By B.N. Frank
In the U.K. public outcry over “smart” meters continues to increase (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10), mostly because energy providers forced ½ million of the poorest households onto prepayment smart meters which can make their bills even higher. This has been a public relations nightmare and some consumers may be able to take legal action. Energy suppliers have also agreed to stop forcing installation temporarily (see 1, 2) and they are being required to uninstall “wrongly forced” smart meters as well as compensate victims. Nevertheless, one water provider has started installing “smart” water meters without notifying residents. Think this will end well?
From The Telegraph UK via MSN:
Thames Water forces smart water meters on households without their knowledge
Story by Tom Haynes
Britain’s biggest water provider is installing controversial smart water meters without the permission of households, despite them potentially increasing bills.
Thames Water is fitting around 8,000 smart water meters each month in London and the South East and hopes to install two million by 2030. In some cases bill payers have asked for these devices to be fitted, but The Telegraph can reveal the firm is able to install smart meters without notifying residents. This is because of a rule which defines some of London, Guildford and Swindon as “water stressed”.
Smart water meters charge customers based on actual usage rather than estimates. Thames Water customers have no way of remaining on a lower unmetered rate, unlike households supplied by other companies rolling out compulsory water meters.
Homeowners do not need to be consulted, despite the use of water smart meters potentially increasing bills. MPs have criticised Thames Water for not asking households for their permission before adding the devices to a property and for failing to address its own issues with leaky pipes and sewage dumping.
Thames Water has installed 700,000 smart water meters since it began rolling them out on a compulsory basis, the company said.
Munira Wilson, Lib Dem MP for Twickenham, said: “Fitting any kind of meter that runs the risk of raising bills during a cost of living crisis without express consent was always going to be deeply controversial.
“It is no secret that public trust in Thames Water is at an all-time low. This is yet another communication failure from a company already damaged by its appalling record on dumping raw sewage into rivers and streams.”
Last year it was revealed that Thames Water made more than £2m a day in profit over the summer despite imposing a hosepipe ban on 15 million people.
Providers are pushing for greater uptake in water meters, as they claim it helps companies tackle leaks. But while most offer customers the option of reverting to an unmetered rate if a water meter does not save them money, Thames Water automatically moves customers onto a metered rate after a year even if it is more expensive.
Sarah Olney, Lib Dem MP for Richmond Park, said: “Forcing customers onto smart meters and making them take responsibility for it when providers aren’t doing their bit really is mind-boggling.”
Water meters can be put in place without providers needing to enter a home, as they can be installed underneath the pavement outside a house. The provider has a legal requirement to install water meters in households as the South East is classed as a “water stressed” area by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs.
A Thames Water spokesman said: “Smart meters incentivise customers to use water wisely, as they will only be charged for the water they use. They also help us to tackle customer-side leaks, protecting water supplies in the process.
“Whilst we don’t need permission to fit smart meters, they are the fairest option for customers, as people only pay for the water they use. On average metered customers tend to use 12pc less water.
“Under legislation, consumers cannot refuse a smart meter, however, we always assess the suitability of a meter for each property.”
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Opposition to utility “smart” meters – electric, gas, and water – has been worldwide for over a decade due to numerous problems associated with them including
- billing errors and higher bills (see 1, 2),
- cybersecurity risks
- fires and explosions (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- installation mishaps (see 1, 2)
- harmful radiation emissions
- mechanical issues and
- short lifespans
Despite all of the above, utility providers continue to force these awful devices on consumers (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) so they can remotely control and/or ration utility use (see 1, 2) and collect consumer usage data to sell and/or share with 3rd parties (see 1, 2). Of course, proponents also continue to insist that “smart” meters are beneficial to customers and essential for “efficiency”. Nope and nope (see 1, 2, 3, 4)! Adding insult to injury, consumers who pay fees to “opt-out” of “smart” meters are often provided with meters that aren’t as safe as traditional meters. Argh!
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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