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Rhode Island Braces As Fights Rage Over Utilities’ Smart Meters

Friday, August 09, 2013

 

Maybe Southeast New England is deciding that “smart meters” aren’t such a smart idea after all.

For several years, a cadre of determined activists in Massachusetts and Rhode Island have been waging what once seemed to be a quixotic campaign against a program to replace relatively simple and inexpensive residential electric meters with a high-tech version that critics say is a boondoggle for utilities and meter companies that takes yet another bite from ratepayers and, some say, raises health concerns.

On the face of it, the fight is a mismatch par excellence. On one side is a scattered group of homeowners and activists. On the other is a consortium of corporations, led by National Grid, a multinational power giant headquartered in the United Kingdom, and that includes Verizon, Google, Cisco, and government backers from the Obama administration on down.

And ground zero is Worcester, where, with the help of friendly regulators at the Department of Public Utilities and the support of Governor Deval Patrick, National Grid is already halfway through installing 15,000 of the meters in homes in the city.

Rhode Island, meanwhile, has a little-known pilot program of its own—a far more modest one on Aquidneck Island and one approved under a different economic rationale. There are no current plans to expand the meters in Rhode Island, and at least one member of the Public Utilities Commission is determined that the situation stays that way until much more evidence is brought to bear that these meters are worth it and have the support of consumers.

A prominent skeptic

In an interview with GoLocalProv, Commissioner Paul J. Roberti says smart meters don’t come close to justifying their costs and represent a misguided attempt to modify the behavior of consumers in ways that don’t conform the real world.

How smart is the choice to convert to smart meters? Maybe not so smart in the final analysis.

“You know what? The markets, the structure of pricing is not there,” he says. “These people (meter proponents) want to push all this stuff–I call them behavior-modification specialists––forcing things on consumers that don’t come naturally. You can’t get consumers to fully embrace this unless you give them economic pain, which I won’t do.”

Utilities have already installed about 18 million smart meters across U.S., while $3.4 billion in economic-stimulus money is supporting the installation of 40 million more smart meters in 40 states, according to an in-depth look at the technology by Consumer Reports. By 2015, an estimated 65 million smart meters will have been installed.

Promise of savings

A central promise of smart meters is that the massive amount of information they generate could be used to get consumers to lower their power during peak periods–either through coercion via higher rates at peak hours or through rebates. The hope is that the new technology would lower overall usage and costs.

Trouble is, it hasn’t worked out that way as pilot programs around the country have failed to show that the meters actually live up to their main promise: actually reducing overall energy consumption. In a stinging letter to the state Department of Public Utilities Commission, for instance, a lawyer from Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office pointed to large-scale tests in Illinois and elsewhere in which the meters failed to justify their costs.

“Despite these clear trends, [National Grid] proposes to launch a massive pilot at great ratepayer expense to test already tested hypotheses,” Coakley’s office wrote.

The industry-friendly DPU last year brushed aside such concerns, and, in a 103-page order, approved Worcester's program.

Jillian Fennimore, spokeswoman for Coakley’s office, says, “We are currently monitoring the smart grid pilot program” and will review the results of the final report that results.

DPU referred questions about the Worcester program to National Grid.

“Best interest of customers”

In an email, National Grid didn’t respond to Coakely’s specific assertions, but said: “We followed a defined process with the DPU that the AG was part of. The DPU ruled and now we are executing the pilot that we believe to be in the best interest of customers and will help in defining the future grid that will serve customers for generations to come.”

The spokeswoman said the meters are “designed to provide participating customers a new level of choice and control over their energy use through advanced technology, with the goals of empowering customers to save energy, increasing electric service reliability and improving response to power outages.”

Worcester, the “lab rat”

The Worcester pilot is being closely watched as–yet another–test of whether the economic benefits of the meters come anywhere near offsetting the costs: $45 million just for the pilot. The stakes are high: it would cost an estimated $7 billion if the entire state were to switch to smart meters–the amount coming at the expense of ratepayers who will see the cost added to their monthly bills. Nationally, the grand total is pegged at more than a quarter trillion dollars. The rate increases come on top of federal taxpayer subsidies from stimulus.

“Worcester is the lab rat,” Patricia Burke, a leader of smart meter opponents, said recently on a local cable show. “They’re looking to see how low-income, middle income and upper-income groups respond to different price points and technology.”

“But we’re not monitoring health,” she says. “This is the big issue.”

The city is also being watched to see whether community opposition can have any effect -- at all -- in slowing a program that once seemed destined quietly to sweep the country. The immediate venue is a September 9 hearing before the city Zoning Board of Appeals on a controversial 80-foot cellphone tower in the city needed to support the wireless signals from meters installed in or outside residences to National Grid data centers. The hearing has been postponed several times but zoning laws general favor the towers. The longer-term, and perhaps more promising, fight is for public opinion: trying to convince ratepayers to “opt-out” of the program.

Many concerns

John Dick, a 59-year-old carpenter in Worcester, says the issue has generated high interested among neighbors who have come together to oppose the meters for a variety of reasons. Some are concerned about privacy (the meters will generate a substantial amount of information about customers’ power usage); some are worried about possible health effects of radio emissions; some about cost; and a vocal contingent raises NIMBY-esque aesthetic objections to the towers.

“For a lot of people, it’s about the towers,” Dick says. “For me, it’s the whole thing. The people in the neighborhood are very much up in arms, from all sides of the political spectrum. It’s not a ‘right’ issue. It’s not a ‘left’ issue. It’s not crazies. It’s very moderate, very conservative people.”

Activists see more residents gravitating to their point of view.

“We feel the tide turning, and it’s a beautiful thing,“ says Clare Donegan, a 52-year-old mother of three grown children who lives in Quincy and who has helped organize opposition in Worcester and across the state.

Indeed, some political figures have opposed the meters or tried to moderate the terms of their installation. Connecticut’s attorney general, George Jepsen, came out strongly against a plan by that state’s utilities two years ago to roll out smart meters statewide, saying an earlier pilot “showed no beneficial impact on total energy usage.” Partly as a result, the state’s energy regulators shelved the plan. Meanwhile, Maine and Vermont joined six other states around the country to pass laws making it easier for consumers to opt out of smart meter programs and keep old meters. A similar bill, proposed by Rep. Thomas Conroy, D-Wayland, is pending in Massachusetts.

But while opponents may be gaining some traction, given the corporate power arrayed in meters’ favor, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to stop smart meters in the long run. Consumer Reports, for one, says that given the corporate forces arrayed in favor of the program, national smart-meter implementation is “all but a given.”

Health worries

Rhode Island, meanwhile, watches warily.

Mary Adkins, 52, an activist in Wakefield, has been primary concerned about what she describes as the health hazards posed by radio emissions of smart meters, which she believes in some respects are worse than similar emissions from such devices as cell phones and Wi-Fi.

“This is all about profit,” she says. “This is all about the economy. This about wireless companies making billions, hundreds of billions, while our health is jeopardized. And that’s not acceptable.”

Roberti says such health concerns among consumers should be taken into account in deciding whether to adopt a program of such scope. And in any case, he says, states should tread warily if even simple cost/benefit issues haven’t been resolved in the meters’ favor.

“If these things are going to happen, they should happen on their own,” he says. “We shouldn’t go around and frontload all these costs. There’s just not enough of a natural market mechanism to do this. I don’t like when regulators are trying to force things.”

 

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Comments:

Sadly Mr. Starkman, your well written, fact-based reporting is no match for the "behavior-modification specialists" and the easily swayed consumers of mainstream media. But if you want to report on a real “health hazard”, please investigate the huge emissions of “granite dust”, starting two years ago, coming the from COPAR quarry in Westerly (Bradford Village). A News 12 “investigative reporter” went to the quarry because neighbors were complaining their homes were being coated with “granite dust” from the quarry. (An independent testing lab had verified that “granite dust” coating the quarry neighbors’ homes was 90% silicon, or crystalline silica, and it was from the quarry. Silica dust, like asbestos dust, is a “health hazard” because it also scars the lungs). But it even gets better, when the News 12 “investigative reporter” asked about the “dust cloud” coming from the quarry’s rock crusher, they told her it was just “steam”, and she believed them.

Comment #1 by Charles Marsh on 2013 08 09

The customer should have the option to opt out of this program. These meters are powerful and some actually have the capability to shut off your electric service for non-payment. They also monitor your living patterns, what appliances you use and when. I would not want one on my house!
Utilities have operated with the old mechanical meters for decades. There is something going on behind the scenes with all of this data gathering.

Comment #2 by Gov- stench on 2013 08 09

I guess everyone who reads this article already knows what a "smart meter" is and what it does. I don't and I sure didn't get that basic information from this article...not even a link to a place where I could find out.

Comment #3 by Charles Beckers on 2013 08 09

A typical reaction to anything NEW and technology driven in RI, a backward state at best.
Your article has the rebuttal but none of the advantages of Smart Metering:
1. Real-time information for the consumer to make decisions that will affect their utilities cost.
2. Security to prevent Black outs or Brown outs by measuring trended usage across states that would allow a throttling back before a breakdown, doesn’t happen often but when it does everyone gets hurt.
3. Education, information can be shared to help consumers understand what they can do to cut their own cost of utilities.
4. Economics, an informed consumer will know how to make a difference for themselves and how important this is to the economy as a total, maybe even driving down rates.
5. Behavior modification comes from understanding what you may be doing vs. a better way to do something, not what Commissioner Paul J. Roberti implies as a forced requirement.
It’s a new world, technology has connected us all together as the Internet of Things, get on board and take advantage of it, it might just give you more information that you can make informed decisions on, realizing that is not what RI politicians and other state cronies want.

Comment #4 by Gary Arnold on 2013 08 09

So, maybe this is why Cox Cable keeps coming out to my house on service calls as to why my high speed internet is ebbing low continually - they have determined "something" is interfering with the signal to the house. In the dark of night, some months back, National Grid came, used a manual master shutoff of electricity to my house, and replaced my meter with a Smart Meter. A woman wearing no uniform did this and no one will tell me why, who authorized it, and what it is. I have a new theory as to why my wireless Smart Meter may be interfering with my wireless cable service....

Comment #5 by Nancy Thomas on 2013 08 09

Lets get real folks. Many years ago when the average auto was getting about 10-12 miles per gallon the price of gasoline was about 35cents per gallon. Then we remember what happened to the price of gas. Overnight it went to one dollar and thirty five cents per gallon. When we announced we would improve gas mileage significantly OPEC announced they would just raise the price of the product because they wanted to make so much per gallon. Those countries that would be speaking Japanese or German if it was not for the U. S. and other countries around the world. The only way to get the price down is another means of energy for the world.

Comment #6 by Howard Miller on 2013 08 09

I am Clare from above.

'Smart’ meters wirelessly transmit granular usage data to utilities and 3rd parties, receive and implement instructions, control thermostats and appliances plus make remote shut-off possible.

Who would possibly think that an electric meter could be a problem? Meters for a century + measured usage. These monitor and control usage. which paints a very accurate picture of heretofore invoilable home life is already being 'shared.' In California just one of the many utilities 'shared' Consumption data of thousands of ratepayers: this is not name and address, this is when you get home, when you go to bed, etc. All shared without warrants, most without subpoenas. http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/NR/rdonlyres/A840FE7D-66C7-4681-9077-2DDC7D91CD91/0/SDGEsResponsetoDataRequest.pdf

Some of th

Comment #7 by Clarie Darie on 2013 08 09

Clare says the "smart meters" transmit data "wirelessly".

How is this done? Is there a radio transmitter in the meter? If so, what is the range (power) and where is the receiver? Or are they somehow latching onto our private internet service?

Also, can anyone (Clare?) tell me what "granular usage" means?

Comment #8 by Charles Beckers on 2013 08 09

Oops, submitted by mistake before I was done.

Regarding Gary Arnold's comment:
1) In Massachusetts, in the NStar ongoing, failing pilot program “Participants rarely if ever take advantage of the web-portal.” And “Customers are not using technology in significant numbers.” The 12.6 TIMES the base rate tariff ‘helps’ customers perform tasks when it will not empty the family coffer. We know when we use electricity: mostly when we need to. We do not need to spend billions for a system nobody will bother to look at.
2) Utilities know consumption patterns based on very accurate data i.e. the past, weather, etc. The knowing the exact kilo wattage I am using this moment will not help prevent blackouts: new 'smart' reclosers are the vehicle for that. They are great and completely separate from 'smart' meters though their benefits are often, erroneously attributed to 'smart' meters in propaganda (!).
3) Come on. Get real. You really think we need to spend these billions so people get educated to understand conservation and to wait until 7 pm. to turn on their dishwasher? (I do that already.)
4)'Smart' meters drive up rates (in Toronto 84% of household bills went up after 'smart' deployment) for most, especially stay-at-home moms and the elderly who have caregivers come in. A caregiver is going to do a load of laundry at 2 a.m.?
5) The new behavior modification method is called 'Appreciative Inquiry." Look it up it is being employed widely in Massachusetts. It is an insidious method for a group, large or small to 'come to' a predetermined consensus.

See
http://haltmasmartmeters.org/
for more info.

Comment #9 by Clarie Darie on 2013 08 09

Holy moly, just saw Charles' question, sorry for the multiple submissions.

Granular usage is tiny increments. Utilities admit to, usually fifteen minute increments but we know that 'smart' meters can, in fact be programmed to transmit two-second increments. Utilities would not, I don't think generally bother with such tiny increments (the data storage would be a nightmare) but it is possible to drill down to one 'house of interest' and know the moment somebody gets home, for example. Also, the drilldown, maybe now and then would facilitate the database for electrical signatures to tell exactly which 'fridge or washer you have, etc.

'Smart' meters have two transmitters: one to communicate (send data and network integrity transmissions i.e. 13,000 to 190,000 per day in the unlicensed 900ish MegaHertz band) with the utility and third parties and one to communicate with your thermostat and appliances. I don't know how many transmissions that one is per day, it is Zigbee technology and utilizes the 2.4 Gigahertz band as in WiFi. I do know that 'smart' appliances will soon be mandated and who knows who will end up with that data as you are 'signing on' when you begin to use the 'smart' appliance.

Lastly, they use a 'mesh' or local area network. That is one meter 'talks' to the next then the next then the next sending data downstream to a collector/repeater/cell relay that then sends the data via the Wide Area Network to the utility and third parties.

The cell relay is often on a home (that does not move frequently and pays their bills on time) and specifically camoflaged to look like a standard meter. The mesh can be up to about 5k homes but is often in the hundreds. The collector also routes the instructions backwards i.e. back to the meters.
Hope this helps.

Comment #10 by Clarie Darie on 2013 08 09

you gotta be kidding me. this is a story? this looks like a press release that windmills will cause an epilespy epidemic when the real problem with them is they are massively and unjustifiably expensive.

a little simple math reveals that the federal program to install 40 million units at $3.4 billion means $85 per meter. this may not prescisely reflect the entire cost as the utility has some budget for upgrading meters anyway so this could be gravy and the cost could be more but unit numbers are low right now and the real question would be whether the widespread adoption would mean competition that would keep this in line with $85.

I'm not saying $85 is nothing, but the average utility customer will be stuck with a $500 dollar bill for excess costs of deepwater wind (that's the small project not the big boondoogle that they are gonna stuff down our throats next) and you guys are worried about smart meters. smart is not in this story.

further, you don't expect these meters to make usage less, you expect them to move the timeing of usage. There is no presentation of how the program worked and how the users were notified of rate advantages or disadvantages. How you couch that, e.g. turn off your air conditioner for 2 hours and we'll give you 10 bucks off your bill or . . . . As to so-called health risks this looks like complete speculation. there is no research into signal strength or signaling time, or alternative technologies to cell for transmission of information. Last I looked people tend to hug their cellphones more than their electric meter, but that's me.

if you want to look into something great, but look into it. don't reproduce nonsense.

i respect roberti for being concerned about cost benefit but he could have made the cost benefit decision on deepwater, he did once but balked the second time around. it was a tougher hand they had been dealt but the dissenting opinion could have been the majority if he didn't bail. and he shouldn't be giving offhanded credence to this silly fears about smart meters.

he should look hard headed at how much they cost and what we get for it.

Comment #11 by Brian Bishop on 2013 08 09

Thank you Mr. Roberti for doing your job and protecting the citizens of this state from National Grid. We buy electricity from National Grid, we don’t rent it Up until now they can’t tell us how much to use or when to use it, this will change with smart meters. Who here thinks if we all use less electricity because of smart meters that National Grid wouldn’t raise rates anyway. Unfortunately National Grid is likely to try and bypass the wise PUC Director Roberti and head straight for the General ASSembly.

Comment #12 by David Conroy on 2013 08 09

Mr. Bishop,

Your arithmetic is just "a little: off. The $3.4B ‘stimulus’ funding is now close to $5B: just from the Department of Energy. http://www.recovery.gov/espsearch/Pages/advanced.aspx?data=recipientAwardsList&AwardType=G&TAFS_CODE=269

That does not even include all the other less apparent stimulus funds funneled into ‘smart’ grid. And that $5B is matching grants so just those expenditures are actually $10B. And that ‘free’ money is long gone.

Maine deployed for a supposed $192M for 600k meters =$333 per meter. http://www.smartgrid.gov/project/central_maine_power_company_cmp_advanced_metering_infrastructure_project

but oops, the promised $25M in savings mysteriously morphed into a $99M in costs = $485 per meter: they are requesting an 8% increase.
http://www.boston.com/news/local/maine/2013/08/07/maine-utility-regulators-hold-smart-meter-hearing/NKk0WhqXOIkX5OkFVpRAPM/story.html

Massachusetts Attorney General Coakley calculated that the National Grid pilot program in Worcester, MA is at $2,973 per meter (link in article). Extrapolated for the four non-municipal MA utilities that calculates to $7.6B. Here in Big Dig land paying six times the ‘going price’ for something is par for the course.

I hope you look at CT Attorney General Jepson’s one-page press release in which he states “CL&P’s proposal would force the company’s ratepayers to spend at least $500 million on new meters that are likely to provide few benefits in return,” See link in article.

These meters are a boondoggle for a lot of folks but certainly not ratepayers.

If you are looking for nonsense, Mr. Bishop I suggest you read your own comment and then do some investigating on your own.

Comment #13 by Clarie Darie on 2013 08 09

Here is a well-written site for information about Smart Utility Meters:
http://www.eiwellspring.org/smartmeter.html

and here is a good quote: "The smart grid is increasingly understood as an over engineered, ill-advised, financial boondoggle at taxpayer expense, capable of endangering the security of the entire national grid, violating constitutional privacy protections and endangering public health. In addition, the smart grid/metering has not been found to save energy when all the new variables in the system are factored in. Plus, time-of-use pricing is largely punitive to those who can least afford it. Time-of-use pricing is fundamentally a Wall Street model designed to maintain shareholder profits as we transition to more energy efficient models that will reduce demand."
- Berkshire-Litchfield Environmental Council

Watch for the up-coming film at Take Back Your Power.net

Patricia Burke
HaltMAsmartmeters.org

Comment #14 by Patricia Burke on 2013 08 09

This may be talking to an empty room, but smart meters can actually help YOU save money IF YOU wanted to save money. All of the comments from internet searches are not stating the big picture as our global energy demand increases we the users or ratepayers will all be paying a lot more if YOU don't understand supply and demand.
There will be a point where our supply will not be able to keep up with our demand, then what, YOU will say there was no planning by the know it alls to make sure you have electricity in 10, 20 or more years. Folks this is planning and Smart Meters will some day make people smarter whether they like it or not.

Comment #15 by Gary Arnold on 2013 08 10

Mr. Arnold,
Supply and demand is integral to the free market. This initiative has NOTHING what-so-ever to do with the free market; it is a gravy train whose caboose had caught up to the engine and as our pockets get emptier and emptier it goes faster and faster.

So-called 'smart' meters are Solyndra times a few trillion with the added bonus of marginalizing those who are made ill or, in most cases more ill by its infrastructure. I sincerely hope neither your nor any of your loved ones are among them.

Comment #16 by Clarie Darie on 2013 08 10

Clarie, good to get your opinion, so thoughtful are your comments, so open minded, so what.
"In microeconomics, supply and demand is an economic model of price determination in a market. It concludes that in a competitive market, the unit price for a particular good will vary until it settles at a point where the quantity demanded by consumers (at current price) will equal the quantity supplied by producers (at current price), resulting in an economic equilibrium for price and quantity." therefore if YOU want to have electricity as you grow older, YOU have to think about it or YOU will not be able to use your computer in the dark.

Comment #17 by Gary Arnold on 2013 08 10

Gary,
I share your trepidation regarding energy in the future as well as a host of other paradigm changers. I am very concerned for the quality of life my grandchildren will enjoy or endure: that is why I am here, right now typing this.

I agree that action is required. However, that action should not and must not be 'smart' meters, they are simply fraught with too many problems.

Comment #18 by Clarie Darie on 2013 08 10

That is fair enough, you have your reasons others have theirs.
But 40 million Smart meters are now installed, 65 million by 2015 and 1/2 of our homes by mid decade will be installed. It will go forward so try to find the benefits as you go forward, they are there.

Comment #19 by Gary Arnold on 2013 08 10

Once again, there are no net benefits for consumers no matter how deep you dig.

'Smart' meters are there but they are not here: our (Massachusetts) $7.6B has not been spent and your's (Rhode Island), either.

This is still a republic, people still matter for something; we have a voice, we have a choice: lie down and let it happen or take action and stop the insanity. I choose action.

Comment #20 by Clarie Darie on 2013 08 10

For the smart meter supporters above who seem obsessed with the “benefits” of technology: You seem to be forgetting (or perhaps are completely ignorant to the fact) that wireless technology is causing serious health problems for people around the world. To better understand how people are being adversely affected by smart meters, please visit this website:

http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?page_id=2292

In a free, moral and just society, one would never be forced to have a carcinogen-emitting device installed on their home. And that is precisely the problem—we do not appear to be living in a free, moral and just society anymore. To value energy consumption information (and corporate profit) over health and safety speaks volumes about what kind of society we've become.

To mandate smart meters is eerily reminiscent of Nazi Germany where people were experimented upon without their consent. That's what this wireless revolution is, a big experiment. And we are the guinea pigs. I understand you want your information—your internet access—your energy consumption data—the convenience of making a call on your cell phone. And these things are “important” to you. But wireless technology has serious health consequences for a significant portion of the population who, for whatever reason, is more sensitive to it. And those numbers are growing. So please tell me again how--and why-- your desire for information and convenience has become more important than my health and the health of my children and all the others who are being harmed?

When exposed to pulse-modulated radio frequency/microwave radiation (like that emitted by smart meters and wifi), I develop debilitating migraines, dizziness, profound fatigue, weakness, and a slew of other disabling symptoms. This isn't “all in my head.” If it were, then bees, birds, insects, and mammals wouldn't also be exhibiting DNA damage, bleeding of the blood-brain barrier, and cellular changes from this radiation, now would they? Is it “all in their heads” too? I've spent over 5,000 hours researching this subject because I have kids who are made ill by wireless radiation, so please don't tell me there's no science to back up what I'm saying. After you do 5,000 hours of personal research and consult with experts from around the world, then I'll be happy to talk to you if you have a different opinion than me.

One of my children has a life-threatening immune response when exposed to this radiation, developing abnormally thick mucus in his airway that becomes life-threatening. After you have walked in my shoes and watched helplessly as your child throw his guts up night after night because of exposure to this supposedly “safe” wireless radiation—and no medicine alleviates his symptoms--perhaps you will feel differently about having a mandatory smart meter on your home or school-wide wifi, which requires your child to submit to whole body irradiation in order to access his/her education.

I want you to understand that this radiation is harming people. That you are seemingly unaffected does not change the fact that others are being seriously injured. This should matter to you. It should matter to all of us. For more information about wireless radiation and health effects, please visit: www.citizensforsafetechnology.org

Comment #21 by Mary Adkins on 2013 08 10

Don't go outside your home, the air you breathe is much worse for your health than wireless technology. Unfortunately there are people that are truly sensitive to all types of pollutants (sound, smoke, CO2, exhaust fumes etc).
If cell phones and WiFi internet connections in your home is harming everyone, then it is going to be shorter lifespan for the majority of people, that is the way it is going.
You may like this too, RFID tags are on clothing, food containers, passports and many credit cards.

Comment #22 by Gary Arnold on 2013 08 10

Clarie,

you've got the bit between your teeth as they say which means to say you don't treat skepticism very thoughtfully.

What I decry as nonsense is the fluffly lack of depth the article represents and its uncritical presentation of "health worries".

Mary Adkins link on the health effects is virtually all personal anecdotes and no substance or independent verification.

My math on the per meter federal spending is correct insofar as the information transmitted in the article. If you think the article is misleading, just say so. You'll notice that I guessed the figure did not include the entire cost and explained that. You don't say if the additional federal money contemplates an increase in the number of meters or not. I don't approve of profligate spending of federal money and think ratepayers should pay appropriate costs, and agree that -- to date -- the costs of smart metering don't appear justified.

In case you didn't notice I support serious cost/benefit inquiry on smart meters and any quick look reveals that, like windpower, there hasn't been much. But the biggest problem is that there is virtually no implementation of demand response incentives or their communication coupled with the rollout. Little wonder that studies of programs find no significant diminishment in peak loads. That is not a study of whether smart meters are effective.

I am less chary of behavioral modification than many commentors here in the sense that that is how the market works. "lower prices everday" is an evil plot by walmarts to modify where we shop. . . . and it works. I don't have any problem with that.

with a regulated utility inevitably a modicum of public interest is imported and that always means do-gooders want to get their hands on the levers of power. but forget the bunch want to do aways with the power grid and go back to living in yurts. The real argument is not even touched on in this article. There is no mechanism for behavioral response to financial incentives so the purported benefits are unobtainable at present.

I have no problem with making it easier to turn off utilities for people who don't pay although the poltically correct cite this as a problem with smart meters, I put in the benefit column -- because in case you hadn't noticed they just charge the rest of us for them. And I'd love to see them get control of the thermostats of those taking government heating assistance while we're at it.

If you keep electing the same bunch of folks they are going to pass laws cabining your utility usage and forcing you to pay ridiculous prices for what you do use. I do think they put the cart before the horse with smart meters but they are the least of our problems. That is surprising from the gang that can't run a one car funeral?

and the utilities have learned, unfortunately, it is better to be slimey rentseekers than to run an independently efficient business. The ones that try get brought to heel, witness National Grids initial opposition to buying power from deepwater wind and NSTARs balking at Cape Wind.

I have no faith in National Grid and very limited faith in the PUC. Until they can deliver power via microwaves and we can really deregulate the industry -- just to spice up the health debate -- we are stuck with this system which, as Churchill said is

but I think the fight for consumers is deepwater, deepwater, deepwater.

Those rentseeking leaches at Deepwater have an IV into your wallet and they are lining up to increase it by an order of magnitude. And spending much time worrying about smart meters is straining the gnat and swallowing the camel. What I'd like to hear Commissioner Roberti say is that he'll resign if consumers are forced to fund another offshore boondoogle.

Comment #23 by Brian Bishop on 2013 08 10

sorry churchill said "is the worst except all the others"

Comment #24 by Brian Bishop on 2013 08 10

I understand that Mr. Churchill said "is the worst except all the others" about democracy. The problem is we are not dealing with the three branches of government designed and honed by the founding fathers in. We are dealing with unelected bureaucrats who can, with impunity steamroll the masses and people like Mary (above) and her children with impunity in the name of... whatever agenda is driving them at the moment.

"The commission “promulgates substantive rules of conduct.

The commission then considers whether to authorize investigations in to whether the commission's rules have been violated.

If the commission authorizes an investigation the investigation is conducted by the commission which reports its findings to the commission.

If the commission thinks the commission’s findings warrant an enforcement action the commission issues a complaint.

The commission’s complaint that the commission’s rules have been violated is then prosecuted by the commission and adjudicated by the commission.

The commission's adjudication takes place before the full commission or before semiautonomous law judge.

If the commission chooses to adjudicate before an administrative law judge rather than before the commission and the decision is adverse to the commission the commission can appeal to the commission.”

Gary Lawson

Comment #25 by Clarie Darie on 2013 08 10

Good rule of thumb: anything called 'smart', as in smart growth, smart diplomacy? Run from it. Fast. Smart means just the opposite.

These meters do nothing to save electricity or money. They're about one thing: control. Control of citizens. They're also about snooping, monitoring every bit of electricity used by everything you own. They can be used in many creative and unsavory ways to spy on citizens, so that the control freaks who thought up this scheme can use the information to punish citizens by rationing electricity.

There's nothing smart about them. Stasi-meters would be a better name for them.

Comment #26 by paul zecchino on 2013 08 10

Another reason to stop these snitch-meters is that they generate radio interference. The UK National Grid crowd likes that, because if your radio reception is jammed - and that includes wireless internet - then you can be more easily controlled.

Sound far-fetched? In the UK, subjects are now unable to listen to shortwave, thanks to a Clinton-era scam known as 'Broadband Internet Over Powerlines" - BPL - which uses electric wires to carry internet data. The result is catastrophic jamming of HF radio signals. The military is against it, but the usual Elite toffee-nosed suspects love it for its ability to deny citizens information.

Yet another control scheme dreamed up by leftist thugs. If you want your home's electricity use monitored by Big Brother, this is the way to do it.

Comment #27 by paul zecchino on 2013 08 10

A loud ringing noise and high frequency noise started in my home in September 2012, after the smart meter was installed. The noise made it impossible for me (and my children) to live comfortably in our home. I could not sleep. Working 3 jobs at the time, this was terrible!

But I have since conducted an experiment with the smart meter -- not intentionally. In June, after almost 10 months of suffering in my home and bordering on despair, I paid to have the radio transmitter on the meter turned off through the opt-out program (as soon as opt-out was available).

Immediately after the radio transmitter was turned off the noise in our home was reduced. I felt the house had been magnified by the meter's constant signalling, and when it was turned off the house quieted down. A high-frequency noise that was quite loud abated after TWO DAYS.

This ten month period included many requests for information and halp to the utility (Detroit Energy) which were fruitless. I have now scheduled an electrician to try to sleuth out the source of this remaining noise. My suspicion is that it is harmonics produced by the meter (or neighbors' meters) inducted into and resonating on the wiring of my home. We may have a grounding problem, or something else, but whatever it is it was not apparent for 19 years of living in this home...until the smart meter was installed.

All good fights start with moral outrage. I have been following this movement and it is growing worldwide. Read more here: magneigh.blogspot.com

People thought I was insane.

Comment #28 by Cathy Antonakos on 2013 08 10

I am, unfortunately not surprised at Cathy's story. Similar scenarios are taking place all over North America.

See http://haltmasmartmeters.org/health/my_name_is_marguerite/
an email I received that both made me cry and enraged me to such a degree I vowed to see this through to the end. Marguerite, who is young at heart recently met Representative Andrea Boland, (D) Maine and has become, in the last few months active in the 'smart' battle. Her reason is simple: she doesn't want what happened to her to happen to others.

Also, regarding Mr. Bishop's $85 per meter calculation that he qualified in another comment, see http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/blog/2013/01/cisco-itron-share-major-smart-meter.html which estimates the wholesale cost of 'smart' meters to be $200 to $300 each. I have no idea what they cost but if past performance is any indication when the public's money is being spent (every dime will be recouped from customers via rate hikes and tariffs) cost just doesn't matter.

Comment #29 by Clarie Darie on 2013 08 11




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