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As Towns Say No, Signs of Rising Resistance to Smart Meters

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The fight against Smart Meters is starting to heat up. I know that we had to pay $75 to "opt out" and a monthly fee of around $5.

BRADY, Tex. — In October, the City Council of this Central Texas town voted unanimously to purchase advanced electric meters, known as smart meters, for the city-owned electric utility. But some residents resisted, and the smart meter vote played a large role in last weekend’s recall of the city’s mayor and the electoral defeat of two council members.

Voters here passed a referendum last weekend to enshrine in the City Charter the right of residents to refuse the installation of smart meters on their property. Sheila Hemphill, an organizer of the effort, called the victory her “San Jacinto.”

The reaction in Brady could signal a shift in the debate over smart meters, which collect detailed data on electricity use and transmit it to the utility using radio frequencies. A raft of bills were introduced during the legislative session that would allow individuals to keep their old meters, but all have faltered. Local resistance to smart meters, however, appears to be rising.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/us/as-texas-towns-say-no-signs-of-rising-resistance-to-smart-meters.html?_r=0

Alex Jones interviews Sheila Hemphill...

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There was a guy at our neighborhood association meeting going on and on about these. When he asked if anybody heard about it, nobody raised their hand. He said "Come on people.... it's all over there on the internets..... wake up."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

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We've had them for several years. We weren't given any choice in the matter, even though we were paying for them. PUC says okay, we're stuck with it. So far, I'm not aware of any issues apart from the fact that my dogs no longer get to enjoy chasing the meter reader out of the yard.

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To be fair, you have to care about your life and general well-being, as well as those around you, to be interested in things like smart meters. Given that most people can't wait to suck down another supersized meal from MCD's, or consume as much GMO as possible, in their rush to watch 2-3 hours of TV per night while their kids play video games and troll the internet in their bedroom... I think it's pretty obvious that we're talking about a small group of people that care about smart meters. But that doesn't mean it's not important.

There is a group in our area that has been fighting Southern California Edison on these. It's definately slowed the roll-out. And we got the choice to opt-out, for a charge and excessive monthly fees. This lady went about it in an interesting way, because she changed the city charter to mandate consumers have a right to choose, as opposed to litigation. I'm not sure if changing the city charter is an option everywhere, but it might be.

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To be fair, you have to care about your life and general well-being, as well as those around you, to be interested in things like smart meters. Given that most people can't wait to suck down another supersized meal from MCD's, or consume as much GMO as possible, in their rush to watch 2-3 hours of TV per night while their kids play video games and troll the internet in their bedroom... I think it's pretty obvious that we're talking about a small group of people that care about smart meters. But that doesn't mean it's not important.

There is a group in our area that has been fighting Southern California Edison on these. It's definately slowed the roll-out. And we got the choice to opt-out, for a charge and excessive monthly fees. This lady went about it in an interesting way, because she changed the city charter to mandate consumers have a right to choose, as opposed to litigation. I'm not sure if changing the city charter is an option everywhere, but it might be.

We opted out... and then they installed it anyways.

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We opted out... and then they installed it anyways.

Did you complain and have them remove it? Within a week of opting out, they sent someone to our house who attached a big yellow tag to our meter that says "Opt Out", or something like that. It's still there. It's pretty unsightly, but I dare not remove it as I suspect that one day I'd come home from work to find a smart meter installed, even though I paid and continue to pay to keep it off my house.

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What is the problem with the smart meter, or the perceived problem anyway?

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Did you complain and have them remove it? Within a week of opting out, they sent someone to our house who attached a big yellow tag to our meter that says "Opt Out", or something like that. It's still there. It's pretty unsightly, but I dare not remove it as I suspect that one day I'd come home from work to find a smart meter installed, even though I paid and continue to pay to keep it off my house.

My father complained, but ultimately they somehow convinced him to just keep it.

The guy who came around to check the meters before was pretty salty about the whole thing with my dad one day too, like it was his decision to do it. Cmon guy, we tried to opt out!

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I do care about my life and well being. That doesn't mean I scour the internet and believe every theory out there on youtube. If I did then I'd accept my government was out to kill me anyway so whats the point in worrying about some microwaves....

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My father complained, but ultimately they somehow convinced him to just keep it.

The guy who came around to check the meters before was pretty salty about the whole thing with my dad one day too, like it was his decision to do it. Cmon guy, we tried to opt out!

Given the number of people across the Country who have been arrested for refusing to allow their power company access to install a smart meter on their home, your dad probably did the right thing and let him do it.

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I do care about my life and well being. That doesn't mean I scour the internet and believe every theory out there on youtube. If I did then I'd accept my government was out to kill me anyway so whats the point in worrying about some microwaves....

+1

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After 5 minutes of quick research it appears the concern is founded in a number of areas:

1. Privacy:

---1a. Concern over the data that may be being send to the utility. Apparently there are even some appliances that interface with this meter and can send specific usage information to the utility rather than just general load information.

---1b. Because this setups up a two way, wireless communication between your house and the utility, there is concerns that a third party could hack the wireless communication and not only read whatever usage data is going around, but even possibly access a "remote kill" option that is built into many of the devices. Meaning someone could possibly cut power to your house by hacking the signal.

2. Health: There are concerns by some that the signal will be bad for people's health. Supposedly there was a study that was done in California that determined any radiation caused by the smart meter is dwarfed by common use of cellphones or microwaves.

3. Cost:

---3a. Appliance cost - There seems to be some people who feel that consumer will be required to upgrade appliances that are compatible with the new smart meters. I haven't seen any detailed data on this yea or nay. I suspect that consumers wouldn't be forced to upgrade thought they may be forced to either buy a compatible device when they would normally buy a new appliance anyway or possible by some sort of adapter (not until the digital TV thingie recently) to make old devices at least run with the new meters.

---3b. System costs:

------3b.i.: It appears that the cost of the system is being passed on to the consumers, and even the opt out options require the consumer to pay extra. This despite at least some studies showing no over all gain in lower consumer costs in the long term. (The smart meter is being 'sold' as a way to control and reduce energy usage and help keep costs down by the utilities. But whether it actually does this or not is very much up for debate. Yet the utilities aren't going to bear a lot of the cost involved, so they don't really care.)

------3b.ii.: There is concern about upgrading, both software and hardware, that may need to be done over the life of a smart meter. These costs would probably be passed to the consumer.

In my ever so humble, largely uninformed opinion: (Scale 1-5: 1 = Not a concern at all, 5 = a major concern)

1.a: 2: Depending on how much detail is actually sent they may be invading your privacy slightly. To what end? There isn't a lot they could do with it legally other than report generalities to local governments. But there is always the possibility of law enforcement getting the data. Again, I'm not sure how bad this will or won't be.

1.b: 2: While possible, I'm sure it's doing to be very difficult. And the question is: Why would anyone do it? If it's just a prank, that's bad, but extremely unlikely to ever happen to you. If it's deliberate sabotage people could do that anyway with a fire ax to the wires going into your house, or do something equally bad to you by hacking your home computer.

2. 1: I tend to agree with the report: We get some much radiation anyway from so many other sources. Granted, it may not be good to add one more, even a very minor one more, but if radiation if your concern you should be looking at many other much worse areas of exposure first.

3.a: 3: Again, I tend to think we won't be FORCED to replace existing, working appliances, but I can see a requirement for future purchases to be "smart meter compatible." I dislike the further intrusion of privacy and I hate the idea of having to spend more for something that likely isn't going to be of an benefit for me.

3.b.i: 5: If this is something that will save the utilities that much money, why aren't they paying for it out of their pocket and just collecting the savings on the back end? Why do consumers have to foot the bill for the "upgrade" with no promise or certainty of long term savings?

3.b.ii: 3: I suspect meters would have to be replaced more often as new standards and technology come out, but I don't see it happening on a regular, every year or every other year basis. And I don't think software upgrades will be billed to customers.

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-2........Minus two for the two Chicago women arrested for refusing to allow a smart meter to be installed. Big Brother IS WATCHING YOU!

From your story:

“No matter where you move, no matter what jurisdiction you move into, you agree to all that stuff. If you’re in the city of Chicago, or the city of Elgin, or wherever you’re at – the city of Naperville – that’s city property,” the [police] officer said. “The law allows it.”
When Stahl [the home owner] stood in front of her old meter to block the crews, she was arrested for interfering with a police officer. After officers slapped the cuffs on her, she said, “This is supposed to be America, and people are supposed to have the right to protect their property.”

So... who's right? Is this city property? If so then the city has the right to replace it and you need to fight it legally. If it's personal property, then you have the right to refuse. Of course, you also have the right to refuse even if it's city property, but then you're breaking the law so be prepared for the consequences of your chosen actions.

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To be fair, you have to care about your life and general well-being, as well as those around you, to be interested in things like smart meters.

Sorry, but all my excess time is being used up to inform the world about our bee shortage, which i'm sure you are actively involved in as well, assuming you care about your life and general well-being of course.

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Sorry, but all my excess time is being used up to inform the world about our bee shortage, which i'm sure you are actively involved in as well, assuming you care about your life and general well-being of course.

I am well aware of the bee shortage and complain about it to my wife all the time, as my garden suffers for it. I posted this on 10/26/12:

It really depends upon what kind of bees they are, but I would just leave it there undisturbed. Bees are vital to the environment and pollenation of surrounding vegetation, flowers, gardens, etc. Odd are, as Greenwit has posted, that it is empty if they are not honey bees.

But if you are convinced you have to do something, I'd call a local beekeeper to check it out.

There is a real bee shortage in this country now, as they are all dying off --- likely the cause of GMO plants which have insectides built into them, which many suspect are affecting bee populations.

http://www.motownsports.com/forums/motownsports-bar-grill/99300-beehive.html#post2829812

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<facepalm> <sound = loud exhale> You win </sound> </facepalm>

To be honest, I care a lot about bees. Some estimate that one-third of the human diet can be traced directly, or indirectly, to bee pollination. This estimate is probably more accurate for human diets in developed countries. Someday I'd like to live on property where I can have bee hives.

But I'd rather talk about smart meters here...

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While I can understand people being worried about data being collected, business and government are inundating themselves with data and can't manage it, use it, and analyze it worth crap in most circumstances. The only folks particularly good at it are google and credit card companies.

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While I can understand people being worried about data being collected, business and government are inundating themselves with data and can't manage it, use it, and analyze it worth crap in most circumstances. The only folks particularly good at it are google and credit card companies.

I'm primarily concerned about the health impacts of smart meters, and secondarily concerned about the ability to restrict usage in peak times (anyone who lived through rolling blackouts knows what I'm talking about) or as a part of mandated carbon tax limits down the road.

But in terms of collection of data, while I can't speak to the government per se, there are a lot of companies that do a great job of data collection and building personal databases on everyone. About 6-7 years ago, I financed the buyout of one such company. They collected huge amounts of data, and then would sell the database to various businesses to data mine for marketing purposes. As part of the due diligence process, I had them pull up their database on me, to test the accuracy and depth of the data. It was amazingly accurate, and quite scary. From every address and every phone number (and I moved a lot), to every subscription, internet paid content (including the embarrassing adult sites, that I thought no one would ever find out about), mail order purchases, and much more. It would not be hard for the government to get this content sorted in a database. Given that social security numbers are used for identification on almost every account (including utilities) it would not be hard to map this data to other databases. Just time and money, and the government has unlimited availability of money.

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The government is really dumb at it. Trust me on it.

You're shocked, I'm sure.

I used to work for a company that built a product that sounds pretty similar to what you're talking about. The problem is the data isn't really that good. A lot of assumptions are made, and not made consistently. But people will pay for it, for sure.

Don't get me wrong, I'm wary of them collecting it too. I just don't think they'll do anything wth it, because they can't

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What's the advantage over the old dumb meters? That there's no meter reader wages to pay? Anything else?

Supposedly the idea is that with better data about usage companies can better predict loads. They might also be able to encourage less usage during peak times by being able to charge more for electrical usage during peak times and less during off peak times. Theoretically this could lead towards reduced costs to the consumer. But of course this is all conjecture and at least one study done in Chicago showed this having zero effect on consumer energy usage.

This of course leads to my biggest beef with this idea: It sounds like in most places consumers are footing the bill for the upgraded system with a promise that it might maybe result in lower costs. The energy companies are eager to try it because they are in a no-lose situation. If it works, great! Everyone benefits. If it doesn't work, who cares? We didn't spend hardly anything on it.

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What's the advantage over the old dumb meters? That there's no meter reader wages to pay? Anything else?

The benefits as extolled by the California PUC:

1. Allows for faster outage detection and restoration of service. Because we all know that no one complains to the utility companies when they lose power. I suspect most people just roll with it for 4-5 days before bothering to let anyone at the utility know they are out of power. No one would call right away or anything.

2. Provides customers with greater control over their electricity use when coupled with time-based rates. Specifically they cite the consumer's ability to monitor their energy consumption. And you can " participate in time-based rates offered by the utility, they have the opportunity to lower their electricity demand during 'peak' periods". In other words, hand control over your energy usage to the Utility Company, so they can limit your power during peak periods... and you can get a discounted price.

3. Allows customers to make informed decisions by providing highly detailed information. Real time energy usage data and you can receive text alerts if you are using too much engergy!!!!! Yay!!!! Other than the fact that this is the same as benefit #2 essentially, the number of people who will gain benefit from hourly monitoring of their energy consumption is extremely small.

4. Helps the environment by reducing the need to build power plants, or avoiding the use of older, less efficient power plants as customers lower their electric demand. It takes a lot of assumption to jump this shark. But what this boils down to is that they expect everyone to cut their engery usage as a result of smart meters, which hasn't happened to date with smart meters having been installed for years in some places.

5. Increases privacy because electricity usage information can be relayed automatically to the utility for billing purposes without on-site visits by a utility to check the meter. Having someone walk by the outside of my house to read a meter is less invasive than electronically monitoring my usuage on a real-time basis. With technology to actually read what devices are using the energy right around the bend? This argument is weak with James Dean cream sauce shot across the top.

6. Smart Meters are the first step toward creating a Smart Grid in California. Oooh, finally, the NOT smart grid. The smart grid concept is a boondoggle that will only benefit corporate interests at the expense of the citizens. Radiofrequency radiation from all the devices that they wish to turn into wireless plugins to the smart grid is terrible for human beings, and the environment in general. The stated benefits of a smart grid sound nice and all save the environmen-ty, but in reality it puts all control into beauracracies that will control the grid. I guess that's fine if you like a big bowl of RF radiation for breakfast and no control over parts of your life, but that's not my thing.

So what really are the benefits of the smart meter? We are all waiting for the utilities to tell us.

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