December 15, 2009

Smart Grid: Smart for Whom?

 All this is taken directly from the NY Times article, if this stuff doesn’t anger and frighten you then I don’t think you are paying attention.

WASHINGTON — Millions of households across America are taking a first step into the world of the “smart grid,” as their power companies install meters that can tell them how much electricity they are using hour by hour — and sometimes, appliance by appliance. But not everyone is happy about it.

 Leo Margosian of Fresno, Calif., said his meter put July use at three times as much as last July's.

Customers in California are in open revolt, and officials in Connecticut and Texas are questioning whether the rush to install meters benefits the public.


Elizabeth Keogh, a retired social worker in Bakersfield, Calif., who describes herself as “a bit chintzy,” has created a spreadsheet with 26 years of electric bills for her modest house. She decided that her new meter was running too fast.   Ms. Keogh reported to the utility that the meter recorded 646 kilowatt-hours in July, for which she paid $66.50; last year it was 474 kilowatt-hours, or $43.37.


At one in Fresno, Calif., Leo Margosian, a retired investigator, testified that the new meter logged the consumption of his two-bedroom townhouse at 791 kilowatt-hours in July, up from 236 a year earlier. And he had recently insulated his attic and installed new windows, Mr. Margosian said.

At the urging of the state senator, Dean Florez, Democrat of Fresno and the chamber’s majority leader, and others, the California Public Utilities Commission is moving to bring in an outside auditor to determine whether the meters count usage properly.

[snip] To reduce their bills, customers could cut back at pricey peak times and shift some activities, like running a clothes dryer or a vacuum cleaner, to off-peak periods. Utilities will then have lower costs, the argument goes, because the grid will need fewer power plants as demand levels out.

Someday utilities hope to use the meter to control consumption by major appliances like air conditioners [!holy!shit!]. But experts are still debating what technical standards the meters and appliances should use to communicate.

[snip]  And with smart meters, utilities are alerted immediately if a customer’s power is out.

If a utility decides to shut off a customer for nonpayment, it can do so by remote control; if the customer pays enough money to allow resumption of service, the utility can also do that from a central office without sending out a representative. [!!! think of what else this means]


But today, reining in energy consumption is less of a corporate priority: generating capacity is in surplus in almost all parts of the United States because the recession has shuttered so many factories. And in swaths of the eastern United States, the wholesale price difference between peak and off-peak demand is far smaller lately.  [so the point of this is…WHAT?  Politics of Greed is what it is]

The long-term impact of the smart meters is uncertain. Some studies show that people use less electricity when they can see the numbers ticking higher on the meter. [no joke, and when the power company turns your heat off or your AC off because they know better, or make a mistake, or kill your grandpa when they kill the oxygen machine that is sucking up too much power oh well, you cannot possibly be expected to take care of yourself, and it sounds like even if you track and understand your usage it is going to go up anyway.  Looks like from this the rate you are charged is whatever they want it to be that minute] I guess the only question I have is, Smart Grid: Smart for WHOM?

Read the complete article below:

‘Smart Grid’ Is Making Many Households Unhappy -

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