  5. June 29, 2018 9:16 pm

    Variable price tariffs via smart meters are already a fact of life in parts of California, and maybe elsewhere. But AFAIK there is an element of selection of a ‘suitable’ (if you understand your own usage AND the pricing system) tariff for the customer.

  6. Dave Ward permalink
    June 30, 2018 9:20 am

    “What would make more sense than smart meters is smart appliances that could be automatically switched on or off depending on electricity-grid demand”

    But you can’t (easily) have one without the other, although I’ve seen talk of appliances (fridges / aircon) that monitor the mains frequency, and use that as a signal to turn off for short periods.

    • June 30, 2018 12:32 pm

      Dave – I’ve had a trivial look around the meters presently proffered to punters and “cut off” style meters are in my experience rather rare.

      A primary purpose of the communicating meters is to create opportunities for timed banditry.

      The obvious testing ground for Smart Energy is electric water heating (and underfloor heating) to negate constraint payments to renewables suppliers.

  7. June 30, 2018 12:23 pm

    The marketeers of the telecomms business look forwards to return to the good old days.

    A shell game on steroids with psychedelic drugs.

    My prediction fwiw – we are headed for the Nigerian model – a clattering diesel generator in the back garden….

    Allowing the politicians with self evidently near nil understanding of the engineering to collude with salesmen, PR folk and eco-zealots to dictate the implementation of electricity as a public utility was not going to end well – it is absolutely going to get worse and we are going to see more epic halfbakery than Smart Meters…..

  8. It doesn't add up... permalink
    June 30, 2018 12:36 pm

    If the meters were truly smart, they’d be switching to the best deal for your pattern of use automatically.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      June 30, 2018 2:19 pm

      Perhaps I should have added that if they were allowed to deal directly with generating sources, they would give their business to unsubsidised dispatchable generators, forcing subsidised sources out of business.

      • July 1, 2018 10:53 pm

        there’s no emoji that I’m aware of that signifies two thumbs up.

        What I find rather frustrating is talking to “ordinary folk” who’ve heard little beyond the pap pumped out by wind PR and watching the puzzled look on their faces when I say there’s usually in the UK usable wind 26%-ish of the time which means that about 3/4 of electricity has to be fossil, nuclear, hydro or “bio”. especially at night.


        you you can have a random 43 hours a week of wind electricity out of 168 hours.

  9. Up2snuff permalink
    June 30, 2018 6:09 pm

    As Mrs Thatcher discovered in the 1980s and politicians have failed to learn ever since (eh, Gordon?) ‘you cannot buck the markets’. When customers collect their own usage data, handing over excessive direct debits to Energy cos. will be increasingly resisted. To get people with ‘Smart meters’ to sign up to variable rate deals, the Energy cos. will have to be even smarter with their pricing or they will be losing money and may, eventually go bust.

    At that point, there may not be much sympathy at Government level whichever of the two main Parties is in power.

  10. John permalink
    July 1, 2018 3:52 pm

    All is not well in France

    The anti-Linky walk for the respect of the right of refusal

    The eight anti-Linky collectives of the department led, yesterday, a citizen march in the streets of Rodez . In particular, they demand respect for the right of individuals to refuse the installation of this new electricity meter.

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