Keeping your analog meter

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People Who Protest Can Keep Analog Meters

  1. Fill out Opt-Out Application.
  2. Attach or include the analog meter demand letter (Letter Template edited as appropriate for you).
  3. Cc as many people in power as possible such as Seattle City Council members, key Seattle City Light staff, local city councils (i.e. Shoreline, Normandy Park, Lake Forest Park, …), and the Seattle City Attorney.
  4. Call Seattle City Light until you are definitely  added to the exemption list that indicates you want to retain your analog meter; this list is managed by Kelly Enright (Customer Care Director for AMI Deployment).
  5. Continue to call and email  until you have it in writing in an email or on paper.

 

There have been numerous successes to date of people keeping their analog meter and a few where the Landis+Gyr opt-out meter was removed and an analog meter returned to the property owner. You just need to be persistent. They are reluctant to agreeing with a real opt-out to their AMI program. They are not making it easy. People who rent need to work with the owners of their property. Condos and apartments are almost entirely excluded from opting out; the policy states there must be 4 units or less to qualify and everyone has to agree. We have one customer who is a renter at a 10 unit apartment complex that got all the agreements and a letter from the owner, they got a verbal agreement to allow them to opt-out, that was later reneged on by Seattle City Light. They are still fighting.


Opt-Out

Applications are available here. We recommend:

  1. Do not include personal health information in the reasons field, simply state “health concerns”; other reasons stated simply could be: violation of 4th Amendment, fire risks, privacy risks, cyber security threats to power grid, or just personal reasons.
  2. Send it via certified mail.
  3. Email a PDF copy to people in power.
  4. Note: some people are crossing out the application sentence that refers to the Opt-Out meter and writing in an Analog Meter.  Some people have added to the Reason for Opt-Out section of the Opt-Out application that they want to retain their analog meter or will accept a refurbished analog meter if necessary.

Letter Template


 

Key Seattle City Light Staff

Seattle City Council Members (* means they are on the Environment & Energy Committee)

Fax: 206-684-8587, ATTN: Seattle City Council Members

Other Useful People

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Seattle City Light Territory

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The AMI meter deployment began in Wallingford on August 1, 2017 and will proceed north on the west side of I-5 to Shoreline then turn south for the east side of I-5 to Tukwilla then proceed northward until the deployment is completed by December 30, 2018.

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Why to keep your Analog Meter

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SCL Revenue Shortfall & AMI Deployment Cost Overruns

Recently, Seattle City Light has been under scrutiny from the Seattle City Council (SCC) for issues related to revenue shortfalls for the past 5 years and cost overruns of the AMI Deployment project. These issues are related. For SCL, the AMI Deployment is about dramatically cutting operational costs to offset the decreasing revenue trend, which is expected to continue. SCL customers have already seen increased rates over the last several years to primarily enable the AMI and the Denny substation projects. None of the operational savings that SCL will create will be passed on to the customer; on the contrary they are now looking into how to restructure their billing to counter the decreasing retail electricity demand and still maintain revenue. We will be watching this discussion closely.

ACLU Against Seattle’s AMI Deployment

ACLU sent a letter to Seattle City Council on May 26, 2017 over privacy concerns. ACLU is demanding stronger privacy safeguards around the data collection and third-party access to that data. They are also concerned that SCL customers have not been adequately informed about the AMI deployment to enable their actual consent and that the Opt-Out Policy is meaningless and expensive. Read the details here.

Opt-Out and Demand Analog Option

Michigan has introduced a bill, HB 4220, that would allow citizens to opt-out of the state’s AMI program and retain their analog meters. Hearings have been held and several state Senators and Representatives have testified on the lack of value from the “smart” meter deployment and the significant risk to safety and security; Michigan State Senator Patrick Colbeck is one of the proponents of this bill, here is his testimony.

The AMI project in Seattle does not provide any benefit to the customer either, only detriment, in higher rates and greater risk. The only way that SCC or SCL will change their direction is if enough constituents and customers stand up and speak out. SCL has offered an opt-out from the new microwave emitting “standard” meters, but that does not adequately protect the customers or community. The opt-out will mean that a customer will get a non-transmitting (non-microwave) new “standard” meter. Though the non-transmitting meter is better than the transmitting one, it does not alleviate the increased costs nor the bulk of risks associated with a digital meter. The ONLY solution is to demand the option to have an analog meter.

  • Larry Weis, General Manager at SCL, said he would make analog meters available for people who opt-out in a meeting with SUMA-NW on April 4, 2016. He was going to hang on to the ones that were still good.  SCL is now saying that they cannot provide analog meters. The meter industry has killed the analog market to secure the demand for inferior digital meters that need to be replaced more frequently.  “Analog meters are no longer available,” is a contrived story. Austin Power in Austin, TX, where Mr. Weis was the former CEO, has an analog meter opt-out policy as do other places in the US.  Austin Power uses refurbished analog meters from Hialeah Meter Company in Florida to satisfy the opt-out policy.  They are equal or better than new. SCL’s claim that digital meters are more accurate than analog meters is also a myth.
  • The payment burden for deploying the AMI system is born by the customers and opt-out customers will pay twice, rates have already increased, electricity bills will increase, and they will pay an opt-out fee and an additional per billing cycle charge. See Michigan Representative Gary Glenn testimony.
  • The following table shows the comparison of digital meters to analog meters. All meters will be digital from now on unless the public speaks up. The AMI meter will be an RF transmission meter and the Opt-Out will be a plain digital meter without RF transmission.
Digital Meters Analog Meters
Electricity usage is calculated (not measured) and probably time averaged, which will cause usage to be higher see Engineer William Bathgate’s explanation.* Electromechanical measurement as accurate as digital meters.**
Weather conditions like temperature and humidity can affect accuracy. Not susceptible to weather conditions.
Use electricity to operate thereby increasing electricity usage that costs you more. Does not use electricity.
Meter readers are replaced with 24/7 AMI IT staff Implementing self-reading program will save on meter readers.***
Does not reduce overall CO2. Zero impact on environment.
Increased fire hazard, especially with RF transmission. Not known to cause fires.
Transmitting meters pose cyber security threat. (Cynthia Ayers is a national security threat analyst testifies for the Michigan House Committee.) Do not pose a cyber security threat.
Are hackable. Not hackable.
Creates privacy breach through the collection of granular electricity usage data that can reveal intimate details about what is going on inside a person’s home that thrid-party entities have access to. No data collection.
Subject to catastrophic failures, such as power surges, lightning strike. Not subject to catastrophic failures.
Creates electromagnetic interference (EMI) which places a destructive burden on appliances (refrigerator) and electronics (computer) on a circuit. Not compliant to FCC rules for “conducted” emissions (EMI/RFI) class A or B. No EMI.
Life span of 5-15 years, AMI 5-9 years, non-transmitting digital can last 15 years Last for over 40 years.
Remote disconnect and outage detection features have been benched (for transmission meters only) because of project cost overruns. The default will be the same as for analog meters. The remote disconnect, if and when implemented will increase the fire hazard. Outage detection by phone (still the primary method in AMI areas) and disconnects done manually. Outage detection at substations are currently effective and sufficient.

*This report specifically addresses the specific meters to be deployed in the SCL area, and thoroughly explains Accuracy, EMI/RFI, and Security/Privacy issues.

**Both meters comply to the same standards, ANSI C12, therefore meet same specifications for accuracy.

***If meter readers are too costly, then implement a self-reading program as is done in most rural areas for those who prefer an analog meter.

The AMI meter is the Landis & Gyr FOCUS RXR-SD, the Opt-Out meter is the L&G FOCUS AXR. Ideally, an Analog meter would be an option. For further clarification of the different meters and their electromagnetic profiles click here.

Meter Model EMR/Microwave /RF EMI/RFI – Electric Fields from Interference
FOCUS RXR-SD YES YES
FOCUS AXR NO YES
Analog NO NO
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Mason County, WA Speaks Out Against Smart Meters!

Colleen Walls of Mason County, WA is leading the fight against  Advanced Metering Infrastructure (smart meter deployment).  She has done an excellent job of research on the serious downside of smart meters, and is working hard to inform a growing group of concerned residents in that area.

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Demand Analog Meter Letter Template

Instructions:

If you have SCL as your electricity provider, please write, call, and/or fax the Seattle City Council and especially your own councilmember and cc: SCL General Manager Larry Weis. If not in Seattle, then cc: your own city council along with the Seattle City Council. Those on the Energy Committee are denoted by an * after their name.  Tell them you want an analog meter option (suggested letter template below). Please consider both emails and phone calls if you have time.

Fax: 206-684-8587, ATTN: Seattle City Council Members

Kshama Sawant*: 206-684-8016 kshama.sawant@seattle.gov
Lorena Gonzalez*: 206-684-8802, Lorena.Gonzalez@seattle.gov
Debora Juarez *: 206-684-8807, Debora.Juarez@seattle.gov

Sally Bagshaw: 206-684-8801, sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov
Tim Burgess: 206-684-8806, tim.burgess@seattle.gov
Bruce Harrell: 206-684-8804, bruce.harrell@seattle.gov
Lisa Herbold: 206-684-8803, Lisa.Herbold@seattle.gov
Mike O’Brien: 206-684-8800, mike.obrien@seattle.gov
Rob Johnson: 206-684-8808, Rob.Johnson@seattle.gov

Larry Weis: 206-684-3200, Larry.Weis@seattle.gov

More contacts and suggestions:

Those who have had success also included Maura Brueger, Peter Holmes, and the Seattle City Council (SCC) aides Ted Verdone and Alex Clardy.

Maura Brueger (Council Liaison for City Light), 206-684-3015,  Maura.Brueger@seattle.gov
Peter Holmes (the Seattle city attorney), peter.holmes@seattle.gov
Ted Virdone (Sawant’s aide), ted.virdone@seattle.gov
Alex Clardy (Herbold’s aide), alex.clardy@seattle.gov

For people who are NOT able to opt out we strongly suggest to begin keeping a diary or dated notes regarding any unusual electrical activity (this could include surges that damage appliances) in your house or anything else that may be related to the install of the new meter, as well as communications with SCL or City Council regarding meters.

Note health changes, bill changes (be sure to compare apples to apples), environmental (trees, shrubbery wilting, birds abandoning nests, bee hive collapse), pet issues (behavior, health)

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Health Risks Confirmed

I have been extremely frustrated recently by the ignorance and denial of Seattle City Light professionals insisting that AMI meters are SAFE. How closed minded and indoctrinated into the status quo do otherwise intelligent and competent people need to be to accept and promote the harm that electromagnetic radiation has on the human body? There is no proof that it causes harm replaces we have proven that it is safe. They claim that it is safer than a cell phone, when clearly brain tumors have been directly linked to cell phone use. There is no reasoning with ignorant people. The following article spells it out. – Sonia Hoglander – precautionary principle advocate.

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June Update & Opt-Out Addendum

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  1. Read analog meter SUCCESS story below
  2. Opt-Out
  3. Demand an analog meter
  4. Share this information broadly

In promoting opting out, we need to continue demanding an analog meter option.  Signing and submitting your application to opt-out implies that you accept the Opt-Out Policy and consent to accept the Landis + Gyr FOCUS AXR. The opt-out meter is only slightly better than the AMI, RF transmitting meter as we have recently learned. See our newsletter sent June 26, 2017 laying out all the facts.

Opt-Out Numbers Increasing

One customer recently spoke to a Seattle City Light (SCL) meter installer when he came to install his opt-out meter “at the time he did it, a few weeks ago, he had just gotten about 40 new orders for opt-out in the north end alone, running about 5% – he speculated it may reach about 25% before all this is done.” (This shows opt-out numbers are growing as more people find out. We need to spread this message with URGENCY.)

Analog Meter Success Story

Another SCL customer has already succeeded, on June 28th, in having his analog meter returned after opting out and getting the Landis + Gyr FOCUS AXR in May.

He was very vocal since mid-May when he opted out and his analog meter was removed. He contacted several city council members including Lisa Herbold’s office (his council member) and her aide, Alex Clardy, members of the Energy and Environment committee (Kshama Sawant, Lorena Gonzalez, Debora Juarez), and cc’d  Maura Brueger (Council Liaison for City Light), and Peter Holmes (the Seattle city attorney).

After regular channels all failed, he again emailed and called the same city council members.  He also turned up the heat on City Light (Maura Brueger) by communicating his intention to purchase an analog meter on-line, hire a local electrician, and invite local media to film the installation of the analog meter on his home, with ample commentary from himself.

Less than 24-hours later, City Light showed up and swapped-out the digital meter for a clean & shiny analog meter. 

This story shows a couple of things. 1) Seattle City Council does not understand that the Opt-Out Policy does NOT include an analog meter option. So when the man complained to SCC, they responded by cc’ing SCL asking why was his analog meter removed when he had been approved for the opt-out and “asking SCL to return the analog meter that Mr. [***] was already approved to keep.” 2) SCL can provide an electromechanical/analog meter.

Here is the canned response others are receiving from Seattle City Light.


Dear 

Thank you for your email.  Per the email below that you received, it stated that the service and administrative fee is applied to the customer’s bill after approval of their opt-out application. That fee is not associated with having an opt-out meter, it is part of the approval process to opt-out.  The approval letter that you received (see a copy attached) also informed you that an opt-out meter would be installed within two weeks.  

City Light has a new standard meter. It does not include electromechanical meters, and the utility is no longer supporting them.  Customers are not able to retain their electromechanical meters, nor can City Light replace your opt-out meter with an electromechanical meter.

www.seattle.gov/light/meters
 
If you have questions about the opt-out policy which was approved, you may contact Larry Weis or City Council.  The chair of the Energy and Environment Committee is Kshama Sawant.

Sincerely,

LIANA WOO | SR. CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE
SEATTLE CITY LIGHT
CUSTOMER CARE DIVISION | ADVANCED METERING PROGRAM


We encourage you to demand an analog meter anyway. Use the suggested letter template provided in the newsletter or your own words. Include Maura Brueger, Peter Holmes, and the Seattle City Council (SCC) aides Ted Verdone and Alex Clardy.

Maura Brueger (Council Liaison for City Light), 206-684-3015,  Maura.Brueger@seattle.gov
Peter Holmes (the Seattle city attorney), peter.holmes@seattle.gov
Ted Virdone (Sawant’s aide), ted.virdone@seattle.gov
Alex Clardy (Herbold’s aide), alex.clardy@seattle.gov

We also suggest to people to begin keeping a diary or dated notes regarding any unusual electrical activity (this could include surges that damage appliances) in your house or anything else that may be related to the install of the new meter, as well as communications with SCL or City Council regarding meters.

Join Us Tuesday July 11 at 2 PM

Join us and give testimony at the next SCC Energy and Environment Committee meeting on July 11th. Please check the website on the day before to make sure they have not canceled and to get the agenda. Please arrive early, by 1:45 PM, at Council chamber doors to sign up for comment, meeting starts at 2 PM.

Final thoughts:
Please consider how you may be more involved.  Advocate for your own neighborhood, condo, or apartments to opt out.  Network as you can and stay informed by reading links at this website and other informed sources such as www.smartgridawareness.orgwww.takebackyourpower.net, www.stopsmartmeters.org.  Together we can do more to create a livable sustainable future with energy systems that support life rather than harm it.

Take care and thank you,
Team at SUMA-NW

 

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June Update & OPT-OUT!

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AMI Meter Deployment has Begun

“Smart” meters, now called the new “standard” electric meters, are starting to roll out inopt-out the Seattle City Light (SCL) territories, causing a resurgence of the discussion about the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project and all of its implications. This newsletter will review the main reasons to cancel the project and to demand an analog meter option. You are invited to participate in a letter writing campaign and reach out to others in your community. Suggestions at the end.

SCL Revenue Shortfall & AMI Deployment Cost Overruns

Recently, Seattle City Light has been under scrutiny from the Seattle City Council (SCC) for issues related to revenue shortfalls for the past 5 years and cost overruns of the AMI Deployment project. These issues are related. For SCL, the AMI Deployment is about dramatically cutting operational costs to offset the decreasing revenue trend, which is expected to continue. SCL customers have already seen increased rates over the last several years to primarily enable the AMI and the Denny substation projects. None of the operational savings that SCL will create will be passed on to the customer; on the contrary they are now looking into how to restructure their billing to counter the decreasing retail electricity demand and still maintain revenue. We will be watching this discussion closely.

ACLU Against Seattle’s AMI Deployment

ACLU sent a letter to Seattle City Council on May 26, 2017 over privacy concerns. ACLU is demanding stronger privacy safeguards around the data collection and third-party access to that data. They are also concerned that SCL customers have not been adequately informed about the AMI deployment to enable their actual consent and that the Opt-Out Policy is meaningless and expensive. Read the details here.

Opt-Out and Demand Analog Option

Michigan has introduced a bill, HB 4220, that would allow citizens to opt-out of the state’s AMI program and retain their analog meters. Hearings have been held and several state Senators and Representatives have testified on the lack of value from the “smart” meter deployment and the significant risk to safety and security; Michigan State Senator Patrick Colbeck is one of the proponents of this bill, here is his testimony.

The AMI project in Seattle does not provide any benefit to the customer either, only detriment, in higher rates and greater risk. The only way that SCC or SCL will change their direction is if enough constituents and customers stand up and speak out. SCL has offered an opt-out from the new microwave emitting “standard” meters, but that does not adequately protect the customers or community. The opt-out will mean that a customer will get a non-transmitting (non-microwave) new “standard” meter. Though the non-transmitting meter is better than the transmitting one, it does not alleviate the increased costs nor the bulk of risks associated with a digital meter. The ONLY solution is to demand the option to have an analog meter.

  • Larry Weis, General Manager at SCL, said he would make analog meters available for people who opt-out in a meeting with SUMA-NW on April 4, 2016. He was going to hang on to the ones that were still good.  SCL is now saying that they cannot provide analog meters. The meter industry has killed the analog market to secure the demand for inferior digital meters that need to be replaced more frequently.  “Analog meters are no longer available,” is a contrived story. Austin Power in Austin, TX, where Mr. Weis was the former CEO, has an analog meter opt-out policy as do other places in the US.  Austin Power uses refurbished analog meters from Hialeah Meter Company in Florida to satisfy the opt-out policy.  They are equal or better than new. SCL’s claim that digital meters are more accurate than analog meters is also a myth.
  • The payment burden for deploying the AMI system is born by the customers and opt-out customers will pay twice, rates have already increased, electricity bills will increase, and they will pay an opt-out fee and an additional per billing cycle charge. See Michigan Representative Gary Glenn testimony.
  • The following table shows the comparison of digital meters to analog meters. All meters will be digital from now on unless the public speaks up. The AMI meter will be an RF transmission meter and the Opt-Out will be a plain digital meter without RF transmission.
Digital Meters Analog Meters
Electricity usage is calculated (not measured) and probably time averaged, which will cause usage to be higher see Engineer William Bathgate’s explanation.* Electromechanical measurement as accurate as digital meters.**
Weather conditions like temperature and humidity can affect accuracy. Not susceptible to weather conditions.
Use electricity to operate thereby increasing electricity usage that costs you more. Does not use electricity.
Meter readers are replaced with 24/7 AMI IT staff Implementing self-reading program will save on meter readers.***
Does not reduce overall CO2. Zero impact on environment.
Increased fire hazard, especially with RF transmission. Not known to cause fires.
Transmitting meters pose cyber security threat. (Cynthia Ayers is a national security threat analyst testifies for the Michigan House Committee.) Do not pose a cyber security threat.
Are hackable. Not hackable.
Creates privacy breach through the collection of granular electricity usage data that can reveal intimate details about what is going on inside a person’s home that thrid-party entities have access to. No data collection.
Subject to catastrophic failures, such as power surges, lightning strike. Not subject to catastrophic failures.
Creates electromagnetic interference (EMI) which places a destructive burden on appliances (refrigerator) and electronics (computer) on a circuit. Not compliant to FCC rules for “conducted” emissions (EMI/RFI) class A or B. No EMI.
Life span of 5-15 years, AMI 5-9 years, non-transmitting digital can last 15 years Last for over 40 years.
Remote disconnect and outage detection features have been benched (for transmission meters only) because of project cost overruns. The default will be the same as for analog meters. The remote disconnect, if and when implemented will increase the fire hazard. Outage detection by phone (still the primary method in AMI areas) and disconnects done manually. Outage detection at substations are currently effective and sufficient.

*This report specifically addresses the specific meters to be deployed in the SCL area, and thoroughly explains Accuracy, EMI/RFI, and Security/Privacy issues.

**Both meters comply to the same standards, ANSI C12, therefore meet same specifications for accuracy.

***If meter readers are too costly, then implement a self-reading program as is done in most rural areas for those who prefer an analog meter.

The AMI meter is the Landis & Gyr FOCUS RXR-SD, the Opt-Out meter is the L&G FOCUS AXR. Ideally, an Analog meter would be an option. For further clarification of the different meters and their electromagnetic profiles click here.

Meter Model EMR/Microwave /RF EMI/RFI – Electric Fields from Interference
FOCUS RXR-SD YES YES
FOCUS AXR NO YES
Analog NO NO

 

Actions:

  1. Opt-Out – applications are available here. We recommend:
    1. Do not include personal health information in the reasons field, simply state “health concerns”; other reasons stated simply could be: violation of 4th Amendment, fire risks, privacy risks, cyber security threats to power grid, or just personal reasons.
    2. Send it via certified mail
    3. Attach or include a letter demanding an analog meter option (suggested letter template below).
  2. Contact Seattle City Council members (they are the decision body for SCL)

If you have SCL as your electricity provider, please write, call, and/or fax the Seattle City Council and especially your own councilmember and cc: SCL General Manager Larry Weis. If not in Seattle, then cc: your own city council along with the Seattle City Council. Those on the Energy Committee are denoted by an * after their name.  Tell them you want an analog meter option (suggested letter template below). Please consider both emails and phone calls if you have time.

Fax: 206-684-8587, ATTN: Seattle City Council Members

Kshama Sawant*: 206-684-8016 kshama.sawant@seattle.gov
Lorena Gonzalez*: 206-684-8802, Lorena.Gonzalez@seattle.gov
Debora Juarez *: 206-684-8807, Debora.Juarez@seattle.gov

Sally Bagshaw: 206-684-8801, sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov
Tim Burgess: 206-684-8806, tim.burgess@seattle.gov
Bruce Harrell: 206-684-8804, bruce.harrell@seattle.gov
Lisa Herbold: 206-684-8803, Lisa.Herbold@seattle.gov
Mike O’Brien: 206-684-8800, mike.obrien@seattle.gov
Rob Johnson: 206-684-8808, Rob.Johnson@seattle.gov

Larry Weis: 206-684-3200, Larry.Weis@seattle.gov

3. Share the message

Share this message to everyone; there must be hundreds of people to have any affect. Forward to all your friends and family in the Seattle area, post it on your Facebook and/or your neighborhood’s Next Door. Seattle City Light (SCL) also services people in Burien, Lake Forest Park, Normandy Park, Renton, SeaTac, Shoreline, and Tukwila.

Letter Template

For your subject line we suggest:

OPT-OUT SHOULD INCLUDE ANALOG METER OPTION


To whom it may concern:

I am opting out of the AMI meter, but do not want a digital meter at all. I demand that Seattle City Light provide an analog meter option. It is becoming known, because of testimony in the Michigan House and Senate, that AMI meters are a significant cyber security threat and that even the non-radio transmitting meters are inferior to analog meters and pose a risk to my safety, security and privacy.

  1. An analog meter option exists in a number of states, like Austin Power in Austin, TX where SCL GM Larry Weis oversaw that opt-out policy.
  2. Analog meters are safer for electrical equipment, appliances, and aged wiring.
  3. Analog meters are as accurate as digital meters and may be more accurate in extreme weather.
  4. Analog meters last for over 40 years, whereas the opt-out meter will only last 15 years at most.
  5. As a Seattle City Light customer I am already paying through my rates for the AMI, and will be penalized for opting out and forced to pay a per billing cycle fee for a new digital meter that may incorrectly increase my usage through internal computer errors that cannot be audited or appealed.
  6. An analog meter will protect my privacy. The new meters collect granular electricity usage data that can reveal intimate details about what is going on inside a person’s home that third-party entities have access to. The ACLU has detailed these issues and neither SCL nor SCC has adequately recognized the issues or mitigated them, violating constitutional rights without the consent or knowledge of the public.

I request to be notified before the date of my scheduled meter replacement that I will have the option CHOOSE ONE: to retain my analog meter, or have my digital meter replaced with a refurbished analog meter.

Regards,

 


 

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ACLU makes Privacy Demands

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Seattle’s Smart Meter Project Lacks Protections for Privacy

ACLU of Washington Press Release May 26,2017

The ACLU of Washington is raising significant concerns about the lack of protections for privacy, as well as lack of transparency, in the implementation of Seattle City Light’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure.  The project involves installation of smart meters which gather data that can reveal intimate details about what is going on inside a person’s home.  Yet there are no clear and explicit checks and balances to restrict the government or third parties from using or selling smart meter data for purposes unrelated to the provision of electricity, and the City’s Privacy Impact Assessment for the project is unclear and inadequate.

“The new smart meters collect much more detailed data and do so more frequently than City Light’s previous electrical meters.  But the project fails to comply with the principles of the Seattle’s Privacy Program, and there is no meaningful opportunity for the individuals to offer informed consent,” said Shankar Narayan, ACLU of Washington Technology and Liberty Director.

In a letter to the Seattle City Council, the ACLU urged the City to adopt clear and binding guidelines around what data smart meters collect, who accesses the data, what the data can and cannot be used for, and what informed consent must be given before the meters are deployed. The ACLU points out that the option to opt-out offered by the City currently is inadequate, meaningless, and expensive. Under the City’s plan, third parties will be accessing this sensitive data, and those third parties should be bound not to sell the data or use it for unrelated purposes.

Opting out will cost an individual $124.43 as a one-time “administrative fee,” plus $15.87 per billing cycle. “Exercising one’s right to opt out shouldn’t mean opting in to excessively costly fees,” said Shankar Narayan.

ACLU-WA website

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