For years, utility companies and regulatory commissions have denied that Smart Meter “aggregate” (or bulk) customer energy data could be broken down to provide details of what is used in a home or building. And for years, security experts have demonstrated the opposite is true: Smart Meter data can be disaggregated, decoded to show the individual appliances being used, and also show when a person is home and even who is home.i
Now, in the blog article below, Smart Meter manufacturer Aclara has admitted: disaggregation and use of private energy data can be done and will be happening “soon.”
Aclara claims the public wants this invasion of privacy. Really?
Through Smart Meters, utility companies and all their partners will be inside everyone’s home, constantly observing, evaluating, and recording individuals and their families, what they’re using and doing. It is as if PG&E, SCE, Duke, Consumers Energy, PECO, CMP, APS, and other companies installed video cameras in every room of every building, watching and recording, down to the “bad flapper valve in the toilet”.i
“This is technology that can pierce the blinds,” said Elias Quinn, author of a 2009 smart grid privacy study for the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.ii
That’s what a Smart Meter does, connected to other devices and sensors in a Smart Home, in a Smart City. In 2012, former CIA Director David Petraeus said the Internet of Things is great for surveillance.iii
Your smart home monitor knows how many people are in your house and in which rooms at what times. Your smart water meter knows every time a toilet is flushed in your home. Your alarm clock knows what time you woke up each day last month. Your refrigerator knows every time you filled a glass of cold water. Your cellphone has a GPS built into it that can track your location, and hence record your movements. Yes, you can turn off location tracking, but does that mean the phone isn’t keeping track of your location? And do you really know for sure your GPS is off simply because your phone’s screen says it is? At the very least, your service provider knows where you are based on the cellphone towers your phone is communicating with.
… the fact that our devices are networked means they can communicate in ways we don’t want them to, in addition to all the ways that we do.iv
“Currently, there are about 200 firms or other providers of energy efficiency services who have Commission authorization to conduct energy efficiency programs or energy efficiency program evaluations and have access to information for this primary purpose under contract with the Commission” – California Public Utilities Commission, Rulemaking 08-12-009, 2011v
Energy and water data are recorded constantly and transmitted throughout the day, not the once-a-month bulk total written down by a meter reader from an analog meter. Furthermore, this data is archived for unknown periods of time. Utility companies will hold all data relayed through Smart Meters from networked Internet of Things devices. Amazon Alexa or other home devices can record everything in a home or building as well. Smart City/Smart Grid companies such as Cisco and Siemens will hold all information relayed through their portals. It’s a feast of personal information now available to companies
“A means to achieve a greater degree of certainty is to establish forward-looking, pro-competitive principles from the beginning that prohibit barriers to market entry. New entrants need prompt, unfettered and reasonable access to the detailed customer usage data collected by a Smart Meter.” Joint Reply Comments of AT&T and Verizon to March 1, 2012 CPUC Smart Grid Workshop Summary, A. 11-06-006 et al.
Companies are assigning energy scores to people that may negatively affect them in other ways,vi and send out energy reports to customers that include data they’ve gathered from other sources, such as the square footage of a home, which is none of their business. These companies are engaged in data fusion, moving into an NSA-like role over their customers, acquiring massive amounts of data and creating profiles they can use for selling products and services or sell to others. vii
We realized utilities were getting all this data from advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) deployments and there was no clear understanding [of] how to monetize the data or use the data,’ said Isaias Sudit, CEO of the origins of GridGlo [now Trove].
‘Smart grid utilities are evolving into brokers of information,’ says industry analyst Marianne Hedin.
Do you want your privacy invaded and your life scrutinized, archived, and sold?
UCLA has been allowed to access California residents’ energy data to create an online energy report of usageviii “to combat climate change,” and currently provides data down to individual neighborhoods.
The Energy Atlas is the largest set of disaggregated energy data in the nation, and uses energy consumption data at the building level, combined with public records, to reveal previously undetectable patterns about how people, buildings and cities use energy.
Everyone can access it. How soon will it be in real time? UCLA has the raw data for each house and building. Does this project have a dual purpose: one for the public, and one for government officials? Is the raw data accessible through the web portal?
When did privacy become optional and Constitutional protections voided? Neither Congress nor the people have approved Constitutional amendments that strip privacy rights out of state and federal constitutions. Pennsylvania is the state where the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights were formulated, including the 4th Amendment guaranteeing freedom from “unreasonable searches and seizures” – the right to privacy — but Pennsylvania denies its residents their fundamental Constitutional rights and refuses to even allow an opt out from Smart Meters and the privacy invasion.
How did this happen?
Data is the new gold, and this is the new gold rush. The loss of privacy is sweeping and total. Millions of dollars are spent marketing it to us as “green,” “help us help you,” and “you want it” This last is also said by sexual predators to their victims.
The public is told to trust these utility companies with their information – the same companies repeatedly caught in scandals and safety violations that kill people and destroy property, and which charge the public for their billion dollar mistakes.
Do you want uber-powerful for-profit companies who already abuse the public’s trust to become all-powerful and all-knowing, holding the intimate details of your life and your loved ones, and sharing that information with any entities they choose?
I for one do not.
The problems with Smart Meters are serious. They include inaccuracy and overbilling, fire and electrical hazard, health hazard, environmental hazard, privacy invasion and Constitutional violation, cybersecurity threat to the grid and everything connected to it including nuclear power plants, costliness due to short life spans and technology usage, no meaningful benefits, public costs far exceeding public benefits, and lies and subterfuge by the utility companies and regulatory commissions. The breadth of problems is stunning. Each alone is reason enough to recall the meters and dismantle the program. Together, these problems add up to fraud, assault, and sedition, endangering every country foolish enough to install Smart Meters.
We must expose these meters and wake the public up. We must roll-back this program now.
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You sure drink a lot of tea – what Smart Meters tell about you
Your energy data – who wants it and what can they do with it
Smart Meters, the Internet of Things, and surveillance
Additional reports are archived on www.smartmeterharm.org
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NOTE: Aclara is a part of Hubbell Power Systems,, based in St. Louis, Missouri.
Artificial Intelligence, Part 2,
Time to get smart with customer service
June 19, 2019
In Part 2 of our series on how utilities are using artificial intelligence, we look at how AI helps utilities elevate customer care. Read Part 1 here.
Given the right hardware, a consumer can check who’s at the front door via a smartphone or click an email link to track a delivery. These days, consumers are used to getting knowledge when and where they need it, although in most cases, they can’t get much information from a gas, electricity or water providers. That’s likely to change soon, and artificial intelligence will be a driver of enhanced services for utility customers.
A new way to look at data
A key component for implementing AI in customer service at utilities to disaggregate, or break down, smart meter data  into appliance-level insights as a way to infuse more value into the traditional home energy report. Disaggregation parses out the various appliances and other loads that constitute the entire demand of a customer’s premises. Through disaggregation, utilities can identify big loads, like washers and dryers, air conditioners, pool pumps or other large power consumers in the household.
That means utilities could send proactive alerts when something looks off. For instance, a refrigerator with a malfunctioning compressor and leaky seals will use more electricity as it struggles to keep the chill going strong. So will a clothing dryer, and that could add plenty to the old power bill. One Energy Star estimate notes that a clothing dryer can make up as much as 6 percent household electricity expense.
Wouldn’t the average utility customer want to know when appliances are starting to show problems through abnormal electricity consumption? Sure, they would. After all, consumers now get all kinds of helpful alerts these days, and they’re used to it. The household printer warns its owner when ink is running low. A bank may send an email or text to an account holder who buys something from an online vendor outside the U.S. Alerts abound.
Information is ammunition
What’s more, this kind of insight can lend real value for utilities that give customers those comparative usage reports that let people know if they’re using more or less power than similar homes nearby. In the absence of actual, targeted ideas for energy savings, some people question the value of reports.
“The accusation — I mean home energy report — came in the mail the other day,” wrote former Chicago Tribune columnist Barbara Brotman  after her utility let her know she’d used 66 percent more power than average neighbors and 88 percent more than the energy-efficient folks.
“How could we possibly be using that much more electricity? Were we lighting our house like night baseball? Heating our house with hair dryers?” she added.
Ms. Brotman may have been less annoyed if her utility had indicated why her energy usage was so high and suggested how she could fix any problems. Using data science methods like disaggregation, utilities can provide the ammunition customers need to act on the power pirates that are in their homes.
If the utility was using artificial intelligence for load disaggregation, perhaps it could have added that handy insight. Wouldn’t it be nice to send customers information on their consumption and ammo to stop the power pirates?
“Using newer data science methods, we might look at a customer’s bill over the range of a few months and say, ‘Your washer and dryer’s 12% of your electric bill versus the average is 8%. You’ve fallen out of range; you should consider looking into that,’” said Frank Brooks, vice-president of product management for software at Aclara.
“We’re not quite at that point, but I think if you look at the way we get data and the way we continue to use data science, I don’t see that as something that’s far from where we are today. We just don’t do it yet,” he added
With the right analytics, electric utilities can offer such helpful alerts and advice. So can gas utilities, for whom analytics identify pressure problems and methane leaks. On the water side, leaks show up too, and soon there will be algorithms in place so that utilities can tell customers whether the leak is a running faucet, a bad flapper valve on a toilet, a busted irrigation pipe or something that’s going to flood the basement.
Saving money for consumers
Ahead, analytics will likely be linked to various loads around the house as well as virtual helpers like Alexa or Google Assistant. According to Brooks, this means a customer will be able to manage the loads in the house automatically, according to a criterion set by the customer.
“Imagine a customer saying, ‘Tell Alexa I want to save $15 on my power bill this month, and I don’t want to have to turn out lights or touch the thermostat to do it.’ Alexa will then make changes to turn up or down the thermostat in the middle of the night, when it’s not likely to bother anyone, run lights with dimmer switches at 80 percent, or turn off the TV between certain hours,” said Brooks.
Artificial intelligence will also allow water and gas utilities to serve their customers better with insights about problems in their homes. For instance, a water utility could look at patterns of usage and suggest whether that leak is a toilet or a constantly running faucet. Similarly, a gas utility could apply algorithms to differentiate between an appliance being left on or a dangerous gas leak.
Consumers are already accustomed to getting specific information related to their buying or browsing habits by companies as diverse as Amazon and Google, with associated suggestions that make that information useful. Artificial intelligence extends that capability to utilities, making that level of service and care a reality for utility customers.
Posted under Fair Use Rules
i ibid: The chief executive of GridGlo, Isais Sudit, explained:
“Our technology can tell a utility if their customers are married, have kids, living in a 5,000 square foot home, if and when they installed solar panels, if they drive a hybrid electric vehicle, if they had the same job for the last ten years, haven’t moved in that time and more…”
ii “New electricity grids may be smart, but not so private,” May 18, 2010:
iii 2012: “Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an “Internet of Things” — that is, wired devices — at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm. “‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus enthused, “particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft.”
All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you’re a “person of interest” to the spy community. Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the “smart home,” you’d be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room’s ambiance.
“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” Petraeus said, “the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.””
“As the Guardian reported,[a] James Clapper made clear that the internet of things – the many devices like thermostats, cameras and other appliances that are increasingly connected to the internet – are providing ample opportunity for intelligence agencies to spy on targets, and possibly the masses. And it’s a danger that many consumers who buy these products may be wholly unaware of.
“In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials,” Clapper told a Senate panel [a] as part of his annual “assessment of threats” against the US.”
vi “A New York research firm that turns massive amounts of data into streamlined information, the companies revealed today.
GridGlo sells software and services that help utilities see how and why their customers, primarily homeowners, are using electricity in real-time. They also provide utilities with an Energy People Scoring Mechanism, or EPM score that the company hopes will become a standard like the FICO score is to credit card issuers and other financial institutions.
GridGlo is a cleantech company specializing in the aggregation and fusion of smart meter data with consumer data to provide solutions for utility companies and application developers to realizing the full value of smart meter data. GridGlo offers a Platform as a Service. GridGlos platform uses advanced data fusion technology to merge AMI data with social and behavioral data, providing new ways for Utilities to forecast, segment, and monetize their data. GridGlo is leveraging its core technology.”
vii Source: ”Potential Privacy Impacts that Arise from the Collection and Use of Smart Grid Data,” National Institute of Standards and Technology, Volume 2, pp. 30–32, Table 5-3. spectrum.ieee.org/energy/the-smarter-grid/privacy-on-the-smart-grid Reprinted in www.burbankaction.com
Behave Yourself! The Utilities ‘Have Got Your Numbers’ and Next They’ll Know Your Habits, Too
“Energy Atlas: A Geospatial Tool to Combat Climate Change”
i Your fridge is getting so smart, security-software maker Kaspersky Lab thinks you probably shouldn’t trust it. ..“A fridge is no longer only a fridge, it’s now also a sensor collecting private information,” [Marco] Preuss said…
The growth of the so-called Internet of Things will lead to millions of appliances coming online and harvesting data about people’s habits in their homes….”Connected appliances can be found beyond the kitchen, and Kaspersky highlighted risks from objects such as power meters that “can know what you’re doing at home, when you sleep and when you leave the house, or even what TV show you’re watching.”