Monday, December 20, 2010

Are Edison "Smart Meters" Smart?

There was a pretty extensive and rather thoughtful article about Southern California Edison "Smart Meters" on the site yesterday morning. And since chances are pretty good that you are going to get one whether you like it or not (and pay for it as well), I thought it might be worth a little bit of discussion here on this rainy Sunday morning.

The way language is being used these days does deserve a bit of comment first. "Green" has now become synonymous with boutique development, "sprawl" is how nice little communities such as ours are being described, and "smart" has come to be the description du jour for anything involving large corporate or governmental solutions to the inconveniences caused by those vast lumbering herds of beings known as consumers.

In other words, people like us. We're sloppy, in this instance we need lots of energy to run all of those convenience items we've been sold, and apparently those who supply it would prefer that we do it their way, and on their schedule.

The notions behind "smart meters" are fairly cut and dried. Energy corporations need to get past their manually run power grids and get fully computerized. This would be far more efficient for them, enable cost savings (they could lay off all those meter readers), and allow them the flexibility to make nimble decisions during times of peak electricity usage.

It is supposed to work for the end consumers of their products as well. Apparently "smart meters" will enable folks such as us to carefully monitor our electricity use, and understand that if we run our household machinery during "off peak" hours we would be able to save a few bucks. I certainly know I will be glued to my computer screen ready to shut off the dryer the second I see my rates fluctuate upwards as the Maundry Compound approaches a more expensive peak power usage event. Something that'll make me a veritable Power King in my little realm.

The key to this for the big power boys is to smooth out and control demand. During times of peak electricity usage, particularly during summer heat waves, companies like Edison are forced to make purchases on the open or "spot" market. And since they have to make these buys from other companies (mostly - for some reason - from Texas) eager to make a profit off of Edison's woes they have to pay premium prices, which cuts deeply into their bottom line. Something that makes Edison stockholders and the Board of Directors very grumpy.

The way this is being marketed to us is that it will enable us to save money on electricity costs. Because that is all we really need to know about here. Lord knows Edison has enough people griping about stuff already. But is this really the case? Will we be saving money because of "smart meters?" The article raises some questions.

Robert Strong, 37, of Rialto said his monthly electric bill rose sharply after a smart meter was installed at his home about two months ago. "Our summer bills were $200 to $300 and we thought, 'OK, that's pretty high but reasonable,'" he said. "But after the smart meter was installed it went up to $400." Strong said his bill rose despite that (sic) fact he installed an energy-efficient pump for his swimming pool. He also noted that his family was home much less over the past couple months because of his son's football practice and his daughter's softball activities. "They also overcharged my mother-in-law, but they paid her back," he said.

And then there is this complaint:

Mark Rzonca, 53, of Walnut said his electric bill has likewise risen 5 to 8 percent since his smart meter was installed. "It's just average usage," he said. "I don't have an air conditioner ... and it's a smaller 1,800-square-foot home.

Up north where Pacific Gas & Electric rules their realm with an iron hand "smart meters" have been the source of much discontent. And the discrepancy between the "lower costs" claim for "smart meters" and what people have been seeing on their PG&E bills has been so great a class action lawsuit has been initiated and is gaining some real traction in the courts.

The action, handled by attorney Michael Luis Kelly of Kirtland & Packard LLP in San Francisco doesn't allege the meters are faulty. But it does say residents have complained of being overbilled. "Shortly after PG&E began to install SmartMeters, many of its customers began to complain that the bills they were receiving for their electricity had risen dramatically immediately after a SmartMeter was installed at their premises, with no change in usage to explain the dramatic increase," the lawsuit said. "There are people who have documented what they paid in the past and in the present," Kelly said. "And they have demonstrated to our satisfaction that there were billing errors."

Certainly not what your average consumer is looking for in these parlous economic times.

One other thing. Apparently if you are an Edison customer (and do you really have a choice?) you are already paying the costs for your "smart meter." Even though you don't actually have one yet.

Edison is fronting the money for its $1.6 billion smart meter program. The cost will be paid back through a 1.6 percent customer rate increase, which began last year and runs through 2012.

Correct me if I am wrong here, but I do not recall being asked if I wished to purchase one of these items. That is, if I am actually purchasing it and not just defraying the costs of Edison's investment. Were you asked?

Stay dry, guy.


  1. Smart Meters really should have been named Clever Meter$
    It's all part of the plan to create a "new world order", crafted by the Illuminati

  2. It is now understood, asking in no longer an alternative, telling us "humble masses", is the new way of getting our permission.

  3. I'm a little confused by the word "illuminati." Is that what the people who illuminate light bulbs call themselves these days? Would that make John Buchanan and Joe Mosca illuminati because they work for utilities?

  4. Those Texas power rates are the legacy of California's failed experiment with deregulation in 1996, which created those rolling blackouts and permanently higher costs due to the "stranded debt" it created. It was totally self-inflicted - the Texas Oil State simply took advantage of it, just like they took over Washington, D.C. and started wars for oil that we're all carrying massive human and financial costs for. Not the Lone Star State for nothin' and they still have the right of succession built into their contract.

    Maybe they'd like Mexico better.

  5. I don't think I'd call John and Joe illuminati, 8:53. I think "corporatists" would be more appropriate. Their agenda meshes almost perfectly with that of their corporate utility employers.

  6. California has become a vast passive "sucker state," too tied up
    by corrupt government and a passive PC citizenry to even begin
    to appreciate how it is being sucked dry of its wealth. Yeah, sell
    me a meter I didn't ask for. I won't fight back, I'm from California.

  7. One of the ways you qualify for the Illuminati is work for the power company. You hit it right on the nose or, light switch, 8:53, which ever is closer.

  8. I note that the blog headline shot of Sierra Madre from "Invasion of the Bodysnatchers" has an actual prominent Texaco sign, a portent of the future takeover of the community by corporate concerns. People are fleeing from it in droves. Probably an inspiration to the current G4 Council.

  9. Wait, lemme wrap my head around this: the smart meter is already here, I pay for it but it is not in use? I am made to feel smart but am looking like a dummy because my money is stolen and I am getting nothing.

    Great marketing tactics: If I do not pay then I am left in the dark. But then that is what you want for most of your customers anyway. No real truth. Just high techno info. Steal it up front.
    Make it sound and feel good. Cannot live without it, so we got it by the lightballs anyway.

    Isn't this called theft!!!
    PERHAPS IT IS THE MONEY PAID TO JOE TO WALK AROUND TOWN AND LOOK BUSY. And Glen Beck to cry that we need pretty light bulbs.

    Why do we pay a coorporation to be allowed to take our money for doing nothing?

    Way toooo slick. Not gonnna get away with this one, either.

  10. John B talking to JoeDecember 19, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    "I have a great idea, why don't we do the same thing with our water meters?
    They should of course use the new "tell us after" they are installed method, then bill the residents, and when we pay the bill, they can show we approved an increase by paying it.
    They won't notice it anyway..."

  11. One strong resemblance between John and Joes's work for the City Council and utility companies is "brown outs." Both seem to happen

  12. Gluton for PunishmentDecember 19, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    I'm waiting (with heavy breathing) for my smart water meter, so I can pay for it, and prostrate myself in thanks for charging me even more for that which I didn't want. Glory, Glory
    More bonds, uber alus.

  13. 10:26: to which Joe replies with a grin: "I know, we'll tell them it's green!"

  14. narcissistic boys trying to be menDecember 19, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    Joe and John are not going to be green with dollars but green with guck. They will eventually get what is coming to them. They have lied and twisted the truth so much they cannot keep us with their own version of what they themselves tell everyone what to believe.

    Those webs just keep getting thicker and thicker. The bile inside them must thicken daily.


    1. Insurance Companies Won't Insure Wireless Device Risks (3 minutes, 13 seconds)

    2. Microwave radiation dangers in our home (6 minutes, 20 seconds)

    3. WiFi in schools proven dangerous (14 minutes, 32 seconds)

    4. Truth about Smart Meters - Dr. Karl Maret, MD, Biomedical Engineer
    (Dr. Maret's presentation begins at 23:40 on the video telecast).

    5. Radiation Measured From Smart Meter Mounted On A Home (6 minutes, 21 seconds)

    6. Skyrocketing Utility Bills after smart meter installation (3 minutes, 19 seconds)

    7. Wounded by Wireless Smart Meters (14 minutes, 19 seconds)

  16. From Edison we got a bill in late in july for the Jun / Jul cycle $71.74. (old meter 2 pages easy to read and understand) Then Edison installed mid Aug our shiney new smart meter which proved to be dumb. I called Edison to report that we had not received a bill in two months and was told our smart meter was not communicating with their satalite so a new smarter meter would be installed. A technician showed up to make the change. After 3 months and no bill or communication from Edison the fun began.

    Nov 10 Bill Jul-Oct $394 due Nov 29 2010 pd.

    Dec 14 Bill Oct-Nov $163 due Jan 3 2011

    Dec 15 Bill Oct-Nov $163 "past due"
    + Nov-Dec $162 due Jan 3 2011
    Tot $326 due Jan 3 2011

    I am so confused by what Edison is doing that just understanding the new bills (averaging many pages) with tiers 1,2 & 3, rates, lots of explainations, and numbers, bar graphs, important information etc., will require an orientation session at their home office. (not yet offered)

  17. Smart is a Euphemism....December 19, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    Isn't it amazing how advertisers use the word SMART to twist people's mind into believing lies? Why would anyone be so easily led?

    Of all agencies, the utilities think we believe this? And, in Sierra Madre with the brilliant Joe and John representing great knowledge:an ORACLE! How very comical. Every time they open their mouths it is automatic turn off and their employers truly believe they have the respect of the citizens. Funny....

  18. Do you happen to notice, the line demarking City and utility companies is becoming rather blurred, I am starting to see the Utility Companies as city government, with Joe and John our representatives of the Utilities on the City Council

  19. Joe Occupation Government. (JOG)

  20. (Ed: vast qtys of obscenities scrubbed ..)

    No mention of Enron in your cute little article!

    (Ed: didn't mention Valero, either.)

  21. How can you relate Enron to Edison smart meters? Unless you're
    talking about taking money for things that haven't been delivered

  22. Not a Real EconomistDecember 20, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    Excuse me . . . any business that tells its customers to use less of its product has already entered the Orwellian sink hole. Welcome to the future.

  23. If the PG&E suit has it right, the idea is to produce less electricity and charge more.

  24. Don't let them on your property - my bill skyrocketed after installation of their new smart "rip-off" meter. I called to complain to no avail.

    -a ripped off Sierra Madre resident

  25. Kind of sounds like Sierra Madre's water department and the rate hike. You need to both produce less and bring in more. People in Sierra Madre conserved water and their reward was a big price increase. Smart Meters will make it easier for consumers to use less, so Edison makes up for it by raising their bills.

    Isn't that how it works?

  26. Yes, yes 6:08.
    "Smart" has been abused to the point where it will have to retire and come back later.
    Like "natural" on food products.

  27. From the river in the sky my rain gage which has overflowed twice has captured 11 inches since Friday,

    I was hoping to see our settling ponds reflecting this gift but they are full of weeds and not much water.

    Is there a reason our city is not capturing the stuff gushing down our gulch? like legally we can't divert it to our ponds?

    I am curious. Can someone fill us in?

  28. That lluminati stuff is freaky.Its got its true believers.The sign of the Anti-Christ is one world order,one language,one religion and the mark of the beast,is a bar code.I just can never see human beings as that organized.

  29. One of the best language twists of all, Corn Pops. Erase from your memories (if you're old enough) the first truer name

    Sugar Pops.

  30. worried about the billsDecember 20, 2010 at 7:11 PM

    The guy who said he was already conservative in his use sounds like some Sierra Madre residents who spoke about that in the water rate hike "discussions". If you already cut back and are careful, where is there to go? I don't use AC or a dryer (easier to do when the kids are grown - don't get huffy Crawford), so.......?

  31. I hear you 7:08. Why don't we have cisterns? A river is going down Baldwin.

  32. Do you think city hall is taking a gamble keeping the flag at green? The canyonites hate yellow flags because it means evacuation. In the past that yellow flag went up a lot quicker than it has this time around. Politics?

  33. Seems that the nanny state is big on everybody's mind these days. Certainly it's hurting that Viet Nam vet in San Diego, the smart meters are so bad that there's a lawsuit, there's probably a lawsuit here over the bungling of the Prop 218 process, and we're wondering why the city modified their evacuation behavior - maybe a reaction to the Back Up Nanny of it all.
    This rain is much worse than the last time when we did have to evacuate. It's not stopping. I was thinking that the staff is probably all set up in the evacuation centers.

  34. Start using candles.

    Oops, the fire department would probably come and get us.

  35. This is good news:
    "a class action lawsuit has been initiated and is gaining some real traction in the courts"
    As long as people are willing to join together and fight, there's a chance.

  36. I've been cooped up in the house for the past two days with my kids. I have no hair left on my head.

  37. It is difficult to say whether the arrival of the nanny state in so many aspects of our lives is absolutely necessary or not. Do I want to be able to walk with my kids along a street and have them not inhale tobacco smoke? You bet. Had smokers figured that out on their own? No. It had to be forced on them by the state. Maybe the measure is the greater public good - but who holds the ruler?

  38. Oh ye of little faith, the city staff has developed clairvoyant powers, they knew the rain would stop.

  39. People want the government to take responsibility for a lot of the things that people used to do for themselves. Also people don't want to pay the taxes necessary to cover the costs. We're nannying ourselves into oblivion.

  40. 7:09, I loved Sugar Pops.
    Mom smoked Salems, Dad smoked Parliaments, they both took Dexedrine with their martinis, and I ate Sugar Pops, with or without milk.

  41. A critique of the smart meter roll out in Glendale, California:

  42. Smart meters are not meters. They are computers with remotely reprogrammable software able to overwrite estimates. If you take all essentials off gird on to a back up[ off grid solar system, a smart "meter" will continue to record your "usage" just as if you did not do so.
    ANY computerized device that has software controlled from elsewhere and that is potentially able to be used by any utility to cover its own estimation tracks and/or to overwrite its own estimates not only fails to comply with any Weights and Measures Act, which states that real time usage is how energy must be measured, but is also is a license to print money, untraceable money. And that ignores the fact that the frequencies emitted are totally illegal under any and all safety law, plus the frequencies enabled by smart grid components including routers violate national building and electrical code and cause vastly accelerated metal corrosion and vibration induced loss of contacts and damage to all structural components, including but not limited to firewalls, which puts firefighters at extreme risk while destroying property in the frequency blast zone, vibrating everything including us at billions of times a second, causing electrical failure in biology (us) and sturctures everywhere. .


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