Smart Meter Update Winter 2017

opt-outSUMA-NW advocates and others were unable to halt the Seattle City Light (SCL) “smart” meter deployment in 2016. In 2017 we must focus on getting as many customers to opt-out as possible.

Opt-Out: Submit your opt-out application prior to the start of the meter exchange period, which is currently scheduled by SCL to begin July, 2017, to avoid paying the meter exchange fee. You still have to pay the one-time administrative fee.

Opt-Out application is currently available here, but SUMA-NW finds the Opt-Out Policy completely inadequate:

  • No analog meter option, even though Larry Weis, CEO of SCL, stated to SUMA-NW that analogs would be kept available. Smart meters, including non-communicating digital meters, increased fire hazards and harmful transients.
  • $124.43 upfront administrative fee, $49.77 for people who have qualified for Utility Discount Program (UPD). You will also have to pay for the service you now get for free at $15.87 per billing cycle ($6.35 per billing cycle for UPD) to have your meter read.
  • It is clearly stated in the Opt-Out Policy that the meter base is the responsibility of the property owner. Installations of meters without inspecting and repairing the meter base prior to installation  (the utility may not offer that service) could be dangerous for everyone. We believe that SCL should guarantee in writing that the base is safe and that an inspection has occurred by qualified staff. The reported fires throughout the US are due to increased arcing by digital meters. See Brian Thiesen’s excellent YouTube about fires involving AMI “smart” meters, AMR meters, and digital meters (non- communicating digital meters are safer if installed properly).
  • Renters must have the property owner’s permission in writing.
  • Property owners of multiple-unit buildings cannot opt-out individual units or common area metering.
  • Customers with solar panels who participate in net metering are not eligible to opt-out.

The installations are expected to begin in mid-year 2017. Contact Seattle City Light  (or call Advanced Metering desk at 206-727-8777) to find out when you are scheduled for installation.

Multiple-unit buildings such as condominiums and apartments must get their collectives to agree to opt-out for their entire building. SUMA-NW will be available, as our schedule permits, to come to any gatherings or meetings to explain the “smart” meter issues.

SCL claims that opting out will exclude you from alleged “smart” meter benefits. In reality there are no benefits with this current technology and it has failed to do anything except benefit the wireless industry, power utilities, and third-party marketers. It provides no environmental benefits or energy savings.

The opt-out form will ask you why you are opting out. You do not have to say why if you wish to keep those reasons private. You can simply say for personal reasons. Be aware that SCL now refers to “smart” meters as “standard” meters. This may be SCL’s attempt to normalize a flawed technology policy and hamper people’s own research into the negative aspects of “smart” meters.

We have voiced our concerns about smart meters since early 2014. The Seattle City Council (SCC) believed the greenwashing of this failed technology policy. The council never bothered to comment on the opt-out policy, and never acknowledged that it was not a solution to the serious concerns that are becoming apparent worldwide with the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (“smart” meters). They were told by SCL that not many people sign up to opt-out. If over 50% of people don’t qualify, it is obvious why that is the case.

We still need people to voice their outrage at wasting millions of dollars on “smart” meters (standard meters) with all their inherent risks and no benefits.  If nothing else, we can be the highest opt-out utility territory in the US.

Write Letters: We encourage people to write letters to SCL, CEO of SCL: Larry Weis, and the SCC Energy and Environment Committee*  to voice your concerns and complaints.

Some suggestions for what to include in your letter:

  • Demand for proof of meter base inspection (see #3 of strategies below)
  • Opt-Out policy complaints
  • Other points from previous letter campaigns

SCL_Advanced_Metering@seattle.gov                                         Larry.Weis@seattle.gov                                                                                        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

SUMA-NW is investigating other strategies including:

  1. Conditional Acceptance has been discussed, but the reality of this option is that it is unenforceable and often dismissed as baseless by utilities. SUMA-NW currently cannot recommend this option until we have completed our research; it does not stop the installation. In theory, Conditional Acceptance uses contract law to demand that the utility guarantee/insure your safety and constitutional rights. Our understanding is that the Utility’s refusal to sign a Conditional Acceptance agreement would allow you to take further legal actions if any of the concerns raised are realized after installation. Jerry Day is the promoter of this strategy; for more information go to his website freedomtaker.com, (scroll toward bottom of page to Downloadable Documents). We also recommend that people sign up for newsletters from TakeBackYourPower.net .
  2. Notice of Liability – is another type of contract strategy with stronger language and intentions that has been initiated by numerous groups around the US and Canada. To learn more about this method, please visit the Take Back Your Power website, specifically here.
  3. Demand Proof of Pre-installation Inspection Affidavit – Demand that Seattle City Light provides a signed document that the meter base has been inspected by a qualified technician prior to installation of the new digital meters, whether it is a wireless meter or an opt-out meter, and the technician has determined that the meter base is safe for installation of the meter. Read more about the hot-socket issues, which can dangerously increase the risk of fire.
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Greenwashing

“Greenwashing is the practice of making an unsubstantiated or misleading claim about the environmental benefits of a product, service, technology or company practice.

Greenwashing can make a company appear to be more environmentally friendly than it really is. It can also be used to differentiate a company’s products or services from its competitors by promising more efficient use of power or by being more cost-effective over time.”  TechTarget.com

Point for Point rebuttal to Scott Thomsen, Chief AMI Propagandist for Seattle City Light, about greenwashed benefits of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Greenwashed Claims in Bold Green:

  1. Better support for customers with solar panels – solar panels use net-metering to give extra electricity to the Utility. Most customers are net consumers of electricity rather than net producers. From the SCL solar net metering webpage, “These meters will give City Light the ability to read your net and production meters daily. This will benefit customers in meeting the requirements for both net and production metering programs. It will also give you and City Light more data to track exactly what you are using and sending back to the electrical grid. It will also benefit customers and City Light, as in the future, when a customer with an advanced meter decides to add solar, it will be possible to remotely change that meter from a standard billing meter to a net meter.” Daily reads by the Utility are delayed to the customer by at least 24 hours, and any decent, customer owned solar management system will give you immediate data. Requirements for net and production meters are already met by existing analog meters. Net metering is a billing-side adjustment internal to the Utility, not a change to the meter.
  2. SCL is a non-profit that only collects enough money to cover the cost of electricity – However, rates have gone up 5.6% each year to cover the capital costs of deploying “smart” meters and other questionable capital projects. Operations costs for SCL will be going down as a result of “smart” meters/AMI, but rates will continue to increase.
  3. Maintaining lowest electricity rates in the country – yes, but they have shifted the cost of operations to public risk and liability; fire, health, privacy, exploitation by 3rd-party marketers, ecological.
  4. Environmental benefits from less carbon emissions from meter readers driving on the road – From counterpunch.org, “Navy’s Blue Angels without noting that the jets from a typical show generate about 300,000 pounds of CO2 into the air.”  That equals 150 tons of CO2. SCL meter readers with current cars only emit 72 tons/year.
    “There is also a downside from a safety perspective for not having the monthly utility visits as outlined in one of my articles:
    A review conducted by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) found a number of problems associated with the Commonwealth Edison smart meter program that could contribute to fire-related situations.  One of the concerns identified in the ICC report is as follows:
    “When and where Illinois utilities have completed their smart meter installation programs, they will have no further need for meter readers.  With the loss of meter readers, monthly utility visits to meters and meter bases will also end.  Meter readers have always provided at least a visual, if superficial, monthly inspection of the exterior of meters and meter bases.  Meter readers are not meter experts or meter technicians, but they may identify unsafe conditions visible from the outside of the meter base, such as obvious signs of an accident and any overheating serious enough to cause discoloring of the outside of the equipment. …  The future absence of meter readers … reduce[s] the number of opportunities for utility employees to observe signs of and evaluate the potential for future meter base overheating.”
    The concern expressed by the ICC is consistent with that of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) where it stated that:
    “As utilities move to two-way communications for meters and remote meter reading, the opportunity for periodic and repetitive visual inspection of meter sockets is expected to decline radically.  The interval between site visits by utility personnel could be as much as 100 times as long as the current monthly opportunity for inspection.”
  5. More “power” in the customers hands – that’s not electrical power, that’s illusive power; the daily reads are delayed by at least 24 hours not real-time. This is not conducive to conservation, and the conservation in SCL territory is already sufficient to concern SCL about lost revenue and declining demand despite increased population.
  6. There is no cost to the customer for installing the new meters – see point 2.
  7. Many of our existing meters are far beyond their expected lifespan and need to be replaced, costs for the utility no matter what type of meter is used. – the existing analog meters have a lifespan of 40+ years versus the digital meters of 5-15 years. Costs of analog meters are cheaper per year than all the supposed benefits of digital meters. (note: SCL will claim that analog meters are no longer being manufactured, but that is an industry created supply problem to promote the less robust digital and thus more profitable, digital meters.)
  8. City Light is installing advanced meters to provide enhanced services for our customers. Daily usage (see point 5) plus …the new meters will automatically report power outages, eliminate instances of estimated bills that are currently used when a meter reader can’t access a meter, and allow for possible future services such as monthly billing, pre-pay and other optional alternative rate structures. – power outages are already automatically reported and most reports happen by phone, and continue by phone in areas that have deployed “smart” meters. Estimated billilling problems are a fabricated issue, the probability is that there will be far more complaints from higher bills from “smart” meters. Monthly billing? people might like that but that has always been possible; it had nothing to do with the meters, just the billing system. Pre-pay, same as monthly, it’s a billing process not a meter process. Alternative rate structures, last but by far not the least, otherwise known as the egregious TOU or Time-Of-Use rates, where the Utility will control when you use your electricity in favor of the wealth class (like toll roads).
  9. Those who still want to opt-out of these compelling benefits can for a small fee – So to get the services we get now for free, we will pay $125 up front and $15+ monthly. The opt-out is only available to 50% or less of the customers. But they gouge us less (by a $1 per month) than other Utilities.
  10. We will protect your privacy – it’s just electricity usage tied to your account number, with an address and name associated with it, duh. That data will go to a 3rd-Party servicer, get massaged and then go to the Utility. This promise of never compromising your data covers the Utility, ONLY, not the 3rd-Party servicer (they see $$$$ and expanding markets).
  11. The meters will be equipped with heat sensors to detect short circuits or other problems that could lead to a fire, a safety feature our existing meters don’t have. – because analog meters do not have a fire risk! The sensor is only needed because of the fragile and cheap design of digital meters in general.

Full text of Scott Thomsen’s greenwashed, propaganda response to concerned citizen:

“Advanced Metering will provide better support for customers with solar panels by allowing them to see how much their panels are producing and how much electricity their homes are using any time they want to check it on-line.

Seattle City Light is a publicly owned utility that operates as a non-profit department of the City of Seattle. We only collect enough money from our customers to cover the cost of electricity and our operations.

Advanced Metering will help City Light hold down its operating costs and continue to provide some of the lowest electricity rates of any large city in the country.

Advanced Meters are the environmentally correct choice. By eliminating the need to send meter readers to every home and business, City Light will avoid 200,000 miles of driving — and the carbon emissions associated with that driving — every year. The meters also will put more power in our customers hands so they will be able to see how much electricity they are using and how much it costs on a daily basis, which could help some customers who want to conserve energy reduce their bills.

The cost of installing the advanced meters is an operational cost for City Light and it is included in our projections for future rates. There is no separate charge for installing a new advanced meter. Many of our existing meters are far beyond their expected lifespan and need to be replaced, costs for the utility no matter what type of meter is used.

City Light is installing advanced meters to provide enhanced services for our customers. In addition to giving customers the ability to see how much electricity they are using and how much it will cost them before they get a bill, the new meters will automatically report power outages, eliminate instances of estimated bills that are currently used when a meter reader can’t access a meter, and allow for possible future services such as monthly billing, pre-pay and other optional alternative rate structures.

Advanced metering will become City Light’s standard service. Customers who decide they do not want an advanced meter will receive a non-communicating digital meter and they will be charged to cover the cost of sending a meter reader to their home. That charge will be made each billing cycle, which is currently every two months. The fee City Light has established is about $1 less than the national average among utilities with opt-out programs.

As for privacy concerns, City Light will only collect the total amount of electricity used by the home. The meters will only transmit a meter number and the total amount of electricity used. This is the information we need to generate a bill and provide the enhanced services for our customers. City Light will never share this information with anyone else.

As for safety, City Light will be installing the first electricity meters to be certified for safety by UL.

Additionally, they will be equipped with heat sensors to detect short circuits or other problems that could lead to a fire, a safety feature our existing meters don’t have.

We have been reaching out to our customers to discuss Advanced Metering for four years, including open houses, strategic planning events and hearings, information on our website, articles in our Light Reading newsletter and now during the public comments period for the opt-out policy. We appreciate the many comments we have already received. We will review them and consider possible changes before the opt-out policy is finalized.

For more information on the program, please visit seattle.gov/light/ami.

Sincerely,

— Scott Thomsen”

Here are the TRUTH about what the Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) industry and Utilities in general (and SCL specifically) are not telling the public and public officials.

  1. AMI/“Smart” Meters are revenue meters not a renewable energy grid or Smart Grid (a Smart Grid is a modernized electricity grid that enables renewable energy sharing.)
    1. Public thinks that AMI is the foundation for a “Smart” Grid that enables rooftop solar and other renewable energy, which is not true (see “Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid” white paper and other supporting articles).
  2. Intent is to upgrade revenue meters to automate services and cut union jobs. Larry Weis (the General Manager of SCL) agrees that customer benefits are a greenwash. The AMI decision was made before he joined SCL and though he said there is a business case to replace aging analog meters, AMI does little to help the environment, the customer, or society. The recent request for what would happen if the AMI project is delayed did not address the intent of the question; What breaks? (What doesn’t happen if AMI isn’t deployed?) … Nothing!
  3. The SCL Business Case Analysis focused on Build or Buy options – SCL decided to choose a 3rd Party Hosted Solution (no analysis was done for consumer value, conservation, or environment). So when they, SCL, claims that AMI will enable conservation, they have no data.
    1. Conservation has been very successful in the Puget Sound area. LED lighting, alone, shaves 85% of electricity used for lighting. Electricity demand by residential customers is down and is projected to go down for the foreseeable future, this despite the increase in customers.
  4. SCL claims AMI “Provides added safety features like sensors that can detect increasing temperatures.” Is not a benefit, because it is not needed without AMI; the sensor was added specifically to address the fire hazard issue.
  5. SCL claims that AMI will enable faster outage detection and restoration, however better detection occurs on the grid with Automated Distribution Management Systems (ADMS) with fault detection.
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“Smart” Meters Final Straw for Petersburg, VA

City on the brink: Petersburg can’t pay its bills and time is running out

By Gregory S. Schneider

She had felt sick the night before when she broke the news to department heads, and now it was 4:30 p.m. and Dironna Moore Belton still couldn’t eat her lunch. She opened her salad and found that her fiance had slipped in a note of encouragement.

She was going to need the note more than the food.

Belton, 38, the interim city manager, was about to step in front of the City Council and a packed hall of residents and tell them they had to make drastic — even shocking — cuts to city services. Reduce funding for schools whose students are already among the lowest-performing in the state. Cut fire and police in a city that has an unusually high rate of violent crime. Close departments, shrink city pay, shut down museums. Even withdraw support for the summer league baseball team.

The alternative was far worse.

Without these steps, Belton would tell them, Petersburg had about a month before it would confront the unthinkable: total collapse.

This city of 32,000 just south of Richmond is facing a financial crisis unusual for fiscally conservative Virginia — or any state. In at least the past four years, the city had spent all of its reserves and then kept spending money it didn’t have. It took out short-term loans based on anticipated tax revenue to keep paying bills.

When the loans ran out, it stopped paying. Some fire and rescue equipment has been repossessed. The city trash hauler is threatening to stop pickup. And lenders will not give Petersburg any more loans.

In his 46 years minding state ledgers in various roles, Virginia Finance Secretary Ric Brown has never seen anything like it. “As a rule, most Virginia localities are in pretty good shape,” Brown said.

What’s more, there is no mechanism in state law to help Petersburg — no provision for bankruptcy, no set way for the General Assembly to step in.

Belton’s task was to make the council confront this and act. Every member would hate to hear the message, and the prescription would draw gasps and cries of disbelief from residents at the meeting later that night. And to make it a little tougher for Belton, this toxic presentation was, in effect, her job application.

As interim city manager since March 4, Belton was living out a dream she had had since coming up through the Petersburg schools. Hers was an unlikely ambition — a young black girl hoping to lead a city that, at the time, was largely run by whites. Now she had the chance. But she had to apply for the permanent job at the same time she was recommending measures no city wants to do.

So, no, she hadn’t eaten lunch. She didn’t have the stomach for it.

Trouble with water meters

Petersburg’s budget crisis began coming to light early this year, but the city has a long relationship with suffering. Residents are quick to cite three momentous calamities, even though one occurred more than 150 years ago.

The siege of Petersburg during the Civil War continues to define the place. The fame of that nine-month stalemate, when Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant camped outside of town and residents black and white starved within, has long been a lure for history-minded tourists. Old families still tell tales of scraping by.

More recently, in 1985, the tobacco giant Brown & Williamson moved out of state, taking thousands of jobs and pulling the props out of the local economy. And in 1993, a deadly tornado blasted through the downtown historic district and set back revitalization efforts by decades.

Add in the recent recession and nationwide real estate crisis, and today Petersburg’s economy is a shambles. Nearly three in 10 residents live in poverty, more than twice the statewide rate. As the population has declined from its peak in 1980, it has also gotten older — more than 15 percent of residents are 65 or older, vs. 13 percent statewide.

And its streets of dilapidated and abandoned homes can make Petersburg the butt of jokes, such as earlier this month when actor Rainn Wilson, in town to shoot a movie, posted an Instagram photo of a boarded-up building behind a sign proclaiming “Upscale Apartment Living” and captioned it “. . . courtesy of Petersburg, Virginia.”

So it’s not surprising that the city would have budget problems. But the magnitude went either unnoticed or unaddressed. The previous city manager oversaw construction of a $12.7 million public library and, early this year, had the council considering plans to replace the 1856 city hall building with an $18 million complex. It all unraveled, however, after a problem with water meters.

A campaign to install new “smart” meters throughout Petersburg was a disaster. Some of the new devices were calibrated wrong and some were installed incorrectly. Water billings went haywire. Some residents weren’t billed for months at a time while others got exorbitant bills. And revenue stopped flowing to the city, causing a money crunch.

Mayor W. Howard Myers said the council fired in March its city manager, William E. Johnson III, in large part because of the meter fiasco. For an interim manager, city leaders turned to Belton, who had come to oversee Petersburg’s transit system in 2013 after working in state government.

“We felt she was doing a wonderful job with our bus transit system, and we felt that — being vested in the city of Petersburg — she would be the best individual to help us move forward,” Myers said.

See the rest of the story here.

 

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Smart Meters Should Do No Harm

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Smart Meters Should Do No Harm RevI discovered a new article [1] written by Nick Hunn of WiFore Consulting Ltd. regarding the status of the smart meter program in the UK, dated August 1, 2016.  In May 2016, Mr. Hunn provided testimony before the UK House of Commons’ Science and Technology’s “evidence check” as was highlighted at this website in a separate article [2].  In particular, Mr. Hunn has been critical of the smart meter’s remote disconnect capability from a cyber security perspective, stating in his testimony that:

“If somebody could hack into that or just by mistake turn off very large numbers of meters, that sudden shock of taking them off the grid, and even worse be able to turn back on at the same time, would cause significant damage.  And to me that’s an unnecessary risk.”

Hunn has a unique and colorful writing style when making his points.  His latest article reiterates concern about inherent security flaws for smart meters and that there could soon be an unraveling of the UK smart meter program due to cost overruns and fewer projected benefits.

Read rest of the article here.

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Utilities Intimidate and Browbeat Customers on Smart Meter Refusals

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Intimidate Customer on Smart Meter RefusalsGovernments and corporations are forcing utility ‘smart’ meters onto consumers’ homes saying that they give consumers control over their own energy bills.  This propaganda-like message is quite misleading and more importantly completely ignores the tremendous financial, health, safety, privacy, and cybersecurity risks that smart meters impose on consumers and society [1].

Fully informed and attentive consumers recognize the numerous risks associated with smart grid technology and may attempt to refuse smart meter installations or exercise rights to “opt-out.”

Unfortunately, electric service providers many times make it extremely difficult to opt-out of smart meter installations and in fact may intimidate, browbeat, or otherwise “nudge” consumers into submission using a number of tactics.  Let’s mention a few examples of these tactics that have come to my attention over the past few weeks.

Read the entire article

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Smart Meters and Power Outages: Myths and Realities

Smart Meters and Power Outages: Myths and Realities

By Mary at Maryland Smart Meter Awareness

During Hurricane Sandy, we heard utility spokespeople claim that smart meters would help in the event of a storm by enabling the utility to see immediately the location of all outages rather than having to wait for thousands of phone calls. This claim is misleading because the problems in restoration of service are not due to the utilities’ lack of knowledge about where the outages are, but rather to the number of outages and how prepared the utilities are to deal with them. The reason for long waits for restoration of service has to do with how many outages occur and how prepared the utility is to deal with them. In addition, the utilities do not restore power on a “first come, first served” basis. Utilities triage restoration so that their efforts bring the most people back on line in the shortest possible time. Thus regardless of how BGE becomes aware that you lost your power, you will still have to wait until you have a high enough priority before BGE restores your power. Having a smart meter is this situation will make little, if any difference in the time it takes to get your power restored.
One way to prevent widespread outages and to make restoration more effective would be to upgrade the infrastructure of the entire electric grid, an endeavor that is long overdue. This might include, for example, more underground wires and keeping those above ground in better repair. Quite obviously, a robust system that prevents outages to begin with would be far better than an alarm system that notifies the utilities of failures once they occur. As for the unavoidable outages that may still occur, utilities might take the following measures:

  • Have parts available rather than waiting until a storm to start looking for these
  • Have extra crews in place before a storm
  • Maintain and upgrade infrastructure on a regular basis

Clearly, restoration of service does NOT depend on having a smart meter on one’s house. The utilities’ ability to look at a computer to identify all the outages is not the key factor that will speed restoration. In other words, the absence of smart meters has not prohibited timely restoration of service. In fact, the opposite might be true, for two reasons:

  1.  Allocating funds for smart meters makes it less likely that sufficient money will be available for addressing infrastructure related problems that cause outages in the first place.
  2.  A wireless smart grid poses serious hacking and cyber security risks that render our power system far more vulnerable to maliciously being taken down which is not the case with the current system. This concern has been voiced repeatedly by top security experts. Thus, in deploying a wireless smart grid, we are actually opening up the likely possibility that our power system can and will be hacked into, and that more devastating outages will occur once the smart grid is in place. Instead of outages being only weather related, they will now be linked to hacking and cyber security issues as well, thus requiring yet more money to keep up with technology and security breeches.

The question to consider is: What possible benefits might smart meters have for consumers during a storm? And do these benefits outweigh the many problems posed by smart meters?

During storm Derecho in July, 2012, PEPCO already had a functioning smart grid; yet full restoration took 5-6 long, hot days. How is that an improvement over restoration of service prior to the deployment of smart meters?

Despite utility rhetoric about the capability of smart meters to alert them immediately about where outages are, the fact remains that it can take up to six hours for the outage data from a smart meter to reach the utility’s office. This fact has been acknowledged by the utilities and Smart Grid professionals themselves.

Therefore, a phone call is faster, better, and more efficient than smart meters for reporting outages. An automated phone system for notification could be highly efficient provided that the utility is set up to receive and process the calls.

Another, perhaps trivial, “benefit” of smart meters might be in the case of people who had evacuated their homes prior to a storm, and afterwards, wish to find out whether or not they have power before returning home. It may seem, at first blush, that a smart meter might be of help here because of the possibility of going to the utility website to find out about the power status of their home. However, in the event of large-scale outages, utility websites could easily be knocked offline. Moreover, as previously mentioned, it is important to understand that utilities, despite their rhetoric, do not offer real-time data online. Therefore, people could have to wait up to six hours after the fact to learn from a utility website whether their power was restored.

In addition, a utility might report that the customer’s power is on, even though the home may be uninhabitable because of flooding, or damage by fallen trees, etc. Thus, a phone call to a neighbor would still be advisable to ascertain the safety of returning home. And since a call to a neighbor must be made in any event, power status information can be gotten as well.

Even if smart meters did perform as claimed by the utilities, (which has never actually been demonstrated during outages where smart meters have been installed) for consumers who are aware of the dangers of wireless smart meters, the option of calling in their own outage is far preferable to dealing with all of the health, safety, fire, security, and privacy issues that surround these meters.

Therefore, being spared the trouble of making a phone call and/or saving some minimal, if any, amount of time for the utility to become aware of their outage, is a tiny, insignificant benefit compared to all the risks posed by having the meter. No truly informed person would ever make this choice.

If a smart grid is necessary at all, then a fiber-optic grid, which at least reduces health, security, and hacking issues, should be employed.

In summary, the claim that smart meters are going to help consumers during storms is deceptive. Smart meters do not expedite restoration. The money being invested in smart meters — which benefit only the utilities — should instead be invested so as to truly benefit the ratepayers, namely in infrastructure upgrades which would prevent outages from occurring in the first place.


*Recall the 2003 power outage, which was not related to a storm:

“It was a hot day (over 31 °C or 88 °F) in much of the affected region, and the heat played a role in the initial event that triggered the wider power outage. The high ambient temperature increased energy demand, as people across the region turned on fans and air conditioning. This caused the power lines to sag as higher currents heated the lines.”**

One significant benefit smart meters provide the utilities is to effect what utilities call Demand Response (DR). Smart meters do not address the real issues which are related to poor & antiquated long haul power transmission infrastructure, but smart meters do enable utilities to remotely control/regulate consumer appliances during high demand periods to reduce the load. Now some might say that this is necessary because there is only a limited amount of electricity available at any one time, but the reality is that utilities purchase electricity at higher rates during peak times. By automatically reducing our consumption during these times, utilities (1) don’t have to buy as much electricity at higher rates, and (2) can ignore the critical need to invest in better power transmission infrastructure. Essentially, if utilities can reduce consumption during this period, they can significantly increase their bottom line. This saves the utilities money, not the consumers***.

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Chicago Suburb Formally Requests Smart Meter Permanent Refusal Option from ComEd

by SkyVision Solutions

The Village of Burr Ridge, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, has formally requested “that Commonwealth Edison take action to work with the ICC [Illinois Commerce Commission] and General Assembly to amend its rules to allow for property owners to permanently opt out of its Smart Meter installation Program.”

Read more of this post

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Opt-Out Comments

URGENT! ACTION REQUIRED

The Seattle City Light DRAFT “Smart” meter Opt-Out Policy has been released. You have until August 15, 2016 to respond. A sample letter is included below. Share this message with 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.  Seattle City Light (SCL) also services people in Burien, Lake Forest Park, Normandy Park, Renton, SeaTac, Shoreline, and Tukwila.

First off, WHY “Smart” Meters (Advanced Metering Infrastructure – AMI) are a bad idea:

  • The “Smart” meters are NOT the “Smart” grid
    • Meters do NOT enable integration of renewable rooftop solar
    • Meters are for billing automation ONLY; reducing costs of labor, and increasing revenue for the Utility
  • The project is costly (~$100 million) for little or NO benefit to the consumer
    • Your rates are going up to pay for it
    • Your bills will be higher – bills have doubled and tripled in other cities
    • New Time-of-Use rates will be enabled (more expensive when you use power the most)
    • Digital meters need to be replaced every 5-9 years; analog meters last 40 or more
  • “Smart” meters have known fire issues recognized by the industry
    • SCL makes it clear that the base (what the meter is plugged into) is your responsibility, so if there is a fire at the meter, you will likely be liable
  • Privacy invasion – Monitoring our personal actions while we’re at home
  • The systems can be easily hacked
    • Creating new cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the electric grid
    • The data collected will be controlled by a private corporation
  • Health risks from wireless radio frequency radiation are controversial, but there is real and growing evidence that electromagnetic radiation is NOT safe
    • The industry is using the “Merchants of Doubt” tactic (using industry hacks to cloud public understanding of scientific facts to advance a political and economic agenda) to convince people there is no harm
    • Industry can NOT prove “smart” meters are safe
  • The so called “smart” meter benefits, as listed on Seattle City Light’s notice and website, are easily dismissed
  • Visit the website for more detailed information and references to the above statements www.safemeters.org

SUMA-NW is opposed to “Smart” Meters and the placebo of Opt-Out. The only fair, just solution is an Opt-In if the deployment is not canceled.
The problem with Opt-Out:

  • Only Home Owners of single family residences can participate
    • Renters, users of the electricity, must get landlords to opt-out
    • Over 50% of all SCL customers are renters
  • Multi-unit complexes (apartments or condos) cannot opt-out for individual units
  • Opting out does not protect you from the radio frequency radiation from your neighbors’ “smart” meters
  • Customers opting out pay an additional $15.87 per billing cycle, on top of the increased rates to pay for the AMI project

 

Sample Letter to Seattle City Light (Please, personalize the letter as you see fit.)


To Seattle City Light:

I do not want “smart” meters in my neighborhood, let alone on my home. The Opt-Out Policy is wholly inadequate to address my concerns.

The Advanced Metering Infrastructure provides NO benefit to me; it instead negatively impacts me whether I opt-out or not:

  • Increased cost of electricity
  • Increasing use of electricity to manage unnecessary usage data
  • Increasing electromagnetic radiation, which harms the environment and the health of every living creature
  • Increasing security risks; creating a computer network of 430,000 new access points that can potentially be hacked to attack the already vulnerable distribution grid
  • The divergence of funds to protect utility revenue rather than creating sustainable energy solutions for the future

Then there are the unaddressed concerns of:

  • Privacy rights
  • Fire hazards

Further, charging me an additional $15.87 per billing cycle, on top of already increased rates, to keep my service the way it’s been for decades, to avoid the above concerns, is unjustifiable.

As a customer of Seattle City Light, I demand a reconsideration of deploying the AMI “smart” meters, and if done at all, should be deployed as an OPT-IN only.

Sincerely,

Your Name and Email


Copy and paste this letter into an email, make any word changes or edits you want, replace highlighted text with your name and email. Email to scl_dppcoordinator@seattle.gov. We suggest cc’ing the General Manager Larry Weis, and all the Seattle City Council Members:

kshama.sawant@seattle.govsally.bagshaw@seattle.govtim.burgess@seattle.govLorena.Gonzalez@seattle.govDebora.Juarez@seattle.govbruce.harrell@seattle.gov, Lisa.Herbold@seattle.gov, mike.obrien@seattle.govRob.Johnson@seattle.gov, Larry.Weis@seattle.gov

Here is the link to the Policy and instructions for feedback from Seattle City Light:

Visit the City Light Under Public Review page to download the draft Opt-Out Policy. Hard copies of the document are also available for inspection at the Downtown Seattle Public Library, 1000 4th Avenue, Level 5: Charles Simonyi Mixing Chamber, Seattle, WA.

Comments on the draft Opt-Out Policy should be filed by mail to:
Seattle City Light General Manager and CEO
P.O. Box 34023,
Seattle, WA 98124-4023; or

send email to scl_dppcoordinator@seattle.gov

The City Light Department will accept written comments through August 15, 2016. The General Manager and CEO will then consider the public comments, and decide whether to adopt, adopt with revisions, or set aside the proposed policy.

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