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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