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

Introduction
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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Mass response to price signals via Smart Meters can cause mass blackouts

From PV Magazine
Smart meters can jeopardize grid reliability
By:  Mirco Sieg/Shamsiah Ali-Oettinger
July 27, 2015

Electricity consumers who respond to fluctuating price signals by means of smart meters can in turn cause mass blackouts. The researchers at the University of Bremen warn of the possibility of a “collective avalanche mechanism“.

Since the beginning of 2010, newly built or completely renovated buildings in Germany have to be fixed with smart meters. This is to allow electricity consumers to “switch on or off” in accordance with current generation capacity and electricity prices. The idea is to help households and business entities save energy costs. The University of Bremen, however, seems to have found a glitch in this idea.

The researchers at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of Bremen have simulated what can potentially happen when smart meters on a massive scale react collectively to electricity price signals. The result: the smart meters end up providing a new artificial electricity market, which can cause the electricity supply to crash. This in turn endangers the security of supply.

The good old example of washing machines was put forth as an example by the researchers. When households program their washing machines to turn on when the smart meter shows a cheaper electricity price, then this so-called “collective avalanche mechanism” can occur. This can cause an extreme burden on the grid. Blackouts as a result of the unexpected overload have not been ruled out.

Utilities should be warned

Prof. Dr. Stefan Bornholdt of the university asserted that the standard theory of demand and supply becomes nullified when a massive number of consumers respond to a cheaper price. “Of course everyone wants to do their laundry when the price is at its lowest,” he added.

From the point of view of the researchers, the mass implementation of smart meters is a “quick solution that has not been thought out thoroughly until the end”. Utilities need to be warned of this. “In the university’s computer simulations, different variables were fed in according to how real people would logically react in given situations,” Bornholdt added. The individual consumer does not know how his behavior, when exponentiated, in given situations can affect the electricity supply. “Unfortunately, the utilities do not know this yet either,” the professor added.

http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/smart-meters-can-jeopardize-grid-reliability_100020345/#ixzz3h6JXHHXg

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Are insurance companies avoiding the Smart Meter problem?

From Examiner.com
By Norman Lambe, LA Home and Business Insurance Examiner
July 26, 2015

A dangerous precedent is being followed in the insurance industry concerning the investigation of smart meter fires. When a fire associated with the malfunctioning of a smart meter is reported to the insurance company, the Claims Adjuster will inspect the damage, and attempt to determine what caused the fire. The Adjuster will then continue the program of the evaluation of the loss and payment of the claim.

While the steps outlined take place, the insurance company is also interested in determining the cause of the fire, and if it is due to someone’s negligence or manufacturer’s defect. The insurance company will begin subrogation efforts to recover the insured’s deductible, as well as the amount the company paid for the repair.

Part of the problem I face as a Claims Adjuster and other Adjusters are dealing with, is that when the fire department receives the notice of a fire, one of their first duties is to notify the local public utilities to shut off the utilities, preventing the further spread of the fire. When the local electrical utility arrives and determines that a smart meter is the issue, they have been removing the meter, and preventing the inspection of the meter by the experts the insurance company will hire to determine who is responsible for the fire.

This is a serious situation, as the utility company, upon removal of the meter is tampering with what is evidence concerning the cause of the fire and can be held criminally responsible. Most utility companies will respond to us requesting our information concerning the cost of repair. When that information is provided, the utility company will normally pay the requested amount, less an allowance for depreciation of the structure and personal property if required.

As an example of this situation of the removal of the meter(s) from the fire scene the following is taken directly from the San Diego Fire Departments Incident report regarding a fire at a small shopping center:

On February 26, 2014 a fire broke out at Friars Village, which is a shopping mall located at 10450 Friars Road in the beautiful town of San Diego, California. Information concerning this fire is contained in the San Diego Fire Department’s Incident Report Number FS14023257.

Two important entries on the report provide for us an independent account of what took place at the Friars Village Shopping Mall. The first at 18:21:42, is stated, “10 minutes into incident 2 electric boxes on fire”; the second entry occurred at 19:42:09, “2 San Diego Gas and Electric Meters are on fire.” As of this day, the meters mentioned in the report have not been made available for examination.

In June of 2015, two black outs occurred in busy Las Vegas Nevada restaurants, believed to be caused by smart meter failures. Nevada Energy has removed the meters and as of this day the meters have still not been examined, although the claims are in the process of loss evaluation and will be paid by the insurance company. However, the real issue as to why all the meters are failing is not being dealt with.

I will be exploring the meter problem further, along with the impact it has on your policy both Homeowner and Commercial.

http://www.examiner.com/article/are-insurance-companies-avoiding-the-smart-meter-problem

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Michigan: Governor appoints utility lobbyist to state utility regulation agency

Black is white. Up is down. “Public service” is now defined as serving the corporate sector while in a government position, and taxpayers (the public) pays the salary.

How many Smart Meter and energy complaints made it through Chief of Staff Saari to his bosses, Cotter and Bolger?

How many industry officials work as District Directors and Chiefs of Staff for governors and elected officials?

“Government affairs offices” — the actual title of these corporate departments — is very accurate.

From Detroit News

Political insider: New gig for ex-lobbyist Norm Saari
July 23, 2015

Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday appointed former Consumers Energy lobbyist Norm Saari to the Michigan Public Service Commission, the state’s utility regulation agency.

For the past two years, Saari has been chief of staff to Republican House Speaker Kevin Cotter and former Speaker Jase Bolger. He succeeded Suzanne Miller-Allen as Bolger’s chief of staff (and once worked for Miller-Allen’s husband, former state Sen. Jason Allen).

Saari spent most of his career though working in the Lansing and Washington government affairs offices of Jackson-based Consumers Energy.

“Norm has had a distinguished career in the utility industry as well as in public service, and he brings decades of experience to the Michigan Public Service Commission,” Snyder said in a statement.

Saari replaces retiring commissioner Greg White on the three-person panel. Pending approval by the state Senate, Saari’s six-year term will expire in July 2021.

Moments after the governor’s office announced Saari’s appointment mid-day Wednesday, Cotter’s office announced that House general counsel Brock Swartzle will be promoted to chief of staff.

Contributors: Chad Livengood and Melissa Nann Burke

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2015/07/23/political-insider/30550727/

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Letter to BC Energy Minister on Smart Meter fire hazard evidence

From the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters in British Columbia

“We want this program ended, and we want our money back.”
— Press Release, June 25, 2015

Subject: Smart meter safety risk

VIA REGISTERED MAIL
June 25, 2015
Hon. Bill Bennett
Minister of Energy and Mines
Room 301
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4

Dear Mr. Bennett:

In 2012 Armen Kassabian, Ontario Fire Marshal, wrote a report that expressed serious concerns about the safety of smart meters, regardless of the brand.  They fail.  They melt.  They burn.

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/FireMarshallReportSmartMeterFires-Canada.pdf

Mr. Bennett, for the last 2 years I have been tracking smart meter failures in British Columbia, and have provided you with evidence showing that there is justification for major concern. Just like the Sensus smart meters in Saskatchewan, the Itron meters in BC have overheated, melted and burned. More failures have occurred in BC than in Saskatchewan, yet you and BC Hydro have taken no steps to ensure the public’s safety. In fact, you and BC Hydro have denied that these meters have failed or put lives at risk.

There is now evidence that you cannot – must not – ignore.

With this letter I have provided a printed copy of a recent lawsuit in Texas that contains testimony given under oath by journeyman linesmen who have worked for utilities for many years. They state that ITRON Openway meters used by Centerpoint Energy in Houston, the very same model being used by BC Hydro and Fortis BC, have failed in large numbers. This document also is available at

http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Reed_Answering_Brief-1.pdf

Of particular note:

1)            Those testifying had confirmed fires and failures with other linesmen and trouble-shooters prior to making the statements. Pg. 25

2)            The linesmen reported that the utility had “two pallets of burned up (Itron) meters”.  Pg. 8

3)            The linesmen reported problems with “meters’ communication with the remote site control and many issues with meters melting and burning up.”  Pg. 8

4)            Linesmen determined that “part of the problem was a loose connection between the meter and the meter base because the smart meters had thinner “blades” than the previous analog meters” (emphasis added)     Pg. 8 This gap could cause arcing leading to fires.

5)            Concerns were raised about the ITRON smart meters “creating arc flashes, which could burn the customers’ wiring and create ‘hazardous conditions.’ …These hazardous conditions include potentially causing arc flashes, which could result in anything from minor to third degree burns to technicians who remove the meters.”  Pg. 8

6)            An experienced trouble-shooter for a utility reported that he had “responded to more fire calls once the smart meters were deployed and these often involved heating problems at the meter base.”  Pg. 13

7)            “ Reed’s testimony concerned products used by Respondent. Landis + Gyr is the manufacturer of the AMS meter used by Respondent and Itron is the manufacturer of the meters used by CenterPoint Energy in Houston.”  Pg. 25

The model used in Houston is the ITRON C2SOD, Openway Centron II the same model used by BC Hydro and Fortis BC.

http://www.centerpointenergy.com/staticfiles/CNP/Common/SiteAssets/doc/How%20to%20Read%20Your%20Smart%20Meter%20042010.pdf

8)            At Oncor and Centerpoint there was a consistent corporate message that utility employees are to tell customers that any problem, whether it’s damaged appliances or a fire, was due to the meter base which is owned by the client, not the smart meter.  Pg. 10. This is the same message that, according to Hydro insiders, BC Hydro has given to its employees.

———-

Mr. Bennett, I could provide you with many statistics and data that I have gathered over the last 2 years that would help explain why the meters are a fire hazard, but I believe that is unnecessary. I have provided you with most of them already.   Instead, I will summarize what I have found in addition to the details provided above:

1)            Electronic digital and smart meters — which are combustible and vulnerable to heat — should have reliable means for immediately disconnecting them from the grid in the entirely foreseeable event of circuit failure (lithium-metal batteries, diodes, electrolytic capacitors, transistors, etc.). Such reliable means are apparently not provided. With an effectively unlimited current supply from the grid this lack of protection creates a significant fire risk when the meter is combustible as is the ITRON smart meter.

2)            I’ve been told by knowledgeable people that the remote disconnect switch apparently is unreliable and poorly designed, having been implicated in fires across North American. To function it relies on other components of the meter that, in all likelihood, would be compromised in the event of overheating or other failures. Arcing, arc flash, and heating from the disconnect switch are also serious hazards that derive from the unprotected grid connection.

3)            The meter installation process was questionable, given the lack of qualifications of the personnel recruited to carry out the installations. Use of inadequately qualified installation personnel significantly increases the risk of: (a) failure to observe existing meter base/wiring problems; and (b)  damaging the base during exchange; both of these can lead to “hot sockets” with the attendant risk of fire.

4)            The meter bases into which these meters are being placed were designed, tested, and CSA approved to hold an electro-mechanical analog meter which is not combustible. . Our multiple requests for proof of certification of the meter base in conjunction with a combustible electronic meter, either digital or smart meter, have been ignored. It is a highly questionable practice, probably illegal, to install electronic meters on a base designed and  CSA tested/approved only  for electro- mechanical analogue meters.

5)            In BC the BC Safety Standards Act exempts BC Hydro and Fortis BC from having their equipment certified by CSA and smart meters have been determined to be utility equipment.  The exemption is conditional under section 21-4 which states that utility equipment must be certified safe by a professional electrical engineer licensed in BC.  BC Hydro stated it does not have this certification.

6)            According to the Fire Commissioner’s Office, BC Hydro is allowed to remove and has removed smart meters from scenes of fires before the fire inspection has been completed “since it is their meter.” This runs counter to the BC Fire Safety Act.

7)            BC Hydro has reported that no smart meter has been inspected in its laboratory, Power Tech, after it has failed. Instead all failed meters are returned immediately to Itron for replacement. I have been told in response to a Freedom of Information request that BC Hydro is doing no investigation to determine the reason for the failure.

8)            There appears to be no agency that is tracking incidents involving smart meters.

The BC Utility Commission, according to the BC Utilities Commission Act, has responsibility to ensure BC Hydro’s products and practices will not endanger the public. With regard to the smart meter program, the BCUC informs me this responsibility has been overruled by the Clean Energy Act and Direction 4 because it has been told it cannot interfere in the smart meter program in any way, even with regard to public safety.

The BC Safety Authority, which normally ensures that electrical devices are safe and that any unsafe devices are reported, advised me that they have been told that they have no authority regarding the smart meter program.

9)            Fire reports have indicated the cause of some fires to be due to failed electrical distribution equipment. Len Garis, in the report commissioned by BC Hydro, stated that reference to electrical distribution equipment usually refers to meters.

10)          Budgets to fire departments have been reduced to the point where departments do not have the resources to determine causes of all fires. Many fires are not reported even after 2 years. In addition, one fire chief told me that they were told to rule out arson, and not bother going further. As a result in many cases, the fire’s cause is given as “undetermined.”  Of the fires for which I’ve requested reports from the Fire Commissioner, 50% have no determined cause!

11)          Because of the lack of resources, investigations are carried out by people with limited electrical fire forensics ability, and, therefore, it is possible that many fires that might be associated with smart meters are going undetected. As a result, it is possible that many problems are going undetected and unremedied, jeopardizing the property and lives of British Columbians.

12)          Regulations in Quebec require that Hydro-Quebec ensures that smart meters are not within 3 meters of a propane tank. If the tank or meter cannot be removed, then the remote disconnect switch, which has been found to have been involved in fires in Saskatchewan, must be disabled. It seems prudent that similar precautionary measures should be taken regarding proximity of smart meters to any flammable materials. I wrote to you, Mr. Bennett, and BC Hydro authorities on June 4 asking what precautionary steps BC Hydro would be taking, and to date I received no response.

Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 7, grants Canadian citizens the right to refuse actions by the government that the citizens believe to be harmful.

Further, “the Federal Court of Appeal has opened the door to lawsuits against government regulators for negligent administration of their regulatory schemes and created the possibility of suing a regulator for damages under public law if the regulator violates a clear duty to act or exercises its public power in an “irrational” or “clearly wrong” manner.”

http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/beekeepers-abuzz-after-court-allows-clas-01297 /

Based upon the information I’ve provided to you, I believe it is safe to say that this smart meter program has major problems that cannot be ignored any longer. You, Mr. Bennett, as Minister of Energy, are responsible for allowing this program to continue.  With receipt of this package of material, which I am sending via registered mail, you cannot say you didn’t know that these smart meters are fire hazards.

I am sure that your concern for the safety and welfare of your constituents is paramount. Based upon the information I’ve presented, this concern is best addressed by halting the program and removing the smart meters, pending an investigation.

Should you wish further information about anything that I’ve said, please ask.

Sincerely,
Sharon Noble

This will be sent to  All MLAs

http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/smart-meter-safety-risk-letter-to-bc-minister-of-energy-and-mines-Bennett/

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Smart Meters are a known fire hazard — new evidence revealed by electrical workers union

In a proceeding before the National Labor Relations Board, evidence was submitted that Smart Meter fires, burned Smart Meters, burned meter sockets, and malfunctioning Smart Meters are regularly occurring and are known to Oncor and CenterPoint, two Texas utility companies.

The meter manufacturers cited are Itron and Landis & Gyr.

In California, Itron Smart Meters are used by Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas and Electric, and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power; Landis & Gyr Smart Meters are used by PG&E and Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

Documentation:
http://apps.nlrb.gov/link/document.aspx/09031d4581b1f209Counsel of the General Counsel’s Answering Brief
Also available here.
The documents in the proceeding are here:
https://www.nlrb.gov/case/16-CA-103387

After testifying to the Texas Senate on this issue, Oncor employee and union representative Bobby Reed was fired by Oncor.

From the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters in BC [a]:

Of particular note:

1)            Those testifying had confirmed fires and failures with other linesmen and trouble-shooters prior to making the statements. Pg. 25

2)            The linesmen reported that the utility had “two pallets of burned up (Itron) meters”.  Pg. 8

3)            The linesmen reported problems with “meters’ communication with the remote site control and many issues with meters melting and burning up.”  Pg. 8

4)            Linesmen determined that “part of the problem was a loose connection between the meter and the meter base because the smart meters had thinner “blades” than the previous analog meters” (emphasis added)     Pg. 8 This gap could cause arcing leading to fires.

5)            Concerns were raised about the ITRON smart meters “creating arc flashes, which could burn the customers’ wiring and create ‘hazardous conditions.’ …These hazardous conditions include potentially causing arc flashes, which could result in anything from minor to third degree burns to technicians who remove the meters.”  Pg. 8

6)            An experienced trouble-shooter for a utility reported that he had “responded to more fire calls once the smart meters were deployed and these often involved heating problems at the meter base.”  Pg. 13

7)            “ Reed’s testimony concerned products used by Respondent. Landis + Gyr is the manufacturer of the AMS meter used by Respondent and Itron is the manufacturer of the meters used by CenterPoint Energy in Houston.”  Pg. 25

The model used in Houston is the ITRON C2SOD, Openway Centron II.

http://www.centerpointenergy.com/staticfiles/CNP/Common/SiteAssets/doc/How%20to%20Read%20Your%20Smart%20Meter%20042010.pdf

8)            At Oncor and Centerpoint there was a consistent corporate message that utility employees are to tell customers that any problem, whether it’s damaged appliances or a fire, was due to the meter base which is owned by the client, not the smart meter.  Pg. 10.

———————————————————————————————-

The legal action at the NLRB was initiated by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Chapter No. 69.

[a] http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/smart-meter-safety-risk-letter-to-bc-minister-of-energy-and-mines-Bennett/

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1000s of Smart Meter fires; new whistleblower and court evidence (VIDEO)

From Take Back Your Power

The situation with smart meter fires is worse than we thought — and now we know why. This new investigative video tells all.

In studying, doing presentations and making videos on ‘smart’ meters for nearly 5 years now, personally I had my doubts I would learn anything new when I first connected with a utility worker whistleblower through Take Back Your Power.

I was completely wrong and they are right. It is worse than I thought — than we all thought. A major and critical error has been brought forth.

Why are meters exploding off houses by the 100’s at a time? Why are fires happening no matter where smart/digital meters are being installed?

This new video (above) explains in simple terms these new revelations from the insiders, as well as new court documentation and other insights.

The whistleblowers (wishing to remain anonymous) who contacted us have serviced and repaired over 200,000 meters in the field. They have been warning their supervisors about ‘smart’ meter problems for nearly a decade now. They have had enough of the lies and want you to know what they know.

On top of the explosive new details, the meters have at least four major sources of arcing. That’s right — FOUR.

Arcing in ‘smart’ meters causes extreme heat, which causes fires. As we now see, it is beyond any shadow of a doubt that meter manufacturers know, utilities know, and regulators know. They have known the whole time, but they didn’t want to tell you.

In this investigation the focus on two of the worst offenders, BC Hydro and PG&E. However, as this is a systemic problem regardless of meter type, we feature fire incidents from Texas, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Pennsylvania, Illinois and more.

Of note, for those that have been following the BC Freedom process to keep your safe analog meter, you can see how BC Hydro, the BCUC, and government (including Measurement Canada) are now all implicated in collusion to attempt to remove your choice to keep your analog meter. If you have held out this long, regardless of where you are, you are going to be glad you did — and you are going to have all the ammo you need to break the chain of deceit that permeates these groups.

The whistleblowers who contacted us have serviced and repaired over 200,000 meters in the field.

On top of our whistleblower information, we have industry documents being revealed for the first time. Utilities do not want this info to get out. Why are meters exploding off houses by the 100’s at a time? Why are fires happening no matter where smart/digital meters are being installed? Sensus, Itron, Landis + Gyr, etc: why is it that all these meter makers are having issues everywhere they are being installed?

We know you have questions. Take them into this video. What you learn is going to blow you away just as it did us when we first learned about what’s really going on.

You are going to see just how much money is involved, corruption at the highest levels, and why you and your safety are in the way of profits — which is why you have not been be told the truth… until now. The bottom line: it is now up to us to hold these people accountable and liable for their negligence and harm they are causing to all of us.

People like Larry Nikkel, James Humphrey, Michelle Sherman, and very likely this family of five — have all died from ‘smart’ meter fires.

Utilities and pocket-lining officials see the harm to your property, biological health and basic rights merely as collateral damage on their way to profits from data. According to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), this ‘smart’ meter data will be “a lot more” valuable than the electricity itself. In case you were wondering, the electricity market globally is $2.2 Trillion USD.

The facts behind ‘smart’ fires are now here. Electricity is cut and dry. It is has basic laws and functions that have been set in stone for over a century.

In their quest for profit, all of our privacy rights are being violated for their sake of their profit. Homes are burning down. And people like Larry Nikkel, James Humphrey, Michelle Sherman, and very likely this family of fivehave all died from ‘smart’ meter fires. While those in charge continue to lie.

We cannot afford to tolerate this any longer.

SMART METER FIRES: Fatalities & Liability

Another 100 smart meters simultaneously explode (Capitola, CA – May 2015)
Hundreds of smart meters simultaneously explode (Stockton, CA – April 2015)
Smart meter fire kills 74-year old man in Dallas, Texas (February 2015)
Man dies in “smart” meter fire (Vacaville, CA – July 2013)
Fatal fire, smart meter suspected:“Be very aware, very vigilant” says Fire Chief (Reno, NV – Sept 2014)
Couple escapes house fire, dogs killed: smart meter blamed (Detroit, MI – October 2014)
SaskPower to replace 105,000 faulty “smart” meters (Saskatchewan, CAN – July 2014)
SaskPower CEO resigns following investigation into smart meter “catastrophe” (October 2014)
PGE to replace 70,000 faulty “smart” meters (Portland, OR – July 2014)
Lakeland Electric to replace over 10,000 faulty “smart” meters (Lakeland, FL – August 2014)
Are tens of thousands of defective “smart” meters being stealthily replaced in Arizona? (Sept 2014)
PECO replaces 186,000 faulty “smart” meters (Philadelphia, PA – October 2012)
News & articles on fires – Take Back Your Power
Archive of hundreds of documented “smart” meter fires – EMF Safety Network

Brian Thiesen

Brian Thiesen is a British Columbia-based researcher who studies finance, economics, geo-politics smart meters/grid among other subjects. He has spent the last 5 years studying, doing presentations and videos on smart meters, and is active in preventing smart meter installs in BC. His website is BC-Freedom.com.

http://takebackyourpower.net/1000s-of-smart-meter-fires-new-whistleblower-court-evidence-video/

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Mother Earth News: Smart Meters are not smart

From Mother Earth News
Wise Grid Series, Part 1
By Camilla Rees, National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy
May 27, 2015

When we look at important issues facing our nation today, we inevitably find commercial interests influencing policy. Industries, understandably, are eager to advance their own agendas. Briefings and impact analyses presented to policymakers can be incomplete for this reason. They can tell a narrow, limited story to attract government support—whether for a contract, funding, or legislation. Unfortunately, important sides to the story that are highly relevant to quality of life in America are often left out.

This scenario is playing out today in the U.S. electricity sector, where federal spending to help the utility industry is having unintended negative consequences for our economy, privacy, the environment, safety, security and health, while stalling our transition to a renewable energy economy, with consequences of its own.

As was explained in the National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy’s Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid report by Timothy Schoechle, PhD, the new meters help the utility industry’s bottom line, as by a law the utilities can charge ratepayers enough to recoup their investment, plus an additional a 10-13 percent return, depending on the state. But the billions spent on meters is wasting federal tax dollars, increasing ratepayer utility bills and, importantly, not delivering on the benefits claimed.

The ‘story’ about the value of the “smart” meters is that the meters are necessary to upgrade the electricity grid, that they have energy efficiency benefits, and that installing them will facilitate integration of renewable energy technologies. This is what communities across the country are being told. None of these claims are true.

Wasting billions of taxpayer money on unneeded new meters would have been bad enough if the meters had been safely hard-wired. But the meters are wireless, which means they come with additional risks, such as privacy, security, health, fire and safety risks. The former head of the CIA James Woolsey called the vulnerability of the new grid using wireless technology a “really, really stupid grid”. It is no wonder there are protests about the “smart” meters in dozens of states today. The award-winning film on this topic, Take Back Your Power, of which I was an Executive Producer, is a must-watch film to get up to speed on this whole topic.

There will be national economic consequences from propping up utilities set on resisting transformation to a renewable energy economy. As other countries race ahead to tap into the potential for clean energy abundance, our industries in the end will suffer in the global marketplace if the U.S. does not reconfigure its electricity system to embrace distributed, renewable energy and the rooftop revolution.

More than likely, fortunately, as Tim Schoechle, PhD discusses in Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid, the revolution will happen from the bottom up through innovative communities moving to secure their renewable energy future, like Boulder, CO is doing. And, through innovative technologies, such as advances in storage.

Very recently, Tesla announced a battery for the home, the Powerwall, a leapfrog forward offering consumers the ability to store backup power, minimize peak time use of utilities’ electricity at high prices and even get off the power grid entirely.

Transformation of the electricity sector may be able to be delayed by wasting billions of federal tax dollars on unnecessary meters, and large long-distance transmission lines, but it cannot be stopped. It may be a politically rocky transition for the foreseeable future, but I am confident America will certainly achieve energy independence and clean energy abundance.

9 Problems with the Smart Meters and Present Electricity Approach

1. Data to be collected by the smart meters, including intimate personal details of citizens’ lives, is not necessary to the basic purpose of the smart grid, such as supply/demand balancing, demand response (DR), dynamic pricing, renewable integration, or local generation and storage, as promoters of the meters, and uninformed parties, routinely claim.

2. Federal, state and local governments have mistakenly believed that the installation of smart meters will somehow lead to reduction in use of fossil fuels, greater electricity efficiency and long-term energy economy benefits for the U.S. In fact, efforts to further develop and standardize those technologies that could achieve those goals have languished, while investments with stimulus funding have instead been made in technologies that merely serve the short-term economic interests of the utility industry and its suppliers instead of the interests of a true smart grid which could economically integrate renewable technologies and distributed, or decentralized, power generation.

3. Much of the multi-billion dollar federal subsidy for smart meters does not benefit ratepayers, nor support economic growth, but primarily benefits meter and meter networking manufacturers, while financially propping up unsustainable Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs). Regulated utilities can charge back their capital investments to ratepayers, with a guaranteed 10-13 percent rate of return (ROR) on assets, by law. Thus, investors in utilities gain from the smart meter deployment, as they would from any other capital expenditure, while there is no clear gain and significant new risks (privacy, security, health & safety, costs) for the ratepayer. The allocation of stimulus dollars to subsidize smart meters has also been a net job destroyer, eliminating meter readers and creating manufacturing jobs overseas, while being an egregious waste of federal resources that only supports corporate interests and delays the needed transformation of the electricity grid.

4. Because Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) are paid on a per-kilowatt-of-energy-sold basis, and also receive a guaranteed rate of return on assets, they do not have a financial incentive to encourage less energy usage, or to invest in technologies that would help citizens reduce energy consumption.

5. Because coal plants must run at near capacity to achieve necessary economies of scale, adding renewable energy to the power mix may be in fact cost-additive for utilities, not cost-reducing, and ultimately cost-additive for ratepayers. Thus, there is an inherent conflict between coal-based power generation, the dominant means of electricity generation in the U.S., and a transition to renewable energy technologies that could lead to sustainability. The report recommends the U.S. “move away from dependency on baseload generation, particularly coal, as quickly as possible” to facilitate renewable integration and reach our potential for energy independence.

6. Despite paying lip service to the public’s interest in incorporating renewable energy, as evidence in their marketing materials, utilities actually ‘curtail’, or waste, much of the renewable energy now generated in order to protect the economics of investor-owned coal plants. This explains why state initiatives wanting to fulfill the promise of a 30 percent or higher renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is practically impossible in a coal baseload system. The paper suggests that decommissioning coal plants, possibly through a public bailout, may be required to move the United States to a renewable energy future.

7.  U.S. policy statements “reflect the mistaken belief that the basic solutions involve fixing or modernizing the existing electricity grid, rather than complete structural transformation of electrical service, which goes beyond particular ‘smart’ technologies.” In reality, shaving peak energy usage by shifting loads may actually increase energy bills as well as CO2 emissions by increasing dependency on coal baseload generation—the most expensive generation there is when considering the totality of subsidies and externalized costs. Increasing baseload dependency will not lower energy costs, as it appears our Administration believes, and it will further obstruct integration of renewable sources.

8.  Expected growth in electric vehicles within a coal-based system will only worsen the nation’s baseload dependency, thus making the needed shift away from coal to a renewable energy future that much more pressing.

9.  Leadership in the energy sector is unlikely to come from the top, due to conflicts of interest and ‘regulatory capture’ unless forced by a catastrophic event or consequence. At present, there appears to be little evidence utilities and their regulators want to or know how to make the needed changes to the utility business model, leaving it to the American public, through community-based initiatives and municipalization efforts, to drive the needed change toward renewable technologies and distributed, non-centralized power generation—as is now happening in such places as Boulder, Colorado.

When I learned billions of dollars were wasted on meters purporting to be “smart,” I realized how desperately we need accountability in Washington. The magnitude of the misspending is mind-boggling. I wonder how policymakers could not have understood the technology’s limitations. Did they just not do their homework, swayed by utility industry lobbyists? Did they not realize stimulus funding could have been better spent on other investments to move us forward faster toward a clean energy economy? Is there any mechanism at all in Washington to independently evaluate the impact of potential spending, and to make decisions strategically with long-term impacts in mind?

In the next blog post in The Wise Grid series, my colleague, Tim Schoechle, PhD will summarize his critique of the recent “Future of the Grid” report by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Gridwise Alliance. Stay tuned!

http://www.motherearthnews.com/renewable-energy/smart-meters-are-not-smart-zbcz1505.aspx

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