By Hope S. Good
Duke Energy received $204M in federal stimulus to install AMI gas and electric “smart” meters in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Duke promised these meters would lower utility bills and be more convenient because they eliminated the need for meter readers. They also promoted them as eco-friendly and more energy efficient than original analog meters.
Over 700,000 were installed in Ohio and 400,000+ were installed in other states.
Not long after installation, customers in all 6 states started filing complaints with utility commissions and consumer agencies. There was media coverage of this as well.
- Adverse health effects; health and safety concerns
- Appliances malfunctioning and breaking
- Inaccurate billing, measurement errors. inflated bills
- Privacy and cybersecurity concerns
2011 Consumer Reports article “Why Smart Meters Might Be A Dumb Idea” seems to have predicted some of the issues associated with the Duke Energy AMI “smart” meters – including their short life span.
2018 Energy Central article needs no explanation: “Smart Meters Did Not Work, Let’s Avoid The Same Mistake With IoT/IioT”
That’s right – Duke already needs to replace the AMI “smart” meters they installed 2010-2015.
They have also proposed customer rate increases in order to do this.
Adding insult to injury, some customers already had their rates increased between 2010-2015 because of these meters. “By 2014, a total of 700,000 smart electric and 450,000 smart gas meters will be installed. The Ohio PUC approved a rate increase of 49¢ more per month for residential customers to pay for these projects.” (Source)
Worth noting, when some Duke Energy customers have complained about their “smart” meters, they have been told that they have AMI meters, not “smart” meters. Any 2-way transmitting wireless and/or digital meter is considered to be a “smart” meter. AMI meters have 2-way transmission so they are “smart” meters.
Duke Energy AMI “Smart” Meters in the news…
Media coverage can be found through online searches in regard to Duke’s AMI “smart” meters. Here are 2 links that include references to several news stories:
“Unhappy Duke Energy Customers in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Are You One of Them?” http://stopsmartmeters.org/2017/05/04/unhappy-duke-energy-customers-in-ohio-kentucky-and-indiana-are-you-one-of-them/
“5+ Years of Shenanigans with Duke Energy and their AMI ‘Smart’ Meters”: http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/5-Years-of-Shenanigans-with-Duke-Energy-and-their-AMI-Smart-Meters-Itron-by-Raleigh-ES-North-Carolina.pdf
References for proposed rate increases for Duke Energy AMI “Smart” Meter Replacement:
The proposed Ohio customer rate increase – $143.4M – is to pay for replacing all current AMI “smart” meters with new ones. Testimony from Donald L. Schneider Jr. was submitted on behalf of Duke Energy on March 16, 2017 as to why the meters need to be replaced: http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?Caseno=17-0032&link=DIVA
On October 23, 2017, Environmental Defense Fund Senior Regulatory Attorney for US Climate and Energy Program, John Finnegan, wrote a blog berating Duke Energy for trying to raise customer rates again for these meters.
“These Ohio customers pay for their smart meters, and they should have access to the benefits” http://blogs.edf.org/energyexchange/2017/10/23/these-ohio-customers-pay-for-their-smart-meters-and-they-should-have-access-to-the-benefits/
Mr. Finnegan stated in his blog:
- “This type of energy data is gathered by advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), specifically smart meters. Yet collecting the data isn’t enough to see those savings – customers need access to the information and new products and services, like cell phone apps, to help understand it.”
- “That’s why Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), along with our partners Ohio Environmental Council and Mission:data, recommend that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio require Duke Energy to release customers’ energy-use information…“
- “Duke is currently asking Ohio for $143 million to replace its smart meters.”
- “The utility wants its Ohio customers to foot the bill for the new meters without giving them access to their meter data.”
- Sharing the data would give customers a chance to enjoy significant potential savings from their investment in AMI. Sharing anonymized electricity data with third-parties would enable businesses to develop new products and services, too.
- Customers pay 100 percent of the cost for their smart meters in their monthly utility bills, and they should have the opportunity to receive 100 percent of the available benefits.
Coincidentally Mr. Finnegan seems to be a former Duke Energy Vice President and Ohio resident even though his EDF bio doesn’t include this information. https://www.intelius.com/people/John-Finnigan/Terrace%20Park-OH/066YDSH70RP
- For those who may not remember, the current 700,000+ AMI “Smart” Meters were installed in Ohio between 2010-2015. That wasn’t all that long ago.
- These current meters depreciated faster than even Duke Energy expected. (see March 16, 2017 testimony of Donald L. Schneider Jr at PUCO case record)
- There have been reported issues with these current Ohio Duke Energy AMI “Smart” Meters since they started installing them in 2010.
- There have been issues reported since 2010 in all 6 states where Duke installed them.
- Customers in all 6 states have fought for or are still fighting to get “opt outs” for their homes and businesses because of all the problems with these current Duke AMI “Smart” Meters (see links below).
- Duke Energy has also already reported that they need to replace their AMI “Smart” Meters in other states. (See links below for Kentucky)
- “Smart” Meters everywhere have proven to be problematic. Hundreds of thousands have already been replaced due to fires, explosions, general failure, measurement errors, etc.
None of these above-mentioned factors seem beneficial to customers or eco-friendly.
And according to Mr. Finnegan’s blog, Ohio customers have been paying for these problematic Duke Energy AMI “Smart” Meters all along.
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Yet Mr. Finnegan is still endorsing the AMI “Smart” Meters as being beneficial to customers.
It seems that John Finnegan of the Environmental Defense Fund is actually only objecting to:
- Ohio customers paying a rate increase to replace the current AMI “Smart” Meters..
- Ohio customers not being provided with their utility data which may or may not assist them in saving money on their bills.
On December 5, 2017, Consumer Union’s Senior Policy Counsel, Shannon Baker-Branstetter, also objected to Duke Energy’s proposed Ohio customer rate increase. “Duke Energy seeks base fee increase, undercutting thrift” https://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/12/05/duke-energy-seeks-base-fee-increase-undercutting-thrift-plan-raises-fees-takes-control-ohio-consumer/901210001/
Here are Duke Energy rate increase references for Kentucky which include replacing all AMI “Smart” Meters installed between 2010-2015 with new ones:
Kentucky – “Rates for some Duke Energy customers could rise by 17.4 percent” http://www.fox19.com/story/36273411/heres-a-look-at-duke-energy-kentuckys-request-to-hike-resident-rates-by-174-percent
Also in re Kentucky: “State PSC OKs Duke Energy Kentucky to deploy smart meters; some customers may opt out” The new meters will replace not only old analog mechanical meters, but also first-generation smart meters deployed in past years by Duke Kentucky as part of a pilot project.
How to “Opt Out” of Duke Energy AMI “Smart” Meters:
There are “opt out” programs available for Duke Energy customers in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana who are willing to pay fees to have analog meters instead of AMI “smart” meters. It is strongly encouraged that customers also file formal complaints with their public utility commissions and state consumer advocacy organizations when requesting their meters being replaced.
Ohio: http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?Caseno=14-1160&link=PDC. This was written only for electric meter but request that the transmitter for the gas meter be removed also. If Duke refuses your request, file formal complaints with PUCO until they agree to remove it.
Indiana: Legal Notice of Duke Energy Indiana, LLC’s Petition for Approval of an Advanced Meter Opt-Out Tariff Standard Contract Rider No 59 http://www.bcdemocrat.com/2017/07/18/duke-energy-petition-for-meter-opt-out-tariff/ available to all qualifying Duke Energy Indiana residential and small commercial customers.
It’s very important that customers request original analog meters because some analog meters can be made “smart” without this being visibly obvious. These are referred to as “stealth” meters. Information on how to identify “stealth” meters may be found at http://www.eiwellspring.org/smartmeter/StealthMeters.htm
In Ohio and Kentucky, legislation has also been submitted to allow all state residents to opt out of any type of “smart” utility meter:
Ohio, 2013: Senate Bill 181 “Smart Meter Consent Bill” was endorsed by the Ohio ACLU: http://www.acluohio.org/legislation/2013-2014-sb-181
Kentucky, 2017: Senate Bill 121 http://www.courier-journal.com/story/tech/science/environment/2017/02/09/bill-would-make-smart-meters-optional/97703094/
For Duke Energy customers who would like more information:
- Stop Smart Meters Ohio: https://www.facebook.com/Stop-Smart-Meters-Ohio-312918642421542/
- Stop Smart Meters North Carolina: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1459086210979866/
- Stop Smart Meters South Carolina and Worldwide: http://www.facebook.com/StopSCSmartmeters
- Raleigh ES: http://www.raleighes.info/
- SC Smart Meter Awareness: https://www.facebook.com/groups/434507450216942/
- No Smart Meters 4 Indiana: https://www.facebook.com/No-Smart-Meter-4-Indiana-165960906904648/
- Stop Smart Meters Florida: http://microwavechasm.org/
“NB Power’s smart meters plan not so smart, 2 expert reviews find. $122M-plan is poorly thought out, should be rejected by EUB, separately commissioned reports conclude”
“Smart Meters Did Not Work, Let’s Avoid The Same Mistake With IoT/IioT”
“Oklahoma’s Exemplary AMI Smart Meters Removal and Consumer Protection Bill: A Model For Other States To Follow”
Duke continues to install new AMI “Smart” Meters anyway and tells customers that they are beneficial. They still receive complaints about higher-than-normal bills not long after these meters have been installed and deny that their meters are to blame. Sometimes this is reported by local news stations. From May 8, 2018: Duke Energy customers question newly installed smart meters.
From June 2, 2018: Ohio EDF Attorney (Former VP of Duke Energy) Promotes Duke’s so-called ‘Smart’ Meters Despite Reported Problems and Massive Cost to Replace Current Meters