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MPs Expose Smart Meter Con

July 21, 2018

By Paul Homewood

 

The BBC cover a critical Parliamentary report on smart meters:

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People who have smart meters installed are expected to save an average of £11 annually on their energy bills, much less than originally hoped.

A report from a parliamentary group now predicts a dual fuel saving of £26.

In a critical report, the 92 MPs and peers also said the government was likely to miss its own deadline to have the £11bn switchover completed.

Up to 53 million smart meters were to be installed in 30 million homes and businesses by the end of 2020.

A smart meter is designed to replace traditional gas and electricity meters.

It automatically sends usage data to suppliers via the mobile phone network, and comes with a display showing users how much energy they are using – and the cost in pounds and pence.

Conservative MP Grant Shapps, the chairman of the British Infrastructure Group (BIG), said the programme had been "plagued by repeated delays and cost increases, with suppliers now almost certain to miss the 2020 deadline, and programme benefits likely to be slashed even further".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Shapps said one of the reasons for the "mess" was that "first generation" smart meters, which do not always work when a customer switches supplier, will continue to be rolled out until next year.

He added: "We need to shift to a reliable timetable, we need to quit installing obsolete old meters… and we need to have the regulator become a lot tougher."

The government said smart meters were already putting consumers in control of their energy use, while industry body Energy UK said suppliers were committed to meeting the deadline of seeing all households and businesses offered a smart meter by 2020.

Smart Energy GB, which is promoting the roll out of the smart meters, said: "All smart meters mean an end to estimated billing and give people a greater understanding of their energy use.

"Smart meters are also making prepay cheaper and more convenient, bringing the way we pay for our energy up-to-date, enabling customers to top up online or over the phone."

Customers have financed the smart meter programme by paying a levy on their energy bills, while suppliers have frequently blamed the levy for rising costs.

However, the report claimed most of the eventual savings would be made by energy firms, rather than consumers.

"The roll-out is consequently at serious risk of becoming yet another large scale public infrastructure project delivered well over time and budget, and which fails to provide energy customers with a meaningful return on their investment," said Mr Shapps.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44903471

 

Unsurprisingly the BBC have not mentioned the most significant parts of the report, as they do not help the BBC’s green agenda.

The report comes from the British Infrastructure Group, which is not an official committee, merely a cross party group. (It should also be noted that they are by and large pro-smart meters):

 

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 http://www.britishinfrastructuregroup.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/BIG-Not-So-Smart-Full-Report.pdf

 

These are some of the report’s points that the BBC forgot to tell us:

 

 

COSTS

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Although the BBC briefly note that customers are having to pay for the cost of smart meters through their energy bills, there is no mention that the cost of the smart meter rollout could now exceed £16.7bn, about £640 per household.

Indeed, the cost could go as high as £20bn.

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BENEFITS

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It must be noted that the saving of £11 pa is not net of the cost of the rollout. In other words, customers will effectively pay at least £400 for a smart meter, in order to save £11 a year thereafter.

But even this saving of £11 is based on questionable assumptions.

The latest BEIS assessment of costs and benefits, published in 2016, forecast savings of £16.73bn over the lifetime of the smart meters (which I believe is up to 2030).

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Half of this amount is for supplier cost savings, mainly the cost of employing meter readers, admin and accounting costs.

However there is already technology in place to achieve these savings – the internet. It is very simple and virtually cost free for customers to enter meter readings via the internet, thus generating automatic billing, and without the need for estimated readings. The savings made by energy companies have already been passed on to customers as a discount on bills, (just the same as signing up for direct debits did a few years ago). This saving cannot be passed on again.

The BEIS even included a “saving” of £1.329bn for “Carbon savings and air quality”. As the MPs note, these will have no meaningful impact on annual energy bills.

 

The report is also highly dubious about the claimed energy savings, noting:

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The MPs are also equally sceptical about the savings of £943m from peak load shifting.

As they state, for ToU tariffs to be effective, there must be a large difference in price between peak and off peak.

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In other words, be prepared for stonking price increases if you want energy at “inconvenient” periods of the day.

 

EU Directives

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Readers will already be aware that the EU lies behind the smart meter push.

What is less well known is that EU countries could choose not to roll them out if it was found to be not cost effective.

Germany, Portugal and Belgium and others have saved their citizens a fortune by using this loophole.

To make matters worse, successive UK governments have gold plated EU rules:

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Blame it on the Energy Companies

 

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Somehow, despite all of the government coercion, the energy companies seem to get the blame.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from my supplier, EON. They effectively told me that  by law I had to have a smart meter, and that if I did not want one I had to ring them .

They also stated that an engineer would call round to install one. I emailed them back and told them in no uncertain terms that I did not want one, and to take me off their email list. To my surprise, they actually responded a few days later, very apologetically and assured me they would not bother me again.

I deeply suspect though that millions will fall for their lies and bullying. Yet it is the government which is ultimately to blame for these disgraceful tactics.

It is successive governments who have foisted upon a largely ignorant public a policy which will cost them billions of pounds.

 

SIDESTORY

By coincidence today my daughter asked me what a smart meter was. It turned out her new energy supplier was coming to fit one in September.

I told her all of the story behind them, and explained that we were all paying hundreds of pounds each to have them fitted.

She said they told her it would be “free”!

She also explained that, when she signed up for her new deal a few months ago, a smart meter was compulsory.

When I went off on one of my usual rants, she calmly told me that it would be better then keep on having “estimated bills”.

So I asked her how she used to send meter readings to her previous supplier. They sent her an email, and she logged on and sent her readings back by internet, she explained.

Except most of the time she could not be bothered to reply!!

At that point I gave up!!!!

30 Comments
  1. July 21, 2018 10:01 pm

    Yes, smart meters are really to benefit the utility, not the consumer. With smart meters, they can lay-off all their meter readers, shut off service remotely, and generally operate with a much smaller staff. Unless smart meters are combined with automatic load shedding to shut off high amperage loads during times of peak demand, they will do little to cut energy usage. Automatic load shedding, though, requires that the home’s breaker box be rewired so that the water heater or AC can be controlled. It’s a lot more time-consuming and expensive to do than just swapping out the meter.

    • July 22, 2018 10:23 am

      I suspect that the already have laid-off a lot of readers, but they probably use other organisations to do it.
      I also suspect that they use readers very inefficiently calling without warning and not leaving cards for you to contact them to make an appointment to come back.

  2. Athelstan permalink
    July 21, 2018 10:21 pm

    Said Mr Shapps:

    The roll-out is consequently at serious risk of becoming yet another large scale public infrastructure project delivered well over time and budget,

    Allow me to rephrase it Grant………………..

    The roll-out is consequently at serious risk of becoming yet another large scale public infrastructure project delivered expensive flop and ignominious, indeed government inspired: arrant disaster.
    And done to con the consumer, because we all know what they (‘smart’ meters) are actually for, to enable the grid to facilitate what they euphemistically name ‘managed demand’.

    Ah ha, but what we all know to be, to via means of the national grid, by rote cut you off, or brown outs reduced current – a massive dimmer switch if you like.

    All because of rampant bungling and fixing the energy market to make fossil fuel generated power supply costed out of the market to deliberately favour those very expensive, highly subsidised green boondoggles. Because HMG has shut down big coal fired plant, the nett safety margins have been paired to the bone, thus the energy supply in the future will clearly be marjorly deficient at times of peak demand or indeed in times of crisis (ie a major generating unit fails and or the wind don’t blow).
    All round, tis a cock-up of proportions only a government could make it – another Titanic blunder.

    Original gas/electricity Meters are smart enough, all you need to do is to read them, all else is government propagandizing BS to cover their bottoms and enable the green agenda to make electrical and gas power rationed via price, via demand, via inefficient jiggerpokery – all because they can.

  3. July 22, 2018 12:52 am

    I really don’t know what to tell my grandchildren.

    Two days ago I read of an accident where a car drove into a rail wagon on a crossing that had been left open in error. The wagon was from Immingham and on its way to Drax with a cargo of “biomass”. That’s another ten or more mature trees cut down in East Virginia so that the soil will wash into the river and ruin an entire ecosystem – while Drax burns the trees and puffs out harmful pollutants.

    Sometimes I’m ashamed to be British.

    • Derek Buxton permalink
      July 22, 2018 9:25 am

      The one hope is that Mr. Trump may see this and cut the supply off.

    • saparonia permalink
      July 22, 2018 10:05 am

      Biomass also refers to waste from those horrific one-way death camps for animals

  4. markl permalink
    July 22, 2018 12:52 am

    If they can’t accurately forecast the system cost how can they forecast the individual savings?

  5. Timo Soren permalink
    July 22, 2018 1:45 am

    Here is a link to the cost benefit analysis done by the Dept of Bus. Enegy and Industry saying minimum of hundreds of pounds a ye

  6. July 22, 2018 5:46 am

    Can anyone think of a recent Government project that has not turned into a complete financial (or other) disaster? Never mind, it’s only taxpayers’ money and the politicians and their advisers will continue to be handsomely rewarded for the disasters they create in their wake.

    • dave permalink
      July 22, 2018 7:44 am

      “…financial…disaster..”

      On the very rare occasions when I listen to PMQ’s for more than ten seconds, I notice that the answer of the Maybot is always, “We are putting more money in!”

      • dave permalink
        July 22, 2018 7:53 am

        The Sun continues to be spotless. If the next cycle is not manifest by the middle of 2020 the very active Sun of the last Century will be mere history.

      • dave permalink
        July 22, 2018 7:55 am

        Click to access 1708.02202.pdf

  7. Charles permalink
    July 22, 2018 7:32 am

    Hi Paul,

    Excellent blog, there is also the effect of comoditising – which already exists for electricity and water is catching up. If it’s metered and you pay for what you uae, and the consumer can afford to buy it (perhaps surge pricing will push more people out of the market yet) , the consumer will expect it always to be there , on all the time, ready to meet your demands – because they’re paying for it.. Asking people to change their habits , or only charge their new electric cars at certain times of the day doesn’t fit with that..

  8. July 22, 2018 8:58 am

    Paul I really sympathise re your conversation with your daughter. I also had a call from our supplier recently asking if I wanted a smart meter. After my brief tirade he said simply “we have an option for not interested would you like me to tick that?” Doh!

  9. saparonia permalink
    July 22, 2018 10:12 am

    After I had had proper meters in to replace pre-pay meters, some people came, they were there to install smart meters. I told them I didn’t want them, they said I had to have them because I had pre-pay meters. I explained I hadn’t had those for a long time. They insisted they came in to check I was telling the truth. I would have let them in but they had entered anyway without invitation. De-humanising, bullying, disrespectful, I wonder where they find these people?

  10. Bloke down the pub permalink
    July 22, 2018 10:27 am

    There is the potential for an extra,hidden,cost to this. Feed in tariffs are indexed linked to the price of energy bills. As the cost of smart meters is not itemised on our energy bills, the amount added by the companies to pay for the installations will be included when the FIT is increased.

  11. July 22, 2018 10:53 am

    On BBC tv yesterday, Robert Cheeswright of Smart Energy GB said that we should all change to smart meters and that would save us all “billions of pounds”, over the next few years.
    Of course what he didn’t mention is that our bills are already higher as a result of paying for the smart meter installation programme and the only way

    we will save money is by using less electricity, which of course is the objective.

    He also said that the £11 saving was an average and that many people were saving more.

    Of course if that is true, then many people must be saving less!

  12. It doesn't add up... permalink
    July 22, 2018 11:11 am

    It turns out that the savviest consumers are those who don’t have smart meters:

    However, Smart Energy GB’s own analysis shows that the group which does the most to save energy at home is not those with smart meters, but rather those who know of and understand them, but do not have them. (p 25 and chart 6)

    It pays to be smart yourself. Mind you, I expect that such savvy consumers also consider whether saving 20kWh p.a. in consumption on a fridge is worth paying another £300 for it, and suffering diminished storage capacity to boot.

  13. Peter Simpson permalink
    July 22, 2018 11:34 am

    They want to stick them were the sun dounier shine

  14. Patsy Lacey permalink
    July 22, 2018 1:18 pm

    I had an economy seven meter for electricity until my last discussion with my supplier. They helpfully told me that it was not economic to have one unless usage was at least equal,because the cost of the day rate was too high to produce savings on the night rate. The tariff I accepted ignored economy 7 – they add the two readings together. So much for off peak!

  15. john cooknell permalink
    July 22, 2018 1:32 pm

    I had one installed just to see what the process of getting one involved. The man turned up reduced the cut-out size from 100A to 60A and meter tails from 25mm2 to 16mm2, when I complained that this was preposterous for my size of house, he said the roll out programme took no account of size of dwelling! I sent him packing!!!!

  16. Ian Cunningham permalink
    July 22, 2018 3:11 pm

    At last some proper publicity about Smart Meters from Grant Shapps.

    It did make me wonder though about the legality of the whole scheme.

    As I understand it the government is requiring Electricity companies to fit such meters and they are being paid for by a levy on electricity bills.

    I believe all consumers are being charged irrespective of whether they have smart meters installed or not. The scheme is voluntary…how therefore can I be charged for something I don’t have and don’t want?

    I expect such questions have been asked and answered long before now but thought it would do no harm to ask.

  17. Sean permalink
    July 22, 2018 11:04 pm

    No mention of the effect to the environment? EMR. The meters pump out heavy duty EMR 24/7. Every home, Hospital, School, factory, Office buildings etc will add even more dangerous levels than they already pump out. Read the Memo or didn’t you get one?

  18. Pem permalink
    July 23, 2018 12:21 pm

    Waste, waste and waste…. And then we have cuts in the NHS and schools. Apart that the cost benefit does NOT justify the investment in smart meters, they stop working when changing suppliers, requiring to throw the “new” smart meters for the ones provided by the new supplier. We are governed by idiots who cannot make simple decisions. And you wonder why we are in this Brexit mess?

  19. It doesn't add up... permalink
    July 23, 2018 12:39 pm

    TOU charging is going to be smuggled in on the back of EVs:

    https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news-analysis/3036320/ofgem-proposes-grid-incentives-to-boost-flexible-ev-charging-and-renewable-power

    It has launched a consultation today proposing a Significant Code Review to conclude in 2020 with a view to initiating “wide-ranging and holistic change” to the system from 2022.

    Possible reforms could see households and smaller businesses wanting to consume a lot more power at peak times having to pay the associated additional network charges. In addition, larger energy users willing to accept less ‘firm’, constant energy access and instead boost their grid flexibility could in return benefit from quicker connection and lower network charges, according to Ofgem.

    Ofgem said policy reforms could also incentivise EV drivers to charge up at the most optimal times of the day, keeping costs down for EV owners and energy bill payers while easing pressure on the grid.

    It warns that grid operators needed to prepare for a “pace of uptake that is greater than today’s thinking suggests is possible”, noting that some EVs on the market are already cheaper than their conventional alternatives on a total cost of ownership.

    National Grid has said the UK will be able to cope with a large influx of EV drivers in the coming years charging up from the power grid, provided the bulk of EVs are charged up off-peak and V2G technology becomes more widespread.

    Smart meters needed.

  20. John Gilderoy permalink
    July 24, 2018 7:59 am

    I’ve had a smart meter for 4years, allegedly fitted ‘free’. 6months after fitting we changed supplier and have changed twice more since. None of the 3 subsequent suppliers had any use for the smart meter as it is incompatible with each of their 3, also incompatible systems. We now email meter readings, having to our cost, discovered that for the first 12 month contract we were actually supplying the wrong readings……what you see on the meter is not a reading …. you need to know which buttons to press first to arrive at a correct figure! Typical British shambles! Sti got the meters but the modem has sat in a cupboard for nearly 4 years now!

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