Smart Grid: is there ever a good time? Yes – as soon as possible…

A recent article in Computer Weekly questions the timing for smart electricity meters, saying now is not the time:

Had the decision to refresh the UK’s meters been taken six years ago, when the government’s finances were stronger, there would be little argument. But the size of the national debt, the untested carbon saving, and the likely redundancies, suggest the case for smart meters now is unproven.
When we are awash with money, people want to pay less tax so that they can eye up that new house, new car or holiday on far away sunny shores.  When we screw things up and there is less money around, we are concerned with unemployment and eating cheap cuts of meat.  If we try to think of the best time to implement big change that could benefit everyone and help reduce our energy use, the answer will always be “tomorrow” or “soon”.  How about starting the preparation today?  This will take years, no doubt, but let’s invest some money (borrow some more – who would notice?)
It would be easier and cheaper to retrofit existing meters with a very basic energy meter. Consumers or energy retailers could then use existing
fixed and mobile telephone, satellite and cable TV networks, or possibly even the electricity grid for communications, he says.
The information transfer requirement is negligible, Doyle says. “Message sizes are a couple of bytes and they can update once a day. There
would be some loss of functionality versus the premium solution, but the savings would be considerable.
Screw the cost – let’s go for state of the art.  Let’s make up for all the flatscreen TVs we’ve been buying.  Let’s be the best in the world at something.  Let’s stop bidding for big events like the Olympics and the World Cup and let’s build up some valuable IP that we can sell to the world.  Let’s save some electricity and help save the planet.
UPDATE:  There appears to be some good news…
By 2020, all British households will be fitted with high-tech “smart meters”, which will make Great Britain the first country on earth to undertake such an overhaul for both gas and electricity usage monitoring. With smart meters, readings can be taken remotely and provide homeowners with real-time data on their energy usage and help save money on bills.

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