by K.T. Weaver, for Take Back Your Power
INDIANAPOLIS – State regulators have rejected a proposal from Duke Energy to raise customers’ rates. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission said in a ruling on May 8th that the company didn’t provide enough details for its $1.9 billion, seven-year plan.
The proposal would have put Duke Energy’s Indiana customers on smart grid technology and have installed privacy invading digital smart meters in every home, tracking detailed energy consumption and transmitting that data using potentially harmful radiofrequency emissions.
Privacy experts nationwide have also voiced major concerns about where that granular energy usage data goes.
Duke’s plan faced a slew of opposition.
“This was a big win for consumers,” Kerwin Olson said, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition. “Duke failed to meet their burden of proof. The law clearly spells out criteria that the utility has to get in order to meet this kind of approval. And this is a lot of money.”
Duke Energy says it will eventually re-file a request to install smart grid technology for Indiana customers.
From the Order by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission:
“Duke looked at the proposed costs of AMI and compared those costs to quantifiable benefits, such as savings from meter reading. … The main quantifiable benefits arise from the elimination of monthly manual meter reads, enhanced theft detection that can be conducted without a truck roll, and the ability to conduct customer requested service disconnects and reconnects remotely.”
Analysis: Note that the above so-called “quantifiable benefits” are for the utility to eliminate the jobs of meter readers and reduce theft.
“Near-term customer benefits include hourly interval usage data (next day) through a unique website portal, allowing customers to better understand their energy usage and save energy, and the convenience of remote turn off / turn on for customer moves. Future, advanced-metering benefits could include time-differentiated peak pricing rates, pay as you go billing options, pick your own due date options, and customer usage alerts.”
Analysis: What does the soft “benefit” of customers better understanding their energy usage have to do with the utility’s sole obligation to provide “electric utility service,” the plain meaning of which is described in the Indiana commission order as “the infrastructure necessary to transmit electricity from the generation facility to the customer”? … It doesn’t.
The future “benefit” of time-of-use pricing rates would also favor the utility by being able to charge dramatically higher rates during the day. Most consumers are not able to shift meaningful amounts of energy usage to the middle of the night; thus, this future “benefit” is not a benefit at all.
To provide perspective, it seems appropriate at this point to quote the Attorney General for the state of Illinois who made some important common sense observations, as appropriate today as they were in 2011:
“The utilities want to experiment with expensive and unproven smart grid technology, yet all the risk for this experiment will lie with consumers. … The pitch is that smart meters will allow consumers to monitor their electrical usage, helping them to reduce consumption and save money. … Consumers don’t need to be forced to pay billions for so-called smart technology to know how to reduce their utility bills. We know to turn down the heat or air conditioning and shut off the lights.” [Reference: http://lisamadigan.org/Newsroom/lisainthenews/item/2011-06-lisa-madigan-opinion-editorial-comed-experiment-too.]
Although smart meters involve many risks to consumers and society such as health issues, privacy invasions, cyber threats, fires, etc., just based upon an objective financial analysis alone, they cannot be justified. We applaud the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for recognizing this and where it states in its Order:
“In the absence of any sufficient evidence to support Duke’s cost estimates, even for the first-year projects in the T &D Plan, we cannot find that the estimated costs are the best estimate of the costs of the eligible improvements as required by Ind. Code § 8-1-39-10. It is not enough for Duke, or even Black & Veatch, to simply assure us that the costs estimates are reasonable or best estimates. …
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED BY THE INDIANA UTILITY REGULATORY COMMISSION that:
1. Duke’s request for approval of its T&D Plan is denied for the reasons set forth above.”
It looks like that Duke Energy was saying, “Just trust us” on our cost estimates and that the benefits outweigh the costs. The Indiana commissioners weren’t buying it.
SMART METER FIASCO – See also:
• Smart Meters: A surveillance and control con job revealed (May 2015)
• Tasmania rejects a mandated “smart” meter rollout (May 2015)
• Hundreds of smart meters simultaneously explode (Stockton, CA – April 2015)
• List of fatalities and damage caused by “smart” meters (archive)
• Smart meter opt-out fees rescinded in Arizona, commissioners fearing liability (April 2015)
• SaskPower to replace 105,000 faulty “smart” meters (Saskatchewan, CAN – July 2014)
• SaskPower CEO resigns following investigation into smart meter “catastrophe” (October 2014)
• CIA Chief: “We’ll spy on you through your dishwasher” (Wired Magazine)
• Britain’s IoD: “Smart Meters are a government IT disaster waiting to happen” (March 2015)
About the Author
K.T. Weaver is a health physicist who was employed in the nuclear division of a leading electric utility for over 25 years. He served in various positions, including Station Health Physicist, Senior Health Physicist, corporate Health Physics Supervisor, and corporate Senior Technical Expert for Radiobiological Effects. K.T. has earned a B.S. in Engineering Physics and an M.S. in Nuclear Engineering with a specialty in radiation protection. He also operates the “SkyVision Solutions” website at www.skyvisionsolutions.org.
I’ve never been convinced why power companies favor wireless meters. There are no benefits to customers. The ability to easily turn off one’s electricity just means more people will be threatened with power cutoffs in payment disputes, also high peak energy costs, also customers will be charged for the power needed for the meters to constantly send out usage information. In every group of meters on homes/businesses, one meter is chosen as the “relay” hub. Customers will not know who has the “hub relay” meter, and will pay the extra energy needed to pass on all the connected homes’ information. This is reason enough to say NO to these problematic meters.
In some cases, utilities are just sold a bill of goods by vendors. If an honest and objective financial analysis is done, the meters can not be justified as part of any rate hike to be charged to customers. In addition, only “possible” benefits are considered and none of the risks. Utilities do see the immediate benefits to be able to lay off meter reader personnel. Governments are encouraging use as they see a mechanism for control and behavior modification of the consumer. Utilities favor wireless meters in lieu of fiber optics and other wired methods due to the wireless systems being cheaper.
So yes, you are right that there are no benefits to consumers; people at large just need to realize that the best interests of the consumer are not of concern to those who promote these devices. The monies spent on smart meters also represent a diversion of resources away from what could actually be done to strengthen the electric grid in terms of resilience and resistance from cyber threats, etc.
I haven’t had a Smart Meter connected to my energy supply but I believe there are meters, much like I think Smart Meters are, to my gas meter and water meter. Although, the electric company installed a thermostat that regulated my electricity during the summer months or months the AC ran. The selling feature was that it would reduce my electricity use/costs. It didn’t! It had been installed since 2009. I’ve since had the thermostat removed as I have acquired EMS. I had the thermostat removed thinking it would help reduce my EMS.
All that being said, I did stay in a home for over a week that had tons of electronics and a Smart Meter and I literally wanted to die before I left there.