By B.N. Frank
Utility “Smart” Meters – electric, gas, and water – aren’t necessary. However, in the U.S. they were federally mandated. Proponents promised that these meters would be beneficial to customers by lowering their bills. Unfortunately, customer rates have usually been increased for their installation AND frequent replacement (see 1, 2, 3, 4). Proponents also promised they would save energy. Reports have indicated that they DO NOT SAVE meaningful amounts of energy.
There’s more: “Smart” Meters have been extremely problematic. In addition to the higher customer bills and need for frequent replacement, there have been countless reports about them causing fires, explosions, malfunctioning and broken appliances, and health issues in people and animals (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).
Warnings about catastrophic cybersecurity risks continue to be reported as well (see 1, 2). In December, more federal legislation was passed to address their vulnerability. Remember “Smart” Meters were never necessary and still aren’t. So it would actually make more sense to reduce the risk by replacing all of them with meters that aren’t “Smart.”
But that’s not the plan because these meters are extremely profitable. Original analog meters are only one-way transmitting, whereas “Smart” Meters are 2-way transmitting. This allows utility companies to remotely turn off services as well as ration customer usage. It also allows them to collect minute-by-minute usage data which they can analyze in order to market more products and services to customers. Utilities can also sell this data to 3rd parties (see 1, 2). This is sometimes referred to as “Surveillance Capitalism.”
Since tens of millions have already been installed –- it’s likely that they have been installed on your home and throughout your community. There has been so much opposition to these meters that legislators have taken action against them and some utilities started allowing customers to “opt out” of them. Regardless, proponents continue to endorse these awful meters.
Smart metering in US reaches 57% penetration
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) 2020 assessment of smart metering and demand response indicates continuing increasing penetration.
The report presents the latest available estimates of advanced meters in the US at December 2018 from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) at 86.8 million and from the Institute of Electric Innovation at 88 million. These correspond respectively to penetrations of 56.4% and 57.1%, based on a total of 154.1 million meters.
Approximately 8 million additional advanced meters were installed during 2018, similar to the previous year, and reflecting a continuing increase in the penetration by 4-5% annually. The EIA’s December 2017 penetration estimate was 51.9% and 46.8% at December 2016 (the Institute for Electric Innovation’s estimate which tends to be consistently higher was 47.6% at December 2016).
The figures also indicate the deployment of over 80 million smart meters over the past decade, with FERC’s first assessment recording 6.7 million meters with a 4.7% penetration as at December 2007.
Nevertheless, there are marked differences in penetration across the country, ranging from just 6.4% in Hawaii and 12.2% in the Northeast Power Coordinating Council region to 92.8% in the Texas reliability region.
There also are differences by customer class but in 2018, the estimated penetration for each of the three classes, residential, commercial and industrial, rose above 50% for the first time.
Free online documentary – Take Back Your Power – reveals additional “Smart” Meter ugliness.
Activist Post reports regularly about “Smart” Meters and other unsafe technology. For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:
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