The Wise Grid Series, Part 1: Smart Meters Are Not Smart


| 5/27/2015 9:48:00 AM


Smart Meter

When we look at important issues facing our nation today, we inevitably find commercial interests influencing policy. Industries, understandably, are eager to advance their own agendas. Briefings and impact analyses presented to policymakers can be incomplete for this reason. They can tell a narrow, limited story to attract government support—whether for a contract, funding, or legislation. Unfortunately, important sides to the story that are highly relevant to quality of life in America are often left out.

This scenario is playing out today in the U.S. electricity sector, where federal spending to help the utility industry is having unintended negative consequences for our economy, privacy, the environment, safety, security and health, while stalling our transition to a renewable energy economy, with consequences of its own.

As was explained in the National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy’s Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid report by Timothy Schoechle, PhD, the new meters help the utility industry’s bottom line, as by a law the utilities can charge ratepayers enough to recoup their investment, plus an additional a 10-13 percent return, depending on the state. But the billions spent on meters is wasting federal tax dollars, increasing ratepayer utility bills and, importantly, not delivering on the benefits claimed.

The ‘story’ about the value of the “smart” meters is that the meters are necessary to upgrade the electricity grid, that they have energy efficiency benefits, and that installing them will facilitate integration of renewable energy technologies. This is what communities across the country are being told. None of these claims are true.



Wasting billions of taxpayer money on unneeded new meters would have been bad enough if the meters had been safely hard-wired. But the meters are wireless, which means they come with additional risks, such as privacy, security, health, fire and safety risks. The former head of the CIA James Woolsey called the vulnerability of the new grid using wireless technology a “really, really stupid grid”. It is no wonder there are protests about the “smart” meters in dozens of states today. The award-winning film on this topic, Take Back Your Power, of which I was an Executive Producer, is a must-watch film to get up to speed on this whole topic.



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