Smart Meters

A major part of my job with the Federal government involves the use of real-time technologies to improve water management.  I often talk about the advantages, but probably short-change my discussion of the potential problems.

Time magazine in its 10 Jan 2011 edition has a article (written by Tom Mitchell) on smart meters (an application of real-time technologies):

. . . (Smart meters), millions of which have been deployed nationwide, wirelessly transmit information about household energy use to utilities.  The system is designed to cut costs in two ways:  it eliminates the need to send out meter readers, and it provides real-time consumption data, which enables utilities to charge lower rates during off-peak hours.  The idea is to encourage consumers to change their energy intensive ways; a decision as simple as when to run the diswasher can have a significant effect on the bill.

But the smart-meter rollout, which is being funded as part of a $3.4 billion upgrade of the nation’s power grid, has been met with thousands of complaints from customers across the country for a variety of reasons.  Class actions have been filed alleging overcharging.  Tea Party members in Cleveland have decried the meters as a breach of privacy.  The communities in Maine passed resolutions asking the local utility to halt installations until residents can get more information about the potential health hazards of the radio waves emitted by the devices.

The twin issues of accuracy and radio-wave hazards will be resolved (not to everyone’s satisfaction, but they will be resolved), but the issue of “a breach in privacy” is one that Americans need to take a hard look at.  Monitoring water and energy use is one thing, but the technology of the potential to be very invasive.  Privacy issues are something that all real-time monitoring systems need to consider.

This entry was posted in "Green" Homes, Environment, real-time monitoring, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Smart Meters

  1. Susan says:

    Sage Associates’ report, Assessment of Radiofrequency Microwave
    Radiation Emissions from Smart Meters, 1/1/11: shows how Smart Meters actually exceed FCC standards for radiation exposure in CA.
    I have received a Smart Meter – it has made me sick in profound ways.
    SM’s are extremely dangerous devices, I am convinced of this, so are my
    doctors. My story:
    SM’s should be banned nation-wide, and removed from all homes and
    buildings where they have been placed.

  2. Monex says:

    Similarly with heating if you use storage heaters and they will become more common you dont care when they suck in the heat as long as they heat the house the following day..If you can move the demand to a time when traditionally the requirement for electricity was low you can deliver it over the same infrastructure thereby selling significantly more electricity without having to massively upgrade the network..The upshot of this is that an increasing movable demand the ability to time shift consumption should be a strong business case for a real-time electricity market. With a real time market for electricity you need never shut down wind farms in favour of fossil fuels you sell more electricity and you enable a greater penetration of renewables onto the grid.

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