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Spain's new electricity meters 'encourage theft'

Source: FACUA - Sat 4th May 2013
Spain's new electricity meters 'encourage theft'

Consumers Association FACUA has warned that the new model of electricity meter increases the risk of robberies by showing if a property is unoccupied, and revealing information reserved by the Spanish Data Protection Agency.

These new model of meter is fitted with an LED light which flashes at a rate proportional to the level of power consumption. With the light being visible, anyone who enters the building (such as the communal area of an apartment building) could easily find an idea as to the amount of electicity being used at the time. For example, a refrigerator being switched on, and a number of applicances being on standby would result in a very slow and infrequent flash, whilst a quick flash would denote a number of applicances being in use, such as a TV, Kettle or Dishwasher.

FACUA reported this to the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism and the National Commission of Energy (CNE) in April 2012, and to the Spanish Agency of Data Protection (AEPD) in June 2012.

In July the National Commission of Energy (CNE) sunsequently prepared a report for the Ministry requesting the new meters, so that the visual indication of consumption was not visible to the general public, going as far as to suggest that it was not even a requirement.

For their part, FACUA inisted that the consumer should always have access to their meter to assess their useage.

However, many of the new meters installed continue to require personal readings because the providers have not yet bothered to install the component that allows remote readings.

FACUA's website notes that it is now in excess of 1 year since ther made their report, and are still awaiting a successful conclusion, let alone a formal reply.

As a result, FACUA are expected to persue the issue on ground of breach of the Spanish Data Protection Act, given that information concerning the consumption of electricity by clients is recorded illegally.

Comment on this Story

 
Probably just FACUA complaining for the sake of complaining - yet again !
Mr Grumpy - Sun, 5th May 2013
"For their part, FACUA inisted that the consumer should always have access to their meter to assess their useage".... he he he... perhaps FACUA could arrange for Iberdrola to give all their customers a key to the padlock on their meter cupboard ... laugh, nearly bought a round.
Tony Poole Aka Sparks - Sat, 4th May 2013
"providers have not yet bothered to install the component that allows remote readings" is a little unfair to Iberdrola. Replacing traditional meters with Smart Meters is an ongoing multi-billion euro project called the STAR Project. It will take until the end of 2020 to complete. When we get connected to Smart Grids then the new meters can be read remotely.
Tony Poole Aka Sparks - Sat, 4th May 2013
The new digital Smart Meters are a topic that fuels the privacy movement. Though this matter would appear to be a non starter. What's the difference between a flashing LED indicator or a spinning wheel? Both indicate high and low usage at a glance. Much more of a concern is how much the new legislation concerning Smart Meters invades our privacy.
Tony Poole Aka Sparks - Sat, 4th May 2013