Question: Why did the utility industry buy in so readily to the supposedly revenue-cutting Smart Meter program? This program is hyped as helping consumers manage and reduce energy use.
Answer: The Smart Meter program is a revenue-generating program.
Smart Meters use more energy than conventional analog meters. Consumer advocates have been saying this for years. It is even written into some of the ordinances banning Smart Meters. (1)
Analog meters logged the energy used in a building. Smart Meters transmit data. Some transmit directly to an antenna. Others transmit to neighboring meters in a mesh network system, as many as 190,000 times each day by each meter. And in this system, Smart Meters are not just transmitting your data, but the data of all your neighbors constantly.
Then there are the antennas on the utility poles than transmit gas, electric, and water data — star system and mesh network. This is all new with Smart Meters. There is the energy use for the servers and systems to store and analyze the billions of data points, versus one –1 — bulk number each month previously with analog meters. There are the cooling systems to keep those computer systems from overheating. There is the enormous energy use (and water, rare earth mineral, and chemical use) to manufacture digital components. (2)
The Center for Energy Efficient Telecommunications 2013 report “The Power of Wireless Cloud” shows astronomical increases in energy usage from wireless networks in just a few years. (3) The CEET is a partnership of the state government of Victoria, Australia, in partnership with Alcatel-Lucent Australia, Bell Labs, and the University of Melbourne—hardly an independent group. Says CEET Deputy Director Dr. Kerry Hinton, “Wireless is an energy monster, it’s just inherently inefficient.”
All told, the Smart Meter program is a very, very energy-intensive endeavor.
Hyped to the public as a way to reduce energy use – which means reduced energy revenue – this multi-faceted system actually uses more. That means no reduced revenues at all. In fact, the energy use would mean increased revenues. Added to the additional non-restricted revenues, like data sales to outside parties, this is a win-win-win for utilities.
A – They can sell themselves to the public as promoting wise energy use and conservation.
B — They gain increased revenues from the public, hidden in rates, from the increased energy usage by the system.
C — They enjoy other gains from the Smart Meter system, including fees from data “rental” or data “usage”.
And actually, there is a 4th win –
D — They enjoy a huge expense reduction by laying off meter readers.
There it is: a win-win-win-win.
(1) http://sccounty01.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/bds/Govstream/BDSvData/non_legacy/agendas/2012/20120124/PDF/041.pdf p. 5, 6: WHEREAS the primary justification given for the SmartMeters program is the assertion that it will encourage customers to move some of their electricity usage from daytime to evening hours; however, PG&E has conducted no actual pilot projects to determine whether this assumption is in fact correct. Nontransmitting time-of-day meters are already available for customers who desire them, and enhanced customer education is a viable non-technological alternative to encourage electricity use time shifting. Further, some engineers and energy conservation experts believe that the SmartMeters program–in totality–could well actually increase total electricity consumption and therefore the carbon footprint