Smart Electric Meters, High Costs?

by David Griffith

In late September, City Council staff admitted Seattle’s electric utility had failed to meet revenue projections for the past four years. Despite a significant population increase, residential energy use dropped. City Light believes a large portion of the shortfall is due to conservation and a switch to more efficient energy devices. Reporter David Griffith spoke with local activist Sonia Hoglander about the utility’s plan for high-cost advanced electric meters, and its need to reduce costs.


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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.”

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Opt-Out Comments


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

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.


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 We suggest cc’ing the General Manager Larry Weis, and all the Seattle City Council Members:,,,

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

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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Seattle City Council Select Committee on SCL Strategic Plan July 2016

SUMA-NW Representatives Sonia Hoglander and Nancy Morris give testimony to the Seattle City Council opposing “smart” meters.

SUMA-NW Members Rebecca Campbell and David Ward follow up with additional testimony.

Seattle City Light was asked what the impact would be to delay the $95 MILLION AMI Project for 3 years and/or 6 years. Stunning!



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SUMA-NW Status Report July 5, 2016

Core members have been working behind the scenes over the past half year to move past the decision by the Seattle City Council (SCC) to fund the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (“smart” metering system) for Seattle City Light (SCL) in late 2014.

There have been informational presentations (big thanks to David Ward for putting together an excellent PowerPoint, which we hope to make available soon on our website), networking opportunities with certain activist groups (updates later), attendance and testimonials at the SCC, and of course flyering at various venues.

A major event was our meeting with Larry Weis, the new General Manager for SCL, confirmed on March 20, 2016.

On April 4, 2016, SUMA met with Mr. Weis, Kelly Enright (Customer Care Director and AMI Project Manager) and Sephir Hamilton (Chief of Staff). SUMA was represented by Sonia Hoglander, Nancy Morris and Dr. Timothy Schoechle. It was an informative and cordial meeting. We raised additional cost/benefit analysis issues and discussed our concern about the green-washing of alleged benefits of so called “smart” meters.

As result of that meeting and a Public Document Request we received the SCL Cost Benefit Analysis used to justify the investment in AMI. In summary the analysis:

  • Focused on Build or Buy options – they decided to choose a 3rd Party Hosted Solution (the data will be managed between the meter on your house to the billing system at SCL by an independent, for profit, corporation)
  • AMI is a Revenue Metering system; some speculate it could be part of a “Smart” Grid if it is built.
  • Cost Savings are labor focused; billing staff, meter testers, disconnect/connect services, meter readers
  • Digital meters are more precise than analog meters increasing revenue 1% per customer
  • Costs based on a 15 year lifespan of the meters

What was NOT analyzed:

  • Environmental impact, because there is no value
  • Conservation impact, because there is no value
  • Consumer risk/impact, because this is not for the customer this is for the revenue
  • Meter replacement costs; actual lifespans of meters are not what the manufacturers claim and NO digital meter can match the lifespan of an analog meter at 50 years

Reaching out to new Seattle City Council Members:

  • We sought meetings with Juarez and Gonzalez
  • We met with Juarez’s office
  • We provided updated and new information regarding the cost/benefit analysis and greenwashing

New Talking Points reflect new discoveries:

  • Greenwashing of intent to upgrade revenue meters to automate services and reduce labor costs
  • Environmental benefit exaggerated to sell SCC and public
  • Costly to consumers with no actual benefit

Proposed Strategies:

  • Network/Ally with other activist groups
  • Reach out to City Council members, Chambers of Commerce, Town Halls
  • Organize mass opt-outs by city/neighborhood
  • Shift focus from Anti-AMI to Pro-Grid modernization
  • Tabling and Presenting at SolarFest in Shoreline July 23rd
    • Volunteers are welcome

We are planning a General Meeting in late Summer to early Fall, to present our Mass Opt-Out Campaign.

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Business Case Argument to Seattle City Council 2016

Seattle City Light Business Case from November 2014. (Business Case Analysis focused on Build or Buy options  – they decided to choose a 3rd Party Hosted Solution (not on consumer value, conservation, or environment).SCL-Business Case Update Report_V4 – 20160426 City Light
“Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid.”  “Why are federal stimulus programs underwriting billions of dollars of ‘dumb’ smart meters for utility companies – with taxpayer dollars – meters that will soon be obsolete and not integrate with, or enable, the ‘smart grid’ of the future on which U.S. energy sustainability depends?” Download the white paper at: .
‘Smart meter’ contractor, city of Port Angeles settle on failed project
‘Smart meter’ contractor, city of Port Angeles settle on failed project. (October 22, 2104)
City Settles Smart Meter Conflict (Port Angeles)  “City “Made Whole” in Terminating Smart Meter Contract.”  (October, 2014).         

Direct Testimony of Maximilian Chang On Behalf of Maryland Office of People’s Counsel, February 8, 2016BEFORE THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF MARYLAND.  (Economic assessment of Baltimore Electric’s rate increase requests and justifications.  In part the rate increase is due to their AMI smart meter program now in it’s fifth year.  This testimony further details a number of the “greenwashing” points of AMI that Safe Utility Meters Alliance NW (SUMA-NW) has  brought up to Seattle City Council members,). Chang Public – FINAL

Comments of Public Service Company of New Hampshire DBA Eversource Energy, before the State of New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission.  This is a succinct presentation of implementing a modernized electric grid without AMI. 15-296 2015-09-17 EVERSOURCE COMMENT
Assessing the Prevalence of Bias in Studies Showing Savings Linked to Energy Consumption Feedback (Part 1)
“Key Article Point: Based upon the positive biases that are inherent in energy consumption feedback studies, there is considerable doubt on the validity of
 estimates that smart meters can deliver the promised energy savings.”
Smart Meter Deployments: Based upon Biased and False Assumptions for Providing Eco-Feedback to Consumers (Part 2)
“What if the billions and billions of dollars being spent to deploy so-called “smart meters” were found to be justified based upon biased and false assumptions?  Should consumers still be required to pay for smart meters that were erroneously promoted as being installed for their benefit, i.e., to help them manage their energy bills? This article will demonstrate that based upon the latest research and under the most optimistic circumstances, consumers within the general population might reduce their energy consumption by only as much as 0.5 to 0.7 % if they have access to enhanced feedback from smart meters.”
“Smart Meters Have a Life of 5 to 7 years.”(Congressional testimony)
. . .”You can see why I think it is a big deal for a utility executive to mention that the life of a ‘smart’ meter is only 5 to 7 years.  A value of 15 years or more is usually utilized in utility cost-benefit analyses for ‘smart’ meter deployments.”  . . .

 “EMERGING RISK INSIGHTS:” Swiss Reinsurance report.    

“If a direct link between EMF and human health problems were established, it would open doors for new claims and could ultimately lead to large losses under product liability covers.  Liability rates would likely rise.”  (Overall impact – High; Time frame >10 years). ”  Quote  taken from page 12 of this 2013 document.  Underwriters advise insurance companies about risk in relation to a product.  They consider exposure to wireless technology (includes smart meters) a leading risk to health greater than health damages caused by GMO’s, damages from fracking, by the re-emergence of asbestos, and nanotechnology. 

Concerns on Advanced Metering Infrastructure.  Sonia Hoglander presenting at The Select Committee on Utility Strategic Planning – 9/18/2014, on behalf of SUMA-NW;   several members of Seattle City Council were attending.  Presentation begins at ~31:20 minutes into the video:
SUMA-NW PowerPoint to the Seattle City Council by Sonia M. Hoglander
“Smart Meter Remote Disconnect: An ‘Unnecessary Risk’ for Signigicant Damage to the Grid.”  . . . Nick Hunn: “The concern I have is that every smart meter has an isolation switch so it can be remotely connected from the supply. … 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.” . . . 
“Catastrophic Failures Expected with “Smart Meters.”
‘Smart’ Meters are expected to occasionally fail catastrophically while analog meters do not have that failure mode.  This was the information presented by an industry representative at a recent conference sponsored by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI).
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