Smart Meters - Ask me anything!

in Energy
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  • GingerBob_3GingerBob_3 Forumite
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    SailorSam wrote: »
    If you're smartie, and i can ask you anything.......
    What's the name of my milkman's horse ?


    Everyone knows that!!


    It's Trigger.


    http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/b/benny_hill/ernie_the_fastest_milkman_in_the_west.html
  • edited 5 October 2016 at 1:58PM
    beeringobeeringo Forumite
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    edited 5 October 2016 at 1:58PM
    D_M_E wrote: »
    Smart meters are all well and good, but what idiot thought it wise to commission and install smart meters which then become dumb when the customer switches suppliers?

    How much money has been wasted on such installations, and how much has it added to consumers' bills?

    Why was the rollout of smart metering not delayed until the smart meters were compatible with all suppliers' systems?

    How much will it cost to replace the old smart meters with ones that do not become dumb when suppliers are switched, and who will end up paying for this?

    Indeed - that is the huge drawback for the foundation phase of roll out - the SMETS1 un-interoperability (if that's a word?).

    I'll try and tackle all of these in a few paragraphs!

    Firstly - despite the pain of not being able to switch your smart meter to another supplier and stay smart, there IS a plan underway for 'Enrolement' of these meters into the centralised communications and data centre. Translation - they should become smart re-enabled. Currently this is coming towards the end of the feasibility stage, and will become written in stone by mid next year, to be implemented before 2020.
    This will be a process of taking the square peg, making an adapter for it to fit in the round hole!

    These first swathe of meters (SMETS1) were supposed to dip the toes in the water to make sure all parties were ready and capable of installing smart meters, before the centralised system comes online, providing interoperability between all equipment. This step 1 needed to happen to not simply dive into a huge national infrastructure change with no knowledge of the impact, hence why this wasn't delayed.

    On the subject of who pays for the meters. I feel this my be brought up a lot and quite rightly. The consumer as you know does not pay for fitting, nor for a more expensive tariff directly.
    I think most consumers know the cost of the whole project and want to know once ALL is said and done who ULTIMATELY foots the bill. The best way to answer this is to lay out the reasons why we WILL end up paying more and why we WONT - and draw your own conclusions.

    Why we may not pay more:

    - There are new energy providers popping up every week. The market is now extremely competitive, meaning prices will stay low.
    - Suppliers will save vast sums of money on labour from paying meter readers (with obvious negative impact on employment - however many suppliers are upskilling these staff to fit smart meters)
    - Suppliers will recover money lost through power theft
    - Depending on how engaged we are, consumers will save between 0 -12% on their bills.
    - Energy suppliers do not pay up front for meters, they lease them from MAPs per meter installed, hence there is no huge cost to recover, meters are paid for monthly.
    - Suppliers want to make smart meter installs attractive (did you see British Gas's advert for free weekend energy?) as they all have obligations to meet

    Why we may pay more:
    - Meter rental charges are higher, so suppliers may want to offset this by raising tariffs

    But.. the proof is in the pudding!
    The only way to truly know if we'll be paying more for our energy due to smart meters is to watch the relationship between the wholesale cost of energy and retail in the coming years, but if i was a betting man i'd say we won't see a notable increase.

    I hope that helped - feel free to reply or PM me with any more quetions. :D
  • victor2victor2 Forumite, Ambassador
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    beeringo wrote: »
    ...
    - Suppliers will recover money lost through power theft
    ...
    I'm curious as to how smart meters can prevent somebody completely bypassing the meter? Maybe it's harder than with some old style meters, but not impossible?

    I’m a Forum Ambassador and I support the Forum Team on the In My Home MoneySaving, Energy and Techie Stuff boards. If you need any help on these boards, do let me know. Please note that Ambassadors are not moderators. Any posts you spot in breach of the Forum Rules should be reported via the report button, or by emailing [email protected]. 

    All views are my own and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.

  • GingerBob_3GingerBob_3 Forumite
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    victor2 wrote: »
    I'm curious as to how smart meters can prevent somebody completely bypassing the meter? Maybe it's harder than with some old style meters, but not impossible?


    I wondered about that, and I guess the answer is they can't.
  • D_M_ED_M_E Forumite
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    Reading your reply, you imply that there are plans to make the first generation of smart meters compatible with the central database, so I would ask why are there also plans to replace the things?

    Another point - the meters are set to call home and send a reading daily by default, but the customer can choose to make this once a month and will be able to choose how much and what information can be shared with the supplier and will not be allowed to use the collected information for marketing.

    Given one of OFGEM's recent outbursts in which they propose allowing suppliers to access such information, will we in fact see the sharing of this information, and what safeguards are built in to the system to ensure customers' data stays private, and are suppliers obliged to inform customers of their rights with regards to such data collection?
  • CardewCardew Forumite
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    victor2 wrote: »
    I'm curious as to how smart meters can prevent somebody completely bypassing the meter? Maybe it's harder than with some old style meters, but not impossible?

    If bypassing smart meters is not possible, will it have much effect on the price of cannabis?
  • GingerBob_3GingerBob_3 Forumite
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    D_M_E wrote: »
    Reading your reply, you imply that there are plans to make the first generation of smart meters compatible with the central database, so I would ask why are there also plans to replace the things?

    Another point - the meters are set to call home and send a reading daily by default, but the customer can choose to make this once a month and will be able to choose how much and what information can be shared with the supplier and will not be allowed to use the collected information for marketing.

    Given one of OFGEM's recent outbursts in which they propose allowing suppliers to access such information, will we in fact see the sharing of this information, and what safeguards are built in to the system to ensure customers' data stays private, and are suppliers obliged to inform customers of their rights with regards to such data collection?


    It doesn't matter what safeguards are built in. If the suppliers have this data it is no longer private.


    For me, if it ever comes to pass that "smart" meters are mandatory the supplier will get the bare minimum data that I can get away with. And they won't be hooking it up to my broadband either. They'll have to make their own communications arrangements.
  • beeringobeeringo Forumite
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    victor2 wrote: »
    I'm curious as to how smart meters can prevent somebody completely bypassing the meter? Maybe it's harder than with some old style meters, but not impossible?

    Great question – I love talking about tampers!
    The new meters will most likely have a range of detection methods for tampering.
    Firstly – bypassing. In order to bypass a meter you’ll need to take the terminal cover off, which will send an alert instantly to the supplier who has the option to instantly cut the supply (as there is a safety risk).
    How about cutting the power then removing the cover? Nope – the meter’s battery stores the alert internally until power is restored to be sent immediately on power up.
    How about not removing the terminal cover – just jamming two wires between the two terminals? Nope – The resistance of the solid metal bar inside the meter trumps a tiny wire and as we all know electricity takes the easiest path, so the meter will still be counting almost all the power.
    I used to sit next to the hardware design manager when I worked at a meter manufacturer. He explained the method you detect a bypass in the software but it was WAY too complicated – im not an electrical engineer…

    So I just block the signal to the meter and my supplier won’t know? NOPE – not only is all the tamper activity logged in the meter – no comms means the supplier mark your property for a visit to fix the issue!

    On top of that there are meter cover removal detections, magnetic tamper detections and whatever else the manufacturers fancy adding to please suppliers.

    Hope this was informative! :D
  • GingerBob_3GingerBob_3 Forumite
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    Bypassing the meter. That means cutting into the supply cable on the supplier side and teeing off it.


    Smarts will not detect that, and I guess this is the big one when it comes to cannabis and so on.
  • poppellerantpoppellerant Forumite
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    I have had a SMETS 1 smart meter with OVO since 2014. If I changed to another provider who cannot read my smart meter's data, can I reasonably request a SMETS 2 smart meter from the new provider?

    As a customer, I allowed the smart meter to be installed under the belief this would be the last meter I'd need for 15 years (the life of the gas meter's internal battery). I feel somewhat short changed now knowing this is already old technology and knowing new providers will probably encounter difficulties reading from it.

    What are the differences between SMETS 1 & 2? It sounds to me like they use completely different protocols.
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