By B.N. Frank
Opposition to utility “smart” meters (electric, gas, and water) is worldwide. Utilities encourage or sometimes force consumers to accept these dangerous devices (see 1, 2, 3) in order to remotely control and/or ration energy use (see 1, 2) as well as collect consumer usage data 24/7 to sell and/or share with 3rd parties including government and law enforcement agencies. In the U.K., “smart” meter complaints and issues continue to be reported (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), and at least one journalist has recommended that consumers refuse them. Unfortunately, ½ million of UK’s poorest households are not being given that option and being forced to accept even more despicable prepayment smart meters. Of course, many also cannot afford to prepay for their energy use.
Energy supplier Ovo stops forced prepayment meter installations over Christmas
Story by Rebecca Speare-Cole, PA & Catherine Addis…
Ovo has put a halt to forced prepayment meter (PPM) installations over Christmas in a bid to help customers through the cost-of-living crisis.
The energy supplier confirmed that the measure, which is already in place, will last until December 31. It means that customers who have fallen into debt on a credit meter and face having their supplier install a pay-as-you-go replacement will have respite over the festive period.
In a statement issued on Thursday, an Ovo spokesperson said: “Over the Christmas period we have paused all mode switching to ensure that we take every reasonable step to contact and support our customers.” The supplier’s chief executive Raman Bhatia said in a letter to campaigners that it is one of a series of measures introduced by Ovo to help customers this year.
The move comes amid calls from campaigners to ban compulsory PPM installations, which are made under court warrants. PPMs require regular top-ups and charge at a higher rate, which means customers who are already in debt may struggle to keep up with payments.
Mr Bhatia wrote: “I would like to reassure you that we understand the critical role and responsibility that we have in supporting and protecting consumers this winter and beyond.” He added that Ovo “will not disconnect any household for non-payment throughout winter” – but stopped short of committing to a longer-term ban on forced PPM installations.
“Unfortunately we are unable to commit to ending all customer transfers to PPMs for the entire winter period because we believe that it would be irresponsible of us as a business to leave any arrears unaddressed and allow them to build up into an unmanageable amount, given the critical role and responsibility that we have to support and protect our consumers this winter and beyond,” he said.
Campaigners reacted to the news by calling on more energy suppliers to act, as well as putting pressure on the Government to ban PPMs completely. Simon Francis, co-ordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, said: “Even the energy firms are now waking up to the reality that prepayment meter customers are struggling in cold, damp homes this winter.
“Research for the Warm This Winter campaign has shown that these customers are likely to be vulnerable or have health conditions made worse by being unable to stay warm. Many will have been forced on to a prepayment meter against their will. The Government must act urgently to ban any further forced installations of prepayment meters either by court warrant or by smart meter.”
Documented issues associated with “Smart” Meters include billing errors/higher bills, (see 1, 2), short life spans, cybersecurity risks, installation mishaps, mechanical issues, harmful radiation emissions, as well as fires and explosions (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Adding insult to injury, proponents continue to insist that “Smart” Meters are essential for “energy efficiency” despite research that has proven otherwise (see 1, 2).
Activist Post reports regularly about “smart” meters and other privacy invasive and unsafe technologies. For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:
- Stop Smart Meters UK
- Coalition to Stop Smart Meters
- Stop Smart Meters.org
- Smart Meter Harm
- Smart Grid Awareness
- Take Back Your Power
- Environmental Health Trust
- Physicians for Safe Technology
- Wireless Information Network
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