AMI Meter Deployment has Begun
“Smart” meters, now called the new “standard” electric meters, are starting to roll out in 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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
||EMI/RFI – Electric Fields from Interference
- Opt-Out – applications are available here. We recommend:
- 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.
- Send it via certified mail
- Attach or include a letter demanding an analog meter option (suggested letter template below).
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Lorena Gonzalez*: 206-684-8802, Lorena.Gonzalez@seattle.gov
Debora Juarez *: 206-684-8807, Debora.Juarez@seattle.gov
Sally Bagshaw: 206-684-8801, email@example.com
Tim Burgess: 206-684-8806, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce Harrell: 206-684-8804, email@example.com
Lisa Herbold: 206-684-8803, Lisa.Herbold@seattle.gov
Mike O’Brien: 206-684-8800, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
- 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.
- Analog meters are safer for electrical equipment, appliances, and aged wiring.
- Analog meters are as accurate as digital meters and may be more accurate in extreme weather.
- Analog meters last for over 40 years, whereas the opt-out meter will only last 15 years at most.
- 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.
- 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.