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Smart meter firm EDMI asked UK for £7m to change a single component

Anonymous Coward

"When did "pay as you go" become smart for anyone other then the service provider."

My annual water/sewerage bill is about £450 pounds based on the rateable value of the house. A change to water meter charging becomes compulsory in a couple of years time.

In the interim they are supplying quarterly advisory costs from readings of the newly fitted meters. So far they indicate a metered supply would only cost me about a quarter of the fixed bill. I will be interested to see what happens after I spray clean the patio.

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Based upon my rateable value, my water bill was £35 per month. 2 adults and 1 child on a water meter now comes in at £24 per month on average. That includes washing cars at home (no longer use the pressure washer) but have stopped watering the garden. It does make one more water conservative (small c).

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The outcome of water meters in many areas has been a big jump in water prices - as the companies found they had a much lower income using the meters, so had to compensate with prices rises.

So, you end up paying more for less eventually.

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Boffin

but have stopped watering the garden. It does make one more water conservative (small c)

Depending on your council by-laws1, it's easy to fit/make rainwater tanks off your downpipes, and you can even buy a number of models on the open market easily enough (at least here), which fit into your normal downpipes (I think "Gutter Witch" might be the brand name). A couple of 200L/44 gallon drums with downpipes diverted to them can be a cheaper alternative, but takes a bit longer to set up. And of course make sure your foundation is good enough, 200L is around 200kg....

1 Some NZ councils frown on rainwater tanks, even though they usually reduce consumption and also provide some level of rainwater surge protection (ie the first 100 litres of a downpour might go to filling your tank, meaning their network doesn't have to deal with it). Notably, I believe it is those councils who charge for water who are most against rainwater tanks (but ICBVWAPA)

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What benefit is a smart meter? I have said no and still say no. I am not convinced it is of any measurable benefit to the consumer. To spend £11bn, at no cost to the consumer suggests it is of more benefit to the providers of our energy in the homes. It enables them to regulate, control, ration remotely and we have all seen the press articles warning of looming energy shortfalls with demand for electricity outstripping supply within a decade. Any reasonable person would say no to allowing a third party cut off or reduce power to your home remotely.

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You forgot to mention: sell your energy use profile to ... someone will want to buy that; even if only ''private'' deals between energy staff and their burglar mates who want to know when you are away on holiday.

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Anonymous Coward

"Any reasonable person would say no to allowing a third party cut off or reduce power to your home remotely."

If they run out of capacity they will first reduce supply to those businesses that have an explicit contract to allow that. After that they will have to shed the load on sections of the general supply.

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They should expand capacity then. No point in an electric system if they randomly run out and turn stuff off.

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Anonymous Coward

"They should expand capacity then."

The following is my guess at the problems with UK electric generation capacity.

Coal-fired plants have been at best moth-balled - as too slow and spoil climate change emission targets

Oil - climate change targets

Gas - climate change targets

Wood burners running into fuel supply problems.

Domestic waste burners. Much NIMBY opposition from Tory heartlands.

Investment in UK nuclear replacements has been long delayed. Existing plant reaching end of life.

Buying French nuclear energy via the channel cable in jeopardy as they might not have a surplus due to reactor maintenance problems.

Wind turbines incentives removed. Much NIMBY opposition from Tory heartlands.

Solar panel incentives drastically reduced.

Estuary barrage schemes keep getting delayed for various reasons.

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Unhappy

£7m for a change, sounds about right

Win the contract by bidding low, then make 'em pay through the nose for every change. What could be wrong with that, serves the customer right for not making the requirements clear first time around (that's sarcasm by the way, not my world view).

When EDS beat BT to the NHSmail contract, they delivered their first proof-of-concept / sandbox system for testing. Email addresses were 1@nhs.net, 2@nhs.net etc. The requirements didn't define what format each persons' email address should be in, only that each person should have a unique address. Cost to make a change to the contract, £1m .

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Coffee/keyboard

Sore misgivings

When it comes to ‘smart’ meters, I must admit I have very sore misgivings.

A few weeks back, I got a letter from my water supplier, saying my currently non-metered water supply is going to be changed to a metered connection, and a ‘smart’ meter is going to be installed at the boundary of my property.

And then a few days ago I got a similar letter from my electricity supplier, saying that the old meter is going to be replaced with a ‘smart’ meter, and I need to contact them to arrange a day for installation.

But here’s the rub. In both cases, I wasn’t asked if I want a new smart meter. Seems I don’t get a choice – they’re going to be installed whether I give consent or not. The government wants us all to have them, you see.

Now normally I wouldn’t mind – I’ve had replacement gas/electricity meters before. But these new ones broadcast usage data over a wireless signal, and that gives me the heebie-jeebies.

I’m reminded of a scene in the film ‘Heat’. Robert De Nero is discussing a bank heist with a fellow criminal. The crim has printouts of the bank’s cash flow. De Nero says, “How'd you get this information?”. The crim replies, “This stuff just flies through the air. It's just beamed out all over the place. You just have to grab it. I know how to grab it.”

And that is why smart meters worry me greatly.

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Re: Sore misgivings

They're still optional no matter how the supplier tries to word it.

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Re: Sore misgivings

Spot on sir.

No one is under ANY legal obligation to have one of these white elephants fitted, despite the pressure being applied to consumers to "nudge" them into their fuel suppliers smart meter schemes.

Dumb people have smart meters

Smart people have dumb meters.

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Facepalm

Re: Sore misgivings

If criminals were that interested in how much electricity you were using it would be much easier just to steal your mail

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Thumb Down

Re: Sore misgivings

I don't get a bill through the post.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sore misgivings

"They're still optional no matter how the supplier tries to word it."

The electricity ones are optional - even though the companies never volunteer that information to customers when telling them to make an appointment.

Not so sure about water meters - which are now being compulsorily fitted Our supplier said there is a two year grace period when they will give you a choice as to which method is used to charge. After that it is apparently compulsory to be meter charged.

Friends have been told they can't have a meter as their stop tap hole is too deep. No suggestion has been made about how that will get fixed.

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Boffin

Re: Sore misgivings

I don't get a bill through the post.....

And even if you did, it would only show total usage over the past billing period. Not very useful for determining whether you're out for the day.

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Re: Sore misgivings

The other one that gets them is terraced houses where the water supply comes to one end of the terrace from the road and then links (usually the back of ) the houses....

The drains often do the same

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Boffin

Re: Sore misgivings

Friends have been told they can't have a meter as their stop tap hole is too deep. No suggestion has been made about how that will get fixed.

Wouldn't it be possible to fit a large inverted "U"? As in dig a larger hole around the "stop tap hole" (often called a "Toby" in NZ), fit a 90deg elbow so the incoming pipe bends upwards, at an appropriate height put in another 90deg so the pipe hoes horiontal, fit the tap+meter to this, then another elbow, downward drop to original depth and another elbow to finish.

(For those wanting to try to avoid a meter with the "too deep" excuse, well, your answer's an inversion of my post, though you either have to get the street main turned off or get quite messy doing this ;) )

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How do customers save anything.

I have never understood how getting a smart meter saves customers ANYTHING.

I had a smart meter intalled a couple of years ago by EON. They gave me a seperate device to monitor my usage. Never looked at it a lot, just sits in the kitched gathering dust.

A year later I changed to Sainsbury (British gas), Guess what. It stopped working EXCEPT for giving me the meter reading and NOW I have to have someone READ my meter!

Why. Because when they started rolling out smart meters they had not set-up all the infrastructure.

Talking to my mate A Yorkshire Electricity.

All the readings go to a central hub and are then farmed out to the suppliers. BUT if you change supplier they apear to be unable to re-direct the meter reading to the new supplier. (that bit was not written yet) So that is why I now have to have a man to read my "Smart" meters.

The ONLY cost benefit for smart meters that I can think of is fo rthe suppliers because they no longer need bodies to read the smart meters, just get if from the data feed.

Why would I save a single penny? I mean what is this "smart" meter supposed to do. Magically reduce my household power bills?

As I do not have Economy 7 (does it even still exist?) the power costs the same anytime of day!

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Re: How do customers save anything.

"I have never understood how getting a smart meter saves customers ANYTHING."

For electricity and gas use, where you already have human meter readers, the driver comes from the supplier not having to send a person out to read your meter. For water it's different because in the UK we used to be charged on the value of our house rather than how much we used.

Maybe if the smart meter was really smart and could show in monetary value how much each appliance was costing to run at any moment in time, it might scare you into switching stuff off. But who's going to replace a cooker or TV just on the basis of buying a more energy efficient one when the ROI is going to be years away if ever.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How do customers save anything.

"A year later I changed to Sainsbury (British gas)"

You're lucky if British Gas read your meter regularly. I had a snotty phone call from them saying they now only read the gas meter every two years. Apparently I was now at fault for not sending them regular readings - without any idea of when that should be. They said the change had been flagged in some small print on a bill (paid by monthly credits) a few years ago.

Pissed me off - as I paid them £100 a few years ago to move the gas meter outside the house so they didn't need access to read it.

At least EON is sensible and send me an email when the want me to take an electric meter reading to enter on their web site. Once a year they tell me not to send a reading - but to expect a meter reader.

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Re: How do customers save anything.

"They said the change had been flagged in some small print on a bill"

Also freely available from their planning office on Alpha Centauri.

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Re: How do customers save anything.

Still goes by council tax banding in Scotland.

I looked at getting a meter a good few years ago since I was single but in a high rated house. Would have worked out way more expensive.

Massive standing charge even before paying for the actual water.

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I explained to a colleague why smart meters weren't the best thing to happen to electricity since Faraday and he was amazed. He said that he thought these meters were supposed to be able to save him money automatically. I pointed out that he would have to make changes for these things to save him any money. He said there was no chance he'd be saving anything as they turn off lights they're not using, only boil enough water for the cups they're using, use a timer in the shower to save water/gas, turn the tv/router/dvd/Gru Ray fully off as opposed to standby etc.

He's told his supplier to sod off after that when they've told him they'd like to come round and install a Smart Meter. I think there will be a very small percentage of people this will actually help but not enough to make a difference.

There are those (a small number of people) like him who do the utmost to use a little power as possible who will save nothing.

There are those (a slightly larger number) who will use this to lower their power consumption.

There are those who will get a meter installed and after playing around seeing what uses what will go back to their previous habits.

There are those who will have it installed and do sod all with it and never change their habits.

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There are those who will have it installed and do sod al with it and never change their habits.

....The vast majority will have it installed and do sod all with it and never change their habits.

FTFY

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Yeah I agree with that, they'll then be hit with spot pricing and wonder why their bills have gone up.

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I've had several phone messages left (home and mobile) asking if I want one

When a person finally got me direct I said no, and was assured I'd be removed from the list. Time will tell.....

The physical facts haven't changed, so to save significant amounts use devices that heat less often (look at the label for the wattage). 2000W thing for an hour is 2 units, etc. Washer, dishwasher, heating boiler, cooker, kettle, hair dryer and so on. If it heats air or water it's going to cost. Anything that uses tens of watts is nowhere near as significant, but if you think you'll get a saving from changing it (LED lights, if you have a lot of halogen spotlights it's worth it as it's 50W against 5W per light etc) then do.

Worrying about phone chargers is pointless if your house is draughty and electrically heated.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I've had several phone messages left (home and mobile) asking if I want one

The physical facts haven't changed, so to save significant amounts use devices that heat less often (look at the label for the wattage). 2000W thing for an hour is 2 units, etc.

But if I want something to reach a certain temperature, I want the rate of energy in to be as high as possible as all the time it's heating up, energy is also being lost to the surrounding area. So, in extremis, 100W for 10 hours won't get me to the same temperature as 10KW for 6 minutes, even though the total energy input is the same.

So a lower power device is a false economy.

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Re: I've had several phone messages left (home and mobile) asking if I want one

"But if I want something to reach a certain temperature, I want the rate of energy in to be as high as possible as all the time it's heating up, energy is also being lost to the surrounding area. So, in extremis, 100W for 10 hours won't get me to the same temperature as 10KW for 6 minutes, even though the total energy input is the same."

That's true if you're heating a fluid (e.g. boiling water for a cuppa) but not for a solid. If you cooked meat that way you'd end up burned on the outside and raw in the middle.

And gentler heating can be more efficient, for example you could cook a joint of beef in a big electric oven or a small slow cooker. The slow cooker would use less energy because it loses less heat to the surroundings, the cooker itself has lower thermal mass, it heats the beef directly by conduction rather than indirectly by convection, etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I've had several phone messages left (home and mobile) asking if I want one

"When a person finally got me direct I said no, and was assured I'd be removed from the list. Time will tell....."

They eventually stopped phoning me - but still sent me letters.

Then they told me that my meter needed changing as it had reached the end of its certified life. Fair enough - so I rang them. I specified that I did not want a Smart Meter. They said that was ok - and it would be a "classic" one. My impression is that they would not have volunteered that option - like they never tell you a Smart Meter is voluntary.

The guy who changed the meter was surprised that it was only 9 years old - he said they normally change them nearer 15 years. He did wonder if that was the company's way to get a Smart Meter in by default where people have not yet agreed to have one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I've had several phone messages left (home and mobile) asking if I want one

"[...] you could cook a joint of beef in a big electric oven or a small slow cooker. "

Or even a hay box - where the meal is cooked by its initial cooking heat retained in a highly insulated box.

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I've got (so-far) three smart meters at home

A reads the left side of the house for one energy supplier [or it should] (LCD display has failed so I can no longer read it locally - I'm going to have to wire an arduino up to count the kWh led pulses)

B reads the right side of the house for another energy supplier

and a third one C checks what output my main FIT PV-array has, (installed immediately after the inverter to ensure that I don't cheat to get bigger FIT payments) [or they should]

The reality is that all my meters are read by company B, who sometimes send my consumption data to company A for billing, [once they delayed the data by a whole year] My B & C smartmeters are also not accurate for receiving my FIT payments as I'm simply receiving "an average" for my 3kWp array - I'm getting identical payments to a local friend. Maybe one-day they will correct with over/under payments?

As a new hobby, I've just bought a new set of PV components (from a major online book-seller) :- couple of "12V" 100Wp poly modules from somewhere in the EU@£80-ish each and a £79 MPPT 18V 600W grid-tie micro-inverter. I'll be feeding this 230V into smartmeter A, checking carefully to ensure that it doesn't register my generation as power-consumption! [smartmeters often don't run backwards] I hope to just get rid of my base-load on that side of the house. All lights are already LED.

In this part of the EU I was given no-option / zero choice about the first two meters, and had to accept the checksum meter as part of the FIT contract. It's good that you might get a choice in UK, if you say "NO" a lot when offered.

The initial load-shedding function hypothesis envisaged of smartmeters is that they will connect through a domotic API for turning off the fridge and freezer for a few hours [without any risk of spoiling the food], then progressively shed further loads until potentially fully off. However it seems that the current generation doesn't do that, my fridge & freezers certainly don't do that, and I don't really want to pay multi-millions to billions to implement this, without a lot more debate.

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Re: I've had several phone messages left (home and mobile) asking if I want one

If you cooked meat that way you'd end up burned on the outside and raw in the middle.

That's called "Black and Blue" -- the perfect way to cook a steak!

The point is to have control, and to be able to cook quickly those things that are best cooked quickly while cooking more slowly those things that are best cooked slowly. One size does NOT fit all.

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Numbers in the article don't add up

£11bn for the project. 53 million meters to install. That's £207.55 each.

So, how did the project cost come to £7bn originally, when they were looking at £390 extra per meter?

It doesn't compute.

Unless they mean that the £11bn is what was predicted to be charged to the government, and £390 is what they expected to get back from households to pay that off?

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Used to have an OWL

There's a sensor to clip onto the cable and a remote display to show you how much electricity is used. It was good for a few weeks to determine where my costs were going, but after that it turned into a way of telling when the oven was pre-heated...

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Anonymous Coward

Makes me chuckle

I know some ex-EDMI bods, and they've been screaming about this nonsense for years. 2014? That's late to the party...

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Anonymous Coward

Its all about energy rationing

its the infrastructure needed to charge you more for using less, rather than build more infrastructure, same as water meters.

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when it comes to a smart meter I wont be taking one optionally unless theres an actual benifit to me.

I know how much energy I use, I know what my bill will be and all on my old mechanical meter that works a treat. It presents no security concerns to me, it does not allow anyone any direct control over any "smart" devices in my home (other than everything on or off).

The people designing these can not get the functionality right let alone security.

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secure?

Is there some serious, open, detailed security analysis of these things? If not, then history tells us they *are* vulnerable. Presumably they use embedded 'secret' keys? And how is all that managed at the other end? Also, lots of other standard questions on proprietary ‘security’...

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Re: secure?

Hahahaha! You'd think wouldn't you. No independent testing. But about this time last year it turned out that a huge number of the devices had to have their encryption keys changed as they were using THE SAME KEY... That is the level of competence behind this little endeavour.

We had an engineer come out to change our meter who couldn't understand why we wouldn't have one. After I showed him a couple of articles I think he may not be so keen any more.

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Re: secure?

GCHQ got involved after they spotted major flaws in the systems used abroad - yep high amongst them was the use of the same key for everyone. They mandated that different unique keys were used and other measures to protect our infrastructure.

https://www.ft.com/content/ca2d7684-ed15-11e5-bb79-2303682345c8

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FAIL

Yet ANOTHER Fail In The Offing?

The 868 MHz-band (868–870 MHz), in the UK, is filled with RFID systems, thermostats, fire systems, burglar systems, 'wireless' audio, telemetry, telecommand, etc. Sounds like another recipe for disaster.

Some units can output up to 500mW when equipped ith LBT (Listen Before Transmit) and RFID units can output 2W!

It seems that the UK Consumer is getting ripped once again when frequency agile smart-meters are going for USD$50 in quantities of 100 on Alibaba. Guess this is yet another case of re-inventing the wheel so a Union Jack can be planted on the things.

This is not new technology - smart-meters have been installed by the millions over the past 5 plus years. SOC smart-meters cost a few dollars and given the present mechanical meters have much of the needed hardware there is no reason why they should cost more than GBP100 - except for the government-granted monopolies.

Why can't smart-meters perform similarly to SIGFOX, Weightless and WiSUNs, which use licence exempt wide area mesh technology based on the IEEE802.15.4g standard on their own cut-out frequencies?

For drone operators, another great band for your use! Hardware available on Alibaba and other Chinese marketing sources. And for those putative eco-terrorists, get some 2 watt RFID units and give the power companies some exciting times.

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My Ideal SmartMeter

Would be one that changes supplier automatically to the cheapest supplier, without penalty, and without a lock in period.

In an ideal world if my smartMeter decided that those five hours on ScottishPower were good value, but there's a cheaper tarrif if I moved to VirginElec and then, perhaps tomorrow, it would flip to LincolnLeccy for half an hour before deciding that OrkeyPower is better value and so on...

Then I could see the case for one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: My Ideal SmartMeter

The supplier tariffs would be dynamic and determined by their bot systems depending on demand. So it would soon become a whack-a-mole scenario.

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Incompatible meters

It makes me wonder what the true cost of the roll out will really be.

I had two smart meters installed just over a year ago replacing my 20 year old ones. I am in the process of changing energy providers as my fixed price deal is coming to an end, and the new provider will be installing two new meters, as there is no interoperability between the two company systems.

What a huge waste of time and resources and ultimately MY money as they seem to have rushed the whole thing without working out common standards etc!!

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Holmes

Vendor lock-in is such a wonderful thing...

When you're the vendor.

A government-type "We can see it's going to cost us $XXX times more than projected, but we've already spent $Embarrassing on it so we'd better continue despite all the evidence to the contrary" also makes being such a vendor even more $$FUN$$!.

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Beware the Linky

In France, consumption and pricing is by KW. Typical tariffs are 6KW, 9KW, 12KW...

The problem with the Linky is that it doesn't understand the start-up surge demands of equipment like electric motors. So you could have a 9KW tariff, be using half that, but when the spin cycle starts up on the washing machine there's a microsecond of higher demand and .... click. Darkness.

The "cure" is to upgrade to a higher rated tariff. Which costs more in the standing charge and also in the per unit charge.

They're also said to be extremely poor at coping with direct lightning strikes. As I have a mile of exposed conductor three phase coming to the house (very rural!), not only is my 230V really 218V (dropping to around 190V with the kettle and the heater on), the exposed wires are a lightning magnet. The current mechanical meter from 1964 sinks several direct hits per year. The usual result is the disjoncteur (A 650mA trip) cuts out. No equipment damage, living here I'm paranoid about this and unplug everything sensitive at the first signs of a storm. I have had exploding light bulbs, which pretty much justifies the paranoia.

Can't wait until they force a Linky on me (the law says we don't get to say no). The mechanical meter has been there for 53 years. I wonder if the Linky will survive 53 weeks? [I would say 53 days, but it's been fairly calm so far this year...]

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They came and installed these things in half the houses in our village, despite being told that no mobile phone ever works there. The guys doing the work just said "Yeah, we know, dumb management eh, but we're being paid to do this so we're going to do it".

What a waste of money.

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I suggested at the 'consultation' (I call them insultations now, being patronised to death by Sir Humphrey) that the UK consider P1 data ports on the consumer side as in the Netherlands. This would allow 'us' to have the datastream for analysis, rather than only the suppliers.

If I had simple access to the data, I might consider it. But, as it is, and other commentators have said on this thread, waste of space, waste of money, bad security and no upside for the consumer (I don't count the smiley face 'in home display'). As usual a bit of Crapita is involved too.

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