29/11/2009 - Smart Meter announcement
UK Government misleadingly launches "remote reading meters" as "smart meters"
We believe that the so-called "smart meters" launch that Ed Balls is currently announcing as "smart" is only smart for one thing - the electricity industry's profits.
Powerwatch is fully in favour of introducing proper "Smart Metering". It has to be introduced if we are to continue to live sustainably on planet Earth. The concept involves helping us to minimise our power use (electricity and gas) and spreading it out over each day and week to avoid the very inefficient peaks in demand (at, for example, 07:00-08:30, 17:00:-19:00 and 11:30-14:30 on Sundays, to mention a few main high points).
However, what the UK Government is now announcing seems to be nothing more than "remote meter reading" (almost certainly by installing a mobile phone connection in every home's electricity and gas meter) which allows the industry to lay off the 1000s of meter readers and thus increases the electrical industry's profits, without any of the positive tariff-led demand control that "Smart Metering" properly means. It will also effectively put a mobile phone in every electricity and gas meter. This is really bad news for electrosensitive people. The informed rumour is that if you refuse one of these remote-reading meters you will have to pay a much higher price for your electricity and gas.
On Wednesday 2nd December 2009, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will release details about how these meters will be rolled out and what sort of meters will be installed. As far as we can find out, the major energy companies have failed to so far to agree the best method, despite the scheme being years in the planning. This is mainly because (very sensibly!) most of the suppliers and generators want the meters to be able to control electricity demand as well as just be able to be read remotely.
The problem here is that there are at least five significantly competing but incompatible schemes (e.g. Zigbee, Z-wave, etc) for communication and control of appliances in the home. We are extremely concerned that this current Government's initiative will result in billions of GPB being spent on remote-reading meters that will be anything but truly "smart". The choice of communications protocol inside the house cannot be left to market forces or large numbers of appliances and meters will end up not being able to talk to each other.
Also, a fully wired (non-wireless) option must, in our opinion, be designed into the system that is finally authorised for use so that we do not all have to have yet another source of microwave pollution inside our homes. Technically there should be no problem at all in allowing for that option.
We will respond further after we have heard and read the Government announcement.
Telegraph article on Smart Meters
Daily Mail article on Smart Meters
Energy Retail Association
Article by Rob van Gerwen
Wiki article on metering