Smart Meters: Friend or Foe?

A couple months ago, I got a few calls from our electric company.  They were offering a program called “Simple Saver” for those who wanted it.  They offered a one time credit up front [after the installation of your direct load switch(s)], and then an annual credit of so much for each appliance that you enrolled (a/c unit, pool pump or water heater).  It sounded good. It sounded nice…and I was almost convinced.  But then I started thinking……When I asked questions about the program and it’s purpose, the lady on the phone told me that at times of peak power use, if there was a lot of strain on the grid, then they would be able to turn back the thermostat somewhat.  I told the lady that I would look into it, talk to my husband about it, and then make a decision.  I later decided not to get the installation of the product.
After reading up on this product, I’m glad I didn’t.  This program seems to be marketed different ways but, from what I’ve seen, is basically what many people refer to as a smart meter.
People who oppose the smart meters, do so for various reasons. Like  the “Stop Smart Meters” website, where it says “Fighting for health, privacy and safety”.  Check out their site to see a little more about the recent news in this debate.
Some of the questions I have in my mind about this topic (starting from least to greater) are: “What about all the jobs that are done away with because of these new smart meters?”  How did the meter usage get recorded in the past?  Oh yeah, from a person who would manually record every month so that you could get your bill.  What happens to their positon? Maybe that’s not the only job responsibility they had…Let’s hope so.
Also, I’ve heard, from listening to discussions on this debate, that these meters can record not just the amount of energy that your home is using, but which appliances are using the most and when.  According to this electric company’s website, their company has access to that information ONLY if you as a consumer want to share it with them.  This company also says the meters they use record energy usage every 15 minutes.  It is via a radio frequency which they say is very minimal.
Obviously at this point, every company is different in their terms…such as, some give you the choice to get a smart meter (like mine) and some mandate it and say they are no longer using the old meters (like the company in the link above).  Maybe the difference is that some of these are pilot programs, they are trying it out and seeing what the acceptance is in the community (I read info on many pilot programs like this) and seeing what the savings are like, etc.  The other programs, that are enforcing that everyone switch to these new meters (like the Naperville, Illinois woman who just got arrested) seem to be implementing these programs on a wide scale at a higher level already.
For me, I just don’t feel comfortable allowing any person or company to have that much control over something in my home.  It’s information collecting.  Whether the electric company sees it or not.  That information is still being collected and stored somewhere.  There’s a reason that this information is wanted and we have to think about the WHY? behind all of this.  Sure they give us a $10 credit and we feel all good and fuzzy inside because we feel like we’ve done our part to help lessen the load on the grid, thereby helping the environment.  But, is that really the point of all this?  I believe it is all about collecting and controlling!  While writing this, I found this video and he really makes many good points, all of which, relate to the fact that that these meters are an infringement on our privacy.  I’m not really concerned as much with the health risk, if there is any, because there are many health risks all around us every day and we will never be able to eliminate them completely.  However, when you are able to tell when I am home, when I am gone, when I have decided to use the woodstove instead of the heat pump, when I put in a humongous new fish tank that eats up the electricity, or if I decided to start some tomato and eggplant seeds in my back room and am using fluorescent type/grow lights to do so….when you can record and analyze and store my personal habits, I definitely think this is more than helping the power grid…This is about collecting data and power/control of people on a mass level.  Please take 3-4 minutes and watch the video below and most importantly, do your OWN research.  Make your own opinions NOW.  As I have said many times before: Know what you stand for.


More Articles of interest pertaining to smart meters: