It’s stupid for a smart me­ter to cut us off in the cold

Scottish Daily Mail - - Letters - MARTIN THOMP­SON, Hunt­ing­don, Cambs.

Old-style gas and elec­tric­ity me­ters were sim­ple and re­li­able, their ba­sic pur­pose be­ing to mea­sure what you had con­sumed and to dis­play a read­ing so ei­ther you, the cus­tomer, or the me­ter reader could re­lay this in­for­ma­tion to your en­ergy sup­plier. the gas me­ter had a sim­ple me­chan­i­cal on/off lever below it to be used in an emer­gency, but there was noth­ing in ei­ther of th­ese units that could switch off your sup­ply. Af­ter 40 years with Bri­tish Gas, with no trou­ble what­so­ever, in au­tumn 2013 we agreed to have smart me­ters in­stalled to al­low au­to­matic read­ing at Bri­tish Gas’s main base. to do this, both the gas and elec­tric­ity me­ters have elec­tron­ics in­side them and need a power sup­ply. In Novem­ber 2013, Bri­tish Gas in­stalled a lan­dis & Gyr e470 for the elec­tric­ity and a G370 for the gas, with a tril­liant (Voda­fone) wire­less mod­ule. three months later, on a very cold March day, our gas went off. Never hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced this be­fore, we asked all our neigh­bours if they were suf­fer­ing as well, but it was just us. We rang Bri­tish Gas, who told us it wasn’t a block­age or a ma­jor gas leak, and an en­gi­neer re­set the smart me­ter. He told us that the power for the unit came from a 3.6V bat­tery, but wouldn’t say whether a run­down bat­tery might have turned off the sup­ply. the bat­tery is sup­posed to last 100,000 hours and had clocked up only 8,760 hours. ten months later, on a very cold day in Jan­uary this year, our gas went off again. When an en­gi­neer ar­rived, he re­ported that the in­ter­nal bat­tery was flat and re­placed the whole smart me­ter, but it had soft­ware is­sues that meant it couldn’t com­mu­ni­cate prop­erly with the Bri­tish Gas It man­age­ment sys­tem. On Fe­bru­ary 2, an­other en­gi­neer ar­rived to re­place the smart me­ter. When you most need gas, in cold weather for your cen­tral heat­ing, it shuts off. What will hap­pen in 2020 when ev­ery­one has a smart me­ter and a cold day turns up?

Frus­trated by tech­nol­ogy: Martin Thomp­son

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