On Smart Meters
This is one of the most difficult questions to answer because there are many intricacies to Smart Meters. However, the basic rundown and simplest answer is that there is great evidence that Smart Meters will actually cause your utility bill to skyrocket. Utility customers have noticed huge increases in their bill after a ‘smart’ meter is installed–in some cases hundreds of dollars more than usual. Utilities claim the meters are accurate,but unexplained over-billing has featured in many negative reports, all around the US.
The cost of the “smart” meter program is breathtaking. By some estimates, utility consumers will pay at least 225 billion dollars to blanket the nation with meters. A “smart” electric meter can cost hundreds of dollars per household. The attorney general of Massachusetts projected the cost of each meter in that state at almost $3K. Some equipment manufacturers suggest that these meters will need to be replaced as often as every 3 years to keep up with technical innovations, which would force consumers to continually pay for new hardware that they are coerced to accept.
My #1 immediate issue with the Smart Meter implementation plan is that currently the Memphis City Council states that we are “broke” and have no money in our budget to pay the city employees and first responders their promised benefits and pensions. We are too “broke” to open the community centers for children in impoverished neighborhoods and too “broke” to provide music, arts, and tech programs in the Shelby County Schools. BUT somehow we have enough money for a $240 million dollar Smart Meter implementation plan??? How does that even make sense? Another issue is that hundreds upon hundreds of ratepayers have voiced their opposition to smart meters on a regular basis at City Council meetings, yet most of the Council has chosen to turn a deaf ear. The City Council is ignoring the majority of residents in our city and that raises a GIANT red flag – at least to me.
The lack of a choice also burns my toast. You have a choice about other types of internet use—whether you get on Facebook and post last night’s exploits, have a GPS tracking device activated in your smartphone following you around everywhere, or whether you do your banking online. This kind of choice is not part of “smart” meter deployments and implementation plan. So, those who are concerned about the health issues, have no choice. I, personally, am more concerned with the fact that I have no choice rather than the potential health risks as I haven’t done enough research to be sure they are 100% factual and not just conspiracy. I am attached to my smartphone, my laptop, and my ipad for over 15 hours a day. So who am I to worry about a meter outside my house when I use my smartphone as an alarm and oftentimes press snooze and lay it between my head and pillow?
So there are also health and fire hazard issues are also linked to these meters but many believe that is conspiracy and I have enough information without even considering those concerns to say NO to Smart Meters – at least for now.
For those of you who want to learn more about smart meters, keep reading
Okay, let’s start back at the beginning and the basics for those who may not know as much on the extremely complicated subject as others:
WHAT IS A SMART METER?:
It is one that contains RF (radio frequency) so that it can be remotely controlled and read. No longer will a meter reader have to come to your home to read the meter. It will all be done remotely. When all is in place, the smart meter will not only keep track of how much electricity you are using, but it will be able to control, regulate, and ration your use of that electricity.
If MLGW, or as some say “big brother”(although, Im not necessarily going that route in my discussion or my beliefs) decides that you are using too much heat in the winter, or too much air conditioning in the summer, or using too much hot water in your showers or washing machine (even if you are willing to pay for that extra usage), that use of power will be automatically turned down. A future goal is to have all appliances replaced with those containing RF chips for even more regulations and controls.
TOP CONCERNS ASSOCIATED WITH SMART METERS:
BILLING & RATES:
The real snake in the grass is Time of Use Rates. Utilities raise rates is by instituting “time-of-day” rates—also called “peak pricing” or “time-of-use” rates—raising rates at peak times while not lowering them (usually) at other times.
Take a look at the proposed time of use rates (compare with the current rates) which the MLGW is asking for –they want 80% more from noon to 8 PM during the summer.
You will be paying through the nose for electricity at peak times, and if your income is low, you could become forced to do your cooking and laundry in the wee hours of the morning.
In Oklahoma and in some parts of Texas, peak rates are up to 10 times regular rates (highest when demand is highest). Because smart meters have not been fully installed, many U.S. utilities have not yet implemented time-of-day pricing, or have done so on a limited basis. However, wherever mandatory time-of-day pricing is implemented, rates go way up.
Apolitical About.com has a chilling article on what is to come. This article is well worth reading. Here’s an excerpt:
“For those who cannot function in the wee hours of the morning or late at night, consider dividing your wash into loads and run your washer and dryer for one load every evening, as soon as the off peak time slot begins. If the cycle is too long and you’re an early-to-bed type of person, use a shorter cycle and consider hanging the wash to dry.”
Here are a just a few examples:
- On-peak rates 3 times off-peak rates (22 cents/kWh vs 7 cents/kWh) (parts of Texas)
- Peak rates up to 10 times off-peak rates (parts of Texas)
- Electric rates 15% higher between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. (Washington)
Nationally, smart meters have delivered unemployed meter readers and a deluge of meter data that utilities have no idea what to do with. Even though MLGW says that there will be no initial layoffs of city employees, the Smart Meters monitor your utilities digitally and report back automatically, leaving hundreds more Memphians unemployed.
DATA & PRIVACY CONCERNS:
There are security & privacy concerns: a top cyber-security firm recently tested 5 different brands of smart meters for vulnerabilities, and found that they all could be EASILY hacked into, allowing someone to remotely shut down your power, inflate your bills, tell if you’re out-of-town (making you a target for burglary), commit identity theft, or even bring down the whole electricity grid. For more details, click here.
The Dallas Business Journal has a great article about the potential use of the data obtained by the utility companies. Here’s an excerpt:
“The Department of Energy will publish a voluntary code for utilities to govern the handling of data from smart meters. But will the utilities honor that code?
‘I think the data is going to be worth a lot more than the commodity that’s being consumed to generate the data,’ Miles Keogh, director of grants and research at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, told Politico. ‘When you become a company whose most valuable asset is not the kilowatt-hours but the data, that fundamentally changes what kind of company you are.’ The meters could tip off how many people live in a house, appliance usage, daily routines and possibly what’s on television if the meters refresh fast enough, according to Politico. That data would be valuable to retailers and marketing firms who want to profile neighborhoods.”