Up to now, I haven’t really thought that much about smart meters.
I knew they were something to do with broadcasting meter readings, but that was about it.
The other day, I was browsing the Interweb and came across a mention of smart meters at Captain Ranty’s place which contained a link which I dutifully followed.
The title of the article set alarm bells ringing – “Consumers unaware of smart meters ahead of EU-wide roll-out”.
As I read the article, the alarm bells became a deafening clamour.
What for example is this – “smart meters could become compulsory across Europe”? What is this talk about a “mandatory roll out”?
I decided to do a little more investigating.
My first search produced a clatter of web sites that broadly fell into two camps. There were a few sites that were banding over backwards to tell us the benefits and telling us to ignore the doubters, and then there were the doubters who pointed out the drawbacks.
I always get a little suspicious of campaigns to tell us the benefits in advance as usually it means they are worried that they are about to get a lot of bad press. Frankly the pro-smart meter crowd failed to impress me.
What are the benefits of the smart meter?
The only benefit I could find is that it will put a lot of meter readers out of work. Outside that, I couldn’t find a single one. There is a lot of waffle saying that the power companies need precise information on what power is being consumed and where. Why? They already know what the demand level is, so reading an individual’s meter isn’t going to tell them any more. They say that readings will be more accurate. Why? The meter reader usually jots down pretty accurate figures from my meter so why should electronics be any more accurate? If I get an estimated bill, it doesn’t matter as it will be balanced by the next bill.
What are the drawbacks?
Well, a lot of sites out there waffle on about radiation from the radio signal, but I don’t worry about that. I already have a mobile phone and a wireless computer network so I am fairly well irradiated anyway.
What does concern me is the inferences that can be drawn from the meter readings. If the system is hacked [and all systems can be hacked] then any would be criminal would instantly know when the house is unoccupied for any length of time. Even ignoring the criminal element, who else is going to have access to the readings?
Who is going to pay for all of this?
Well that answer to that is simple – we are. We will either have the cost lumped onto or power bills, or it will come out of our taxes.
I have two questions I would like answered.
1. Why is the EU insisting that these meters be mandatory?
2. Why by their own estimates are they prepared to force us to pay €51 billion in order to save between €26 billion and €41 billion?
There is something very suspicious about the whole business.
Like most things from the EU, it stinks.