Report on Smart Meter Problems

The December 2012 report “Analysis: Smart Meter and Smart Grid Problems – Legislative Proposal” is available to the public. This 173-page report by activist Nina Beety has extensive referenced information about many of the problems and risks of the Smart Meter program, with information from state, national, and international resources. Supplemental documents can be downloaded here.

Originally written for California legislators, this updated report also provides a legislative and regulatory action plan for halting this program, and suggestions for reforming utility regulation so that the public is protected in the future.

Table of Contents

What is a Smart Meter?
Smart Grid/Smart Meter problems and issues
– Overview
– Overcharging, accuracy, and the Structure Group report
– Reliability
– Privacy invasion
– Fires and electrical problems
– Health problems Continue reading

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Arizona: Enormous costs for customers as APS replaces all its Smart Meters

Arizona Public Service Company is the major electric service provider in the state.

From the Sedona Times
Epic Fail! – APS Is Replacing All Its “Smart” Meters
by Warren Woodward
November 23, 2015

Several points I have made about APS’s toxic “smart” meter boondoggle have been verified once again. Last week I received news from an alert Phoenix couple that APS was already replacing all the “smart” meters it had installed in their neighborhood only seven years previous.

Upon hearing this news I phoned APS and learned that APS has hired subcontractors from a company headquartered in Virginia, called Apex Covantage, to replace all of APS’s Elster brand “smart” meters with Landis & Gyr ones. The explanation I was given for this so-called “upgrade” is that the 2G cellular system that the Elsters use will soon be obsolete. APS informed me that they intend to change out the “smart” meters in their entire service territory by December of next year.

With roughly 1.2 million customers, this so-called “upgrade” will be quite a payday for APS.

The so-called “upgrade” is really an upgrade to APS’s rate base.

The rate base is the sum total of APS’s expenditures on which by law APS gets a guaranteed rate of return. In other words, the more APS spends, the more money they make. The enormous and never ending costs of the “smart” grid are why customers always get a hefty rate increase whenever and wherever the “smart” grid is installed. Count on a sizable rate increase at APS’s next rate case.

I have long made the point to the corrupt and incompetent Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), who are supposed to be regulating APS, that APS has a perverse incentive to spend money, and that this perverse incentive was a motivating factor behind APS’s “smart” grid boondoggle. I proved that the “smart” grid would never pencil out for ratepayers by providing the ACC with the statements of several state attorneys general who had done cost/benefit analyses, a cost/benefit by accounting firm Ernst & Young for Germany, and an evaluation by Massachusetts’ largest utility. I also provided the ACC with plenty of examples of utilities that had received rate increases after installing the “smart” grid. The ACC cared not.

Additionally, I have long made the point that “smart” meter technology, unlike the tried and true analog (electro-mechanical) system, would be the gift that keeps on giving to APS due to the endless costly “upgrades” the “smart” grid would require. For example, last January I wrote the ACC (on page 12, here: ):

Then there’s the shorter lifespan that “smart” meters have. According to electric meter testing equipment and services company, Tesco:

“Electro-Mechanical Meters typically lasted 30 years and more. Electronic AMI meters are typically envisioned to have a life span of fifteen years and given the pace of technology advances in metering are not expected to last much longer than this. This means entire systems are envisioned to be exchanged every fifteen years or so.”

(Meter Operations in a Post AMI World, Slide 5, )

There’s a big financial difference between meters that last “30 years and more” and meters – plus “entire systems” – that “are envisioned to be exchanged every fifteen years or so,” especially when the meters that last half as long cost about 10 times more!

Even a 15 year lifespan is probably wishful thinking. APS has admitted to replacing 32,000 faulty “smart” meters from January 1st through August 31st in 2014 alone (see p. 4 here: ).

The ACC has lost sight of the fact that APS has an incentive to spend money since they get a guaranteed return on their rate base. All of the above should have been considered before the first “smart” meter was installed.

As it turns out, APS’s Elster “smart” meters did not even last 15 years. The ones just replaced in Phoenix lasted 7 years. APS’s Elster “smart” meters installed in Sedona and the Verde Valley in 2014 will end up being replaced in 2016, a two year life. Be sure to thank the corrupt and incompetent ACC when your electric bill increases to pay for this foolish, colossal waste, waste that the ACC was warned about repeatedly but, negligently, only encouraged.

The ridiculously short life of “smart” meters is not a fluke unique to APS’s Elsters. Testifying just last month before a joint hearing of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and the U.S. House Subcommittee on Research and Technology, Bennett Gaines, Senior Vice President, Corporate Services and Chief Information Officer of FirstEnergy (the nation’s largest investor owned utility with 6 million customers) said this about “smart” meters: “These devices have a life of between 5 to 7 years.” (See him say it at 1:40:56 in the hearing’s video minutes, here: .)

By the way, Gaines is not a “smart” meter critic. His company uses “smart” meters (not the Elster brand), and his company got a federal “stimulus” grant for them.

There’s more.

Continue reading

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How hot are your meters?

AEP — American Electric Power — uses GE Smart Meters for at least some of its service territory, which includes parts of Texas, Ohio, Indiana, and Oklahoma.

From Intelligent Utility
by Katherine Wolf Davis
October 29, 2015

Today’s meters are light. The old ones were heavy and dissipated heat a lot better, actually,” said Ken Dimpfl, manager of meter engineering with American Electric Power (AEP), while discussing the deep details of temperature data analytics at Utility Analytics Week in New Orleans.

AEP, which stretches across 11 states with seven operating companies, started with the analysis of AMI meter events, alarms and alerts through lab testing to understand the parameters and variables that need to be considered. They’re using advanced statistical analysis techniques to evaluate populations of meters to determine maintenance and customer needs, such as knowing just when a truck roll is needed. (And when it’s not.)

In 2008, AEP began installing AMI meters like many utilities that applied for DOE grants. Then, in 2010, they started seeing meter failures due to high temps or thermal overload.

[What agencies did AEP inform? Did AEP inform the public? Why weren’t Smart Meter installations halted pending a review?]

“This began our journey of looking at ‘hot sockets,’” Dimpfl said.  “Over the course of a two-year period, AEP analyzed roughly 25 meters that failed. Post event analysis concluded that the root cause was a poor connection at the meter.”

Dimpfl brought a meter and an adapter for a little show-and-tell of the connections during the session. Dimpfl noted that his team was happy that the meter wasn’t really the problem once they took a serious look. Instead, it was micro arcing between the meter blade and the meter socket jaw. (That’s the basic definition of a hot socket, by the way.)

When they looked at the details of what was going on, Dimpfl and his team noticed that the meter high temp alarm was factory set to 95 degrees, which meant that, unfortunately, there would be damaged equipment by the time they were notified. But now came the hard task of figuring out what temperature to reset that alarm to.

[Electric meters have the current for a building flowing through them. It is very dangerous to have damage to an electricity meter. How many Smart Meters are reaching 95 degrees or the damage threshold?]

They began to work with the meter manufacturer to look at other ways to predict issues beyond the simple alarm. Turns out that meters have internal tables that track temps.  Once AEP discovered that temp table tracker, they wanted to start reading them on a daily basis and use that information. They threw the data into an Excel spreadsheet and picked meters that were over 130 degrees (or the ones in the group with the highest temps) and, using a field order, they’d find out that nearly one out of four meters checked had a hot socket issue.

[What about the other 75% of very high temp Smart Meters?]

So they asked more questions. Dimpfl supervises a meter lab and started to play bit, running more tests. They discovered that the temp inside the meter bumped up 16 degrees with just being energized. Typical customer load, however, had a negligible impact on internal temps. They tested how sunlight works on the meter’s temp, looked at how thermocouples impact the temp accuracy, discussed the meter’s placement (in Texas or even inside a closet) and it’s impact on temps, and, eventually, developed a temperature algorithm.

“The feedback loop from the field also exposed a lot of different things and a lot of lessons learned for us,” Dimpfl added.  They moved from spreadsheets to a database to SAS for a monitoring evolution over the last four years.

The result of all this meter temp attention: These days, hot socket analysis is performed daily on roughly 700,000 AMI meters (and running), giving them tons of data to help AEP make their meters work more efficiently for both them and their customers across those 11 states of theirs.

“We had a business need. We worked with our internal folks and vendors to figure things out,” Dimpfl summarized. So if you want to know how hot your meters are, contact Dimpfl and his temp for ideas on just how to check and analyze that data to meet those business needs.

Dimpfl spoke at Utility Analytics Week 2015 in New Orleans. Utility Analytics Week is sponsored by the Utility Analytics Institute. For more information, visit

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California ballot initiative would eliminate investor-owned utilities, establish statewide public utility

From Utility Dive
Herman K. Trabish
November 3, 2015

Dive Brief:

  • The California Secretary of State last week approved a ballot proposal for signature gathering that would replace the state’s three investor-owned utilities with a single, statewide public power district, City News Service reports.
  • The proposed measure to establish the California Electrical Utility District (CEUD) was approved by the Secretary of State on Friday, allowing backers to begin gathering the 365,880 signatures needed by April 26, 2016 to qualify the measure for the November ballot.
  • The CEUD would replace Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, and the state’s other investor owned electric utilities (IOUs). It would replace the IOUs’ corporate structures with an elected Board of Directors from 11 wards made up of the current IOU service territories.

​Dive Insight:

Californians fed up with scandals involving the utility sector and its regulators have another option, as of Friday — eliminate the IOUs altogether. 

On Friday, the California Secretary of State approved a ballot petition to establish a statewide public utility to begin gathering signatures. Organizers will have until April 26 to collect 365,880 signatures — 5% of the number who voted in the last gubernatorial election — to get the initiative on the ballot.

Directors of the new statewide public utility would be elected from their wards for four year terms. The public power district would be authorized to “acquire property, construct facilities necessary to supply electricity, set electricity rates, impose taxes and issue bonds,” according to petition language.

Municipal utilities like the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) could join the CEUD or work collaboratively with it.

A public power district would substantially change state and local finances, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, but officials did not offer a more detailed assessment, as the initiative has not qualified for the ballot yet.

The initiative is led by Ben Davis, an anti-nuclear activist and former SMUD Rate Advisory Board member. He got an identical ballot proposal cleared for signature gathering in March, but did not get enough people to sign on before that proposal’s deadline was reached on Sep. 23.

This spring, Davis told Utility Dive the new entity would lower costs to electricity consumers and create other economic benefits by removing regulatory complexities and eliminating shareholder profit considerations.

Davis said public utilities have 15% lower rates on average nationally than privately owned utilities. SMUD’s rates, he added, average 25% lower than California’s IOU rates.

By law, Davis explained, the new public utility would have the right to acquire, through eminent domain, whatever electric infrastructure it would need to serve the public.

The effort to create a statewide public utility came from Davis’s push for a ballot initiative to close California’s nuclear facilities after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, he said in March. Efforts to obtain information from the California Public Utilities Commission left him suspicious of the state’s energy establishment, including the California Energy Commission and the California Independent System Operator.

Along with the public utility proposal, Davis also got his initiative to close California’s existing nuclear plants approved for signature gathering on Friday. The proposal, which would extend regulations that apply to new nuclear plants in the state to existing ones like Diablo Canyon, needs 365,880 signatures by April 26.

Recommended Reading

City News Service: Lights out for SoCal Edison under plan sought for Nov. 2016 vote

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Utility exec tells U.S. Congress: Smart Meters have 5-7 year lifespan

From Smart Grid Awareness
October 29, 2015

Testimony was provided last week at a Congressional hearing regarding “cybersecurity for power systems.”  …

Mr. Bennett Gaines testified on behalf of FirstEnergy Service Company.  He is a Senior Vice President and the Corporate Services and Chief Information Officer.

Although acknowledging some increased cybersecurity risks due to ‘smart’ meters, Mr. Gaines stated, “But I don’t see it as a huge threat.”

Then, however, Mr. Gaines made a surprising statement regarding the life expectancy of ‘smart’ meters as compared to existing traditional meters:

“These devices are now computers, and so they have to be maintained.  They don’t have the life of an existing meter which is 20 to 30 years.  These devices have a life of between 5 to 7 years.  And so the challenge that the industry has is making sure they maintain their smart grid environment, not neglect it.”

More at:

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Maine Supreme Court will hear Smart Meter health and safety appeal

Press Release
From Maine Coalition to Stop Smart Meters
P.O. Box 43
Richmond, ME 04357 USA
October 30, 2015


For Immediate Release

 Smart Meter Appeal Oral Arguments To Be Heard By Law Court November 3rd

Oral arguments in the ongoing smart meter case will be heard before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court November 3rd. In January, smart meter opponents filed an appeal of the Maine PUC decision that smart meters were safe enough. Three years ago the Maine Law Court, ruling for complainants, ordered the Public Utilities Commission to reach a determination on the health and safety of smart meters. Complainants found multiple faults with the final report issued last December and appealed the decision.

“A PUC opinion can be vacated when it is unreasonable, unjust or unlawful in light of the record” said Ed Friedman, lead complainant. “In this case the Commissioner’s decision is not supported by the evidence record, CMP has not met their burden of proof and neither CMP nor the PUC has successfully ensured safety for all ratepayers as is their statutory mandate.”

In every state and country where smart meters have been or may be installed, there is continued opposition from citizen groups concerned with 24/7 radiation emissions deemed by the World Health Organization to be a possible human carcinogen, invasion of privacy for the electronic records the meters record, theft of personal data, infringement of several constitutional rights and compromising of personal and grid cybersecurity.

Kathleen McGee, one of the complainants, noted the joint opinion conflicts with a separate set of findings by each Commissioner. “The joint decision is illogical based on the record. Neither smart meters nor most opt outs are protective of ratepayers and are in conflict with Maine’s judicial maxim salus populi suprema lex esto – the health of the people is the supreme law.”

Attorneys General in IL and CT have testified against smart meter installations because they don’t believe the meters will save money. The Michigan Attorney General has issued an opinion that utilities lack the authority to charge opt-out fees. Northeastern Utilities in MA, New England’s largest utility said “there is no rational basis for mandating smart meters.” Meanwhile recent CMP rate increases of 4% were tied in part to smart meters, and the PUC opened a new docket to determine how personal data collected by meters should be disseminated.

On October 28 a consortium of advocacy groups filed complaints with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey regarding the Worcester smart meter pilot and Department of Public Utilities smart meter order.

The groups are calling for the Baker administration to investigate the $48M National Grid pilot, financed by ratepayers, as “outcome-oriented research” that manufactured consent, concealed unfavorable data, and manipulated public perception concerning credible science, including claims that smart meters have been “proven safe.”

HaltMAsmartmeters spokesperson Patricia Burke stated, “Industry safety claims are sourced from testimony of one mercenary tobacco scientist from the Gradient Corporation who has contributed to the suffering of millions of people. Electricity is an essential service, not a consumer choice like cigarettes or a particular car model. 

In Maine, CMP also depended on industry testimony, this from Exponent, a product defense firm well-known for their defense of tobacco, asbestos, GMO’s, run-away Toyotas, smart meters and most recently, the NFL in “Deflategate.” A number of books have been written about these firms and one by David Michaels describes their tactics well: Doubt is their Product: How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health.

Dianne Wilkins another Maine complainant noted “published peer-reviewed independent studies find biological effects from radiofrequency microwave exposure like that from smart meter emissions, 70% of the time. When industry funded studies are analyzed, this number drops to 30%. Even if you accept only 30%, we have a huge public health problem on our hands.

Not only might we have a health problem, most Americans understand we have a regulatory problem with many agencies influenced by those they regulate. In a new publication released from the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, author Norm Alster examines how the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is dominated by the industries it presumably regulates: “Let’s be clear. … The problem is not technology, which unarguably brings countless benefits to modern life. The problem is with the over-extension of claims for technology’s usefulness and the worshipful adulation of technology even where it has fearful consequences. Most fundamentally, the problem is the willingness in Washington — for reasons of both venality and naïveté — to give technology a free pass.Captured Agency, How the Federal Communications Commission Is Dominated by the Industries It Presumably Regulates

The Emperor has no clothes” said Friedman. “Wireless technology is patently unsafe. It’s time we acknowledge a public health and security emergency the likes of which we have never seen. In Maine the PUC has had seven chances to acknowledge the independent science of microwave radiation effects and has failed miserably. It’s time for the Court to decide this issue. Under no obligation to do so, we have established far more than just doubt as to the CMP and PUC claims of smart meter safety.” 

# # #

2015 has yielded many reports and much research showing concern for radiofrequency radiation exposure. Six of our top picks follow as references:

  1. Nearly 200 Expert EMF Scientists Appeal to UN and WHONew York, NY, May 11, 2015. Today 190 scientists from 39 nations submitted an appeal (click here to read document) to the United Nations, UN member states and the World Health Organization (WHO) requesting they adopt more protective exposure guidelines for electromagnetic fields (EMF)and wireless technology in the face of increasing evidence of risk. These exposures are a rapidly growing form of environmental pollution worldwide. (Read More)
  2. Department of the Interior calls FCC RF exposure guidelines obsolete and inapplicable.24 August 2015
  3. India issues comprehensive report on wildlife effects from communication tower microwaves.24 August 2015
  4. Oxidative Mechanisms of Biological Activity of Low-intensity Radiofrequency Radiation-A Review Paper15 July 2015
  5. A Canadian Parliamentary Committee today issued a report with 12 recommendations for increased caution, investigations, reporting and data gathering with regard to RF/EMF and wireless devices. See recommendations below and link to report. Canada’s Safety Code 6 providing guidelines for RF exposure is virtually identical to the 1996 FCC guidelines in the US. 17 June 2015
  6. Captured Agency: In a new publication just released from the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, Norm Alster examines how the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is dominated by the industries it presumably regulates.  Linked below are selected quotations which are organized in a way to effectively create a synopsis version of the original 59-page document linked above. [1] Selected quotes as posted June 27, 2015 by SkyVision Solutions




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Michigan Attorney General Schuette: People should have choice about Smart Meters. Legislators agree

From Midland Daily News
October 22, 2015

Glenn bill backs Schuette action on ‘smart meters’

Utility customers in Michigan would have the option of choosing between a new advanced meter and existing traditional equipment to measure their home energy usage under legislation introduced recently by Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, and Rep. Rose Mary Robinson, D-Detroit.

The bill would put into force an opinion by Attorney General Bill Schuette that the utility companies lack the authority to charge fees to customers that opt out of an advanced metering program, which was dismissed by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

“Attorney General Schuette is rightly concerned for Michigan residents’ privacy and security on the smart meter issue and I appreciate his leadership to protect the people of our state,” Glenn said. “I am happy to sponsor House Bill 4916 to overturn the Public Service Commission’s rejection of his position so that electric customers can choose a metering option that they are comfortable with and want.”

Electric companies are transitioning to the advanced or “smart” meters to capture and transmit usage information in real-time so the utility can manage the power grid needs and delivery. The smart meter initiative has raised cyber-security concerns, as well as issues about customers’ private information, prompting Glenn’s bill to provide a choice.

“Smart meter data provides a remarkably intimate picture of a home’s electrical usage, and we’ve seen examples of this data shared, sold and mishandled,” said Glenn, who is vice chair of the House Committee on Energy Policy. “There is already plenty of data sharing going on in our wired-in world, but we can decide to limit those intrusions by not participating in those services or companies. Moreover, it is a legitimate cyber-security concern that machines that can shut off electricity in our homes are computerized and connected to the Internet. For a basic life necessity such as electricity, where participation is not a choice, consumers still must have the freedom to choose.” 5f46c3-104b-5509-bcd2-5a1e5262064f.html

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Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes 50 CPUC reforms approved by the California legislature

“Californians pay for the broken culture of the CPUC every day – from higher utility bills to the devastation of safety failures,” said Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, who authored three of the bills. “My proposals, along with those of my Senate colleagues, represent a step toward restoring public confidence in the commission.”

Over 50 reforms were authorized in six bills. Reforms included creating an inspector general in the state auditor’s office that would oversee the Commission.

One bill also would have banned so-called ex parte or private communications between regulators and utility executives in rate-setting cases, which are supposed to be public proceedings.

..the legislation would have allowed groups and individuals to sue the commission for failing to provide records requested under the California Public Records Act.

The commission has been sharply criticized for its response to records requests and subpoenas, spending more than $5 million of ratepayer funds on criminal defense lawyers who have reviewed documents and found grounds to withhold them.

 Brown called the reforms, “unworkable”,
and vetoed all six bills.

San Diego lawyer Mike Aguirre said

“Jerry Brown’s vetoes show he is helping — not stopping — the dishonest practices known to the people of California.”

Jerry Brown’s top aides are PG&E execs. Brown enables the problem. It is unrealistic to think that he would change that.



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