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Claire Perry Goes Under The Stairs

November 24, 2018

By Paul Homewood




Claire Perry is getting ever more desperate in her defence of smart meters. Reacting to the latest critical report from the NAO. she says:

Dial-up internet access, VHS and rotary phones are quite rightly consigned to history, and now we can order anything at a click of a button and can stream Netflix from your smart TV while booking our next holiday on your smart phone.

Given this technological revolution in our daily lives, it’s quite frankly baffling that many of us still think it’s normal to grab a torch, sweep away cobwebs and hunker down under the stairs to get readings from our ancient, dusty electricity and gas meters. But if you don’t face this hassle, you risk an estimated bill way out of line with your actual energy use, potentially paying more or less each month causing cash flows and direct debits to fluctuate, making it difficult for families to budget.

It doesn’t have to be like this. The smart choice is a smart meter. Customers across Great Britain have already chosen to install more than 12 million smart meters in their homes and small businesses. These devices give them real-time information about their energy use in pounds and pence and provide meter readings to suppliers automatically, putting an end to estimated bills. Smart meters give people control over their energy use, help them make choices to save money and give households more information so they can switch to cheaper deals. Better information also encourages consumers to be take more savvy actions, such as buying more energy efficient appliances or switching to LED lighting.


I don’t know anybody who has meters amid cobwebs, but if they don’t like them, they can easily pay to have them shifted.

As for references to dial up internet and VHS, it was not government diktat that replaced them with something better. And the replacements were not funded by £11bn of taxpayers’ money.


That is the conservative estimate of the cost of the smart meter roll out, which even the NAO reckon could now rise to £14bn, all to be paid for on energy bills.

And the benefits? Let’s see what the NAO have to say:




These are “savings” over the period 2013 to 2030. Whilst the costs of roll out are very real and very current, the benefits are ephemeral and, if they arise at all, will be spread over many years.

Claire Perry likes to rattle on about how smart energy will make our energy networks so much more efficient. In reality, the claimed benefits of £0.8bn and £0.9bn for network benefits and peak load shifting are tiny, especially when spread over a decade or more. Indeed they are so tiny as to be significantly meaningless.

In any event, the NAO cast grave doubts on whether even these small savings would actually materialise.

We then have £1.4bn of “Environmental Benefits”, which won’t actually save bill payers a penny.

The only substantial items are Energy Savings and Suppliers’ Cost Savings.


The theory is that customers will use less energy when they sit looking at their smart meters and realise how much that cup of tea cost.

The NAO, however, find that the available evidence for this is “inconclusive”, and that previous Department estimates of energy savings from energy saving schemes have been grossly overestimated.

To that I would add the human factor. While people may see smart meters as new toys and play with them for a while, after a while they get forgotten about.

At the end of the day, of course, it is down to the individual. If you really want to reduce energy bills, there are all sorts of ways to do it, without the need for a smart meter.

As for supplier costs, most of the saving revolves around call centre and other admin costs (£2.3bn) and the cost of meter reading (£3.0bn).

Since the smart meter programme was first mooted, technology has moved on. Anybody with an internet connection now has the ability to send meter readings online, thus automatically generating invoices. In short, there is no need for suppliers to send out meter readers, or post meter reading cards (along of course with all of the administration which follows.)

As a back stop, there is already a statutory requirement for energy suppliers to regularly carry out safety tests on meters, which would spot any faulty meters of fraud.

Savings on admin costs were thought to arise from dealing with estimated readings, queries and so on. However, the NAO is sceptical about this. They believe that the problems of supporting a mix of SMETS1, SMETS2 and legacy meters is likely to add to operational costs.

They also say that the risk of defects in future could increase contact between customers and suppliers.


In short, the claimed benefits at the very least are highly dubious, while the costs are very real.

  1. MrGrimNasty permalink
    November 24, 2018 1:56 pm

    All this policy has done is cost me (and the poorest in society) £500 (or whatever).

    What I can’t get over is how she maintains this is some sort of paradigm shifting infrastructure project of immense importance and keeps saying we are leading the world.

    Leading in being stupid?

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      November 24, 2018 2:02 pm

      And “Energy savings will also create environmental benefits for society” – without this ‘fake’ accounting device (like the social cost of carbon) – it’s a full on money pit.

  2. November 24, 2018 2:37 pm

    The govt keeps quiet about two issues, and the useless so-called journalists in the MSM don’t ask awkward questions: firstly smart meters are by EU diktat, and secondly they are to “force” less demand at peak times via time-of-use tariffs.

    The enormous cost arises partly because of the ludicrous haste, if meters were simply replaced when they failed, and put in all new properties, then the cost would be spread over many decades. Bills will be hiked to pay for the roll-out, then left there forever.

    My vote will go to any party that promises full transparency on electricity bills (covering large milkers such as National Grid) … provided said party has not locked us into being an EU colony.

  3. November 24, 2018 3:00 pm

    The theory that we will shift our peak load neglects the fact that there is an underlying reason for the peak. If it is hot or cold I want heat or a/c – to heck with the expense. If I come home after work I need power to cook, do the wash and everything else – there is no plan b. So all the peak load savings they predict evaporate.

  4. bobn permalink
    November 24, 2018 3:15 pm

    Letter in Sat 24/11/18 The Times:
    ‘Sir, The earnest young man who arrived to fit my smart meter seemed dismayed when, after two phone calls to his boss, he announced that he was unable to fit the meter as i had storage heating. …’
    Can anyone shed light on why storage heaters out-smart smart meters? Millions of properties have elec storage heaters; how will the meter plan cope with these? In the Govts drive to banish fossil fuels, and electrify everything, then fitting elec storage heaters to millions more homes must be the Govts plan. Does the govts electrification plan make its smart meter plan obsolete? answers please Claire the Clairvoyant!

    • mothcatcher permalink
      November 24, 2018 5:27 pm

      Roger –
      I think storage heaters operate on a specially low tarriff, going back several decades to when the electric supplier sold the storage heater idea to consumers as a source of discounted power (again, the idea was load spreading). After a while, of course, the suppliers disowned the promise they had made, and a big row ensued, so they had to back down and the special deal continues to this day. It is presumably incompatible with the rather inflexible ‘smart’ meters they propose now to install.

  5. Dodgy Geezer permalink
    November 24, 2018 3:42 pm

    It used to be the case that our MPs were meant to represent us.

    Now, it appears, our MPs represent activists and vested interests, and act as salesmen and propagandists for the entrepreneurs who are milking us dry….They are happy to lie about anything…

  6. Ian Macdonald permalink
    November 24, 2018 4:51 pm

    14 billion. Gasp. The entire Apollo moon landings program cost only slightly more, in today’s money.

    Or put another way, it would pay for something like 16-18 conventional gasfired power stations.

  7. November 24, 2018 5:33 pm

    Claire never fails to disappoint it seems.


    “Using the might of the public sector to drive differential behaviors”

    Reading her piece above one has to wonder if she’s seeking a second career as a celebrity flatulist ?

  8. mothcatcher permalink
    November 24, 2018 5:35 pm

    The great bulk of domestic electricity consumption (in winter I think well over 80%) is required for heating. One can just imagine impoverished pensioners watching that meter clocking up the pounds, and worrying how long they can keep that heating on. I well recall my grandparents, back in the 1960s, sitting shivering under cardies and blankets rather than have the fire on. Haven’t come far, have we?

    There is no need at all to visit these miseries upon our poor and elderly (or, indeed, upon anybody). One of the few proper functions of government should be to ensure that the market provides copious supplies of the cheapest possible energy. Just about everything the government has done for years now has had the opposite effect. Madness! And no one is calling it out as such..

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      November 24, 2018 6:02 pm

      That’s a very good point, being forced to watch the meter tick may well encourage oldies to freeze themselves to death. Might hasten the UN’s population replacement migration agenda I suppose, so a bonus.

      • Stuart Brown permalink
        November 24, 2018 9:39 pm

        I hate to think of anyone being in that position.

        I am heartened by my 88 year old father in law, who on being shown his new ‘smart display’ said “I don’t need that, put it in the drawer in the back bedroom”. It’s still there in its box. He is lucky to have a small pension on top of his state pension but is not rich (and more deserving than lucky to have a couple of daughters – and me – who wouldn’t see him starve)

        His response to his rising gas bill is that he won’t be dying of hypothermia as he turns his gas fire up. His smart meter has done nothing to reduce ‘global warming’ at all. We take him out for meals…

        I can’t think he’s alone – who would look at these displays apart from geeks like me?

  9. Bloke down the pub permalink
    November 24, 2018 5:52 pm

    Personally, I find it convenient to spread the payment of bills over the years and so pay by direct debit. This only requires one reading per year, not exactly onerous. As for the extra cost generated by smart meters, I can afford to be a little smug. I have solar pv panels fitted, not out of environmental concerns but because the return was much better than what the banks were offering at the time. The FIT that I receive for the electricity I generate is indexed linked to the price of electricity. The more scams the government introduce, the more the price goes up but so too does how much I receive. Fortunately, all the freezing pensioners are helping to keep my bills paid. How do I sleep at night,you ask? A tot of malt usually does the trick.

    • bobn permalink
      November 24, 2018 10:37 pm

      Correct. The Uk ‘climate change (sic)’ policies are highly regressive. Rich property owners could install solar pv and wind turbines at a handsome Govt manipulated profit, that is ultimately paid for by higher bills on those without Capital or Landholdings. LibLabConGreen all support giving to the rich by punishing the poor. Where are the lefties when you need them?

  10. Robert Fairless permalink
    November 24, 2018 6:02 pm

    When you let people like Perry loose one thing is certain. It will be very expensive for the ordinary citizen, that is the the poorest in society. Her claims are simply fraudulent; e.g. there are no spiders’ webs in our house, if there were, it is none of her business.
    How do we manage to breed so many fools. Is it inherent or poor education? Politicians connected with energy seem particularly devoid of common sense as illustrated by the last four Ministers for Energy; that is a good degree but a propensity for wasting huge sums of money running into billions thus impoverishing the poor but enriching a few beyond the wildest dreams of most.

    • November 24, 2018 6:46 pm

      It seems obvious but… intellect is not necessarily an inoculation against hubris – Claire isn’t daft or even particularly stupid – she has a different set of priorities that drive her and she’s also self evidently utterly incurious – preferring to pluck positions on subjects that have been previously prepared ….

      You’d might hope that somebody in Claire’s position might look a bit closer at what they’re tasked with promoting – but nope – Claire doesn’t care she’ll pump any old kerrapp..

      • bobn permalink
        November 24, 2018 10:38 pm

        Disagree. She is daft and stupid!

      • November 26, 2018 8:04 am

        bobn – depends where you set the bar …. I am very tempted to retract my assessment of her – but I think on balance that she is incurious, conniving and dishonest – focusing on stuff that she perceives will aid her progress up the greasy pole and bloat her bank accounts.

  11. gregory waggett permalink
    November 24, 2018 6:19 pm

    Italy carried out a successful smart meter project for a third the cost. UK is hopeless at infrastructure management.

  12. Schrodinger's Cat permalink
    November 24, 2018 6:52 pm

    Just consider the intellectual ability of past energy ministers. I wonder if it is a job requirement?

  13. markl permalink
    November 24, 2018 7:27 pm

    Smart meter, stupid people. This is nothing more than an attempt to limit energy use and control it to fit a reduced supply and all the while the end users will be paying more for less. The French won’t have the forced reduction through increased cost of fossil fuels and I’m betting soon more EU countries will be fed up with the status quo as well.

  14. Mack permalink
    November 24, 2018 8:01 pm

    “Claire Perry goes under the stairs”. I wish she would stay there. Unfortunately, after the Tories get blitzed at the next election after their clusterf**ck Brexit she will, no doubt, waltz into a sinecure with a green outfit to lobby the next band of shysters running the country with EU permission. And the Corbynistas are even worse with their ‘let’s completely destroy the economy’ manifesto. Just add a bit of green fairy dust and we are back to living by candlelight and crumbs. Deep joy!

  15. Up2snuff permalink
    November 24, 2018 8:12 pm

    I wonder where these smart meters are made, how much CO2 is produced during manufacture, and also during transport four times from supplier to power company or wholesaler and then to installer and finally to the home?

    More awkward questions about accuracy parameters and end of life-recycling for those that cease to function for whatever reason – in the current ‘Blue Planet’ climate – should also be asked of the Minister.

    As for ease of access to current meters, those on new builds are usually on the exterior of a house or apartment. Monitoring, on a weekly basis, is easy and takes about a minute. even when meters for gas and electricity are some yards apart.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      November 24, 2018 8:33 pm

      Again a good point, the constant demand for regularly monitoring of your smart ‘gadget’ is manifestly 100s of times more inconvenient and time consuming than checking the meter and communicating a reading 1/2/4 times a year. People are busy enough and want to relax in their own homes.

      And does Perry seriously think people will look at their display, go oh my A+ rated fridge is obviously gobbling up electrify, I’ll pointlessly spend £399 on a new A+++ rated fridge so I can ‘save’ £6.78 (random figure alert!) a year?

      • Dave Ward permalink
        November 24, 2018 10:08 pm

        I went round the house with a plug-in monitor, which (unlike a smart meter) allows the consumption of each appliance to be checked separately. Our 22 year old fridge/freezer was using more than double the power of a new model, and has been replaced as a result. This alone has reduced my electricity consumption by 30%. In this instance the purchase will more than pay for itself – and the old one was getting pretty grotty anyway. BUT a separate chest freezer isn’t doing too badly, and I’m not going to replace it just yet. It’s all about cost/benefit analysis, but any sensible consumer should be able to do that – smart meter or not…

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        November 25, 2018 10:48 am

        If an appliance is old and near end of life anyway, then fine, but that’s common sense not meter smart!

  16. HotScot permalink
    November 24, 2018 8:44 pm

    Mum, can I have a nice cold cup of tea please?

    Sorry son, our smart water meter has cut us off as well. Here’s a nice tea bag for you to suck on.

    Thanks Mum.

  17. Athelstan permalink
    November 25, 2018 12:36 am

    2Dial-up internet access, VHS and rotary phones are quite rightly consigned to history, and now we can order anything at a click of a button and can stream Netflix from your smart TV while booking our next holiday on your smart phone” unquote.

    blah, blah said Claire thingamy. Indeed, who wrote that for her, the great likelihood is that, she’ll never have heard of most of ’em down in the Harvard powder rooms and corporate shiny buildin’s becawse dash it all, gals like her don’t do stuff like that or even chat about it.

    And besides – booking your hol’s on a smart phone is asking for trouble – they’re just so hackable – a bit like smart meters actually. Netflix is a desperation but only if you want it, well I nevah a bit like smart meters actually. Then consider, outdated, a bit like dear ms, Claire Perry indeed aren’t smart meters like Theresa’s executive: yesterdays ‘men’?

    the real kicker – the cost, don’t you know Claire luvvy not everybody is as thick as you.

  18. November 25, 2018 3:30 am

    We use the expression: to prattle on.

    And if she is paid: a shill.

    But the idea of paying gobs of money just in case you might get a bigger bill, at a ROI of something like 50 years,If you choose to look at it: Numbskull comes to mind.

    • dave permalink
      November 25, 2018 9:03 am

      And all to save the Arctic Sea-Ice – which does not seem to need saving:

  19. A Norwich Tory permalink
    November 25, 2018 7:02 am

    On a wholly trivial note, it used to be that when meter reading time came round I could never find a torch, or the torch I eventually found had dead batteries. Now, with a smartphone, even that isn’t a problem!

  20. November 25, 2018 9:27 am

    My ‘ancient, dusty’ electricity meter was fitted at street level a few years ago, thank you. Before all this smart meter nonsense, fortunately.

  21. Mike H permalink
    November 25, 2018 10:50 am

    With regard to the technical side of these meters, we often hear that they will be used for “demand management” in the future, ie: cutting off the power to selected areas when there isn’t enough to go round.
    Can these new meters in fact shut off the supply or limit it to a low setting?
    Looking at my existing, non-smart kit, the meter and the main breaker are two separate units and both are remote from the fuseboard. So it is hard to see how a new meter could do what the rumours say it will.
    If someone with the necessary expertise could clarify what will and will not be possible, it would be very helpful.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      November 25, 2018 11:25 am

      “Can these new meters in fact shut off the supply”

      Yes, it’s part of the specifications (“v. a Load Switch”):

      5.16 Physical Requirements
      Physical Requirements (5.4) in Part A shall not apply to ESME.
      ESME shall as a minimum include the following components:
      i. a Clock;
      ii. a Data Store;
      iii. an Electricity Meter containing three measuring elements;
      iv. a HAN Interface;
      v. a Load Switch;
      vi. a Random Number Generator;
      vii. a User Interface; and
      viii. where installed with a Communications Hub provided by the Data and
      Communications Company, a Communications Hub Physical Interface

      The relevant part for gas meters says this:

      vii. where installed at Domestic Premises, a Valve

  22. Hivemind permalink
    November 25, 2018 12:03 pm

    None of those benefits accrue to consumers. All of them benefit the suppliers & distributors. Eg, peak load shifting & supplier’s cost savings. And on top of all that, the distributors use them to increase your cost at peak times, just when you need the power! Why would a consumer want to pay hundreds to have one installed? You’d have to be crazy!

  23. Mike H permalink
    November 25, 2018 3:50 pm

    Thanks Dave.
    So the meters will allow selective shutdowns, although, to my understanding, it will be all-or-nothing. It will not be the case that large domestic machines will be shut off but lightling circuits will remain live, for example.
    That looks like a major PR disaster in the making with all of the potential hazards which ensue from a blackout. Component failures, storms, accidents are one thing; a deliberate programme to reduce load for economic/”environmental” benefit will not go down well!

    • Dave Ward permalink
      November 25, 2018 5:44 pm

      “Although, to my understanding, it will be all-or-nothing”

      As things stand, yes that’s the only option. There are (or maybe were?) great plans for the “Internet of Things” to allow a more targeted approach. This envisaged all domestic appliances connected to the smart meter “Hub”, and things like fridges, freezers, washing machines, tumble dryers & particularly heating could be shut down for short periods, when the grid is really straining. This (in theory) would avoid most problems, and smooth the overall demand. But… only have to read a few of the “tech” blogs and sites to fear a massive cluster f*** if this ever comes to pass. Already the lamentable security protocols of the devices which are already in use lead to hackers having a field day. Now imagine if they can target thousands (millions?) of homes simultaneously! I recommend you visit Nick Hunn’s blog – there are currently over 40 posts dealing with smart meters – going back to 2009! If you want to read them all chronologically, this link will take you the oldest posts:
      or this one to the most recent:

  24. Julian permalink
    November 25, 2018 6:00 pm

    I wonder if she believes the BS she peddles?

  25. Mike H permalink
    November 25, 2018 9:51 pm

    Dave W: thanks again – much appreciated.

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