This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 20, 2009 11:19 AM. The previous post in this blog was Untapped potential. The next post in this blog is Have a great weekend. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Friday, November 20, 2009

Oooh, that smarts

That new digital "smart" meter that the electric company's installing on the side of your house may be a little too smart, and a little too loose, for many people's liking. For one thing, it's going to enable the folks at the power company to figure out a lot more about you than they've ever known before:

"Instead of measuring energy use at the end of each billing period, smart meters will provide this information at much shorter intervals," the report notes. "Even if electricity use is not recorded minute by minute, or at the appliance level, information may be gleaned from ongoing monitoring of electricity consumption such as the approximate number of occupants, when they are present, as well as when they are awake or asleep. For many, this will resonate as a 'sanctity of the home' issue, where such intimate details of daily life should not be accessible."
And to whom will the power company turn this data over? The police? The highest bidder?

Of course, with every wireless communications device, there's going to be a security risk. What's to stop a hacker from cruising a neighborhood and figuring out which homes are temporarily unoccupied because the electricity usage is unusually low?

Perhaps the biggest casualty of the new devices will be jobs. An alert reader who's been asking questions of PGE about this copied us on an e-mail message in which a company spokesperson told him: "While new jobs will be created, approximately 120 positions will be affected. To date, more than half of those have been successfully placed in new positions in and outside of PGE, or have retired. PGE will continue to need meter readers until August 2010, and we continue to provide ongoing career transition support for the employees who have not yet found other opportunities." Uh huh.

Comments (19)

The scary part is...as appliances become "smart", they (power company or government) would be able to control them too.
Say there is a power shortage...it could be possible for them to turn off all non-essential appliances in your home remotely. Without your consent or knowledge.

Yes, indeed, say there is a power shortage -- we should have people running non-essential appliances so that the whole system goes down and people who need air conditioning and people on ventilators lose power?

Anyone whose paranoia extends to this level needs to get off the grid entirely so that there's none of that creepy power meter thingy monitoring the operation of the flouride-removal-unit that is keeping their precious bodily fluids untainted.

If/when PGE finally gets its head out of its a-- enough to come into the late 20th C. with the smart grid, the PUC will be controlling what actions they can take under which circumstances (degrees of shortage) and how the data can be used.

Meter reader: not a particularly innovative or productive position. I can't get too worked up about the social injustice of automating that mechanical, repetitive task.

I can't get too worked up about the social injustice of automating that mechanical, repetitive task.

But what (whom) will we feed the dog?

That's it, I'm going off grid. There are plenty of squirrels running around my back yard and I'll just put them all in cages and have them run on little treadmills.

Will they be able to tell the cops exactly which room the illegal marijuana grow is in?

Even after these devices have been paid for, I doubt any savings as a result of not paying salary and benefits to meter readers will be reflected in our rates. More cream for the upper management of this private, monopoly utility.

I have a less-than-400-square-foot apartment with no large appliances other than a fridge. I haven't turned on the heat yet and my bill already increased by $10 this month.

Eventually no amount of sweaters is going to make it bearable and then they've got me by the short hairs again.

PGE came knocking on my door lastnight, wanting me to voluntarily up my bill 10% to go on their 'Green Program'. I didn't even let him finish the pitch, as my blood pressure instantly soared off the charts by that point. I did mention that any outfit that can pay their retiring CEO millions in cash and 795K per year for life has a lot of gall to come to my door asking me to give up anything.

not to worry , thet wee kids will hack the set-up , message sent from my toaster....

PGE has no interest in ratting out pot growers, aka their best customers.

While it is possible to switch things on and off inside a house using this new grid link practical physical and cost constraints will limit the switch current to about 1 amp. So it's impractical to switch on and off high current devices like electric stoves, dryers, washing machines, furnaces, etc.
As one who builds equipment that controls and switches high-current motors I'm constantly reminded that many things are possible but not many are practical.

I think far more chilling than turning appliances on and off is the likelihood that PGE will sell the data to the highest bidder(s) - not home during the day, maybe you need a security system? Old washer pulling too many kbs, buy one of our new ones. Odd hours that you use most of your power, gee, I wonder what the police might think of that? (Of course, Potgrower is right, don't want to narc on your best customers.)

Britt, the plan is for smart appliances to respond to a signal and shut themselves off, not that the electric companies will be operating heavy duty switches remotely. It will be more like millivolt codes (like broadband over power line signals) than anything else.

Speaking of smart meters and shutoffs --

"Utilty Shutoffs Soar for Poor PG&E Customers"


The report's authors aren't sure why the number of disconnected customers is growing so quickly at PG&E, compared with other utilities in the state. PG&E rate hikes last fall and this spring may have played a role. So may the utility's new SmartMeters.

Wireless cutoff

The advanced electricity and gas meters, being installed throughout Northern and Central California, allow PG&E to shut off service via a wireless signal, without sending an electrician to the home. The easier process may be leading to more shut-offs, said Dana Appling, director of the utility commission's Division of Ratepayer Advocates, which issued the report.

"All they have to do is flip a switch," she said, adding that her division doesn't have solid proof that the meters are leading to more disconnections.

"We can't tell with precision," she said. "We can only make an assumption."

The advanced meters have already provoked an uproar among some PG&E customers who claim they aren't accurate, overstate energy usage and lead to higher bills.

PG&E spokesman Joe Molica said the process for shutting off SmartMeter customers follows the same basic timeline as it does for everyone else. Before terminating service, the utility mails the customer a 15-day notice, followed by a 48-hour notice. The company also tries to reach the customer by phone, he said.

"That process does not change for the SmartMeters," Molica said.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/11/20/MNEL1ANIO7.DTL#ixzz0XTfrKpV0

When these sorts of things started out they were about giving people information so they would be empowered to make better, informed decisions about how to lead their lives. We could all grow and improve.

Now the "smart" people make everyone's decisions. Smart growth, smart grid, smart cards, smart cars -- you name it. You go with the elite you're smart. You oppose the elite you're not.

With the collectivist, power grabbing cabals moving in to impose these know-it-all Orewellian solutions we all lose. We forego independence and we lose virtuosity in the pursuit of our daily lives. We lose our identity and what makes us unique and powerful. We are becoming a bunch of worker ants.

Yes I absolutely agree that we should join forces with the Luddites and eschew all technological improvements in response to our collective paranoia. OMG! I am writing this on a "Computer" and it is being "Broadcast"! Let's go back to send "letters" by mail. We can have a great blog extended over litteraly thousands of years. Oh, sorry I rave...

I refer to PGE as many do, Pacific Gas and Extortion. As a legal grower in compliance with all issues in the state of California and having been visited by both Sheriff and PGE, I am concerned about issues revolving around PGE, stinging us for power usage in California. I lived in Oregon for 22 years and now back in the state of Cali. We had to convert power usage to half day propane and half day Electric, because our usage was more than anyone on the private road and we are told by others, friends that PGE is stinging us. Is there something that can be done about this procedure. We are not a massive user in any sense but a small shed that runs lights on the normal cycle, for 12 hours. We are not wealthy enough to convert to solar just yet, but will eliminate the lights come outdoor grow season. I just want to know what can be done about the sting, imposed upon us?

I just read the comment about not caring about pot growers and I had to laugh. Of course they do not care about legal, compliant growers...they make a killing on growers...so much so, that even if sales were legal, with all the incidents involved in growing, if you have a bad tray or bad harvest, you are SOL and PGE is so much richer.......And btw, for those who want to grow, if you think that little card or those little papers designating your permission are stupid...try just getting out of the shower, only to hear the dog barking and see not one, not two, but three sheriffs in your front yard, in full gear...and think how much peace of mind your card and papers can give you...People who bypass the power are idiots, cause that is just cause for PGE, to press charges. If you play by the rules, you pay, but the price of not going to jail is PRICELESS.
Years ago in Portland, a man named Roland Thoma, had 7 houses...and did or is still doing time. He was my ex b/f's best friend and realtor..tried to sell me a house...so happy I said NO.

To not sound like an idiot, I am using my dogs name, Jack.....he is CEO of the property company, First Bark Alarm....
J. Haworth

Clicky Web Analytics