Wednesday, October 31, 2012

'Smart City' Failures Dumped on Taxpayers

Brandon Turbeville
Activist Post

If there was ever any doubt as to whether or not the Smart Grid aspect of UN Agenda 21 is marching forward, recent developments in Boulder, Colorado should dispel such skepticism. Likewise, these developments should also make clear that so-called Smart technology is about much more than simply cost saving.

The relevant part of this story starts as far back as 2007 when Boulder entered into an agreement with Xcel Energy to enable the city to become the world’s first “smart city.”

For those who are unaware of what the terms “Smart Grid” and “Smart City” refer to, the Smart Grid is essentially a computerized system that allows the monitoring and control over energy use from power the plant source to every appliance in the home. Smart Grid technology is a major part of UN Agenda 21, the United Nations plans to herd a drastically reduced population into “human habitat areas,” meaning ultra-modern super cities with stack em’ and pack em’ dwelling structures and zero contact with nature and the outside world.

Smart Grid technology includes the infamous “Smart Meter,” which is not only a Big Brother spy device that monitors the amount of power consumed in the household (even down to the specific devices using that power), but it is also linked to a variety of adverse health effects as a result of the frequencies they emit.

Regardless of these issues, however, Boulder is expected to become the model city for the rest of the world within the coming years. Yet, if the Agenda 21 connections and the adverse health effects were not enough to draw serious concern from the average taxpayer, the sheer cost of the project should at least be cause for opposition.


Indeed, the recent report released by the Denver Post is only one more example of how the average person who is to live as a prisoner under the coming system is eagerly paying for and building his own bars.

It is also a textbook example of the privatization of services that should be provided by governments in that the price tag for this venture as tabulated by Xcel Energy, the private company controlling Boulder’s power supply, has increased from $0 to $44.5 million with $27.9 million already being hoisted onto the backs of Colorado residents.

Initially, of course, the cost of the entire project was supposed to be much less than the current projections. Because Xcel was joining with several different firms and corporations who were supposed to share the burden, which was to cost a total of $100 million, the cost to Xcel was to be only $15.3 million as their consortium partners were expected to pick up the rest.

However, around May of 2008, a discussion was held during Xcel’s internal corporate finance meeting where it appeared that the cost of the project to the company had doubled to about $31 million. Yet, when Xcel presented their way forward for the SmartGridCity program in Boulder to the Public Utilities Committee, the company failed to mention that its costs had risen. This is most likely because Xcel knew in advance that it had the most effective means of debt leverage known to man – the American taxpayer – to make up for any losses in the program. The Smart Grid, after all, must go forward at any cost.

During the summer of 2008, after a great deal of rushed work, crews completed installation of much of the system so that they were able to unveil the “first SmartGridCity home” in time for the second day of the Democratic National Convention. The home included “integrated software, solar panels and an electric-car charger” and gave tours to media organizations like ABC’s Good Morning America.

As 2009 approached, some of Xcel’s partners began to back away from the project, shifting more and more of the costs onto Xcel itself.

No need to worry though, because Xcel had the captive customer base of Boulder to fall back on. Which is exactly what they did.

As Scott Wilensky, an Xcel senior vice president, stated in PUC testimony, “Management concluded the costs of continuing forward with the project completion under the initial scope were less than the potential benefits that could be determined if there were a broader pilot.” Thus, Xcel decided not to stop the project or even modify its goals, but to move ahead with the original plan.

In April of 2009, the board of Xcel set the budget of the project at $27.3 million. Note that the budget was still lower than the projected costs, which were known to be $31 million at the time.

Shortly thereafter, the two executives in charge of the SmartGridCity program left Xcel with Ray Gogel, the lead executive for the project becoming CEO at Current Group, and Mike Carlson taking a position with GridPoint Inc. Both Current Group and GridPoint are consortium partners.

Finally, it was time for Xcel to cash in on its unfortunate customer base. In May, 2009, Xcel filed for a $132.5 million rate increase for Colorado that included $27 million allocated for SmartGridCity.

In yet another interesting development, shortly after the filing was made to increase energy rates, Xcel made the decision to shift $17 million in SmartGridCity-related software costs from Minneapolis (the other major city where Xcel operates) to the Colorado budget. The Minneapolis costs, however, were actually part of Xcel’s normal IT budget so there was no justifiable reason for the Colorado customer to be expected to pay it.

The revised numbers submitted by Xcel, now totaling $45.8 million, were subsequently challenged by the Consumer Counsel’s office, the organization which represents small businesses and residential customers, as well as industrial consumers such as Climax Molybdenum and Rocky Mountain Steel.
As Mark Jaffe of the Denver Post writes,
Harry DiDomenico, a PUC analyst, testified that the project "was conducted outside of normal budgeting processes and was therefore never subject to normal budget reviews, policies and internal audit procedures." 
The consumer counsel's office said that once the project hit $27 million, Xcel should have stopped. Any costs beyond that were imprudent. 
Climax Molybdenum and Rocky Mountain Steel in filings argued that SmartGridCity was a research project, that it had not achieved its goals and that shareholders, not ratepayers, should pick up the bill.
Obviously, it is true that the ratepayers should not foot the bill for this disastrous experiment in an even more disastrous overarching agenda. However, the collusion between global schemes and local corruption knows no bounds.

After reviewing the request, the PUC actually granted Xcel $27.9 million in rate hikes for SmartGridCity in January 2011. It even went so far as to state that Xcel could receive the rest of the money once it demonstrated “value to customers and [that it] had a strategic plan for the project.”

Frustrated with being raped for increasingly large amounts of money while still not receiving the product they paid for, the Boulder voters agreed to allow the City Council to explore whether or not they might be better served by replacing Xcel with a municipal utility. Ironically, in order to direct the City Council to take these steps, the voters had to approve yet another tax!

In terms of the privatization of services – whether it is trash pickup, water, energy, or other necessary procurements for city life – this is the typical procedure for hoisting virtually all of the costs on the taxpayer while private companies owned by major banks, etc. reap the profits.

For instance, the taxpayers are taxed to develop and maintain a power system which is subsequently privatized. Then, when a major update to that system is due, and after fleecing the taxpayer for millions of dollars, there now lies the opportunity to revert back to city service provision.

Thus, when even more vast amounts of money are expended to install the totalitarian Smart Grid, it is likely that yet another private company will slip in to reap the benefits shortly thereafter.
Nevertheless, the true issue is not necessarily the cost of the program. As I stated earlier, the entire concept of the Smart Grid represents a massive step toward the implementation of UN Agenda 21. Indeed, Smart Grid technology raises a myriad of concerns in its own right.
As Paul Joseph Watson writes:
Indeed, privacy experts have warned that smart meters could be used to spy on consumers in a myriad of different ways, including “what appliances are being used in individual homes, and even what programmes are being watched on TV.” 
The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) warns that the rollout of smart meters will allow “massive collection of personal data” by utility companies and governments, tracking what “households do within the privacy of their own homes, whether they are away on holiday or at work, if someone uses a specific medical device or a baby monitor, or how they spend their free time”. 
(...) 
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine and other health bodies have voiced concern about potential damaging effects of radio waves emitted by the smart meters and have have urged a moratorium on installing the devices. 
The group recently warned that people suffering from “neurological, neurodegenerative diseases, genetic defects, cancer, and other conditions,” should avoid smart meters because they could be “adversely impacted by electromagnetic frequency (EMF) and radiofrequency (RF) fields,” emitted by the devices.
Instead of demanding that the Smart Grid technology be delivered in a cheaper manner, it is imperative that the Boulder voters demand that the technology is removed altogether. While demanding renewable sources of energy is important, it is also important that this real demand for greener power not be corralled and co-opted into a demand for increased surveillance, control, and ultimate dehumanization.

Read other articles by Brandon Turbeville here.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Mullins, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor's Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of three books, Codex Alimentarius -- The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, and Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident. Turbeville has published over 175 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville's podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com. 


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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

AFAIK, Boulder is the first U.S. city to have established a voter approved carbon tax. I grew up and still live near Boulder, watching Boulder become swamped with highly affluent Establishment Kool-Aid drinkers. Boulderites even have their own mini-me version of the Aspen Institute think tank (as profiled in the Denver Post last year).

On the other hand, the residents of Boulder tend to be highly educated and very health conscious, perhaps they will eventually reject SmartGrid technology simply for health reasons. There are a fair number of awake and Libertarian-minded folks in Boulder county as well.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article, Brandon. "Smart" no longer refers to being "intelligent, clever or witty," but now means "shrewd or sharp, as in one's dealings." Like GE's "smart" hospital rooms that would be totally wired, it only refers to using computer technology as a selling point in what would otherwise be instantly judged a boondoggle.

Another meaningless word is "privatization." Notice that taxpayers endlessly subsidize the so-called private enterprise. If it was private, it would compete with a government service, not intercept its funding.

This is a good example, though, of how government as a giant bribery scheme delivers its constituents to all manner of profiteering scams. Legislation is one giant entitlement where access to the ultimate market, our sovereignty, is bought.

Paul said...

The paradox is microgrids. They are in operation in CA at the University of California at San Diego and UC Irvine. They advantage is public owned with the returned saving of buying energy from a private utility. Just search UCSD and you will find an excellent Sept.20, 2012 Union-Tribune article explaining the microgrid.

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