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

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Take Back Your Power — upcoming screenings

Upcoming screenings

22 August       7 pm              Park Forest, IL, USA

22 August       7:15                Lyons, CO, USA

23 August       7 pm              Seattle, WA, USA

30 August      8:10 pm         Saugerties, New York, USA

6 September   7 pm              Seattle, Washington, USA

13 September   2 pm            Broadway, Marton, Rangtikei, New Zealand

14 September    7 pm           Vero Beach, FL, USA

More information at
http://www.takebackyourpower.net/screenings/

Posted in Uncategorized

Shareholder lawsuit goes ahead against PG&E executives in San Bruno explosion

Excerpts:

Superior Court Judge Steven Dylina said shareholders who began suing the company three years ago can now compel executives to testify under oath in depositions and collect evidence as they seek to prove that officials’ mismanagement exposed stockholders to billions of dollars in penalties and costs to fix PG&E’s natural-gas system.

The shareholders are seeking damages personally from executives including President Christopher Johns and former PG&E Corp. CEO Peter Darbee.

…The shareholders countered that keeping the stay in place would frustrate their efforts to learn whether executives were responsible for misconduct leading up to the September 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.

…On Monday, Dylina agreed with the shareholders, saying “it appears it is in the best interests of PG&E” to have the lawsuit go forward, not be stalled.

If the company is “truly unaware of criminal conduct, it is in PG&E’s best interest to discover the conduct and correct it immediately so that it is not further exposed to risk and liability,” Dylina said.

…”All the arrows point to the same problem: a dysfunctional culture at a company whose rhetoric about safety doesn’t match its practice,” [Attorney Frank] Pitre said.

“This case merely seeks to pull the curtain and get behind the amorphous PG&E culture, to identify those executives who made the decisions to circumvent safety in the name of profit.”

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Blast-lawsuit-seeking-money-from-PG-amp-E-execs-5668 164.php
Blast lawsuit seeking money from PG&E execs gets go-ahead; PG&E shareholders can compel testimony, August 5, 2014

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

Smart Meters are a ‘time bomb’ for utilities — insurance and security experts cited on industry website

Smart Grid News is no longer the cheerful cheerleader of Smart Grid technologies. Below are three recent examples from its website, with excerpts.

Each of these articles has startling and important admissions. Increasingly, members of the industry are coming to see what many of us have been saying all along – these meters are dangerous, and they have serious problems.

The cracks are definitely showing in the gleaming façade of Smart Meter hype.

http://www.smartgridnews.com/artman/publish/Technologies_Metering/Smart-meters-are-a-time-bomb-for-utilities-warns-insurance-expert-6652.html/#.U-Fgotzn9Qw

Smart meters are a “time bomb” for utilities, warns insurance expert. July 23, 2014

As an industry, we’ve done a lot of thinking about the smart meter cost/benefit equation. But I wonder if we’ve adequately considered what would happen if smart meters made insurance rates go up? Two recent articles in the Insurance Journal suggest that the insurance industry is waking up to this new concern. – Jesse Berst

Cyber attacks on infrastructure have become a major worry for utilities, warns a recent article in the Insurance Journal. Traditionally, energy utilities have kept the grid safe by keeping it separate from the open Internet. But that is rapidly changing as smart meters connect customers to their utilities through the web.

Energy Firms Unprotected for Major Cyber Events” warns another article from the same publication. It quotes reinsurance broker Willis, likening the threat to a “time bomb” that could cost the industry billions of dollars.

“A major energy catastrophe – on the same scale as … Exxon Valdez or Deepwater Horizon – could be caused by a cyber attack,” the insurance broker said. But that’s not the worst part. “Cover for such a loss is generally not currently provided by the energy insurance market.”

[Shocking but more shocking still is the thinking that shutting down power to hospitals, emergency personnel, water supplies, nuclear power plants, and homes is less important or catastrophic than financial losses. That’s the difference between industry think and everyday person reality]

http://www.smartgridnews.com/artman/publish/Technologies_Metering/How-to-attack-a-smart-meter-Utilities-better-find-out-before-the-criminals-do-6674.html/?fpt

How to attack a smart meter (Utilities: better find out before the criminals do), Aug 5, 2014

At their heart, smart meters are simply… computers.

With that in mind, we have to consider the possible threats – what could happen if a smart meter is compromised? Similarly, what are the problems that could result if the connectivity of a smart meter is disrupted? Let us see.

Meter tampering Perhaps the most obvious risk is simple: meter tampering. If a smart meter can be hacked, inaccurate information can be sent back to the utility, allowing an attacker to adjust the reading and resulting in an inflated bill. Let’s say, for example, that you have an argument with your neighbor. In revenge, if he can access your smart meter, you might see a rather large electric bill.

A “please rob me” sign. Let’s say that a vulnerability made it easy for somebody other than the homeowner or the utility to see what the power usage was. (It could be as easy as a poorly-designed API, mobile app, or website.) The smart meter would then essentially become a giant “please rob me” sign for properly equipped thieves.

Extortion. Alternately, if that smart meter can be controlled remotely, you now have an excellent way to carry out extortion. Such a nice house you have there, it’d be shame if anything bad happened to its power…

Hacking the home network. Alternately, the smart meter may use the same Internet connection as the home. This represents a potential risk: if somebody was able to hack the smart meter from the outside, then that attacker would have access to the house’s internal network.

http://www.smartgridnews.com/artman/publish/Technologies_Security/Why-utilities-need-to-worry-about-the-10-most-vulnerable-consumer-devices-6687.html#.U-2el9zn9Qw

Why utilities need to worry about the 10 most vulnerable consumer devices, Aug 12, 2014

[Quora Security Engineer Sai Ramanan] calls [these devices] an “alluring target for threat actors” because of the tons of data stored.

Ramanan thinks they are dangerous primarily because they can be vectors to reach smart meter data. Be sure to review the prevention steps he recommends.

The four risks these devices introduce:
1.     Privacy
2.     Unmanned (unauthorized) devices joining the network
3.     Unpatched devices
4.     Burglary or homicide (by using smart meter data to  know whether the premises are occupied)

Ramanan says hackers are most likely to target devices that can lead them to extremely critical data… and he puts utility SCADA systems and smart grids at the top of the list.

These are very big problems.

The biggest fools are the ones that can’t admit they made a mistake.

Posted in Uncategorized

California senator says San Bruno explosion was murder. Was it?

“They’re trying to get away with murder, because that’s what to me, the San Bruno experience was. It was not an accident. It was murder.”
Sen. Jerry Hill, reported by CBS News July 28, 2014 1:20 PM [i]

On September 9, 2010, a massive explosion occurred in San Bruno, California, south of San Francisco, which killed 8 people, injured many more, and destroyed 40 homes.

Jacqueline Greig was one of those killed. An analyst with the Office of Ratepayer Advocates, she was part of the team that exposed billions in overcharges by PG&E that year.

The initial reports including from eyewitnesses were that a plane had crashed. One reported hearing a plane engine sputtering. Another eyewitness reported fire coming from the sky. Those news reports are now hard to find on the internet, though one Philippine news site still states:

 First responders via emergency scanners initially said, “A ‘large commercial aircraft had crashed in the area, setting scores of homes on fire…” [ii]

An eyewitness saw and photographed a F-18 jet with ordinance on September 9 in San Jose, flying north.

On 09-10-10 at 11:06 A.M. a huge jet, resembling Air force One flew over San Jose. At 11:29 A.M. an F-18 flew over, and at 12:46 P.M. an AC -130 gunship (with the side gun turrets) followed.

The F-18’s engines were roaring like a freight train. The F-18 appeared to be carrying large fuel tanks and ordinance.

 At approximately 6:14 P.M., in San Francisco’s suburb, San Bruno, one eyewitness described seeing a huge fireball fall from the sky – before the explosion.
http://www.examiner.com/article/san-bruno-sept-9-plane-photo

A detailed article is here:
http://www.savethemales.ca/was_san_bruno_explosion_a_plan.html#sthash.trzM8PtF.dpuf

An AP report said the NTSB had been unable to verify complaints of gas leaks.

Christopher Hart, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said investigators want to speak with anyone who smelled gas in the days leading up to the blast, especially those who reported the problem to PG&E or any other officials. Hart said Monday that investigators have not yet seen any record of gas leak complaints.

 ‘We’re pursuing those rumors, and we’ve obtained records — not only from PG&E but from other places where people might call. And so far, we have not been able to verify that anybody smelled gas and called it in,’ Hart said.” (emphasis added)http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100913/ap_on_bi_ge/us_large_explosion
Cited in http://www.examiner.com/article/san-bruno-sept-9-plane-photo

PG&E has been charged with many things over the years. It sees nothing wrong with harming people and lying about it. Is it capable of murder?

Ask the people of Hinkley and Kettleman Hills,[iii] or the people of Midway Village near San Bruno. Ask the thousands of people harmed by PG&E’s Smart Meters, including the family of Larry Nikkel who died in 2011.

What will PG&E do to protect profits, privilege, monopoly, and immunity? How far will it go?

The previous post here about Governor Jerry Brown is just one example of the high level involvement in state government by PG&E. And there is the CPUC,[iv] repeatedly called a lapdog for the utilities.

With politicians in their pockets and vast resources at their disposal, and given PG&E’s history, PG&E certainly has the means and the reputation.

Then there is motive.

Jacqueline Greig was a highly qualified regulatory analyst as well as a much-beloved staff member.[v]

Jacki was a long-time Commission employee of over 20 years and worked for the Commission’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA) as a senior regulatory analyst in DRA’s Natural Gas Section. She spent the majority of her career in DRA working on natural gas matters and soon rose to become one of the most foremost and invaluable natural gas experts at the CPUC. She was also DRA’s representative on the natural gas committee of the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates.

 Jacki was a dedicated Commission employee with keen professional insight and a staunch advocate for California ratepayers. Jacki was a stellar individual and consistently earned the highest commendations from her supervisors and managers over the years.
From In Memorium, ORA 2010 annual report to the California legislature, p. 7

 Jacqueline Greig and the ORA have had an enormous impact on PG&E profits, to the tune of billions of dollars. The 2011 rate case and ORA’s opposition to PG&E’s massive food and entertainment budget are just two examples of serious impacts to PG&E’s corporate culture and lifestyle.

In May 2011, the CPUC issued a decision which adopted the settlement agreement of seventeen parties, including DRA. The agreement allows PG&E to receive a cumulative base revenue increase of $1.7 billion for the 3-year period covering 2011, 2012, and 2013.

In 2009, PG&E had originally requested a 3-year, cumulative revenue increase of nearly $4.2 billion for its electric distribution, gas distribution, and electric generation operations. After a detailed analysis of PG&E’s request, in 2010 DRA released its reports which found that only a $1.0 billion cumulative increase in revenues was reasonable for 2011-2013.

DRA’s analysis and negotiation aided in saving PG&E customers $2.47 billion for 2011 through 2013.[vi]

And costing PG&E $2.47 billion. Last month, ORA opposed millions of dollars in PG&E executive bonuses.[vii]

In July, federal charges of obstruction of justice – lying — were filed against PG&E.[viii]

When are the feds going to investigate murder?

———————————————————————-

[i] http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/07/28/state-senator-says-pge-trying-to-get-away-with-murder-emails-following-deadly-2010-san-bruno-explosion-examined/

[ii] http://today24news.com/breaking/san-bruno-plane-crash-or-explosion-fire-bu rned-homes-1-dead-103973 — this is a news site from the Philippines, hence the choppy translation.

[iii] http://www.ewg.org/news/news-releases/2005/12/23/chrome-plated-fraud-scientific-integrity-and-chromium-toxicity

[iv] http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/07/28/state-senator-says-pge-trying-to-get-away-with-murder-emails-following-deadly-2010-san-bruno-explosion-examined/

[v] “Her friends and colleagues miss her every day.” The 2010 ORA report had many warm words for her. At the California Public Utilities Commission, there is a special bench and tree in the courtyard. It is a memorial to Jacqueline Greig, and if you go onto ORA’s website, you will find her name “In Memorium” on the home page. http://www.ora.ca.gov/general.aspx?id=1396

[vi] http://www.dra.ca.gov/general.aspx?id=230
2011 DRA annual report, p. 25

[vii] http://www.dra.ca.gov/general.aspx?id=2717

[viii] http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/news/ci_26240331/pg-amp-e-charged-obstruction-over-san-Bruno

Posted in Uncategorized

Agency exposed billions in PG&E overcharges in 2010; key analyst killed in San Bruno disaster

$3.2 billon in overcharges to the public — that’s what the California Office of Ratepayer Advocates found in PG&E’s proposed rate increases for fiscal year 2011-2013.

ORA is the only state agency to advocate for California ratepayers. Formerly known as the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, it is a part of the California Public Utilities Commission. Its statutory mission:

To obtain the lowest possible rates for service consistent with reliable and safe service levels. In fulfilling this goal, DRA also advocates for customer and environmental protections.

PG&E submitted its proposal in late 2009 — A.09-12-020. ORA began its considerable analysis, including requests to PG&E for records.

On May 5, 2010, ORA submitted its report and sent out a press release. The findings: PG&E’s $4.2 billion request for rate increases was $3.2 billion too high. ORA cut over 75% from PG&E request and told the CPUC to “clamp down” on PG&E.

Then, in June, ORA submitted an additional proposal as a special amendment in the proceeding. It asked the CPUC to eliminate most of PG&E’s $15 million dollar food and entertainment budget. What it found in PG&E recordkeeping, including non-existent records, and corporate responses is here.[i] PG&E executives were later criticized for a lavish trip they took to San Luis Obispo on the day of the San Bruno explosion.[ii]

In the end, after a negotiated settlement, the Office of Ratepayer Advocates’ work cost PG&E $2.7 billion dollars, eliminating over half its proposed increase.

Jacqueline Greig was a key analyst at the Office of Ratepayer Advocates and involved in this proceeding. She and her daughter were at the center of the explosion at San Bruno. They were killed September 9, 2010.

 

Office of Ratepayer Advocates documents:

May 5, 2010: ORA Press release

May 5, 2010: Executive Summary

June 21, 2010: ORA special amendment on food and entertainment

July 22, 2010: Motion to strike PG&E testimony

2011 decision[iii]

2010 ORA Annual Report

22011 ORA Annual Report

2010 ORA organization chart

Jacki was a long-time Commission employee of over 20 years and worked for the Commission’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA) as a senior regulatory analyst in DRA’s Natural Gas Section. She spent the majority of her career in DRA working on natural gas matters and soon rose to become one of the most foremost and invaluable natural gas experts at the CPUC. She was also DRA’s representative on the natural gas committee of the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates.

Jacki was a dedicated Commission employee with keen professional insight and a staunch advocate for California ratepayers. Jacki was a stellar individual and consistently earned the highest commendations from her supervisors and managers over the years.

From In Memorium, ORA 2010 annual report to the California legislature, p. 7

 

Some links to key documents in GRC Docket

http://www.dra.ca.gov/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=84
ORA Press release, 5-5-10

http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/EFILE/MOTION/119529.PDF
ORA, Rebuttal on food and entertainment 6-10-10

http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/efile/MOTION/119941.pdf
Aglet motion to strike PG&E testimony re 2009

http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/EFILE/MOTION/121020.PDF
ORA motion to strike PG&E testimony 7-22-10

——————————————————————————-

[i] http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/EFILE/MOTION/119529.PDF

[ii] http://quartz.he.net/~beyondch/news/index.php?itemid=8506

[iii] http://www.dra.ca.gov/general.aspx?id=230
2011 ORA annual report

2011 General Rate Case

In May 2011, the CPUC issued a decision which
adopted the settlement agreement of seventeen
parties, including DRA. The agreement allows
PG&E to receive a cumulative base revenue
increase of $1.7 billion for the 3-year period
covering 2011, 2012, and 2013.

In 2009, PG&E had originally requested a 3-year,
cumulative revenue increase of nearly $4.2 billion
for its electric distribution, gas distribution, and
electric generation operations. After a detailed
analysis of PG&E’s request, in 2010 DRA released
its reports which found that only a $1.0 billion
cumulative increase in revenues was reasonable
for 2011-2013.

DRA’s analysis and negotiation aided in saving
PG&E customers $2.47 billion for 2011 through 2013.

Posted in Uncategorized

Florida voters face challenge of energy industry influence

Florida voters are preparing to cast their ballots in the primary election Aug. 26, and they only have two weeks to grill candidates and incumbents on their positions on important issues and to expose campaign contributions and voting history.

In 2010, former PSC chair Nancy Argenziano took the gloves off in this letter to then-Gov. Crist, and delivered this scathing speech when she resigned her post as Chair.

This information is worth remembering.

Political corruption is widespread, and industry influence is well known, including within the PSCs and PUCs in most states. Florida is not alone. Each state’s residents must tackle their unique situations and speak out until these situations change for the better.

The mainstream news often gives little or no coverage to 3rd party candidates or unfavored GOP or Democrat candidates. For those wanting real change, dig beneath the surface and find out who these other candidates are. You may find some very exciting candidates in the wings that party bosses do not want winning the general election.

Unfortunately, it’s too late to change party registration for this election, but consider it for the future. Who walks the talk? That’s the important issue far more than “I’ve always voted this way”. Electing people of integrity takes work, and it is up to each of us to make that happen.

The situation in Florida, including the report issued by Integrity Florida, was earlier reported here: http://smartmeterharm.org/2014/07/27/do-energy-companies-own-florida-legislators-and-the-public-service-commission/

Sources:

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2010/10/nancy-argenziano-resigns-from-psc-to-oppose-scott-and-corrupt-legislature.html
Nancy Argenziano resigns from PSC to oppose Scott and ‘corrupt’ legislature

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/files/argenziano-resignation—10.12.20101.pdf
Letter of resignation to Gov. Crist, Oct. 12, 2010

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2010/10/nancy-argenziano-resigns-from-psc-to- oppose-scott-and-corrupt-legislature.html
Resignation speech, October 2010

Posted in Uncategorized

Sensus whistleblower warned about defective meters and fire hazard in 2009; US attorney general refused to investigate

In 2012, Stop Smart Meters reported about a lawsuit against Sensus, Southern Company, and Alabama Power by a former Sensus engineering employee.

In Alabama in 2009, a Sensus engineering employee named Don Baker was fired for repeatedly alerting his management to the presence of a multitude of dangerous defects in the smart meter they were manufacturing (model iConA). As he states in the complaint he filed, this whistleblower reported serious flaws in design and functioning that could lead to electrical danger, overheating, and/or fire. In fact, the failure rate of the meters was twenty times higher than it was supposed to be, and the engineer contends that at least two house fires were the result. Sensus meters are used by utilities across the U.S. and in Canada, such as PECO, Alliant Energy, Alabama Power, and NVE.

…In May 2010, Mr. Baker filed a complaint [PDF]. The type of suit is called “qui tam”, where an individual alleges harm to his government. This complaint alleges that the manufacturer and the utility companies received federal monies but provided a defective product. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Alabama declined to pursue the case, because the utility said they had not received federal money for the metering project; but the allegations about the dangerous defects in the smart meters made in the complaint have not been refuted or even addressed.

In the complaint Baker relates in detail what makes the meters dangerous, and the allegations are damning—and alarming. A few highlights:

[Meters] may fail dangerously when subjected to a sudden surge of electricity …. Meters found to contain ‘flux’ or loose solder residue …. Calibration equipment not properly designed …. Electric resistor component defective …. Internal temperatures up to 200° Fahrenheit …. Hot socket alarm …. Drastic overheating to the point of catastrophic failure, melting, and burning….

The suit states: “Mr. Baker has direct personal knowledge that Sensus and Southern Company [the utility] have installed approximately one million iConA meters in Alabama homes with knowledge that the meters are seriously defective and pose a substantial fire hazard and that at least two Alabama homes have burned as a result…. [They] were well aware that the iConA was defective and the entire project flawed.”

And the complaint is here and also here.

To repeat –

  • The U.S. Attorney’s office refused to pursue the case.
  • The allegations made in the complaint have never been investigated or refuted.
  • Fires have occurred from Sensus Smart Meters as well as other manufacturers.

The entire and important article is here
http://stopsmartmeters.org/2012/01/20/meters-that-endanger-shocking-details-from-a-whistleblower/

These Smart Meters are on millions of homes and businesses. Even if you don’t have a Smart Meter, what about your neighbors? How safe do you feel?

One final question: does an opt-out really solve anything?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,