By B.N. Frank
Utilities have been installing “Smart” Grids for several years now. These grids include the installation of 2-way transmitting “Smart” Meters which have been highly problematic. In 2012, IEEE acknowledged that smart meter opposition was increasing due to the many issues associated with these meters.
This article from the editor of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ website admits the extent of the fire problem with smart meters.
“This is just the beginning of a difficult story. Companies installing smart meters already have run into a lot of consumer push-back because of concerns about privacy, security, and–sometimes–higher rather lower electricity costs. The last thing the smart grid needs is meters causing fires.” – Bill Sweet, IEEE Editor
Tens of millions of electric, gas, and/or water utility “Smart” Meters (see 1, 2) have been installed worldwide. Even if you don’t have them yet –millions more are being deployed despite all their problems. “Smart” Meters collect customer usage data 24/7, whereas original 1-way transmitting analog meters DO NOT. Utilities collect and analyze usage data so they can market more products and services to customers and/or sell data to 3rd parties. This is sometimes referred to as “Surveillance Capitalism.
Activist Post Recommended Book: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
Proponents promised these meters would help customers save energy and reduce their bills. Nope (see 1. 2). It’s ridiculous and embarrassing when proponents continue to describe any utility data collecting “Smart” device as beneficial and necessary despite all of the above.
Power Grids Should Be as Data Driven as the Internet
Real-time information on supply and demand and electricity pricing will improve how we use the grid
Governments are setting ambitious renewable energy goals in response to climate change. The problem is, the availability of renewable sources doesn’t align with the times when our energy demands are the highest. We need more electricity for lights when the sun has set and solar is no longer available, for example. But if utilities could receive information about energy usage in real time, as Internet service providers already do with data usage, it would change the relationship we have with the production and consumption of our energy.
Utilities must still meet energy demands regardless of whether renewable sources are available, and they still have to mull whether to construct expensive new power plants to meet expected spikes in demand. But real-time information would make it easier to use more renewable energy sources when they’re available. Using this information, utilities could set prices in response to current availability and demand. This real-time pricing would serve as an incentive to customers to use more energy when those sources are available, and thus avoid putting more strain on power plants.
California is one example of this strategy. The California Energy Commission hopes establishing rules for real-time pricing for electricity use will demonstrate how overall demand and availability affect the cost. It’s like surge pricing for a ride share: The idea is that electricity would cost more during peak demand. But the strategy would likely generate savings for people most of the time.
Granted, most people won’t be thrilled with the idea of paying more to dry their towels in the afternoons and evenings, as the sun goes down and demand peaks. But new smart devices could make the pricing incentives both easier on the customer and less visible by handling most of the heavy lifting that a truly dynamic and responsive energy grid requires.
For example, companies such as Ecobee, Nest, Schneider Electric, and Siemens could offer small app-controlled computers that would sit on the breaker boxes outside a building. The computer would manage the flow of electricity from the breaker box to the devices in the building, while the app would help set priorities and prices. It might ask the user during setup to decide on an electricity budget, or to set devices to have priority over other devices during peak demand.
Back in 2009, Google created similar software called Google PowerMeter, but the tech was too early—the appliances that could respond to real-time information weren’t yet available. Google shut down the service in 2011. Karen Herter, an energy specialist for the California Energy Commission, believes that the state’s rules for real-time pricing will be the turning point that convinces energy and tech giants to build such smart devices again.
This year, the CEC is writing rules for real-time pricing. The agency is investigating rates that update every hour, every 15 minutes, and every 5 minutes. No matter what, the rates will be publicly available, so that breaker box computers at homes and businesses can make decisions about what to power and when.
We will all need to start caring about when we use electricity—whether to spend more money to run a dryer at 7 p.m., when demand is high, or run it overnight, when electricity may be cheaper. California, with the rules it’s going to have in place by January 2022, could be the first to create a market for real-time energy pricing. Then, we may see a surge of devices and services that could increase our use of renewable energy to 100 percent—and save money on our electric bills along the way.
This article appears in the August 2020 print issue as “Data-Driven Power.”
All “Smart” devices – including “Smart” Meters – emit high levels of harmful RadioFrequency (RF) Radiation and other sources of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) (aka “Electrosmog”). People worldwide have taken legal action against utility companies because of health issues caused by “Smart” Meters (see 1, 2, 3, 4) and also fires and explosions (see 1, 2, 3). Other issues associated with them include malfunctioning and broken appliances, frequent replacement, cybersecurity risks, higher bills, and privacy violations. Some utilities aren’t even calling these meters “Smart” anymore because of their bad reputation.
A documentary about “Smart” Meters was produced in 2013. It was updated and then re-released in 2017. Legislation has been introduced and passed in some cities and states to stop installation (see 1, 2) and/or offer customers the right to “opt-out” of these dangerous and invasive devices (see 1, 2, 3).
Activist Post reports regularly about “Smart” Meters and other unsafe technology. For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:
- Coalition to Stop Smart Meters
- EMF Safety Network
- Smart Grid Awareness
- Smart Meter News
- Take Back Your Power
- The People’s Initiative
- Wireless Information Network
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