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  1. I looked into the technology being used and the data collection and security, some time ago (probably around 4 or 5 years ago now, when the first "smart" meters were being rolled out. There are a stack of issues with them, even though the intention is partly good. The major one hitting consumers right now is that each supplier came up with their own implementation, so when you change suppliers (as we're all encouraged to do to maintain competition in the market) then the meter needs to be changed as well, or you just lose the "smart" meter "advantages". The more serious flaws were that the entire system, from the meter data link to the storage of data by the suppliers and intermediaries, was open to malicious attack. In fact the protocol was so insecure that it was laughable, with virtually no security provisions at all at the meter end. Whether consumers would have trust in the data collection end, run by the suppliers is open to question. Right now there's no significant problem there, apart from the frequent "computer errors" that seem to effect the billing part of the systems some suppliers use. With the advent of control of meters and supplies by the suppliers, using their systems, there comes a whole new set of security issues that some could choose to exploit to there advantage (anything from crooks fiddling usage data to malicious interference with supply control). The annoying thing is it wouldn't have been at all difficult to make smart metering effective and secure. Adding hardware encryption to the data link would have been easy, cheap and effective. Making the metering systems all work to a common standard, with rigid controls to ensure interoperability between suppliers would have been easy, and not added significantly, if at all, to the cost. Focussing on effective incentives, rather than replicating existing energy usage displays and hoping that will change behaviour (for most it won't, as has been shown) might have given real benefits. For example, EDF in France charge different prices for electricity to all domestic consumers depending on their forecast load. It's not smart metering, it relies on radio, TV and internet warnings of the days/times when prices will be high. We have friends who lived in France for years, and they would always watch out for the price changes and plan their usage pattern to avoid using things like the washing machine during high price periods. From what I gathered from talking to them, this was commonplace; lots of consumers were used to just adjusting things around the varying energy price. Smart meters would have allowed that easily, and a simple display showing the consumer the current price and usage, with a short calendar of forecast prices over the next few days, would almost certainly start to do the same as what has been happening in France for some time (I think the reason for doing it in France had lot to do with their shortage of short-term fast ramp-up generation; they use a lot of very slow to respond nuclear plants). The real nail in the coffin seems to be that widespread roll out of smart meters in other countries hasn't resulted in any saving, if anything it's produced the opposite effect!
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