Smart Meters (Part 2)

Posted on 25 March 2013 by heatingcoolingsource

By B. Stephens PhD Ed.

Opposition and Concerns
Some groups have expressed concerns regarding the cost, health, fire risk, security and privacy effects of smart meters and the remote controllable “kill switch” that is included with most of them. Many of these concerns regard wireless-only smart meters with no home energy monitoring or control or safety features. Metering-only solutions while popular with utilities because they fit existing business models and have cheap up-front capital costs… Often the entire smart grid and smart building concept is discredited in part by confusion about the difference between home control and home area network technology and AMI. Attorneys General of both Illinois and Connecticut stated that they do not believe smart meters provide any financial benefit to consumers.
In 2011 a Consumers Digest article “Why Smart Meters Might Be a Dumb Idea”, the article presented several concerns including, that pricing of the utility may become scheduled and become detrimental to users unable to adapt their use and equipment to meet new policies. Customers may need to purchase equipment and appliances designed to interface effectively with the new meters. This could be an additional financial burden to customers, especially those least able to afford new equipment when their present equipment works. Smart meters in some countries also can deny service or charge premiums to customers who exceed limits set by the company.
The publication also suggests that the smart meters may never curtail electricity use and that customers would never see the energy and cost savings being promoted during a projected 23-year analysis in return for the investments they will be required to make. Hardware and software upgrades are required at the expense of customers. Additionally they say that it could cost customers thousands of dollars to replace appliances and equipment with the new smart appliances being designed now to interface with the proposed meters. Other concerns relate to a remote controller “kill switch” incorporated into most smart meters.

Smart Meter Backlash
Most health concerns about the meters arise from the pulsed radiofrequency (RF) radiation emitted by wireless smart meters. Members of the California State Assembly asked the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) to study the issue of potential health impacts from smart meters. CCST issued a report in April 2011 finding no health impacts, based both on lack of scientific evidence of harmful effects from radio frequency (RF) waves and also on the observation that the RF exposure of people in their homes to smart meters is likely to be minuscule compared to RF exposure to such items as cell phones and microwave ovens.
Most security concerns center on the inherent hack-ability of wireless technology, combined with the remotely controllable “kill switch” incorporated into smart meters. Others have accused agencies of hiding smart meter plans under the term “smart grid” to avoid public input and obtain approval.
Reviews of smart meter programs, moratoriums, delays, and “opt-out” programs are some of the responses arising in response to the concerns of customers and government officials. In response to concerns and a lawsuit, in June 2012 a utility in Hawaii changed their smart meter program to “opt in”
After receiving numerous complaints about health, hacking, and privacy concerns with the wireless digital devices, the Public Utility Commission of the US state of Maine voted to allow customers to opt out of the meter change at a cost of $12 a month. In Connecticut, another US state to consider smart metering recently, regulators declined a request by the state’s largest utility, Connecticut Light & Power, to install 1.2 million of the devices, arguing that the potential savings in electric bills do not justify the cost. CL&P already offers its customers time-based rates. The state’s Attorney General as quoted as saying the proposal would cause customers to spend upwards of $500 million on meters and get few benefits in return, a claim that Connecticut Light & Power disputed.