Wednesday, December 5, 2012


A new product hits the market.  You hear the hype.  It's the greatest thing since sliced bread.  It's an Iphone, or a Cuisinart food processor, or On Star for your car.  Whatever the new product is, it is supposed to make your life easier and take away all of your work and worries.  At the risk of sounding like that guy they called the "unibomber" who hated technology, I have a gadget for you that is not going to make your life easier.  In fact its true intention is to make your life miserable....unless of course you are the strange type of person who wants someone else to make all of your decisions for you. 

Why would the Federal government grant millions and millions of our tax dollars to companies to develop Smart Meters for utilities, water, electric, and gas?  And then spend more millions on propaganda to tell us we must stop or reduce using fossil fuels and water?  And then spend more millions of dollars to set up regional bureaucratic boards under the "Sustainable Communities Initiative," boards that are designed to regulate water use, land use, and fuel use in these extra-jurisdictional regions? Why?

You get two correct answers on this one.  
#1.  Large utility corporations, most of whom already have monopolies,  are making deals with the  Federal government (using our tax dollars) that will allow them to sell less of their products at higher prices.  
#2. Our Federal government has made deals with the UN and third world nations, promising that the U.S. will stop and reduce using resources for our prosperity and well-being. 

If you replied with either or both of those answers, BINGO!  You win the prize.  (I don't actually have a prize to give you except for an "atta boy, " but I'll give you that!)

The premise for this assumes you actually still own or rent a house and run appliances such as an HVAC system, a refrigerator, a washer and dryer, a coffee pot, a hair dryer, etc.  These modern devices have made our lives better by large degrees.  We are no longer having to use wash-boards and our knuckles to wash our clothes. (My knuckles are very grateful, no doubt about that!)  We can dry our hair quickly in order to get to work on time.  We don't have to haul water from the river or a well to take a bath.  We are extremely more productive because we have climate control of our homes and work spaces. 

Oh, no...we can't have that, now can we!!  Especially if the rest of the world is not as capable of doing all of those things.  Why, we must be evil monsters to be heating and cooling our homes in a practical and efficient way, while the rest of the world doesn't.  Envy is a powerful tool.  Technology can be a huge blessing.  Or it can be used as a curse and a weapon against you.

The utility companies are putting out some massively seductive propaganda for Smart Meters.  If you know what the ultimate outcome will be, the propaganda is truly laughable.  If you don't know what it really is, you are going to swallow it, hook, line, and sinker. 

To understand how this will happen, start with the fact that your home's new digital meter will let information flow back and forth between your home and Duke Energy. That means information about your energy use will be transmitted in near-real time and available to you through your home computer, your smart phone or technology such as a home energy manager. As a result, you won't have to wait for a monthly bill to check on your usage. Instead, you'll be able to monitor your previous day's usage and, if you want, modify the ways you and your family are using electricity to better control costs. How you use the information is completely up to you – and only you, since the new grid gives consumers, not utility companies or the government, more power over energy choices.

Better control over your energy use and costs is just one of the advantages the  modernized grid will offer almost immediately. Another includes greater reliability throughout the entire power distribution network helping both prevent and pinpoint power outages in events such as storms. In addition, the modern day  grid will mean that Duke Energy representatives will no longer need to enter homes or come onto your property to read meters. Occasionally, we may need to have access to the meter for routine maintenance, but we'll let you know before we arrive. And the new technology will make flexible billing and payment options available to many.

If you believe all of that, I have a bridge in Arizona to sell you.  First of all, there are several canards in there.  I already have a meter that is read by remote from a truck that drives around and reads my meter from the street.  So there is no need for the meter reader to come into my property, or yours, anyway.  The utility company doesn't have a problem pinpointing problem areas now when there is an outage.  So the Smart Grid / Meters don't make any special improvements on that score.  As you can see from the first sentence, they mean to have real time information flowing back and forth between your house or business to their equipment, monitored by them.  And they are regulated by the government.   Who do you think wants that information and why?  

Do you really want to spend time every day monitoring your watts per hour?  Is that how best your time can be spent?   You aren't busy enough already?  A monthly bill isn't good enough for you?'s good enough for me.  I frankly don't envision spending my time micromanaging, hour by hour, what my energy, water, and gas usage is.  But they will.  Trust me.

In the future, the new grid will mean you can track exactly which appliances and equipment are costing you the most in energy use, letting you make changes to save on costs. Plus you'll be able to program your heating and cooling system, dishwasher, water heater and other appliances for greater efficiency. The technology  will  let you control your thermostat and appliances remotely and even alert you when you're approaching your own designated monthly energy budget.
The plan involves some really fun aspects to control your life.  This includes charging higher rates for "peak" time use.  It also includes allowing the utility company to regulate your appliances and thermostat.  Yes it does!  My son is currently living in Finland.  He tells me the thermostat goes to 72 degrees....period.  He asked someone about it.  They said, "That's what you get." "No more."  The high outside temperature there today is 28 degrees. I cannot attest to the efficiency of the HVAC system in his home.  (He is on assignment for the Air Force.)

When they talk about programming your appliances for greater efficiency...what that means is this:  If you turn on your dishwasher, your refrigerator energy automatically reduces to accommodate the dishwasher.  If you turn on the shower, using your hot water heater?  Your HVAC system shuts down until you finish your shower.  Wonder how the rest of the folks in the house will like that?  Hmmmm...

Oh, did I mention that appliance manufacturers want to buy this information from the utility companies?  And that the utility companies will be making money selling that information to appliance manufacturers....without your permission, by the way?  So then you can be inundated with appliance manufacturers and retail outlets bombarding you with sales pitches on replacing your appliances, telling you your appliances are not up to date enough and you must buy new ones that talk back to the Smart Meter the utility company just put on your home and business.  

Yep, Smart Meters are just great!  Can't wait til everyone is hooked up on those babies. 

Did I mention there are serious high radiation / health concerns that come with that Smart Meter installation?  And the occasional fires caused by Smart Meters?  And your power, water, and gas can be shut down by remote by the provider....or a hacker?  And that this doesn't save you a dime, but makes buckets and buckets of money for utility companies?

This is not the Nanny you want taking care of you, friends.   This would be called the NIGHTMARE NANNY. 

(Note: I have written Duke Energy and the Public Utilities Commission in my state and told them, in no uncertain terms, that I refuse to have a Smart Meter placed on my home.  I have placed a label on my electric meter saying NO SMART METER!  My advice:  If you have any energy left after all of the onslaught against our personal liberties that we are experiencing, start yelling loud and clear to your city, county, state, and utility providers that you will NOT accept a Smart Meter on your home or business. It is going to take a massive backlash from all of us to stop this dangerous insult to our liberties.) 
Here are some links to labels and information for you:
No Smart


  1. My utility company offered me $50.00 if I let them install one. For sure, when the time is right they can turn the whole thing offvatvwill. Great post. All part of the program.

  2. Makes you wonder, doesn't it, Bunker? If these things are so great, why do they need to bribe people to take them? Well, we know the answer to that. Or punish people who refuse to take them? The opt-out fees in some places are very expensive. In fact, tragic for people who are struggling on tight budgets already. Who can afford to pay the electric company for opting out of a product you don't want in the first place? How is that O.K. with whoever does consumer protection in this country? Oh...I forgot who is in charge of our dearly beloved nation going straight down the tubes......everything bad is O.K. now.
    Scares the heck out of me.

  3. The day will come when you will want to use your computor to monitor your smart meter to see when they are going to let you have a few watts

  4. No I won't "want" to....
    God forbid, Jim. Not a happy thought there!!
    Exactly my point...statist control. No thank you..

  5. I have been working in the electric utility industry for over 25 years, designing rates and providing news coverage. You don't seem understand electric utility operations, rates, or basic economics.

    I will address two of your assertions:

    1) "The utility company doesn't have a problem pinpointing problem areas now when there is an outage." This is not true. Determining the scale and location of outages, especially during large outages from storms, is much more difficult than you, or most people, realize. One outage is not a big problem but thousands is another story. Having precise information about the exact locations of outages is extremely helpful to a utility in prioritizing the deployment of repair crews to restore power most quickly to the greatest number of people.

    2) "... charging higher rates for "peak" time use." It is true that smart meters will allow utilities to charge higher rates during "peak" periods. Higher rates during these periods reflect the higher cost of electricity at that time. Like many people you seem to think this is a conspiracy on the part of the utility when, in fact, it simply reflects the tremendous difference in the cost of generating electricity during certain time periods.

    Electricity demand changes significantly over the course of a day and even more over the course of a year, and this affects the cost of electricity tremendously. The cheapest generators, usually coal and nuclear, are run first and most. They cost only a few cents per kilowatt-hour. But the most expensive generation is usually old and inefficient units that are expensive to operate and are only used as a last resort, during "peaks" when demand is highest. These units are not run very often but they have costs that occur whether they are run or not, leading to a high cost per kWh, as much as a few DOLLARS per kWh, 100 times more than the cheap stuff. Low demand periods are cheap because they are supplied by cheap to run generation. High demand periods are expensive because they also have to use very expensive generation.

    Most people pay an average cost that doesn't reflect these differences. Smart meters allow the price of electricity to be tied to the cost to produce electricity during that time period. To understand why they charge different rates during these time periods you have to understand some basic economics. Prices of almost everything are set to allocate resources "efficiently." When there is an excess of something the price is low and when there is a shortage the price is high. Movie theaters have discounted matinee prices because it allows them to fill seats that would otherwise be empty and they would get nothing. Tickets for "sold out" events may sell for more than their face value. These concepts are valid for electricity rates too.

    Smart meters are very important for accurately pricing electricity and allowing "economically efficient" consumption. The price of something does, and should, affect how much of it you buy. It is hard to buy the appropriate amount if you don't know what the actual cost is and smart meters will allow that, nothing more. They are not an intrusion into your privacy, the electricity company doesn't care how much electricity you use or when, but they do want to make sure that it has an accurate price tag, that's all.

    I respect your opinion on art but not on energy and economics. I don't know about the health effects of smart meters so I don’t have an opinion on that subject. However, I am an expert on electricity and economics and I will tell you that your opinions on those subjects are incorrect and you don't know what you are talking about. You should try to be knowledgeable about something before you start proclaiming an opinion about it. People should make sure they have their facts straight before developing an opinion.

  6. #1. So nice of you to identify yourself as and expert and try to belittle my opinion on this as if I had never studied the issue. Aren't you so nice.
    #2. You will never convince me that the utility companies are in the dark locating power outages. Or that it would require real time monitoring of each point of use in order to find those outages. The grid may need updating, but in all of my life, the utility companies have figured out where outages are without Smart Meters, so this is superfluous, expensive, not to mention an assault on privacy for no good reason at all.
    #3. You are telling me that utility companies now charge for "average" pricing rather than peak use. I haven't noticed utility companies going broke for doing this. What you are suggesting is like charging tolls for use of the roads during rush hour just because more people are on the road. The power exists, just like the road exists, but charging more for peak hours is only a way for utilities to soak the consumers. If the power doesn't exist, and you suggest high demand puts strain on the system, then don't you think the utility companies can adjust for that? Really? As if the utility companies have no way of anticipating higher demand at certain times of the day and have known that for a hundred years. From your own admission the idea is to bend people's activities and behaviors. Instead of meeting consumer demand, you are saying consumers should meet the demands of the utilities, which, by the way are being driven by Federal agency policies. How backwards is that? And how totalitarian is that? Utilities have monopolies. What sort of control is left to consumers in this "free market" system? None.

    You have not mentioned the fact that the utility companies and Smart Meter manufacturers have been subsidized by our taxes to create this web of control over ....consumers have already paid out the rear. The state I live in has written into its energy code permission for utility companies to increase their rates as consumer demand DECREASES due to the higher rates they are proposing. Nice work if you can get that. Demand DECREASES, yet the Utility Commissions are handing over carte blanche to monopolies, INCREASES in rates, higher prices to the consumer for buying less energy.

    In may think you are an "expert," but you are drinking the Kool-ade. Consumers and citizens are getting shafted in all ways with the Smart Grid and Smart Meters. If this were all so wonderful and everyone loved it, why are there lawsuits all over the place in states who have forced these Smart Meters on consumers. Why not have consumer choice?

    Don't bother commenting back....I'm not in the mood for days of arguing with someone who thinks they are an "expert" and would parrot the talking points of charlatans.