June Update & Opt-Out Addendum

Featured

  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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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 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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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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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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SolarFest 2016

FSolar Fest 2016 Sonjaun was had by all. Overall, SUMA-NW was well received at SolarFest this year. We made a presentation at 10AM, just as the fair started. We used a flip chart to make three take-away points:

 

  1. Smart Meters are NOT the Smart Grid
  2. Markets will lead the way NOT the Utilities
  3. Take Action for healthy, cost effective Solutions

The first point is the conflated WP_20160723_11_12_43_Prodefinition and greenwashing clarification. We left this chart up throughout the day and it was an eye-opener to most people. All along, people were surprised that being against so called “smart” meters did NOT mean we were against the actual “smart” GRID. This is very important information. Our booth emphasized the fire hazard today.

“Smart” Meters

“Smart” Grid

Centralized Revenue Control No New Meters required
Fire Hazard Distributed Renewable Energy Generation
Costly (Capital, rates, TOU) Sensors for outage detection
Loss of Privacy Electricity Supply/Demand Balancing
Health Risk Reduces use of Fossil Fuels
Grid Vulnerability by Hacking (9/30 substations) Creates Green Jobs
Negative Environmental impact
Automation = Job Loss

WP_20160723_11_19_02_ProThe second point was about Utilities versus the Markets. The Markets will be the driving force of rooftop solar energy and any renewable energy generation. The Utilities are stuck in a century old model that cannot change with the times. Seattle City Light for all its virtues as a carbon neutral, green energy provider are forced to focus on economies-of-scale, reducing costs by automating billing and other field services with “smart” meters. Demand for electricity, especially among residential customers, is going down just with conservation and energy efficiency programs. The Utility simply CANNOT afford to support decentralized, renewable energy. This is why incentives are being reduced and solar is NOT being promoted.

Utilities Market
Centralized Distributed
Fixed production Innovative
Inflexible Flexible
Need to control users Independence
Need to maintain or increase demand Installations of Solar up 94% since 2015
Economies of Scale Solar power becoming more affordable
Increasing rates built in Decreasing cost built in
Monopoly, no incentive to change Driving innovation and change
1 producer, many users Many producers, many users

WP_20160723_11_28_30_ProFinally, we talked solutions, what actions can we the public take to move the conversation towards progress, cost effective, renewable energy integration into the electricity grid. We started the conversation with these obvious ideas:

 

Solutions

Construction Codes
Incentive Policies
Community Organizing
Need Storage R&D

One person in our audience suggested creating special loan products that allowed people to pay the same monthly rate for electricity but to a loan provider, and the loan could be sold with the house. What a brilliant idea.

Solar Fest 2016-rs2Thanks to John Frink, Nancy Morris, Carolyn Mateos, and Sonia Hoglander for manning the booth. Thanks to Cher and David Ward for helping with equipment and materials.

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