OK, there have been a couple of posts about Utilita here on Digital Survivor over the past week or two. Actually living the experience of trying to get a smart meter removed right now, I can now tell you what I’ve learnt so far through the process:
- A smart meter set to Pay-As-You-GO (PAYG) is not necessarily “dumb” (set so that it doesn’t transmit or relay radio-frequency [RF] radiation pulses). The fact that I have a card with a number that tops up my electric meter at point of payment (rather than charging a key to be inserted into the meter) indicates that my meter is not set to “dumb”. Perhaps coincidentally, I wrote to Utilita this morning asking that they set my meter to “dumb” as I’d taken readings this morning with my Trifield which showed RF activity that hadn’t been happening before a Twitter exchange yesterday with the company.
- Utilita protested to me in a phone call yesterday that they “are a smart meter company” and that they “destroy old meters when we take them out”. (Pretty much every energy provider is claiming, honestly or otherwise, that analogue meters are becoming harder to acquire.) Uncomfortable as I am with this truth, at least the lady I talked to was being upfront and honest. However, whether or not they have access to “dry” analogue meters remains to be seen – they handle my gas account which is not on smart meter.
- Given the above point, I believe there may be limited mileage in going through Notice of Liability proceedings. Sure, I’d love to shut down any company pushing and profiting from harmful surveillance smart-grid equipment, but Utilita are only one of a whole new wave of “independent providers” appearing right now.
- Utilita were recommended by a company called Citrus. This outfit provides a service for tenants in housing association or local authority housing who want the best deals on their energy supply. They provide comparison tables – which are not really tailored to any individuals circumstances – and assist in arranging a new supplier. Citrus has so far proven very much in the pro-smart camp.
- In a Youtube video embedded in my first Digital Survivor post about challenging Utilita, advice is given by the lady that she threatened to have a qualified engineer remove her smart meter and install an analogue replacement. On speaking with one of the “big six” energy companies this morning, I was advised that meters can only be changed by certified suppliers and that any attempt to bypass this would constitute “tampering with a meter” – a potentially criminal offence.
- Refusing a smart meter is a good option if you believe, as I do, that there are serious issues that come with them. At some point, the industry will escalate its efforts to lever households into accepting the technology – as has already started with home energy deals where annual bills can be reduced by up to £300 by “going smart”. The hope has to be that some “independent provider” will see a business opportunity in offering “dry” analogue meters to the many millions in the UK who do not want anything to do with “smart” technology.
- As mentioned earlier, I’ve spoken with one of the “big six” UK energy providers. They said that they will accept my medical claim that I’m electro-sensitive – one that is most certainly true! – and take out Utilita’s smart meter to replace it with one of their own analogue models. I’m in the process of arranging a change of energy provider – though let’s wait and see what actually happens over the coming weeks.
Postscript: The above Twitter PM exchange just took place. On looking up “energy provider DNO” online, I discovered that DNO stands for “distribution network operator“. Utilita, basically, is passing the buck.