The saga of the smart meter and a good idea gone wrong
I’ve felt the need to write about smart meters before, but that was after some clever chappies apparently worked out how to use the reading to work out what was happening inside a home equipped with this tech:
But, it seems there’s a problem, and nobody’s telling us about it.
Researchers have found that the meters can monitor users’ consumption at intervals of only 2 seconds, which is far too frequent for their intended purpose.
Worse, this rapid high-resolution sampling makes it possible to analyse the consumption and identify what equipment is being used in the users’ home – and this can lead to an invasion of privacy as it reveals people’s habits, preferences, and even whether or not the home is occupied.
This arose because the meters were sampling power consumption at 2 second intervals, too rapid for their intended purpose.
I’ve been out of touch with this, so don’t know if this has been changed.
It seems the Great UK Smart Meter Project has bigger problems, and having been due to get underway in 2014 and be completed by 2019 – is not going as smoothly as planned.
In fact, far from being a money-saving option, it is now claimed by analysts that the cost of the smart meter project rivals that of Trident, and you surely know how upset (some) people are about that. Earlier this year a report by the Energy and Climate Change Committee said it does “not believe” plans to install 53 million devices in homes and businesses by 2020 will be achieved. However, DECC insisted changes in cost were solely driven by the change in accounting methodology, not by underlying cost changes, said the report.
Smart meters will cost as much as the Trident nuclear deterrent to implement, with the full cost of the scheme rising to £19bn, according to a government report.
Total lifetime costs of the programme have now risen by £2bn since 2013, according to a report by the Major Projects Authority.
In contrast, the Trident replacement programme has a cost estimated at between £17.5bn and £23.4bn.
Surprisingly, the smart meter project has been flagged as “amber” — meaning “successful delivery appears feasible but significant issues already exist.”
This is despite a number of warnings that the programme is in danger of turning into a “costly failure”.
Only a few weeks later, almost the same story was carried again, with further denials of cost spiral:
The Department of Energy and Climate Change has denied the total cost of Smart Meters has now outstripped the projected savings, making the hated scheme even more pointless.
The department had previously said the scheme would save £17bn. However, a report by the Major Projects Authority has pegged the total lifetime casts as £2bn higher.
A spokeswoman from DECC said the MPA used different accounting methodology from the department and insisted costs have not risen above £11bn.
She said the department’s Impact Assessment expects smart meters to generate around £6.2bn by 2030, with total benefits of around £17.1bn and costs of around £10.9bn
However, many have questioned the accuracy of the cost-saving claims.
Dan Lewis, senior infrastructure advisor at the Institute of Directors – which published a highly critical report on the scheme earlier this year – said the consumer benefit remains “opaque”.
“There’s no escaping that this leaderless programme is spiralling out of control, but no one wants to tell the Emperor that he has no clothes,” Lewis said. “The costs which have unexpectedly just risen again are actually much more certain and tangible and will have to be met first.”
Frankly, this is so bad I can’t really add anything.
Like all these government projects that lose their way, nobody has the guts to say ‘ENOUGH – STOP!’
And since the public are paying, there’s no reason or incentive do so, since no one person is accountable, the no head to roll, and anonymous people with just move on to the next project/disaster.
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