The energy minister in the previous [British] Labour government, one Ed Miliband, introduced legislation to make smart meters mandatory for homes and small and medium-sized businesses by 2014 as part of the condition for licensing energy companies.
The electronic devices must collect information every 30 minutes, and use wireless chips to phone home. The cost per household, including installation, was estimated at £340 per household, or £9bn countrywide, with customers footing the bill.
The advantages for suppliers are considerable: laying off thousands of employees, including meter readers and call centre staff, introducing per-minute variable pricing, and cutting off the energy supply remotely. It also promised a boom for the IT sector.
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