03 December 2009

Smart Grid, Dumb Government

Now, what could possibly go wrong with this?

The government has announced the results of its consultation with the public and other interested parties on plans for "smart" energy meters to be installed in all British homes and businesses. The most controversial aspects of the devices - the fact that they will effectively allow remote control of a home by energy companies and/or the grid authority - have apparently passed unchallenged.

More specifically:

But this pales into insignificance compared to the more radical ideas. The smart meter is also supposed to enable remote cut off or restoration of supplies - though there has been a row over the cut-off valve which would be required in the case of gas, and the government says it will have another think before deciding on that.

Apart from being able to turn a house off and on remotely, however, the unspecified people who control the "meters" from afar will also have other capabilities. Specifically, the boxes will have "load management capability to deliver demand side management - ability to remotely control electricity load for more sophisticated control of devices in the home".

These are fairly complex operations that will need to be carried out across millions of homes; so, inevitably, the smart meters will be controlled by computers. And, equally inevitably, those computers will be part of the supplier's network, otherwise it wouldn't be possible to monitor and control *them*.

And, of course, those computers controlling the computers will be accessible - and vulnerable - from the Internet. Which means that at some point terrorists will have the perfect way to take down an entire city from the comfort of their own homes on the other side of the world.

Smart thinking, lads. Not.

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7 comments:

Sassinak said...

You forgot this quote:
"Quite bluntly, this is not a meter - it's a remote-control device in charge of your house, and potentially of everything in it." Is it me or are puny humans really trying to get back into the womb? I mean, how dependant and irresponsable do you want to be? Do you really want someone else to decide when it's "feeding time" ? It seems your governement wants it that way.

glyn moody said...

@Sassinak: hey, tell me about it...

guy said...

Funnily enough I just had a conversation with someone about how few incentives (of the carrot variety) there are for DIY heating or energy generation in the UK, with the suspicion that governments wouldn't want to encourage people to be too independent of the system. Imagine that, self-sufficient people able to pull up the drawbridge and give the government two fingers (or worse!).

But here we have an incentive of the stick variety.

It's when we get smart water meters that I'll be taking to the hills.

glyn moody said...

@Guy: it'll come - after all, you might find a way to share MP3s using the water network, so they'll need to be able to cut you off...

Anonymous said...

Farming today. Cows can now decide when they need to be milked. A computer tag in their ear identifies them when they enter the stall. their udders are mechanically washed, the computer feeds in the teat configuration and applies the equipment appropriately. The amount and quality of the milk is recorded and transmitted to the main control office. p

The Mad Hatter said...

And, of course, those computers controlling the computers will be accessible - and vulnerable - from the Internet. Which means that at some point terrorists will have the perfect way to take down an entire city from the comfort of their own homes on the other side of the world.
You don't think they'd be crazy enough to use Windows, do you?

glyn moody said...

@TMC: well, the fact that they used Windows NT to run warships does not augur well...