Michael Laybourn: PG&E ‘Smart Meters’ — Dumb Idea


Smartmeters do not save electricity. They are a grab for stimulus dollars and a reason to cut jobs. To think they are some kind of gentle green good is nonsense.

From the Wall St Journal: Meters are expensive, often costing $250 to $500 each when all the bells and whistles are included, such as the expense of installing new utility billing systems. And utilities typically pass these costs directly on to consumers.  <http://online.wsj.com/public/quotes/main.html?type=djn&symbol=CNP> CenterPoint Energy Inc. in Houston, for instance, recently began charging its customers an extra $3.24 a month for smart meters, sparking howls of protest since the charges will continue for a decade and eventually approach $1 billion.

Jack Oliphint, a retiree who lives 20 miles north of Houston in Spring, Texas, thinks the $444 he will pay CenterPoint in coming years for a smart meter is too much, considering what he sees as rather elusive benefits. “There’s no mystery about how you save energy,” says the 71-year-old retired furniture salesman. “You turn down the air conditioner and shut off some lights. I don’t need an expensive meter to do that.”

Will the meters save electricity?
No. Smart meters merely track electric usage, just like their older, dumber predecessors. Consumers who purchase additional devices can receive detailed information on the energy costs of individual appliances. Utilities will encourage customers to sign up for high “time of use” rates in order to reduce peak demand.

Will additional expenditures will be required on the consumer end?
In order to get the purported benefits of smart meters, consumers will purchase their own communications devices, computers, high speed internet, special thermostats, appliance chips and other automated equipment. The cost of retrofitting or replacing existing appliances alone will be astronomical.

Without the expenditures, consumers will not see any difference from the new meters except higher electric bills.

The main issues to opt out are:

1. Security of data and private information. Billions [of dollars] are on the table, so they are moving forward with metering projects and they’re spending money as fast as they can,” said Jonathan Pollet, founder of  <http://www.redtigersecurity.com/> Red Tiger Security which tests security features in SCADA systems. “The security isn’t where it should be, but the vendors aren’t going to turn down orders.”

So there is little security built into the “smart” meters, making them susceptible to hackers. Someone could turn on or off your power, change the amount of power which the meter shows you have used, or even be able to tell if you were home. Your energy use patterns and data are a gold mine to marketers. Who owns this data? PG&E. They can make money from this information. You think they care about your privacy?

2. Questionable accuracy and greatly increased bills. “The meters have been plagued with problems since the beginning, starting with widespread reports of inflated bills

3. Loss of jobs and trained people in the field monitoring the infrastructure. Our country’s big problem – no jobs – and PG&E wants us to pay to make less jobs.

4. The San Jose Mercury News  (Pay Wall) <http://www.mercurynews.com/action-line/ci_16007725?nclick_check=1> says it’s collected dozens of complaints on its Action Line from readers who claim that the wireless smart meters interfere with their household electronics — cordless phones, crib monitors, patio speakers, wireless headsets and microphones, home security systems, motion detectors and remote-controlled garage doors — as the meters transmit their power data

5. Private property rights and your ability to choose for yourself in your own home.

P.G.& E. foolishly spent over $46 million of rate payer money on the failed ballot initiative, proposition 16, to lock in their monopoly from municipal power utilities and anyone else. That was money that could have been used for real problems in their infrastructure, such as fixing the equipment that caused the recent fatal San Bruno explosion and fire. On top of that, the Bay Guardian reported a few weeks ago, that Pacific Gas & Electric Company was granted $5 million to upgrade a portion of its  <http://www.sfbg.com/2010/10/26/no-good-answers> San Bruno gas pipeline, but they never got around to doing it. A rupture along that section of pipe caused the deadly Sept. 9 explosion that took the lives of eight people and destroyed 37 homes. ,Ironically, according to Forbes.com,, PG&E CEO Peter Darbee earned $10,559,428 in 2009 in total compensation.

The standard very reliable mechanical meters are being replaced across America in a massive campaign to grab stimulus money and decrease labor costs. What the economy needs is more jobs. More jobs and trained people in the field monitoring the infrastructure.

Do you really trust this huge corporation to do the right thing?



PG&E has already killed people in Hinkley, California and San Bruno California and other places less well known.

Why are you people complaining about Wireless smart meters? Do you think you and your children deserve better than those adults and children that have already been killed by PG&E?

PG&E Corporate has a record of lying, covering up, killing and sickening people throughout the state and that’s not going to change.

I don’t understand you people trying to protect yourselves and your children. Why don’t you people just accept it, like the rest of us.

It is obvious that PG&E lies for money. But PG&E is the official word and if I go by that and something happens to my wife or children, no one can blame me.

Stop these dam honest scientists from reporting damage and breaks in DNA chains in human cells and breaches in the blood/brain barrier of lab rats from the smart meter type of radiation and stop talking about it.

Just accept it, like the rest of us.