The article picks up on a statement in the Conservative Party's manifesto for the recent election where it suggests that having a smart meter installed in the next few years will be optional for UK energy consumers. The author of the article, Ross Anderson, a professor of security engineering (who presumably has an interest in smart meters because of their potential to be hacked), thinks that this is a subtle but significant change. I suppose he might be right, because if the intention had been that smart meters were optional all along, then there would be no need to clarify it. Certainly the UK energy suppliers seem to behave as though installation of the new smart meters is effectively compulsory - I've personally received three requests by my energy supplier to install a smart meter in the past year or so (under the excuse that they happen to be already installing the meters in my area), including one just after the General Election.
So I would advise UK readers in the forum to resist having a smart meter installed, if you haven't already succumbed to the pressure from the energy suppliers to have one installed. According to comparethemarket.com, one in five people in the UK do not want one.
Another recent article gives some good reasons for not having a smart meter installed called "Six reasons to say no to a smart meter":
The six reasons given are: 1) Smart meters could make it harder to switch gas and electricity providers, 2) Smart meters don't bring an end to estimated bills (or billing errors), 3) Smart meters won't work if you have a poor signal in your area, 4) The display units linked to smart meters are crude and difficult to understand, 5) There's little evidence so far that smart meters will save energy - or money, 6) Smart meters 'pose security and other risks'.
I suppose you could add two more reasons to the list: 7. You could potentially save some money by not agreeing to the installation, though UK energy suppliers do not have a good track record for passing savings on to consumers, and it would not surprise me at all if you still get charged for the smart meter even if you don't have it installed. Smart meters appear to be more expensive than the £50 figure quoted by Ross Anderson, I've seen a cost of £11 billion quoted for the whole smart meter programme, and with 26.5 million households in the UK, that would work out as about £400 per household. 8. One of the main ideas behind smart meters is that they are generally regarded as being helpful to the cause of deploying intermittent renewable energy, so it would make sense for any opponent of renewable energy in the UK to resist having one installed.