Smart grid equipment CEOs have claimed:
- A $2.2 billion meter deployment would have a questionable ROI if most of the savings came from reduced truck rolls
- Smart meters currently being deployed are not smart enough
- Consumers don't want Big Brother controlling their thermostat, AC and appliances
We wrote about it in Smart Grid Backlash.
Jeff St. John blogged about it here. According to St. John's reporting: Those complaints have focused attention on PG&E's $2.2 billion, 10 million smart meter deployment, with the California Public Utilities Commission demanding that PG&E find a third party to investigate the accuracy of the meters.
We've covered this topic repeatedly over the last few months. The energy folks at the New York Times got around to covering it this week.
The editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle actually got a visit from representatives of PG&E and smart meter manufacturers as they try to deal with this public relations mess. From the article in the Chron:
- Representatives of PG&E and the manufacturer of the meters visited our editorial board this week to explain that they have followed up on 1,100 customer complaints - and in each case, the source of the problem was not with the meter but in customer confusion or a spike in electrical usage.
- They came with charts and detailed technical explanations of how the meters are made and tested to a degree that ensures they are far more precise than the analog models they replaced. They noted that they have received just 1,100 complaints out of the 4 million SmartMeters they have installed. But all the PG&E assurances in the world are not going to persuade us - let alone the customers whose bills jumped by hundreds of dollars - that everything is hunky dory...The California Public Utilities Commission recently asked its energy division to hire a third-party technical expert to independently test the Smart Meters and related software.
On to the next problem. Dana Hull, on the San Jose Mercury News' Greentech beat, brought this to my attention. This one might require you to don your tin foil hat.
Sonoma County, California's EMF Safety Group has started a petition for a public review of smart meters and has collected over 400 signatures. This group is worried about the RF frequencies added to the environment by these meters.
An email from Sandi Maurer of the EMF Safety Group claims:
There are no safety standards for chronic long term RF exposures that these meters emit. The FCC safety standards are for short term only, 6 min and 30 min exposures.
PG&E claims to have done a thorough RF evaluation to ensure customer safety. They commissioned an independent evaluation of possible health impacts. We have asked PGE for a copy of this report and were told they never published it. That means it was not peer reviewed. They also were granted a CEQA exemption.
The petition goes on to state:
Sebastopol and Sonoma County are slated by PG&E to have a new wireless grid installed in May 2010. Lampposts, buildings, and telephone poles will host the wireless repeater infrastructure to serve the new wireless PG&E Smart Meters, which will be installed in every home and business. These devices will add yet another layer of radio frequencies (RF) to our homes and environment and will emit RF signals throughout the day and night. In light of the lack of FCC safety standards for chronic long term exposure to RF and in light of the of the call for the precautionary principle for wireless technology from global scientists, environmental agencies, advocacy groups and doctors, we, the undersigned request you:
1. Thoroughly investigate the PG&E Smart Meter proposal and potential health risks of these devices by holding public hearings.
2. Require PG&E to submit a characterization study of the smart meter system planned for Sonoma County and Sebastopol.
3. Obtain the Smart Meter health and safety study PG&E commissioned and make available to the public.
4. Explore alternative metering- possibly through the phone lines and refuse broadband over power line option.
5. Allow “opt out” for people who are electrically sensitive.
6. Place a 6-9 month moratorium on all new wireless installations to allow time for a thorough scientific review.
More from the petition:
The FCC safety standards for wireless devices are based on short term heating and do not address the non thermal health effects which are documented in the Bioinitiative Report, which has been recognized by the European Parliament. RF is under investigation as a carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program.
In the interest of protecting public health and in light of the call for the precautionary principle from scientists and environmental agencies, the EMF Safety Network has started a petition asking the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and the Sebastopol City Council to investigate the PG&E Smart Meter proposal and hold public hearings. We ask they require PG&E to submit a characterization study, the health and safety study, to allow customers to “opt out” as well as place a 6-9 month moratorium on all new wireless installations to allow time for a thorough review.
Already there is a class action lawsuit filed against PGE in Bakersfield over the new meters and many people are complaining about price spikes in their utility bills.
There are a number of additional reasons to oppose smart meter technology aside from the public health issues mentioned above and it’s use by utilities to overcharge customers (discussed at the TURN website). These include Big Brother-like questions regarding local utilities monitoring one’s use of home appliances and making adjustments in this use without the consent of their consumers, and national security issues that arise becasue wireless networks are easier to hack into and compromise than their conventional wired counterparts.
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Link to lots of scary headlines about big brother, increased electric bills, and RF dangers here. If this idea spreads (Berkeley, Santa Cruz, and Palo Alto can't be too far behind) and communities start enacting six to nine month moratoriums and opt-outs on wireless smart grid programs, PG&E, Landis & Gyr, and Silver Spring Networks might not have a happy 2010.
1. PG&E and the other hardware and software parties could have handled the smart meter roll-out in a better way in regards to community outreach and public relations. Now it's just damage control.
2. RF pollution is a fact of life in today's world. It's reasonable to investigate new sources and their impact on humans - but these folks should also be prepared to turn off their radios, cell phones, blue tooth devices, wireless computers, and every other RF source in their environment as well.
I've contacted PG&E and Silver Spring Networks and will post their comments if they choose to respond.