By B.N. Frank
What’s worse than being forced to accept privacy invasive and unsafe utility “smart” meters – electric, gas, and water? In the UK, some might say it’s being forced to accept prepayment “smart” meters (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). While new rules will reduce the practice, they won’t completely stop it.
From The Guardian:
New prepayment meter rules must be properly enforced, says Grant Shapps
Suppliers in Great Britain have agreed code banning them from installations in homes of over-85s
The energy secretary, Grant Shapps, has urged Ofgem to turn words “into action” to ensure new industry rules designed to protect vulnerable people from being forced on to prepayment meters are properly enforced.
The Guardian revealed on Monday that all energy suppliers in Great Britain had signed up to a code of conduct banning them from putting the meters in the homes of people aged 85 and over as well as those with severe health conditions.
Suppliers have agreed to new guidelines for installing the devices when households have run up energy debt after an outcry over agents using court-approved entry warrants to break in to install them.
Energy firms will now have to make at least 10 attempts to contact a customer and conduct a “site welfare visit” before a meter is installed.
Ofgem confirmed the move on Tuesday morning and said it would begin a consultation on whether to put the elements of the code into suppliers’ licence conditions.
The government and Ofgem have faced months of criticism from activists and opposition MPs for allowing forced installations under entry warrants that were being approved en masse during an energy and cost of living crisis that left an estimated 3.2 million people in cold and dark homes last year as they ran out of credit.
Shapps said: “This code of practice is a step in the right direction, with better protections for vulnerable households, increased scrutiny of supplier practices and redress measures that I have called for.
“I now want to see these words put into action as we have unfortunately learned that codes and rules alone are insufficient if they are not adhered to and enforced.
“Ofgem must make sure these commitments match what is happening on the ground and let this be a warning to suppliers – comply with this code and rectify your wrongful actions against these customers, or we will hold you to account.”
Suppliers have agreed not to fit meters for “high risk” customers aged 85 and over – if they do not have anyone to support them in the house – or anyone with a terminal illness or certain medical conditions.
Consumers who require a continuous supply for health reasons – such as dependence on powered medical equipment – cannot be cut off.
If there is no one in the house with the physical or mental ability to top up the meter then installations will also be prevented.
Debt agents and those working directly for suppliers will also be required to wear body cameras or audio equipment to ensure the rules are being followed.
Opposition to utility “smart” meters – electric, gas, and water – has been increasing worldwide for over a decade due to numerous significant issues associated with them, including:
- billing errors and higher bills (see 1, 2),
- cybersecurity risks (hacking and disconnection)
- fires and explosions (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- installation mishaps (see 1, 2)
- harmful radiation emissions (see 1, 2, 3)
- mechanical problems
- privacy violations and
- short lifespans
Nevertheless, utility providers continue to force them on consumers anyway (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) so they can remotely control and/or ration utility use (see 1, 2) and collect consumer usage data 24/7 to sell and/or share with 3rd parties (see 1, 2). In fact, providers as well as other proponents continue to insist “smart” meters are safe, beneficial to consumers and essential for “energy efficiency” while reports continue to reveal otherwise (see 1, 2, 3, 4). Blimey!
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 Meter News
- Smart Grid Awareness
- Take Back Your Power
- Children’s Health Defense
- Environmental Health Trust
- Physicians for Safe Technology
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