Posted 15 февраля 2023,, 17:03

Published 15 февраля 2023,, 17:03

Modified 15 февраля 2023,, 17:20

Updated 15 февраля 2023,, 17:20

Count and rule: what is the main secret of smart electricity meters

Count and rule: what is the main secret of smart electricity meters

15 февраля 2023, 17:03
Digitalization of housing and communal services in the Russian Federation began in 2020, when the law on so-called smart meters was adopted. We were assured that intelligent devices will make people's lives easier – they will transmit readings themselves, and in general they are comfortable, beautiful, modern. A year later, it turns out that lobbyists delicately kept silent about one function

Anna Snezhnaya

Who really needs "smart" devices the most and why?


At the stage of adoption of the law two years ago, the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation advertised the "introduction of intelligent electricity metering devices" as a super innovation. New meters will save the consumer from worries about their installation and maintenance (energy companies will do this for free), and even miracle devices will transmit readings to the management company themselves, fix leaks or fraudulent tie-ins – a real breakthrough in the Russian economy!

"The law has two main lines. The first is the transfer of responsibility for the installation and maintenance of the metering device from the consumer (individual or enterprise) to the resource–supplying organization. The second, taking into account technological progress and the course towards digitalization of the economy, is the introduction of the obligation to install intelligent, so–called "smart" meters. So, according to the norm of the law, from July 1, 2020, the obligation to install electricity metering devices is removed from consumers, it will be shifted to guaranteeing suppliers in apartment buildings and to network organizations – in other cases. At the same time, professional market participants will be required to equip their consumers with intelligent metering devices from January 1, 2022," commented Anastasia Bondarenko.

But is it really so difficult for a consumer to call the management company once a month and transmit the meter readings? The same is done by the senior in the house / entrance (if we are talking about communal property). And is it worth the hassle of signing up for a pig in a poke?

Or maybe government officials from housing and communal services and management companies really decided to take care of people and ordered to delegate this backbreaking work to expensive "smart meters"? Maybe we didn't finish something after all?

There is one caveat. They really didn't tell us about the essential property of the new intelligent metering devices.

Many new models of digital meters have the function of remote electricity limitation sewn into them. If earlier the resource supply or management company still had to prove the existence of debt and justify the amount of debt in court, and only in this way was the shutdown of the resource supply authorized, now companies have the technical ability to do this without the mediation of courts and bailiffs.

Today, it has been a year since the installation of intelligent electricity metering systems is mandatory. Similar initiatives are being considered for water and heat meters.

The most interesting thing is that the "modernization of meters" was promised to be carried out free of charge, that is, at the expense of energy companies. In fact, the "yoke" is put on the tenants of apartment buildings at their own expense. The costs of this program, among others, formed the basis for an unscheduled increase in electricity tariffs by 2%.

Due to the same increase in tariffs, however, they promised to replace expensive household accounting systems without attracting residents' funds.

No matter how well–intentioned the increase in tariffs is explained and no matter how much the new digital metering devices are praised, installing them on a household household is exactly the same new lever in the hands of management companies. It turns out that the new devices technically allow you to limit the supply of resources to the whole house.

Are companies really going to be able to turn off people's lights, heat and water just like that, without trial and investigation, based only on their invoices? From today it seems lawless. There are many cases when tenants' debts turned out to be fictitious or overstated, and this was confirmed by the court. 

In the end, apparently, everything will again depend on the resistance of the tenants themselves.

But we now know for sure that suppliers have a dream of a single-stage switch.

The trial balloon is already being rolled back on less protected layers - the Ministry of Energy proposes to expand the user base of smart meters forcibly at the expense of debtors.

The fact is that the process of modernization of power systems in the MKD is not going fast. Despite the fact that the installation of "smart meters" has become mandatory in Russia since 2022, they have actually appeared in few places today. By default, they should be installed only in new buildings. The rest of the houses, where so far mostly conventional meters, were allowed to replace them gradually – only to replace the current metering devices that have failed or as their service life is completed.

In the summer of 2022, the relevant ministry proposed amendments to the legislation. According to them, it is allowed to install out of turn "smart metering devices" with the function of remotely limiting the supply of resources to debtors' apartments, at their own expense.

The Ministry of Energy considers it possible to apply this rule to consumers who have repeatedly received claims for debt payment during the year, but have not made repayment. It was also reported that the devices themselves, together with the installation, will cost debtors 14-38 thousand rubles.

"The device will be installed within six months if the debtor is identified before the end of 2023, and three months if he receives notification after January 1, 2024," the document says.

At the same time, the consumer will be obliged to provide access to his premises for the installation of the device, after which the guaranteeing supplier and (or) the management company will be able to remotely limit the debtor's power supply.

If the debtor consumer refuses to install a "smart meter", he will face a fine.

The initiative makes it possible to increase the "payment discipline" among consumers and maintain a balance of interests between them and energy companies, the agency justified its initiative.