Thursday July 14, 2011

Consumer News

How Wise Are Smart Meters?

BC Hydro is spending a $1B to find out

Submitted by Walter McGinnis for Delores Broten


n excerpt from Joyce Nelson’s upcoming article, “High Voltage: Spin and Lies of a Global Energy Grid,” in the September/October Watershed Sentinel


Quote: The reason for smart meters is to sell smart meters, and then smart appliances.

“The truth is that smart meters aren’t exactly necessary for a smart grid,” stated Forbes (Feb. 1, 2011), “but for technical and economic reasons, they’re here to stay.”   

Just what those technical and economic reasons are, even business consultants have been hard-pressed to explain – especially because eliminating thousands of human meter-reader jobs during a recession doesn’t play well. “The business case for rolling out expensive smart meter networks is often thin,” noted a March 2011 report from global research/consulting firm Ovum, so utilities need to “investigate alternative revenue generation opportunities from their smart meter infrastructure.” 


·          One of those “opportunities” is data sales.  As The Guardian’s John Vidal explains (March 30, 2011), through smart meters, “power companies will be able to tell everyone’s energy-use habits precisely, to the point of knowing which appliances they use, when people are in or out of a house, how efficient their boilers are and what they cook.  This data is commercially valuable and it can be expected that it would be sold to other companies.”

·         BC Hydro claims that spending $1 billion on smart meters in the province will save $500 million in electricity theft over twenty years – a business case that any grade-schooler would question.

·         The key reason for smart meters is huge profits for the information and communications technologies sector - IBM, Cisco, General Electric, Oracle, Itron, etc.  In other words, the reason for smart meters is to sell smart meters, and then smart appliances.

·         Within the appliance manufacturing industry, the “smart appliance” sector is currently in fierce competition with the “energy efficient” appliance makers for sector dominance – much like the competition between Betamax and VHS back in the 1980s.   While, energy-efficient appliances don’t need the smart meter (or a smart grid) to function, smart appliances do. 

·         Making the smart meter mandatory is a crucial step in determining who wins the competing system protocols, and an obvious boost for smart-appliance makers like General Electric.

·         BC Hydro has awarded the first smart meter contract to Corix Utilities.  One of the two owners of Corix is CAI Capital Management, whose senior advisor is David Emerson – Executive Chair of the BC Transmission Corp, Chair of the BC Premier’s Economic Advisory Council, Chair of the Alberta Premier’s Council for Economic Strategy, director of Timberwest Forest Corp., former CEO of Canfor, and current chair of something called EPIC.

The people of Australia and the Netherlands raised such an outcry against mandatory smart meters that their governments were forced to abandon the policy.

Delores Broten is the editor of Watershed Sentinel, PO Box 1270, Comox BC V9M 7Z8

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For more insight into this topic visit here  and see "BC Hydro Modernizes The Grid" posted July 8 2011


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