As we approach the end of 2014, it is clear that it has been a devastating year for utility smart meters and smart grid advocates. Whether all utility executives yet realize it or not, smart meters have failed. They have failed miserably to the deliver the promised benefits. We are left with nothing but the increased costs and risks associated with boondoggle projects reminiscent of pork barrel spending bills approved in the middle of the night by a Congress wanting to get home for the Christmas holidays.
- Major U.S. Utility Says “No Rational Basis” for Mandating Smart Meters
- Nine Reasons Why Today’s Smart Meter Systems Are a [Big] Mistake
- The Smart Meter Canard
- Smart Meter Privacy Invasion ALERT
- Utilities Can Monitor Home Occupancy Using Smart Meters
- Ralph Nader’s Viewpoint on Smart Meters: A “Step Toward Technological Despotism”
- When Smart Meters Get Hacked: The Nightmare Scenario
- Smart Meters Can Be Hacked to Order a Power Blackout
- Smart Meters Increase the Risk of Fires!
- Smart Meter Fires Spread to Nevada: “Be Very Aware, Very Vigilant” Says Fire Chief
- Smart Meter Failures a ‘Catastrophe’ in Saskatchewan
- Analog Meters Withstand “Hot Sockets” Better Than Smart Meters
- Smart Meter Privacy Invasions Are Not Justified in a Democratic Society
- Arizona Smart Meters Not Established as Safe
- Published Article: Symptom Development from Exposure to Wireless Smart Meters
Whether the issue ranges from privacy to cyber threats to fires to health effects, it has been all bad news. Furthermore, there have been news reports that question the fundamental underpinnings of why governments and the smart grid industry were supposedly trying to ever sell us this smart meter fiasco of a project in the first place.
Cracks in the Industry NarrativeCracks in the smart grid industry narrative began to appear in June when the industry mouthpiece website SmartGridNews.com ran an article called, “Smart meters trapped between benefits and dangers, claims Forbes.” In quoting the Forbes article, SmartGridNews.com stated:“Despite the promise of empowering people through enhanced consumption data… some people are scared and resist the idea of smart metering, citing concerns about meter accuracy, data security, and health,” wrote Forbes contributor Federico Guerrini. “Privacy is probably the most sensitive issue: similarly to what happens with phone calls metadata, information about the energy consumption of a family or of an individual, can reveal a lot of details about the life of the persons monitored.”A “reality check” report was released in July by the South-central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource (SPEER) in Texas, entitled “An Update on Smart Energy in Texas.” In that report it was stated that:“Texas has nearly seven million smart meters deployed, but according to the most recently available published data:
- Only 30,000 customers log in each month to Smart Meter Texas to obtain consumption information. That’s less than ½ of one percent.
- Only 60,000 customers have ever logged in to Smart Meter Texas, or less than 1% (Smart Meter Texas, 2013).As of the last public report about Smart Meter Texas, there are only 12,000 HAN devices connected to Smart Meter Texas, or less than 1 for every 540 smart meters deployed (Smart Meter Texas, 2013). According to an anecdotal report from the Smart Meter Texas Operations Manager, that number has fallen by over 15% in the year since the report was issued.”Also in July an article was featured at Bloomberg.com regarding hackers finding an open back door to the power grid. According to the Bloomberg.com article:“Making the electricity grid greener is boosting its vulnerability to computer hacking, increasing the risk that spies or criminals can cause blackouts.”“Adding wind farms, solar panels and smart meters to the power distribution system opens additional portals through which hackers can attack the grid, according to computer security experts advising governments and utilities.”“… electronic meters that send real time power usage to consumers and utilities are providing new back-door entry paths for computer hackers to raise havoc with the grid.”There was another admission from SmartGridNews.com in late December in an article that dealt primarily with smart meter-related fires:“The fires put utilities in a bind. Smart meters have been an essential building block for the smart grid initiative and have been represented as providing several benefits, including more reliable service, enabling customers to better control their energy use and participate in money- and energy-saving programs, as well as enabling automating smart devices in their homes.”“However, several utilities have or are dealing with lawsuits and backlash from customers who do not want the advanced meters, criticism that they invite invasion of privacy and cause health problems — all issues that have led to organized groups dedicated to stopping smart meter deployments. While many utilities have fine-tuned their customer outreach and communication programs and offered or agreed to opt-out options, those solutions are likely inadequate to the task at hand: reassuring a number of wary customers that smart meters are safe.”So finally there has been at least some recognition of the “dangers” associated with smart meter technology; plus, consumers are not necessarily all that interested in reviewing their private “enhanced consumption data” that was supposedly going to “empower” them.Warnings from the UK, Canada, and Australia on CostsThen came a warning in September from the UK: “Smart metering technology ‘could be out-of-date’ by the time it is rolled out, MPs [Members of Parliament] warn” and that the Public Accounts Committee also questioned the value of the £10.6 billion project, with consumers expected to save just £26 a year.Plus, keep in mind for the UK that the measly savings of £26 a year, 2% of the average bill, is a hypothetical number that is projected if consumers change their behavior based on what the smart meters are telling them. This amounts to wishful thinking that people need or want smart meter data to reduce energy consumption.Furthermore, a new published study released in mid-December showed that in-home displays (IHDs) provided to customers in the UK in combination with smart meters would likely have little effect on influencing consumers to conserve energy. The smart meters and IHDs may have a “novelty factor” for awhile that will wear off over time.In early December, Ontario’s Auditor General in Canada reported that people in Ontario are paying billions of dollars extra for electricity thanks to a flawed smart meter program.” More specifically, it was reported that Ontario’s $1.9-billion smart meter program for hydro utilities has delivered few benefits for the hefty cost.”For a press release summarizing the Ontario Auditor General report, refer to the following link: Auditor General New Release – Smart Metering Initiative Had Serious Shortcomings – Benefits Not Yet Realized