By B.N. Frank
Utility “Smart” Meters – electric, gas, and water – are expensive and unnecessary. In the U.S. they are federally funded and proponents promised that these meters would reduce customer bills and save energy. Research has determined that they DO NOT SAVE meaningful amounts of energy.
Also, in many cases, customer rates have been increased for their installation AND frequent replacement (see 1, 2, 3, 4). In fact, research has determined that some low-income Americans are actually paying more for “Smart” Meters.
Many American legislators have taken action against “Smart” Meters for various reasons including cost (see 1, 2). In 2018, current Kentucky Governor, Andy Beshear stopped deployment while he was Attorney General due to cost and because “Smart” Meters aren’t necessary.
In 2017 a Dutch study determined that “Smart” Meters can be highly inaccurate – between 30% and 582% (see 1, 2)! Utility companies don’t publicize that though. Instead they insist the “Smart” Meters are more accurate than analog meters and customers had been underpaying for years. Now Con Edison is using that lame excuse as well. Yawn!
In 2017, Con Edison announced that over the next five years it planned to replace nearly 5 million electricity meters with smart meters, digital devices that transmit energy consumption to Con Edison via a secure wireless network. The smart meters promised to deliver hands-on knowledge about exactly how much energy a building – or apartment – was using every day. The new meters would transmit readings on an ongoing basis, rather than being read monthly by a Con Edison employee.
The future is now here, and it’s not quite what users imagined. The old electricity meters were mechanical, with a small disc inside that rotates. “Friction affects the rotating speed of the disc, which is the accuracy of the meter, so they get slower over time,” says Eric Jacobsen, communications manager at Quadlogic Controls, a submetering and energy services company. The result is inaccurate usage readings, meaning inaccurate electricity bills – and a potential shock when the new, more accurate meters are installed.
But more accurate meter readings aren’t the only surprise potentially in store for Con Edison customers. There is an occasional disconnect between the smart meters and the utility’s billing system. “Let’s say a smart meter was installed at the beginning of the year; for a period of up to six months, it may not be able to sync with the Con Edison billing system,” says Alexander Zafran, senior consultant and business development lead at Aurora Energy Advisors. “That means even though the meters are recording data, they may not be communicating the data properly to Con Edison, so the bills that are sent to customers won’t reflect those readings. Instead, the bills were just estimated reads.”
Which can lead to an unpleasant surprise: If Con Edison’s estimates are based on historical data from old, worn-out meters that may have been inaccurate, when the actual bills are sent to consumers, they may end up being much higher than expected.
Utility companies will continue to defend “Smart” Meters because they are extremely profitable. Original analog meters are one-way transmitting whereas “Smart” Meters are 2-way transmitting. Because they are 2-way transmitting, utility companies can remotely turn off services as well as ration customer usage. This feature also allows them to collect minute-by- minute usage data which they can analyze in order to market more products and services to customers. Utilities can also sell this data to 3rd parties (see 1, 2). This is sometimes referred to as “Surveillance Capitalism.” Creepy, right?
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In addition to higher and/or inaccurate bills, there have been countless reports about “Smart” Meters causing fires, explosions, malfunctioning and broken appliances, and health issues in people and animals (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). Some utilities started allowing customers to “opt out” due to public pressure.
Last month it was reported that 57% of American utility customers have electric, gas, and water “Smart” Meters and more are on the way despite all of the above. Free online documentary – Take Back Your Power – reveals more “Smart” Meter horror stories. Opposition to these meters is worldwide.
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
- Stop Smart Meters
- Smart Grid Awareness
- Smart Meter News
- Take Back Your Power
- The People’s Initiative
- Wireless Information Network
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