The Truth About Smart Meters: Why You Should Oppose Having Them Installed
What is a "Smart Meter?"
Your utilities- water, gas and electricity - are measured with meters whenever you use them. These are usually referred to as "analog" meters because they have no digital electronics in them. An analog meter is shown below this paragraph. Smart Meters convert the measured amount used into digital electronic data. That may not sound like much of a problem, but it is only the beginning of the story.
Historically, most meters were read once a month at the most. Usually, a Meter Reader came onto your property and recorded the number of units used and you were sent a bill based on the difference from the last reading. Smart Meters do a lot more.
Most Smart Meter battles are being fought around electric meters. They are capable of automatically sending the information they collect to the utility company. This might be okay if it only happened once a month. It does not. If your house has a Smart Meter, data about your electric use can be sent almost continuously.
The problems are compounded because many Smart Meters transmit this information wirelessly. The result is that you end up with a radio transmitter device hanging on your house that broadcasts bursts of high energy radiation carrying potentially detailed information about what is happening inside your home. Thiefs and hackers could potentially find a use for your data or figure out ways to cut off your power remotely. Making sure the upgrades are worthy of the public faith is important!
There is another big problem that happens if you are making the transition to solar or wind power. Many solar companies monitor your energy usage and savings. You may come to thank them for doing this. You see, all to often, when you install solar or wind power, the power company comes in and swaps your conventional meter for a smart meter. That gives them automation and better functionality. The conventional meter will run backwards for the same amount of time that you are generating more power than you use, and it is visible in the window, and easy to see. When a power company knows you are installing your own power, they typically come swap out your traditional meter for a smart meter. When looking at the readout on a smart meter, you can't tell whether it's running forwards or backwards, and how fast or how much! For that reason, the homeowner has no control over whether the readout is accurate. Since they are fully programmable, there are many horror stories for solar installations where the smart meter was programmed not to run backwards during over-production times. So solar and wind power owners can lose much of the power they produce, and never know it. Unless you compare the usage to your solar installer's records, or a third party monitoring system, there's almost no way to tell it's happening! Then when you discover the cheat, they might say they are coming to fix it, but how can you ever know afterwards that they are being truthful with you? You can't without continued monitoring.
The potential is there to give homeowners on-line control and visibility of their entire usage with graphs and live feed data, but as of yet, most power companies have kept that data for themselves.
Finally, there is the problem that the communication is not just from your meter to the power company. The power company can talk back to the meter and the meter can react to commands. Ultimately this may include things like controlling devices within your home, or limiting the amount of electricity you can use, or cutting off the power when you haven't paid the bill. Many of the benefits that come with smart meters are currently benefiting only the energy company.
Here is a great article from Consumers Digest that explains the issues in depth.
If you are faced with a decision about whether or not a Smart Meter is good for you, use this site as a jumping off point to videos, documents, news reports and blogs to help you in your research. If you decide against having a smart meter installed on your home, use the Notice of No Consent Letter page to help protect yourself.
Latest and perhaps best talk so far by Brian Thiesen on the politics behind smart meters and the health problems that come with them.
The picture at the top of the article is an example of what a Smart Meter looks like. In fine print, above the digital display are the letters "FCC." This indicates that the meter is equipped with a radio transmitter.
Not all Smart meters are wireless like the one above. The wireless units are the ones that pose potential health risks and are most easily "hacked." Non-wireless meters are still a threat to your health, privacy, security, finances, and civil liberties.