Smart Meters for your Electricity – Good or Bad?

I had a conversation today with a Power and Energy person who stopped by to replace my old electric meter with a new digital one. They said that there are meters out there that are called “Smart Meter” and that groups are going around representing themselves from P&E trying to get these meters onto houses in the area.

I have never heard of “Smart Meters” before and had to take a look. What I found was a whole new level of controversy surrounding the topic. There are a lot of FOR Smart Meter talk and a lot of AGAINST Smart Meter Talk. Let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons as listed by the debaters.

According to Pennsylvania First Energy Corp Smart Meter FAQ:

What is a smart meter?

A smart meter is a digital electric meter that collects electricity usage information and sends that data to the local utility through a secure telecommunications connection.   

Is my usage information transmitted by smart meters secure?

Yes. FirstEnergy places the utmost importance on the security and protection of all aspects of our electric system and associated subsystems. Our communication network is a high security environment that uses multiple layers of protection from unwanted access – including the use of passwords, firewalls, data encryption, continuous monitoring and other security controls. We follow the cybersecurity guidelines published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In addition, Pennsylvania regulations restrict access to customer information, and do not permit an electric company or electric supplier to release private customer information to a third party without customer consent.

Will unauthorized people be able to monitor my account to learn more about how I use energy in my home?

Smart meters measure how much energy is used, based on time of day – not how that energy is used. A smart meter cannot tell which specific electric equipment is using the energy. The company’s smart meter solution is based on industry best practices, and built on a secured network designed to protect customer data.

While on the other side of the fence at StopSmartMetersinPA.com

What is a Smart Meter

A Smart Meter is a meter installed by your local utility company to replace your present meter.
It utilizes Radio Frequency (RF) waves which are electromagnetic fields (used in wireless devices)
It provides 2-way communication, giving utility companies the ability to:

    1. Turn on and off meters from a central location
    2. Determine usage of individual homes
    3. Know what devices are being used in the home
    4. Know when devices are being used in the home

What Is the Truth?

  • Tests have shown that Smart Meter readings are taking place every few minutes 24-7

  • Because of the RF network necessary for Smart Meters to operate, the range of the RF waves is very strong and is designed to travel long distances.

  • Smart Meters are designed to communicate with all ‘smart technology’ in the home, so the waves penetrate walls and windows as if they do not exist.

  • If utility companies have 2-way communication with the ‘smart technology’ in your home and they can turn off your electric from their site, there is no reason why in the future they will not use this device to literally control usage.  This could impact when a homeowner does laundry, washes dishes, bathes, etc.

  • It has been reported in other states, where Smart Meters have been in effect for some time that utility bills have gone up, due to the use of these meters

  • It has been reported that Smart Meters have interfered with medical equipment (i.e., monitors, pace-makers, c-pap equipment), garage door openers, baby monitors, routers, Wi-fi equipment

  • There have been fires reported due to the installation of these meters.  PECO actually stopped installation for a period of time due to these fires.  They claim to have a new company producing the Smart Meters; however, there was a recent fire in Tredyffrin Township due to the installation of a Smart Meter.  Fortunately, the homeowners were present at the time of the fire, or they would have lost their house.

I have read reports that show these Smart Meters are not UL Certified and that may be the reason that they area failing and causing fires. While losing a home to a fire is a tragic thing, having that fire being caused by a possibly intrusive piece of equipment can only make the controversy muddied and ugly. Also there is the issue of the distinct possibility of abuse of the technology. If the meters can be switched off remotely like your cable TV can, what is to stop a network glitch from going out and blacking out an entire city simply because someone did not code something correctly and pushed it into their production servers? While I am certain that the utility companies will state that all precautions are in place to prevent such things, how would they know? This is brand new technology that is being sent out to the field and the general populace are Beta testing the units without any ability to opt out.

For those who are concerned about the RF radiation that is being emitted from the unit, I located a neat shield that slides over the unit and is under $100.00 for peace of mind.  The site name is Smart Meter Block and they offer multiple options to install shielding. While this is a patented piece of work, I can help but feel that this is but one company out of several that are out there that are building a business based off of the fear of consumers. While this is not an uncommon occurrence through out the years, it is one that shows the level of depravity that a company could go to just to make a buck. While this company may very well have a great product that works as intended, they fact remains that not all ventures are so charitable in their quest for a good bottom line.

 

 

 

As with any technology that collects data, people are VERY concerned about WHAT kind of data is being collected, HOW it is being utilized, and WHO is looking at it. If the fiasco with the NSA (Hello guys, welcome to my blog) hasn’t taught us anything about this already, we certainly deserve what we get.

 

Reference Links:

http://www.stopsmartmetersinpa.com
https://www.firstenergycorp.com
http://www.smartmeterblock.com/


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