BRITAIN'S TROUBLED smart energy metre rollout will eventually reach a ‘Star Trek phase' according to one optimistic government minister.
The process was supposed to be finished by the end of 2020, but recently, regulators admitted that it just wasn't going to happen, delaying by four years.
But Climate Change Minister Lord Duncan of Springbank is more optimistic, telling an MP committee that it will allow ‘technology to be our friend'.
He cited examples such as being able to change tariffs on the fly, and to power devices on a timer, when the electricity is cheapest.
It sounds lovely (though suspiciously like Seventies relic Economy 7), but given that at present there are millions without a meter at all, and many others complaining that theirs doesn't actually work, it all seems a bit far fetched.
That said, the truth is that smart meters are already capable of more. They all work on Zigbee, which is a common communication standard in use by the likes of Philips, Hive and Samsung.
If the meter was allowed to connect to a home Zigbee hub, much of its data can be integrated into the smart home environment. Alas, the decision was taken somewhere along the line to lock meters in a closed-loop, away from the rest of the house, and indeed its wifi (smart meters use SIM cards).
Despite a widespread push, its thought only half of the households will have a meter by the original deadline, rising to 85 per cent by 2024.
The cost of the rollout has shot up to £13.5bn because of the delay, but the estimated savings are now estimated at £19.56bn.
The other big problem with smart meters thus far has been that, in order to meet the 2020 date, many meters were fitted that don't meet the final standard - SMETS 2.
These SMETS 1 meters cannot cope with a supplier change, meaning customers who switch have to have their meter replaced all over again. µ
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