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California County Bans SmartMeter Installations

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the coddling-the-dumb-meters dept.

Earth 494

kiwimate writes "Marin County in California has passed an ordinance (PDF) banning the installation of smart meters in unincorporated Marin. Among the reasons given are privacy concerns associated with measuring energy usage data moment by moment and the potential for adverse impact on emergency communication systems used by first responders and amateur radio operators. The ordinance also comments that 'the SmartMeters program ... could well actually increase total electricity consumption and therefore the carbon footprint,' citing 'some engineers and energy conservation experts.'" The ordinance also mentions "significant health questions" raised about "increased electromagnetic frequently radiation (EMF) emitted by the wireless technology in SmartMeters."

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Warm, salty, gritty... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795010)

First Post.

Grow Ops in Marin? (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795018)

Could be the real reason for those privacy concerns, and more power to them.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

HaloZero (610207) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795062)

...and more power to them.

Very clever. Quite a few places are considering similar bans, for different reasons. One of the more prevalent issues is union labor pushing to keep meter-readers in business.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (4, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795104)

.One of the more prevalent issues is union labor pushing to keep meter-readers in business.

You got a problem with that?

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

HaloZero (610207) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795202)

No, actually. I support it whole heartedly.

Are you being funny?

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (3, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795488)

<sigh> kids these days. The joke is older than you are.

How many Teamsters does it take to change a light bulb?
Two. You got a problem with that?

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (2)

rthille (8526) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795540)

Only two? Jeeze, I think when I heard that joke, it was like seven, with all the jobs listed out, and finally ending with the 'you got a problem with that?' line.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795580)

I've heard that variation too, I just didn't feel like typing that much to explain a joke.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1, Insightful)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795250)

When there is technology to eliminate wasteful use of human and other resources, I have a huge problem with that. Does it mean that those who have been doing meter-reading will have to find other lines of work? Yes. There are tons of other low-training labor opportunities--it doesn't require much training to be able to drive a car and write down a number for each house you drive by. A company should not be forced to support hundreds of workers it doesn't need just because the government wants to protect jobs (thereby diminishing, at least on one level, the dole). Allowing a company to increase efficiency allows it to provide a better service to the people at a lower cost.

With all this said, there are a number of other issues with the electronic metering systems that are being installed (they tend to be more accurate in favor of the company for one, but again--they really ought to have the option of providing for their stockholders in an appropriate efficient manner)...

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (2)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795528)

And if my electricity costs were lower, I could afford to hire someone to clean my house. Multiply that by hundreds of households per meter reader, and efficiency gains in our society result in huge job creation.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (5, Informative)

Yohahn (8680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795536)

Actually there are generally not many low-skilled jobs out there.. they slowly dissappear.
There was a research project in the 90's called "The midwest Job Gap". It's basic conclusion was there were 2-4 low-skill workers (for various reasons, these people aren't going to learn their way up to high skill jobs) for every 1 low skill job.

Here's an old reference to it: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-4404804.html [highbeam.com]

The premise that there is enough work to go around for low skill workers is generally false.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795686)

I too have a big problem with unions Luddites holding back progress just to keep another dues payer in a pointless job filling the union coffers with additional bribe money.

Radiation fear mongers are the same ones that want to shut down your wifi. The meter is on the outside of the house, any radiation they produce is no more than your neighbors wifi, which is on 24/7.

Privacy concerns are probably the only real basis for objection because anything broadcasting a signal can probably be intercepted, or demanded from the power company, with or without a subpoena, where as a cop sneaking on to your property daily to read your meter is too costly and would require a warrant.

Other than police trying to sniff out those running a grow-op in their basement, its not too clear to me why anyone would want this information.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795692)

When there is technology to eliminate wasteful use of human and other resources

Seeing jobs for people as a "wasteful use of human resources" is one of the symptoms of why the rise of transnational corporations is destroying so many societies. Why is the corporate profit motive never questioned, but the motive to provide for one's family and oneself is discounted?

What do you say we don't start thinking in those terms until we've gotten to the point where everyone has sufficient food, shelter, clothing and education?

A company should not be forced to support hundreds of workers it doesn't need

Why not? If a company is going to profit from operating within a society, why shouldn't it be expected to support that society? If a company registers a patent in the US, then places it in a subsidiary in Holland, then a subsidiary in Ireland, and then back to Holland, finally licensing it back to itself to the US subsidiary in order to avoid paying taxes in the country that it sells the product, why shouldn't it be "forced" to contribute to the well-being of the people who comprise that market?

I think we underestimate the danger of believing that profit without responsibility is OK. More than thirty percent of the wealth of the bottom 75% of Americans just evaporated from 2000 to 2008 during a time when the largest corporations profits grew. Can you figure out where that trend heads?

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (4, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795120)

You think the unions want to keep meter readers in business? It wouldn't be unprecedented, we still have fire-tenders on electric trains. But I'd like to see some evidence. There is a very, very strong push by business interests to smear unions going on right now.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795240)

I think unions like the UAW have don't a remarkable enough job without the help of business interests.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (2)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795300)

Yeah, because all the hardships facing the automobile makers were entirely the UAW's fault. It's not as if the managers were being just as stupid approving all those benefits based on highly overfly rosy outlooks of their future prospects. No, no, the only ones at fault are those ebil unions!!!

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (2)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795508)

Do you call 30,000 people showing up once a month to pick up a paycheck because the union forced the auto cos to keep them on payroll a hardship?

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795732)

It's a minimal issue compared to the other problems. The total labor costs of UAW workers versus their non-union counterparts down south are actually pretty minimal. Certainly a lot less than the money that they were wasting on overproduction.

The reason why they almost ran out of business was that they were relying too heavily on SUVs and trucks for profit and were trying to produce more vehicles than the market could bear at the price. Additionally, they were slow to recognize the interest in more fuel efficient vehicles.

Precisely what part of that is the UAW's fault? It's easy to union bash when you don't actually know what you're talking about.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795652)

It's not as if the managers were being just as stupid approving all those benefits based on highly overfly rosy outlooks of their future prospects.

It's called a "strike". And if that's not enough for you, I have two more words: "baseball bat".

That's why the pensions were approved.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (2)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795362)

Right. You just heard about the evils of the UAW from totally unbiased sources. No business interests push propaganda on YOU.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795586)

So, you're familiar with where my information comes from all on your own? Maybe you should apply for that $1MM psychic challenge.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795694)

So, you're familiar with where my information comes from all on your own? Maybe you should apply for that $1MM psychic challenge.

I never claimed I knew, but now that you mention it, where does it come from?

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795658)

Right. You just heard about the evils of the UAW from totally unbiased sources. No business interests push propaganda on YOU.

spun, you are a mindless troll, and I'll call you out on it every time I see your bullshit.

The UAW is badnewsbears, through and through.
Anyone who has dealt with them knows this.
Anyone who has seen the work ethic of the employees they represent knows this.

Posting as AC because you and your alt accounts routinely mod my shit down.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795764)

Right. You just heard about the evils of the UAW from totally unbiased sources. No business interests push propaganda on YOU.

spun, you are a mindless troll, and I'll call you out on it every time I see your bullshit.

The UAW is badnewsbears, through and through.
Anyone who has dealt with them knows this.
Anyone who has seen the work ethic of the employees they represent knows this.

Posting as AC because you and your alt accounts routinely mod my shit down.

I look forward to your presentation of proof, which I am sure is forthcoming.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795290)

And, unfortunately for the unions, it's mostly justified.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (2)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795518)

Ah, I see you've heard the propaganda I mentioned.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1, Insightful)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795664)

Who do you work for, Spun?
My guess: the city or the federal gov't. Perhaps a union job at a Fortune-500.

I work very long and hard for my money and I am surrounded by people in union jobs who lean on a broom from 9-5.
Explain to me how my eyes have been affected by propaganda.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (3, Informative)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795496)

"we still have fire-tenders on electric trains" - Not in North America, they got rid of the firemen and the brakemen a long time ago. Through freight trains typically run 2-man crews, Engineer and Conductor.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (2)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795672)

A long time ago? Okay, I guess I'm getting old, the last time I rode Amtrak was 1991, and they had a fire-tender. He was basically a security guard.

Strong push from everyone (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795570)

There is a very, very strong push by business interests to smear unions going on right now.

Just ask people in New York how awesome Unions are right now...

The push against unions is coming from all over, not just businesses, because when the economy is in a downturn union people feel none of the effects that normal people do - there's no shared sacrifice so why should the majority of people root for unions at all?

Re:Strong push from everyone (0)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795654)

Yes, I've heard business interests pushing that line before, "It's not just us, EVERYONE hates unions!" Thanks for providing an example of the type of propaganda I was talking about.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (0)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795620)

It's funny when progressives fight among themselves. Keep it up, guys. We'll all be much better off.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795638)

>>>union labor pushing to keep meter-readers in business.

Seriously? My electric company eliminated meter readers almost 20 years ago. They replaced the outside meter with a new one that dials-in the reading each month. No more need for a guy to go-round reading the scale.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795256)

Could be the real reason for those privacy concerns, and more power to them.

Yeah, maybe. But they give a pseudo-scientific reason for the ban:

The ordinance also mentions "significant health questions" raised about "increased electromagnetic frequently radiation (EMF) emitted by the wireless technology in SmartMeters."

Us 'mericans is gettin dummer by the minute. Why don't they just say that if GOD wanted your power measured, he would have created the meters with smarts already. It makes about as much sense.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (2, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795430)

Marin Country holds a special kind of stupid. Nobody is as stupid as a rich, privileged person who thinks they are members of the counter-culture. Marin Country is full of that kind of person. San Francisco bankers and ad agency execs who think they are hip and cool because they work in San Francisco. Ex military industrial complex finks from southern California who got laid off by Reagan and found New Age spirituality. Huckster Gurus with an online degree from Spiritual American University. Marin is full of shallow people who think they are better, smarter, and closer to God than the average American.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795752)

Marin is full of shallow people who think they are better, smarter, and closer to God than the average American.

Well, someone could send them to their God (the god of their choice of course).

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795312)

If you're sucking down a heavy amount of juice from the grid to power your grow lamps, it'll show up on a regular meter. Would the smart meters really provide any additional useful information to our brave Drug Warriors?

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795404)

Actually yes, there's been a lot of progress on lower powered growhouses that make it difficult for the government to pinpoint based on power usage. However, the rock steady on off usage cycle would be picked up by a smart meter in a heartbeat.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795444)

If you're sucking down a heavy amount of juice from the grid to power your grow lamps, it'll show up on a regular meter. Would the smart meters really provide any additional useful information to our brave Drug Warriors?

That doesn't matter, what matters is what the growers think it will do.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795550)

yes it would. Standard analog ballasts have a noticeable unique power signature when they're started, especially common 1kW ballasts. Take that signature and see if it happens every day at exactly the same time and whether power correspondingly drops 12hr later and voila. Digital ballasts, however, aren't as vulnerable to the signature detection and is what every /. grow operator should use ; D

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795346)

Why? Grow ops would have consistently high power usage, which is captured just fine with the month-to-month readings now.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795560)

Yeah, it doesn't make sense when you think about it, but these are stoner hippies we're talking about. They tend to be a little paranoid.

Besides, you can always cover your tracks by purchasing an electric kiln and running your own 'pottery business.' While such a business might use roughly the same amount of electricity overall, it would have a very different duty cycle from grow lights.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795400)

How much electricity is actually required to operate marijuana growing lamps for one household? Unless they are growing enough to sell, should they even worry about this at all? A single PC probably uses more power than a few lamps...

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795636)

I used to do network security for a non-profit medical marijuana club in San Francisco. I can tell you that even one four hundred watt light, the bare minimum you could possibly use, would use a lot of electricity. You keep it on 24/7 for 2-3 weeks, then step down to 12/7 over the course of a week or two, and run at 12/7 for three months. A more typical setup would be four one thousand watt lights. Your electric bill would average over $800 a month for that.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795702)

Grow ops use a ton... really. I don't know why they don't just install off-the-grid solar panels or light tubes to run them.

Re:Grow Ops in Marin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795740)

1kW lamp is fairly standard to flower, and most would also need a 400W for veg. I don't know of many people with 1kW psu's on a standard PC...let alone a 2800W psu...

Of course this happens in California (0)

ender06 (913978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795042)

I really don't know what to say to this other than wow. Seriously? Wow.

Re:Of course this happens in California (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795476)

explain...

Re:Of course this happens in California (1)

Mysteray (713473) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795612)

Personally, I think "smart meters" are an exceedingly dumb idea.

But your comment is completely ambiguous and content-free, so I cannot discuss it with you.

Re:Of course this happens in California (1)

ender06 (913978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795708)

Touche. I think a small device that monitors your power usage and that the owner can connect to is a great idea. I don't know if smart meters in their current form are a good way to go about it. Why do you feel they are an exceedingly dumb idea?

My guess.... (1)

ganjadude (952775) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795046)

they want the energy to be used, (they want $$$) they just want us to think they want us to use less

Re:My guess.... (3, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795144)

they want the energy to be used, (they want $$$) they just want us to think they want us to use less

If by "they" you mean the energy corporations, you're right. County officials being among the easiest of all government officials to bribe, and usually the least expensive, I can't imagine that the 2010 version of Enron would miss such an opportunity.

Oblig (2)

potscott (539666) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795050)

The ordinance also mentions "significant health questions" raised about "increased electromagnetic frequently radiation (EMF) emitted by the wireless technology in SmartMeters." Reminds of "My neighbors wifi gives me migraines..."

Re:Oblig (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795126)

Fortunately, there is already an answer to those "significant health questions."

Re:Oblig (1)

Spectre (1685) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795224)

The ordinance also mentions "significant health questions" raised about "increased electromagnetic frequently radiation (EMF) emitted by the wireless technology in SmartMeters."

Reminds of "My neighbors wifi gives me migraines..."

It reminds me of the adjacent story [slashdot.org] .

Seriously, there may be some health concerns, particularly with certain frequencies of EMF. But given that our bodies have been experiencing far higher power EMF since the '30s or '40s from radio and tv broadcast towers (especially people who live near one), it seems unlikely that a neighborhood of low power smartmeters is even going to register against the background.

"but they're closer, they are on the house" - true ... time to get rid of the baby monitor, cel phone, cordless phone, bluetooth remote, garage door opener remote, unlock button for your car, ...

Re:Oblig (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795648)

Not just broadcast towers, but electricity distribution towers; my dad worked on them for forty years. When you're that close to a 30kV cable at 60 Hz, it seems if there were some untoward effects from EMF that they would show up in my dad (now 80) or the guys he worked with. But I've seen no studies showing that electrical workers suffer any more diseases than anyone else (except indoor wiremen, who often suffer from asbestosis and other asbestos related diseases).

EMF (1)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795066)

The ordinance also mentions "significant health questions" raised about "increased electromagnetic frequently radiation (EMF) emitted by the wireless technology in SmartMeters."

I wonder how many in the Marin County government also don't carry cellular phones (often near their hips or groins), or use wifi, or bluetooth.

Re:EMF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795268)

No, they use good radiation because we like what they do

Re:EMF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795478)

I've heard of electromagnetic frequency radiation, but not electromagnetic FREQUENTLY radiation. What is this?

Re:EMF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795556)

I think people are too quick to dismiss the potential danger.

Of course some level of EMF radiation is dangerous, otherwise Microwaves would not need metal shielding ( and would not work).

There are EMF power limits set up in the 80s.

Consumer devices sometimes push these limits. But the problem is not from one device, it the combination of the all the EMF devices, which may exceed the "safe" limits.

Even ignoring possible safety problems, flooding with more EMF will make other devices in the same frequencies less effective.

The real question here, is why do smart meters need to use RF at all. Power line communication should be most useful for ... the power company.

Data over power lines? (2)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795080)

Could set up a solution so that the data is sent over the power lines instead of being wireless?

Re:Data over power lines? (2)

GodWasAnAlien (206300) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795314)

I asked this question to PGE.

They claimed that they looked into it, but the bandwidth was not wide enough.

Really? What kind of bandwidth does one need to send power usage information?

My guess was that they wanted to set up another "last mile" network for later commercialization.

Network over power lines is the obvious solution for a smart meter, and that is a common setup in Europe.

Re:Data over power lines? (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795460)

They claimed that they looked into it, but the bandwidth was not wide enough.

Really? What kind of bandwidth does one need to send power usage information?

1 bit per day transfer speeds would by far exceed the information they get by someone reading the meter...

Re:Data over power lines? (1)

Tickety-boo (1206428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795510)

Data rates for BPL (Broadband over Power Line) is about 3Mb/s. This is too slow to sell it as a DSL competitor, but fine for AMI data. The largest amount of data they would need to send would be during a firmware upgrade which could be from 50MB-200MB, so 3Mb/s should be sufficient and is similar to other data methods. PLC (Power Line Carrier) was on-par with modem speeds (which PGE tired this), and may be what they are referring to.

The common reason for not using BPL is that you need to "hop" over the transformers, and the equipment for this is expensive and interferes with HAM radios and other wireless traffic.

Re:Data over power lines? (2)

Mysteray (713473) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795566)

Really? What kind of bandwidth does one need to send power usage information?

Not much. But consider what happens when a security hole is found. Say it requires a 2MB firmware update on all 10M of your customers' meters.

(smart meter firmware size)*(installed base)/bandwidth = (minimum number of days the attacker has blinkenlights capability over your grid)

I can't take credit for this observation. I can dig up the reference if you'd like.

Re:Data over power lines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795762)

Not much. But consider what happens when a security hole is found. Say it requires a 2MB firmware update on all 10M of your customers' meters

Multicast ... ?

Fark should have a California tag as well (0)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795138)

Time to share the Florida love.

Ofcom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795152)

Contrast "the potential for adverse impact on emergency communication systems used by first responders and amateur radio operators." with Ofcoms recent insistence that PLN causes zero radio interference issues. I think this little story is going into a VERY simplisticly worded letter to my MP.

Smart meters are not the solution anyway (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795204)

What people need is a broadcast of the current energy price, so they can optimize their usage. Reporting peoples usage habits has NO value to either the customer or overall energy consumption. The power company is not going to control the customer usage (except with interruptabe servive).

Re:Smart meters are not the solution anyway (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795342)

They allow power companies to see how energy is being used on their network so they can better rout power and better predict when and where to send power. More information about a system is ALWAYS better.

Re:Smart meters are not the solution anyway (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795348)

What people need is a broadcast of the current energy price, so they can optimize their usage. Reporting peoples usage habits has NO value to either the customer or overall energy consumption. The power company is not going to control the customer usage (except with interruptabe servive).

In order for the power company to charge you the price of power from 1pm to 2pm they need to know how much power you used from 1pm to 2pm, so yes, the power company needs this information to do exactly what you are requesting.

Not broadcast prices, REGULATED prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795378)

No, consumer, be they people or businesses, don't need a broadcast of the current price. They need stable, regulated prices of a vital utilities so that, instead of having to worry constantly about optimising consumption of resources or getting completely screwed when speculation or willful supply scarcity on the part of utility producers causes "market" prices to skyrocket CONSUMERS don't become the victims of profiteering schemes the way Californians were during the Enron debacle (and let's be clear, almost all utility markets in the US are de facto monopolies).

This whole idea that government shouldn't regulate any business completely ignores the problem of the commons and the shortcomings (i.e. inequitable wealth transfer) that inevitably occur when regulation is ineffectively applied and/or captured by the corporations it is intended to regulate.
g=

Re:Not broadcast prices, REGULATED prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795500)

And by this I also meant to say that the stuff that happened with Enron and the other power companies in California in the mid-00s isn't all that different from what I anticipate will happen with smart meters, only instead of the utilities collaborating to raise market prices on the spot market they'll simply ensure YOUR price for electricity is always at the highest possible point whenever YOU decide to use it. So if you want to run your AC during the day in the office, PEAK USAGE = 20 cents an hour. If you want to run your dryer at home at 3 AM... somehow it'll be "MINIMUM USAGE" = 20 cents an hour... "because it costs us more to produce electricity at 3 AM when no one else is using it!"
g=

carbon footprint (1)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795266)

could well actually increase total electricity consumption and therefore the carbon footprint

What about the carbon footprint of all the vehicles used daily by meter readers? How can a lower power transmission come close to that?

Re:carbon footprint (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795340)

Um... they still wander around checking the meters once a month. The smart meters are for tracking usage over the course of the month and monitoring when usage is highest.

They already installed mine back when I was unable to decline for any reason. My concerns are the documented inaccuracies, signal interference with wifi, security (anyone with a bit of electronics know how can read your meter) and general pointlessness (since they still have to read the meters by hand to bill you).

Re:carbon footprint (1)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795534)

Seems they could simply add a module to track all of that throughout the month then have the meterperson gather that when they make their rounds... if that's what smart meters are really intended for.

Re:carbon footprint (2)

sribe (304414) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795548)

They already installed mine back when I was unable to decline for any reason. My concerns are the documented inaccuracies, signal interference with wifi, security (anyone with a bit of electronics know how can read your meter) and general pointlessness (since they still have to read the meters by hand to bill you).

Not the ones around here. They can remotely read them from quite a distance away. They still have to drive around. But there's less driving, less stop and go, and no reading by hand.

And the unions ... (3, Interesting)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795296)

I would be surprised if utility workers unions did not have some input here, meter readers being automated out of a job. I'm not being paranoid, I grew up in such a union household. Although my dad would have been the guy installing/replacing a meter not reading it.

This has no impact (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795308)

The county has no jurisdiction in this. This is theater.

The smart meters actually use two radios.

There is the 900 MHz radio to report the usage, and that can be up to 1W in power. It only broadcasts intermittently. I would expect it would use considerably less power than the motor in current meters.

This is also a ZigBee radio at 2.4 GHz, and I have not found the power for this, but I would expect it to follow the ZigBee specification, but I have not been able to find a copy of the specification.

Individually the radios should not present any problems. Thousands of them in a cluster is a more interesting issue.

Re:This has no impact (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795434)

Thousands of them in a cluster is a more interesting issue.

Especially if they become self-aware.

I guess eliminating jobs is not (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795326)

a legitimate concern.

Re:I guess eliminating jobs is not (1)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795578)

No, it is not. Public utilities are there to provide a service, not jobs. Or do you think I should pay more for my electricity so the meter readers stay working?

900Mhz != HF amateur band (3, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795352)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_meter [wikipedia.org]

I'm not claiming this wiki article is complete, but the amateur HF bands are far far away from 900Mhz. I could understand a complaint if the switching supply in the meters (that drives the embedded logic) spewed harmonic RFI and/or dumped noise on the line due to a bad (cheap) design. I think electronic dimmers, radio driven electric fences, and existing broadband-over-power solutions are much bigger threats to HF bands than the circuits in these things.

Re:900Mhz != HF amateur band (1)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795542)

Oops, I forgot that there's a 900Mhz AR band now. My apologies..

You're coming at it the wrong way (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795666)

You're attempting to apply some rational analysis to the problem, when the problem is actually irrational behavior. It doesn't matter that there's a 900 MHz band or where bands are at all. What matters is that a bunch of misled or malicious folks misled other folks into becoming the horde of angry villagers with pitchforks and firebrands chasing something that they don't understand

Re:900Mhz != HF amateur band (1)

JakiChan (141719) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795734)

Amateur Radio has a secondary allocation on 900-928Mhz. The ordinance doesn't say anything about HF.

Also, there are first responder radio systems in 900Mhz, and these smart meters don't play nice.

Not that... (2)

alaffin (585965) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795366)

...I agree with the reasoning behind it (seems like a lot of handwaving - especially the "wifi is scary and will kill your children while you sleep" bit) but frankly I'm glad. In my experience Smart Meters are little more than a money grab by the utility/landlord and have a negligible effect on actual consumption. When I was renting an apartment a few years ago they offered to install one in my apartment. "Stop paying for your neighbors electricity and pay for your own" they told me. Although I wasn't actually paying for the electricity (utilities were covered as part of the rent) I decided to go to their little information session. They spent an hour and a half extolling the virtues of the smart meters few of which were actually virtuous at all. Of course they neglected to mention the fact that there was no concievable way for most of the residents to greatly impact their power consumption. Laundry was in the basement as was the hot water heater and the major power sucking appliances (heat, A/C, fridge and stove) were all building own and not replaceable. Sure, I could save a bit by turning down the A/C or the heat (except for the fact that my A/C at the very least couldn't even be set to lower the room to room temperature) but what really would've saved me money was not forcing the air exchanged by the unit outside to heat/cool the bedroom. Or insulating the windows and doors better (when the wind was a certain way the apartment could be very drafty). But did they offer any of this?

Nope. They offered a small rebate on my monthly rent. Which was less than the average of the sample bills they showed me from other buildings the company owned (when I pointed this out to them they eagerly pointed out the lone bill that was less than the discount they were offering).

Sorry - you want me to save electricity? Come up with a better way than nickle and diming me for everything. Entice me by making some of the more radical home adjustments afforable (solar panels are out - not enough sun in this neck of the woods - but I think a nice little wind turbine on my roof might do well). But don't put lipstick on a pig and expect me to kiss it.

Marin crosses the line.... (4, Interesting)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795380)

Marin crosses the line in legislating psuedo-science into an active ordinance. I hear the anti_smart-meter people present their case on KBOO (www.kboo.fm) radio, the world-class alternative radio station out of southeast Portland Oregon USA. They're well-intentioned and enthusiastic, but they really seem a little touched with the ol'hippy paranoia 'all science is evil' herb-induced vibe.

    Marin is a strange place. I've visited there many times and it seems normal and well-ordered, but it has a true bizarre historical undercurrent that goes back a hundred years (even before all the rich hippies moved there in the 1970s). It's =almost= the kind of place that would pass a law forcing the sun to rise in the West in order to get a great morning sunrise for the folks living in Stinson Beach. It is exactly the kind of place that people would ban a technology that they don't quite understand and doesn't appear to do anything to make them younger and more beautiful and more hip (and more rich). They are exactly the kind of people who would consider a piece of equipment from the power company ('a rather déclassé institution run by drab ordinary pedestrian types, not-our-sort-of-globally-aware-organic-people', dahrling) that emits radio signals from their home-lifespace to be an evil intrusion. If it's not spying on you for the Republicans, then it's trying to keep track of how much electricity is being diverted from your hot tub to the grow lights in your secret garden.

    Marin has probably changed a lot since "The Serial" was published in the late 1970s, but it's the kind of place where the people pay a lot of money and a lot of karmic energy to make sure that it doesn't change all that much. Still they have crossed the line on this one issue.

    Personally, I'd love to live in Marin. The MILFs are as gorgeous as the models. It's the 'coolest' place on earth. The grass is greener and everything's always groovy, no matter how stupid and ugly the rest of the world becomes. But I'm a little too ugly and a little to poor to be accepted as one of the 'golden cloud people' north of the Golden Gate.

All about increased bills (2)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795394)

This is really about some people who have seen vastly increased bills. Now, the question is: are the new meters wrong or were the old electromechanical meters (installed decades ago) wrong?

Occam, whare are you? Or, as the saying goes, when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.

Stupid! (0)

Coldeagle (624205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795408)

This is the most moronic thing I have ever heard:

''the SmartMeters program ... could well actually increase total electricity consumption and therefore the carbon footprint'

Honestly, this is just ridiculous! Since I've had my smart meter installed I've reduced my electrical usage by half! All it takes is a person with the want to decrease their electrical usage and google power meter and boom you can evaluate your energy usage and decrease it, thus reducing consumption!

Werner Erhard & Vaccination Scare Crowd (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795410)

This neck of the woods is populated by the 'cult crowd' mentality as far as I see and hear it.

Erhards EST & the 'exclusive gathering' with inside information about XX (be it global warming, vaccinations & autism, or TV and miscarriages) manages to put a scare in darned near everything.

It is almost impossible for me to stop laughing when the newest 'fact' of coming doom is related in Marin.

Problem is, that if I laugh, I loose some good friends.

Re:Werner Erhard & Vaccination Scare Crowd (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795682)

Problem is, that if I laugh, I loose some good friends.

Then what happens? Is their grip on reality so tenuous that they float off into the sky or something?

Two SmartGrid dirty secrets (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34795432)

One. Advertised: if the utility company is having trouble delivering the demanded power, they can reduce the voltage a little bit and buy/generate a little bit less (expensive) peak power. Your lights will burn a little less brightly, but you probably won't notice.Not advertised: if the utility company is having trouble making money or needs a place to sink their spinning reserves during off-peak demand, they can use SG to raise the delivered voltage to end customers. Your lights will burn a little brighter, but you probably won't notice. It will also cost you a little bit more. Too bad.

Two. Advertised: through price signals and load shedding, the utility can reduce the peak-to-trough difference in electricity demand, lowering the cost of delivering electric power and passing the savings on to you. Not advertised: the utility can replace fast-response generators like natural gas with slower response generators like coal, because they don't need as much fast response generation capacity to deal with their now smaller peaks. Of course, coal has a bigger carbon footprint than gas. Too bad.

Re:Two SmartGrid dirty secrets (2)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795558)

"the utility can replace fast-response generators like natural gas with slower response generators like coal, because they don't need as much fast response generation capacity to deal with their now smaller peaks. Of course, coal has a bigger carbon footprint than gas."

Or nuclear (which I believe is also slow-response), which has a smaller carbon footprint than gas.

good luck with that (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795470)

Yeah, federal law pre-empts, only the FCC gets to regulate wireless devices and their use. I'm pretty sure (IANAL) that this is a case where the power company, if it wishes, can simply ignore the ordinance. And the country is stupid enough to try to enforce fines or sue, crush them in court.

Re:good luck with that (1)

Bureaucromancer (1303477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795632)

RTFA. They fully intend to ignore the ordinance.

Re:good luck with that (1)

gabebear (251933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795700)

Yep, this is pretty much identical to all the local ordinances that ban satellite dishes.

radio interference (1)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795588)

As far as radio interference goes, Wenzel's Techlib [techlib.com] has some info about how to mitigate this. Of course, sdddddddddddwsssssssssssssss cvvvvvvvvvvvvvv;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
Sorry, cat got on keyboard. Anyway. Of course, it's not like the technicians installing the meters are checking for ground loops... but perhaps they should be? If there is that much potential to interfere with first responders, you'd think some tests on the wiring would be in order...

FUD (1)

The Raven (30575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795616)

  • privacy concerns associated with measuring energy usage data moment by moment: Almost believable, but since when has government cared about privacy?
  • potential for adverse impact on emergency communication systems used by first responders and amateur radio operators: Possible, I don't know what frequency they operate on. If it's not in the bands those areas use then this is FUD.
  • could well actually increase total electricity consumption and therefore the carbon footprint: Complete FUD. Driving around reading meters has a vastly higher carbon impact than a few watts a day.
  • significant health questions [re] increased electromagnetic frequently radiation: Complete FUD, as most of you are aware.

The information these meters provide would provide consumers with more power to make intelligent choices about their power consumption, likely lowering power usage for many users (those who pay attention to their consumption). In a similar way to how a fuel-efficiency readout helps people make better fuel-efficiency driving decisions, these would have helped provide users make better power-saving decisions. But FUD wins. Bah.

Doctored readings (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34795748)

I don't trust smart meters to give an accurate reading. They're not only electronic, they have wireless (that's probably terribly insecure). It's like electronic voting. How do you verify that they don't just give you a correct reading when you're testing them, but inflate things once in the field? Plus, you can't calculate your instantaneous power usage anymore as you could on the old spinning wheel kind (at least the smart meters here only show total kilowatt hours on the LCD).
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