Victoria’s electricity smart meters here to stay
By Karen Collier
THE $2.18 billion roll-out of Victoria’s electricity smart meters will go ahead because too much money has been spent to pull back.
About 950,000 meters have been installed – almost half of all households and small businesses across the state.
The Herald Sun has learned a final review recommends the roll-out continue, despite cost blowouts, and that consumers will win from potential benefits.
The project’s original $800 million budget has almost tripled since the former Labor government ordered all homes and small businesses be fitted with the devices by the end of 2013.
The project also has been dogged by billing bungles and health, privacy and safety concerns.
Smart meters will allow companies to charge higher prices in peak periods and discount when demand is low.
Those who maximise the use of cheaper rates, such as using washing machines in off-peak times, are likely to benefit most.
But consumer advocate Gavin Dufty said the smart meter program had been a “runaway train and a wreck waiting to happen”.
Industry sources confirmed the meters were here to stay.
The audit also promotes the use of in-house displays, which feed information about energy use throughout the day and help guide consumers on how to reduce consumption.
Premier Ted Baillieu would not be drawn on the findings of the review, saying the program’s fate would be announced soon. Smart meters record power consumption every half hour.
The meters can be read remotely, ending the need for manual reads. They can also remotely disconnect and reconnect power, and will be able to cycle appliances such as airconditioners on and off.
A scathing auditor-general’s report released two years ago said the program was “flawed and a failure”, the financial benefits flowing to power companies rather than consumers.
Victoria’s energy regulator, the Essential Services Commission, first forecast a roll-out of the meters in July, 2004. At the time, it was estimated the meters would cost customers a few dollars each year.
Instead, Energy Minister Michael O’Brien has warned the charge could be $900 over 15 to 20 years.
£11bn UK smart meter programme could be a ‘costly failure’, MPs say
British Gas will have to replace some of its 800,000 devices it has already installed because of conflicts in technical standards
Government’s ‘disappointing’ £11 billion scheme to install smart meters in every home and business by 2020 is unlikely to materialise and “could prove to be a costly failure”, MPs have warned.
Any delay will mean the initiative – implemented to reduce energy bills – will actually cost utility firms and their customers dearly, the energy and climate committee stated in a report released over the weekend.
Technical problems, interoperability standards, delayed communications infrastructure and a reluctance to improve transparency across the UK’s smart meter scheme have all contributed to the delay, the report found.
- Energy firm Utilita warns: ‘Entire smart metering plan needs review’ Smart meters: Energy customers believe UK rollout will be delayed because ‘IT projects always run late’ UK smart meter rollout faces more delays
SSE, an energy firm that supplies electricity and gas to nine million homes, said that it had concerns about increased installation costs, lack of customer engagement and that the 2020 target was unrealistic.
Further, British Gas said that technical issues and a lack of a universal solution, or standard, was hampering the scheme. The utility firm was one of the first to begin installing smart meters. However, after a change in the specification for the devices from the government, it will have to replace some of its 800,000 meters it has already installed by 2020 – at extra cost to customers.
Jorge Pikunic, managing director of Smart Metering at British Gas said: “What we probably need there is an industry solution. An industry solution will be a lot less expensive, a lot cheaper, than having each supplier going into a building installing their own technology.”
Out-of-date tech ideology
The legal responsibility to install smart meters in every customer’s home by 2020 will mean that more of these out-of-date devices could be implemented to cut costs and reach the quota, the report found. Because of this, the committee added, this will cause longer term interoperability issues when devices will not be able to communicate with each other in the future.
While the use of smartphone apps might be a useful workaround for interoperability issues, utility firms told the committee that they are forced, by law, to provide an in-home display to show energy usage.
Melissa Gander, managing director of in-home Technology at Ovo Energy, said: “The technology is there and we can use it to be able to give customers their data on a smartphone. The challenge is that we are still mandated to provide an in-home display so that cannot enable the smartphone usage.
“Do we give the customer an in-home display and the piece of kit that allows the customer to see the data on a smartphone and have that additional cost? There is the challenge. It is just adding more and more cost to the programme. We want to innovate and we want to be able to give customers their data in the format that best suits them.”
- The report concluded: “These policy problems are symptomatic of a national programme that the government has left largely to suppliers and failed to drive forward effectively.”
Communications infrastructure pushed back, again
Just days before the damning report was published, the deadline for the communications network, which will support the smart meters once they are installed and ready to communicate data, has been pushed back from December 2015 to April 2016.
The network is managed by data communications company (DCC), a firm set up by the government especially for the smart meter program.
Image credit: iStock/Alex Raths
France to Begin $5.5 Billion Smart-Meter Program by End of 2014
By Justin Doom Nov 15, 2012 2:22 PM PT
France will initiate by the end of 2014 a 4.3 billion-euro ($5.5 billion) plan to deploy 35 million electronic power meters, the country’s energy minister said.
The announcement today by Delphine Batho comes after the proposal, approved in 2011, was delayed over financing difficulties, questions about consumer benefits and a dispute between local authorities that own the grid and Electricite de France SA’s ERDF distribution unit, which will install the devices, said Albert Cheung, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The previous French government initially planned to begin installation next year, “but since then various factors have stymied the project,” Cheung said in an e-mail today. “This is the biggest smart-meter roll-out so far by a single utility outside of China, so the complexities are understandable.”
The decision to implement the plan came after 300,000 meters were tested in homes near Lyon and Tours in a pilot project called “Linky.” The devices track power consumption and are read remotely to save energy and to make repairs.
What Batho said today “confirms the new government’s support for the program,” Cheung said. “Political will counts for a lot in the smart-metering industry.”
DECC confirms talks with Dept of Health over Smart meter Risks
by Natalie Evans. Published Tue 25 Jan 2011 19:50, Last updated: 2011-01-25
Smart meters are at centre of growing health scare
Officials from the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change have confirmed “discussions”
with their counterparts at the Health Department over safety concerns regarding the mass installation of smart meters.
Energy chiefs say talks will continue with the Department of Health as worries grow over research linking smart meter technology and an increased risk of cancer.
The news follows a warning that indoor electromagnetic fields and radio waves emitted by smart meters pose a growing health risk.
The risk of cancer has been linked to intense or prolonged exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and radio frequencies (RFs).
Worries persist about the potential for mobile phones to cause brain tumours.
And now researchers are warning of the risks from the cumulative effect of waves emitted by electric, gas and water smart meters, together with other devices in the home.
The Government is working with Ofgen to carry forward plans for every home in Britain should be fitted with remote-linked smart meters by 2020.
But experts say that combined with wi-fi hubs, mobile phones and other wireless devices this array of meters will turn homes into something like the inside of a microwave oven.
Smart meters record the exact levels of gas and electricity households use and remotely report the data to suppliers, doing away with meter readings and estimated bills.
The new generation of radio-linked smart meters were first introduced in the UK in September 2008, for customers in the East and West Midlands.
In December 2009, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced its intention to roll-out smart meters to all UK homes by the end of 2020.
But with more than 20,000 UK homes now using smart meter technology, wireless networks are coming under increased scrutiny.
The World Health Organisation states that EMFs are not harmful if they remain within strict frequency boundaries set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
However, an investigation conducted by researchers in the USA, where smart meters have been used since 2006, warns emissions can exceed safety limits.
But a report from, California-based Sage Environmental Consulting, reveals that the constant presence of a smart meter could lead to prolonged exposure to potentially harmful RFs.
The Sage report says: “Significant unanswered questions still exist about what levels of radio-frequency microwave radiation will be produced by these [smart] meters.
“Smart meters can produce excessively elevated RF exposures, depending on where they are installed.
“With respect to absolute RF exposure levels predicted for occupied space within dwellings, or outside areas like patios, gardens and walk-ways, RF levels are predicted to be substantially elevated within a few feet to within a few tens of feet from the meter(s).
“The rollout of millions of new RF sources (smart meters) will mean far greater general population exposures, and potential health consequences.”
The paper explains that people are already increasingly exposed to radiofrequency radiation at home through the use of numerous wireless devices.
These include mobile and cordless telephones, Blackberry and iPhones, broadband, baby monitors and home security systems.
The report concludes that neither the authorities, nor the utility providers nor the consumer “know what portion of the allowable public safety limit is already being used up or pre-empted by RF from other sources already present in the particular location a smart meter may be installed and operated.”
The DECC states that the issue was noted in an impact assessment which was published alongside the department’s ‘Smart Meters Prospectus’ last July.
A DECC spokesman said: “We will keep under review any evidence related to the effects of radiofrequency signals on the health of individuals.
“Smart meters can pave the way for a transformation in the way energy is supplied and used. They will provide consumers with real-time information about energy use, enabling them to monitor and manage their use.
“Consumers will receive accurate bills. Switching between suppliers will be smoother and faster and improvements in the delivery of energy efficiency advice will be supported.
“Decisions on the communications requirements for smart meters have not yet been made and a communications technology solution has not yet been selected.
“Part of the work of the Smart Meter Implementation Programme, which is being taken forward by DECC and Ofgem, will be to develop detailed plans in relation to smart meter communications requirements, whether in the home or outside.
“This work will consider the range of issues relating to smart meter communications and the different technology solutions, including concerns expressed by some people about electromagnetic fields and electrical sensitivity.
“We will continue to discuss the issues raised with the Department of Health, Health Protection Agency and other relevant organisations as our work on smart metering progresses.
“We are currently examining the responses to the recent consultation on the roll out of smart meters, and we will publish the Government’s response along with the plans for the roll out later this year.”
Smart meters face uneven acceptance across Europe
MUNICH, Germany — While energy vendors and environmentalists promote smart power meters as a panacea for green user education and empowerment, the market perspectives have been rather unclear. Now a Swedish study brings light into the dark.The installed base for smart electricity meters in Europe will grow by 16 percent annually in the time through 2014, predicts analyst company Berg Insight (Gothenburg, Sweden). At the end of the period, the market researchers expect the number of installed smart meters to reach 96.3 million units.
The EU aims at a quota of 80 percent of all households within the European Community be equipped with a smart electricity meter by 2020. The current and predicted market growth for these devices makes puts the EC target within reach, Berg Insights believes.
In Sweden, smart meters will already be mandatory beginning July 2009, but the adoption of smart meters has started in Italy, the study says. While Sweden by law the market penetration is already 100 percent, Berg Insight analyst Tobias Ryberg expects the next countries to follow will be Italy, Ireland, Norway and Finnland.
While by the end of the decade more countries including France, Spain and the UK will also introduce smart meters, other countries including the Netherlands and Germany are noticeably lagging. The Netherlands have reservations against smart meters because some believe their usage would violate privacy; in Germany they are yet regarded as a surveillance technology, the study says. Berg Insight’s Ryberg however believes the privacy threat from smart meters is “grossly exaggerated, pointing out that smart meters are an “essential component” to create a sustainable energy system.
100 million European households will have smart meters by 2014
MONDAY, JULY 06, 2009
According to a new research report from the analyst firm Berg Insight, the installed base of smart electricity meters in Europe will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 16.2 percent between 2008 and 2014 to reach 96.3 million at the end of the period.
The strong uptake of intelligent metering puts within reach the EU-wide target that 80 percent of the households should have smart meters by 2020. Providing consumers with detailed information about their electricity consumption, the new generation of meters give customers control over energy costs and create financial incentives for energy savings.
The adoption of smart meters started in Italy and has continued in the Nordic countries where Sweden decided to make smart meters mandatory from July 2009, starting a trend for the rest of Europe. “Today, Sweden has become the first country in the world to achieve 100 percent penetration for smart meters”, said Tobias Ryberg, Senior Analyst, Berg Insight. “In the next years Italy, Ireland, Norway and Finland will follow and by the end of the next decade many more countries including France, Spain and the UK will also have smart meters.”
He adds that some countries are moving slower due to resistance from certain stakeholders. The Netherlands has postponed the rollout of smart meters following a heated debate over the potential risk that remote monitoring of energy consumption would lead to privacy violations and in Germany the government is reluctant to impose what could be perceived as a surveillance technology. “The privacy threat from smart meters is grossly exaggerated”, said Ryberg. “They are opposed because they represent a new technology for collecting information in a time when large groups of people are afraid of the consequences of living in an information based society. Indeed the energy industry has a major responsibility in protecting the privacy of its customers, but first and foremost it must work to create a sustainable energy system in which smart meters are an essential component.”
Trilliant Wins 1M Smart Meter Rollout with British Gas
Trilliant has hopped the pond in a big way. The smart grid networking provider announced late Wednesday that British Gas has picked it for its smart meter deployment, starting with 1 million meters to be deployed by 2012.
That’s a big deal for Trilliant, though not completely unexpected. The Redwood, Calif.-based company first started working with British Gas in 2009, supplying it with its UnitySuite head-end software system to manage the utility’s smart grid devices — meters, smart thermostats, home energy dashboards, and the like — to come.
This most recent announcement expands Trilliant’s role to providing the communications for the utility’s first 1 million smart meters — about half of them gas meters and half electric — built by Swiss meter maker Landis+Gyr. Whether British Gas — a subsidiary of energy company Centrica — will turn to Trilliant for all 16 million of its customers remains to be seen. The British government has said it wants every home in the country to have smart meters by 2020.
Trilliant tends to get less notice than its well-funded smart grid networking competitor andrumored IPO candidate, Silver Spring Networks. But Trilliant has racked up an impressive list of utility clients, including Ontario, Canada’s Hydro One, which is plans to have some 1.1 million Trilliant-enabled smart meters installed by the end of this year.
Trilliant also raised an impressive $106 million round in June from investors including smart grid giants ABB and GE, which are also partners with the company. That comes on top of $40 million it raised in 2008, shortly after it refocused its efforts on smart grid — the company has actually been around since 1985.
Trilliant’s choice of communications technology also differentiates it from most of its competition. While Silver Spring and most smart meter makers have settled on using 900 megahertz wireless systems, Trilliant uses a 2.4-gigahertz system based on the same IEEE 802.15.4 standard underlying ZigBee. To make up for that technology’s shorter range, Trilliant bought long-range Wi-Fi company Sky Pilot last year — an addition that could give them an end-to-end communications solution for utilities.
BBC How the meter works in one East London home
The government is planning to introduce new smart meters to measure the amount of energy we use.
They claim the technology could end wrongly estimated bills.
Companies will be able to remotely read the meters and it is estimated they could save consumers millions each year.
Coming soon: Compulsory water meters for all . . . and you’ll pay £200 installation price
By JAMES CHAPMAN Last updated at 9:43 AM on 31st January 2011
Up the spout: It is expected that 80 per cent of households in England will pay for water using a meter by 2020
Water meters are expected to be made compulsory in all homes to cut consumption.
Ministers will unveil proposals next month designed to cut average water use from 148 to 130 litres per person per day by 2030.
The cost of installing a meter will run to £200 per house, a sum likely to be passed on to consumers. It is expected that 80 per cent of households in England will pay for water using a meter by 2020.
Those who use the highest amount of water will be worst affected. This includes large families, the disabled and those who regularly water large gardens or wash their cars.However, those who tend to use less, such as the elderly and those who live alone, would see their bills greatly reduced.
The current system sees each household without a meter pay a fixed annual sum for their water based on their home’s rateable value. Those with a meter pay just for the water they use.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman is understood to have accepted in principle that future water charges should be based on metering, with the aim of cutting waste. Government sources said no decision had been made but proposals are expected in weeks.
Civil servant Anna Walker, who has prepared a report on the issue for ministers, is calling for legislation to enforce the installation of more meters.
‘Most of us find water and sewerage services cheap – less than a £1 per day for some households,’ Mrs Walker said. ‘But the future looks rather different.
‘A combination of significant population growth, the effects of climate change and the need to renew what is often Victorian infrastructure will put increasing pressure on both the availability and the cost of water. Charging by volume of water used is the most effective way of incentivising the efficient use of water.’