Smart Meter Faces Growing Problems

Smart Meter Faces Growing Problems

The Smart Meter Challenge: To Help Conserve Energy

I don’t know, maybe you need to live next door to an open pit coal mine in order to be more understanding of the deployment of smart meters. If you want to help protect the ecosystem, save mother earth for the generations, and reduce carbon in the air – then stay home, conserve strength, and stop complaining about smart meters. At some point, a century old delivery system was going to have to be upgraded. The milkman is a thing of the past, and now, the meter reader is slowly disappearing.

California nearly has the Oregon Trail running in reverse. The state is bogged down in a growing fight over the installing of smart meters. In the State’s hot central valley, residents complained that the smart meters spiked their utility bills. In San Francisco, a small but vocal group have been arguing that the antennas are a possible health threat. People in Bolinas and Berkeley have been seen holding up signs declaring “ban the smart meters”. Meanwhile, the town of Fairfax and Santa Cruz County are considering to ban the smart meters all together.

Angry homeowners have accused the meters of gross inaccuracy, blaming them for monthly bills that almost doubled. at the minimum 450 PG&E customers have filed formal complaints with the State Public Utility commission. California regulators have set afloat an independent investigation that will subject the devices to a battery of lab and field tests.

And it’s not just California. In Texas, “hundreds” of customers in Oncor’s service district are complaining that the smart meters are not accurate and are causing high energy bills. In Maryland, the Public sets Commission has denied a proposal by Baltimore Gas & Electric to install 1.36 million smart meters. The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners supported the finding that the smart meter program may not be in the best interest of the customer.

Contributing to inaccurate strength bills is one thing, but there is some evidence of other technical problems. The AMI-SEC Task Force has been working on developing security guidelines and best practices for the smart meter infrastructure. The Task Force is considering the possible problem of cross-site request forgery. Cross site request forgery allows a hacker to hijack cookies stored in a user’s browser and acquire access to the users system. In other words, is a smart meters radio signal obtain?

Seemingly lost in all the complaints and angry customers, is what the smart meter was designed to do. Very simply, it was designed to bring the delivery system into the 21st century. There are all kinds of tools, gadgets and sets being developed that will manage a home’s carbon footprint, control energy use and pinpoint energy hogs. The technology will be in place that will let your cell phone monitor your home’s energy usage while you are on vacation in Brazil.

Pacific Gas & Electric has installed 6.7 million smart meters since 2007. That method millions of smart meters are doing just fine.

One PG&E customer reports that a smart meter was installed at his house several months ago and just last week began to let him monitor his electric usage on a PG&E website. Being a bit of a tech geek, he reports that he gets a little granular by charting his strength usage hour-by-hour, pinpointing strength spikes and seeing how lifestyle affects energy consumption. He learned that 21 days into his billing cycle he had used $11 worth of electricity and that his projected total bill will be between $15 and $20. He knows that his strength usage peaks around 6 AM and again at 8 PM and that he is using slightly fewer kilowatts this year than the same time last year. He has been able to set up an email alert that notifies him if his electrical consumption kicks him into a higher rate tier.

People did not brave the Oregon Trail and displace thousands of Native Americans just to reach the level of a milkman and a meter reader. The old mechanical spinning wheel meters have been in place since the hand cranked telephone. I think it’s high time we let the electric meters show a little advancement. If you agree with me, send me an email from your cell phone with your picture attached.

Maybe I will leave an energy efficient LED light on for you…Don Ames

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