By B.N. Frank
Opposition to problematic, privacy invasive, and hazardous utility “smart” meters – electric, gas, and water – has been worldwide since they started being installed over a decade ago. In the UK, issues and complaints continue to be reported about them, particularly the forced installation of prepayment “smart” meters. Non-prepayment “smart” meters are decreasing in popularity among Brits as well.
From This Is Money:
The not-so ‘smart’ meter Government wants us all to have: Thousands report problems with duff devices as energy firms try to force households to have them installed
- Smart meter suppliers have fallen behind Government’s strict installation goals
- Suppliers warn they are finding fewer homeowners who want to use the devices
- Deadline to have smart meters in 80% of homes put back from 2020 to 2025
Energy suppliers are calling for powers to force households into having a smart meter installed if their traditional device breaks down.
Firms have fallen behind strict installation goals, as the Government aims to have smart meters in 80 per cent of homes by the end of 2025.
In March, it stepped down from its original target of installing the devices in all households.
This is the third time the deadline has been extended after it pushed back plans to meet this target by 2020 then 2024.
But energy suppliers have warned that they have now exhausted the ‘low-hanging fruit’ of households who want to use the devices, making it difficult to meet this deadline, according to a report today from the National Audit Office (NAO).
Around 57 per cent of all meters in the UK are now smart, meaning 32.4 million homes currently have the device.
Nearly 900,000 smart meters were installed in the first three months of 2023.
Consumer rights expert Martyn James says that allowing energy suppliers to force households to install smart meters when traditional ones break would be a ‘terrible idea’ as he fears suppliers would misuse the power.
‘Given that during the initial smart meter roll out the energy companies made such a mess of it with meters that didn’t work and extremely aggressive tactics to get people to sign up, I’m not convinced that they can be trusted,’ he says.
Money Mail has long warned about faults in smart meter technology. More than three million homes reported devices with errors in March, according to the NAO report.
Smart meters should automatically send readings to energy suppliers to ensure that electricity and gas bills are accurate and the small display unit should show households how much energy they are using.
They are designed to help households keep accurate records of their energy usage and budget accordingly.
In recent months, our postbag has been full of correspondence from readers who say their smart meters are not fit for purpose.
Many report that their device has never submitted a reading to their supplier. Some say that the technology does not work because the mobile signal in their area is too weak.
Others are disappointed as the monitors that are supposed to help them keep track of their usage are faulty or often show the wrong information — leaving them with shock bills. Many have been left for months on end with broken smart meters, with no way of knowing how much gas and electricity they are using.
Among them is Doug Bruce, 84, who was pestered by his energy firm for months before he agreed to have a smart meter installed in his home near Braemar, Scotland.
SSE fitted the device in August 2021 but from the start it failed to connect to the SSE system, leaving him with inaccurate meter readings.
Ovo later took over SSE and Doug’s account was moved to the new supplier. However, it has still yet to be fixed.
The retired teacher says: ‘I was pressurised into getting a smart meter. SSE sent me a lot of emails and letters trying to persuade me to get one. I thought it could be a good idea as I’m abroad a lot but the meter has never worked.
‘It is extremely annoying. I’ve been sent estimated bills by SSE and then Ovo as they cannot track my usage.’
Doug has since received a bill for £1,000 as Ovo claimed that he had underpaid his bills. But he disputes this.
Patricia now has to submit a smart meter reading herself every three months by crawling under the stairs with a torch to read the device.
She says: ‘I got a smart meter so I would not have to submit readings any more. I would never have got it if I knew it was going to be such a problem.’
A DESNZ spokesperson said: ‘As the NAO recognises, we’ve made good progress in the rollout of smart meters with over 32 million now in homes and small businesses across Great Britain, putting them in control of their energy use and saving money on bills.
‘But we want more people to benefit as soon as possible. That’s why we’ve set energy suppliers ambitious but realistic installation targets and are working with them to speed up the rollout.’
Despite the numerous issues reported about “smart” meters, proponents continue to promote them as being accurate, beneficial to consumers, essential for “energy efficiency”, and safe despite articles, reports, research, and testimonials indicating otherwise (see 1, 2, 3, 4).
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
Top image: Pixabay
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