Smart power meters: a clever idea? QLD

More than 400,000 electronic power meters have already been installed across southeast Queensland as debate rages over whether “smart meters” will help curb electricity price rises.

Ahead of a meeting with state premiers on Friday, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been promoting a plan to ease increases in power prices including rolling out so-called smart meters.

The Queensland government has strongly questioned Ms Gillard’s claim that $250 a year could be saved on bills and challenged key elements including the smart meter push.

Old style power meters simply record how much power has been used and have to be checked every three months so electricity bills can be issued.

By contrast, smart meters, which have mainly been deployed in Victoria at great expense, can track when power is used at different times, allowing electricity companies to build in price incentives to use power outside of peak times.

The idea is that by spreading the power load, less money can be spent on electricity network upgrades to handle periods of extreme power use.

Energex’s Mike Swanston said more than 400,000 “second generation” power meters had already been installed in southeast Queensland properties.

He said these meters were electronic and could record information about what times of the day power was used, but unlike smart meters they did not remotely send data back to retailers so meters still had to be manually checked.

“The fundamental difference between the meters we’re using … and smart meters … is really not the meter but the real-time communications network that stands behind [smart meters],” he said.

Queensland Energy Minister Mark McArdle said he was sceptical about the benefit of a full rollout of smart meters, noting the communications systems would be a big cost.

Mr McArdle said there was “no way we can agree to the smart meter principle” because the body that was used by the Prime Minister to model electricity reforms separately warned it was hard to justify the cost of smart meters.

That was a reference to a Frontier Economics client briefing titled Smart metering? Dumb solution.

The document says it is natural to think the solution to rising electricity costs is to allow peak-time prices to rise to choke off air conditioning demand on hot days.

“This could reduce the need for new investment and save on bills in the longer term. But time-based pricing cannot happen for most small customers at the moment because most households and small businesses do not have meters that record the timing of their consumption,” it says.

“As a result, whether they consume mostly on hot days or in the middle of the night is irrelevant to the price they are charged.”

But the document argues the benefits of smart meters “often fall far short of the costs, and this is why other states have not followed Victoria’s lead” in mandating a rollout.

“But to be clear, the smart meter rollout will make Victorians worse off to the tune of $300 million in net terms – that is, even allowing for all the presumed future benefits from reducing peak demand and eliminating human meter readers,” Frontier Economics says.

“And far from keeping bills down, the rollout is adding over $100 a year on average to what customers pay on top of all the other increases.”

Mr McArdle said the total cost of a smart meter rollout in Queensland could be as high as $1.8 billion to $2 billion.

“I’m yet to be convinced that smart meters are going to be the way forward. The detail coming from the feds are being drip fed,” he said.

But Ms Gillard’s office sought to allay concerns, saying any roll-out “should be done on a voluntary market-driven (business-led) basis, not mandatory”.

“This recognises that not all customers are able to change their electricity consumption and benefit from using smart meters, and that the existing tariff rate may be more appropriate than moving to a time varying tariff,” she said through a spokesperson.

Read  more via Smart power meters: a clever idea?.

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So now we have a choice, move to NSW or QLD. They seem to be more interested in looking after their people and allowing them to make their own decisions about Smart meters instead of shoving them down their throats, threatening them, and then bullying them into submission. It has been stated so often in the media recently the rest of Australia is learning from the mistakes of the Victorian Government mandate. The question is when will this Government wake up, learn from it’s own mistakes and make them optional like everyone else??

We will continue to fight until they do.

We demand the same rights as our fellow Australians just across the boarder. And that right is to say NO.

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7 Responses to Smart power meters: a clever idea? QLD

  1. Don & Sharon Gamble says:

    Why the overall Press and Gillard blackout at the radiation doubts about the safety of Smart Meters

    • Well aware says:

      Our health doesn’t matter to them, only financial issues. See how arrogant and shallow these people are? What’s worse is the harm they will cause to future generations of Australians from electro pollution, probably more damaging than global warming!

  2. Mimi says:

    If my husband wasn’t against the idea of moving ( for job-related reasons) I would be out of Victoria like a rocket. How dare they continue this poison here in Victoria whilst other states are recognising the need for customer choice! This is just more frustration for those like me who feel ripped off by circumstances beyond their control… Totally Unfair!

  3. Kathleen says:

    As a breeder of rare poultry, I need to use an incubator and brooder to raise chicks. Each device has to be on 24 hours for the duration of the breeding season, about 3-4 months a year. Both pieces of equipment need to produce heat and therefore consume more electricity than most other devices. I don’t need a smart meter to tell me Iwhen and for how long I’m consuming electricity. Whilst we have publicly subsidized green energy scams (schemes), including solar panels, and the carbon dioxide tax electricity prices will continue to rise

  4. John Wilson says:

    The president/Chairperson of the Commonwealth of Australia Corporation that has taken over the lawful government from the people. Endorsing smart meters is a way invading peoples privacy and breaches the laws on privacy and confidentiality because the government can check where you are and what electronic facilities you have within you house,
    The governments are not concerned with people’s privacy or health issues. The government just wants to control you. As an item of the Corporation you have no rights and can be traded

  5. Jo-Ann Markowski says:

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/12/05/smart-utility-meters.aspx?e_cid=20121205_DNL_art_1#_edn2

    On November 26, the National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy (NISLAPP) published a new report entitled “Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid1,” authored by Dr. Timothy Schoechle, an engineering and policy consultant with expertise in smart grid technologies.

    He currently serves on several international smart grid standard setting committees and has decades of experience in the utility, computer, and communication industries, including being involved in the development of the AMI meter standards and building utility meter reading and demand response gateways.

    “Smart meter” is the term used to describe a wired or wireless electrical energy meter that transmits energy consumption data back to your local utility company at regular intervals.

    It is replacing conventional hard-wired meters we have had on our houses for decades that only collect usage data and have to be read by some means. However, serious health, privacy, security, homeland security, fire and cost concerns over this technology have been raised, and grassroots resistance groups2 have sprung up in at least 18 different states.

    The rebellion against the “smart meters” seems to be uniting people from a range of political persuasions, all expressing common values we share — including the right to privacy, and the right to live and thrive in healthy, safe and secure environments.

    Unless there are other motives for the meters, it is hard to understand why our government would be promoting and subsidizing “smart meters,” when safer and more secure meter alternatives are available. Former CIA Director James Woolsey even has said that on security grounds alone, the new grid design is “…a really, really stupid grid.”
    Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid

    The featured report “Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid” highlights widespread misunderstandings about the alleged technological benefits of the new ‘smart’ utility meters, including disturbing misunderstandings among state and local government officials, energy policy experts, advocates for renewable energies, environmental nonprofits, and experts at the highest federal levels.

    The report builds the case that beyond privacy, security, safety and potential public health risks of the present smart meters, the very basis on which the meters have been presented to communities may have been misrepresented — as the meters themselves actually have nothing to do, according to Dr. Schoechle, with achieving sustainability, developing a smart grid or even stimulating the economy.

    The smart meters, he says, do not facilitate the integration of renewable technologies, or local or ‘distributed’ power generation, key elements of a ‘smart grid’ that could support a thriving new energy economy. And, “data to be collected by the smart meters, including intimate personal details of citizens’ lives, is not necessary to the basic purpose of the smart grid, such as supply/demand balancing, demand response (DR), dynamic pricing, renewable integration, or local generation and storage, as promoters of the meters, and uninformed parties, routinely claim.”

    These misunderstandings have unfortunately been perpetuated by media who regularly take industry-affiliated spokespeople at their word, and give the impression that smart meters of the kind being installed today are necessary components of a smart grid. In a PBS News Hour program3 (July 20, 2012), for example, the myth of energy efficiency from smart meters, and smart meters being necessary building blocks for a smart grid, were uncritically shared with PBS audiences, according to Duncan Campbell, Esq. who wrote the Foreword to the new report. Edward Randolph, Director of Energy for the California Public Utilities Commission, said:

    “The vast majority of all of the input and evidence is that, you know, society is going to benefit from the smart meters. I mean, the energy-efficiency savings alone in the long term for the state of California is going to be a large economic benefit for most rate payers.”

    Helen Burt, Chief Customer Officer, Pacific Gas & Electric, stated on the same program:

    “Well, a smart meter is really a basic building block of a smarter grid. And a smart grid is being built all over the United States to connect solar power and other pieces of intermittent renewable power into the electric system”

    Dr. Schoechle, author of “Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid,” however, calls the smart meters being rolled out across the U.S. “a canard — a story or hoax based on specious claims about energy benefits…” He says the right investments for a true smart grid have been delayed by the focus on new meters.

    Billions of Dollars Spent on Weakening US Electricity Grid and Economy

    There’s really nothing smart about wireless “smart” meters. According to the report, billions of dollars in federal subsidies for “smart” utility meters have been misspent on meter technology that will simply NOT lead to energy sustainability or contribute to the possibility of a more efficient and responsive electricity grid.

    Furthermore, instead of stimulating the economy, this federal expenditure has cut jobs and delayed urgently needed investments to modernize our electricity grid, including integrating renewable energy technologies, distributed (local) power generation and home-based energy management systems.

    As it currently stands, the only beneficiaries of these vast sums are the meter and meter networking manufacturers, while unsustainable Investor‐Owned Utilities (IOUs) are financially propped up.

    By law, utilities can charge ratepayers enough to secure a 10-13 percent return on capital expenditures. But the impression of financial viability in these companies may prove to be an illusion — with short-term gains concealing the deeper reality that major structural disincentives and conflicts of interest continue to prevent the U.S. from moving into an abundant, low cost renewable energy economy.

    The long-term effects of this mirage will be declining global competitiveness; continued high CO2 emissions; delay in making the needed investments in R&D and in standardization to enable widespread integration of renewables; continued disempowerment of homeowners, who could otherwise be lowering utility bills, and earning money by contributing excess energy into the grid; and the continued misleading of utility company shareholders about the long-term health of their investments.

    Since IOU’s are paid on a per-kilowatt-of-energy-sold basis, there’s no incentive for utilities to encourage energy conservation. Utilities often appear to be catering to their customers’ interests in green energy and sustainability, but fundamentally, the truth is it is against their financial best interests to do so. Not only that, but an important point in the new report “Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid” is that integrating renewables actually negatively impacts the economies of scale of large baseload generation coal plants, so even if utilities wanted to add renewables, practically speaking, they can’t without increasing their costs of production, costs that get passed along to ratepayers.

    Furthermore, utilities actually waste a lot of the renewable energy currently generated by “curtailing” them, in order to protect the bottom line of their investors. Yet naïve environmentalists ignorantly buy into the idea that renewable energy is being implemented. Dr. Schoechle says:

    “State initiatives wanting to fulfill the promise of a 30% or higher renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is practically difficult or impossible in a coal baseload system.”

    Why is US Sacrificing Opportunity to Keep Up with Other Developed Nations?

    This propping up of IOU’s by encouraging spending on unnecessary meters, so returns are generated for shareholders, can have harsh consequences for Americans over and beyond the fact that it effectively prevents the US from moving toward sustainable energy. While the financial bottom lines of utility companies may benefit in the short-term, the featured report warns that the conflicts of interest inherent in the monopoly utility business model may eventually require utilities to be bailed out by government, and we all know how well that worked out in the not-so-distant past…

    Meanwhile, while the US is actively preventing itself from moving toward a renewable energy economy, other countries are already well on their way, or charging full speed ahead — such as the Netherlands, Germany4 and Japan.5, 6

    In the wake of the Fukishima disaster (which is still an ongoing debacle), there’s been a lot of pressure to shut down the nation’s nuclear plants. As a compromise, Japan has passed feed-in-tariffs for renewable energy, and if the Japanese rally to embrace renewable energy sources through this program, it will be politically easier for Japan to shut down their nuclear industry.

    Germany Aiming for 100 Percent Renewable Energy

    Similarly, according to a recent Truthdig article,7 Germany is aiming for 100 percent renewable energy within the next few decades. They’ve created strong incentives for the German public to invest in renewable energy, including solar, wind and biomass. For example, the government pays citizens to generate their own electricity by installing solar panels on their home. According to the article:

    “The effort to turn more consumers into producers is accelerated through feed-in tariffs, which are 20-year contracts to ensure a fixed price the government will pay… The money the government uses to pay producers comes from a monthly surcharge on utility bills that everyone pays, similar to a rebate. Customers pay an additional cost for the renewable energy fund and then get that money back from the government, at a profit, if they are producing their own energy. In the end, ratepayers control the program, not the government.

    … Individuals and cooperatives own 65 percent of Germany’s renewable energy capacity. In the US they own 2 percent. The rest is privately controlled. The largest difference… between Germany and the US is how reactive the government is to its citizens. Democracy in Germany has meant keeping and strengthening regulatory agencies while forming policies that put public ownership ahead of private ownership. ‘In the end… it isn’t about making money. It’s about quality of life.'”

    Indeed, the issue of energy — the sources, cost, and related health risks — IS about quality of life, yet, as in so many other areas, the US appears to purposely be dragging its feet when it comes to sustainable energy. Dr. Schoechle’s review of the present U.S.policy approach to electricity infrastructure (detailed in the report Policy Framework for the 21st Century: Enabling Our Secure Energy Future,8 issued by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) of the Executive Office of the President in June, 2011) “evidences a fundamental lack of understanding of the problems associated with the future of electricity and energy.”

    Schoechle says:

    “Overall, the report is disappointingly superficial, myopic, un-critical, and regulatory-centric. Although the report contains some valuable points and some useful topical place-keepers, they are generally not examined in depth or treated with appropriate seriousness.

    The NSTC Report’s faults are surprising given the resources that such a high level council could have mustered. The listing of resources at the end of the report (and common knowledge about how energy policy is written in Washington) indicates that the report’s input is likely to have come largely from industry-related sources and insiders — not the most auspicious approach to find innovative ideas and challenge an entrenched century-old industry paradigm.”

    More on target was the recent analysis of renewable energy potential for the U.S. by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO, “Renewables Electricity Futures Study”.9 It concluded that:

    “RE Futures results indicate that renewable generation could play a more significant role in the U.S. electricity system than previously thought and that further work is warranted to investigate this clean generation pathway.” It also said: “Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80 percent of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country.”

    Key Summary Points of “Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid”

    In short, the $4+ billion federal underwriting of these “smart” meters (which are actually irrelevant to the much broader and more important concept of creating a smart grid) is based on a hoax , as the technology used will NOT take the United States one inch toward sustainability, nor stimulate the U.S. economy, even though that’s how the meters are presented and sold.

    Key summary points of this important report10 include the following. For more information, please read the report in its entirety.11 You can also listen to the interviews at the top of this page for more in-depth information.

    Data to be collected by the smart meters, including intimate personal details of citizens’ lives, is not necessary to the basic purpose of the smart grid, such as supply/demand balancing, demand response (DR), dynamic pricing, renewable integration, or local generation and storage, as promoters of the meters, and uninformed parties, routinely claim.
    Federal, state and local governments have mistakenly believed that the installation of smart meters will somehow lead to reduction in use of fossil fuels, greater electricity efficiency and long-term energy economy benefits for the U.S. In fact, efforts to further develop and standardize those technologies that could achieve those goals have languished, while investments with stimulus funding have instead been made in technologies that merely serve the short-term economic interests of the utility industry and its suppliers instead of the interests of a true smart grid which could economically integrate renewable technologies and distributed, or decentralized, power generation.
    Much of the multi-billion dollar federal subsidy for smart meters does not benefit ratepayers, nor support economic growth, but primarily benefits meter and meter networking manufacturers, while financially propping up unsustainable Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs). Regulated utilities can charge back their capital investments to ratepayers, with a guaranteed 10-13% rate of return (ROR) on assets, by law. Thus, investors in utilities gain from the smart meter deployment, as they would from any other capital expenditure, while there is no clear gain and significant new risks (privacy, security, health & safety, costs) for the ratepayer.

    The allocation of stimulus dollars to subsidize smart meters has also been a net job destroyer, eliminating meter readers and creating manufacturing jobs overseas, while being an egregious waste of federal resources that only supports corporate interests and delays the needed transformation of the electricity grid.
    Because Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) are paid on a per-kilowatt-of-energy-sold basis, and also receive a guaranteed ROR on assets, they do not have a financial incentive to encourage less energy usage, or to invest in technologies that would help citizens reduce energy consumption.
    Because coal plants must run at near capacity to achieve necessary economies of scale, adding renewable energy to the power mix may be in fact cost-additive for utilities, not cost-reducing, and ultimately cost-additive for ratepayers. Thus, there is an inherent conflict between coal-based power generation, the dominant means of electricity generation in the U.S., and a transition to renewable energy technologies that could lead to sustainability. The report recommends the U.S. “move away from dependency on baseload generation, particularly coal, as quickly as possible” to facilitate renewable integration and reach our potential for energy independence.
    Despite paying lip service to the public’s interest in incorporating renewable energy, as evidence in their marketing materials, utilities actually ‘curtail,’ or waste, much of the renewable energy now generated in order to protect the economics of investor-owned coal plants. “Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid” explains why state initiatives wanting to fulfill the promise of a 30% or higher renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is practically impossible in a coal baseload system. The paper suggests that decommissioning coal plants, possibly through a public bailout, may be required to move the United States to a renewable energy future.
    U.S. policy statements “reflect the mistaken belief that the basic solutions involve fixing or modernizing the existing electricity grid, rather than complete structural transformation of electrical service, which goes beyond particular ‘smart’ technologies.” In reality, shaving peak energy usage by shifting loads may actually increase energy bills as well as CO2 emissions by increasing dependency on coal baseload generation — the most expensive generation there is when considering the totality of subsidies and externalized costs. Increasing baseload dependency will not lower energy costs, as it appears our Administration believes, and it will further obstruct integration of renewable sources.
    Expected growth in electric vehicles within a coal-based system will only worsen the nation’s baseload dependency, thus making the needed shift away from coal to a renewable energy future that much more pressing.
    Leadership in the energy sector is unlikely to come from the top, due to ‘regulatory capture,’ unless caused by a catastrophic event or consequence. At present, there appears to be little evidence utilities and their regulators want to or know how to make the needed changes to the utility business model, leaving it to the American public, through community-based initiatives and municipalization efforts, to drive the needed change toward renewable technologies and distributed, non-centralized power generation — as is now happening in such places as Boulder, Colorado.

    Smart Meters and Electromagnetic Radiation — the Health Crisis of Our Time

    Aside from the fact that the current roll-out of smart meters across the United States will effectively prevent us from moving toward safer, non-polluting, less expensive sustainable energy while many other nations are taking progressive action in this area, these wireless meters come with a host of potential health hazards for home owners and their neighbors.

    A couple of resources where you can learn more about the many health hazards and other problems related to wireless smart meters include Electromagnetichealth.org,12 SmartMeterDangers.org,13 and EMFSafetyNetwork.org.14 Another excellent resource is the Radiation Research Trust’s (UK) report “Smart Meters, Smarter Practices”15 by Dr. Isaac Jamieson, and “Dumb and Dangerous – The Problems with Smart Grids,”16 by science writer B. Blake Levitt and Chellis Glendinning, PhD.

    Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, PhD, among many others, has done much to educate people about the dangers of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). In the following interview, excerpted from the upcoming documentary film, Take Back Your Power,17 smart meters and EMR are referred to as “the health crisis of our time,” and in it he explains how electromagnetic fields (EMF) interfere with your biology, and how it contributes to the creation of autism. According to Dr. Klinghardt:

    “Based upon a study of 10 autistic cases and 10 normal cases, the pregnant mothers who gave birth to autistic children slept in a location in which microwave radiation was 20.7 times higher, on average, than pregnant mothers who gave birth to non-autistic children.”
    American Academy of Environmental Medicine Calls for Caution

    On April 12, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) released a position paper on EMF and radiofrequency (RF) health effects,18 calling for “immediate caution regarding smart meter installation.” The Academy cites several peer ‐ reviewed scientific studies showing causality that led to its conclusion that “significant harmful biological effects occur from non‐ thermal RF exposure,” such as that emitted from wireless smart meters.

    According to Dr. Amy Dean,19 board certified internist and President of the AAEM:

    “More independent research is needed to assess the safety of ‘Smart Meter’ technology. Patients are reporting to physicians the development of symptoms and adverse health effects after ‘Smart Meters’ are installed on their homes. Immediate action is necessary to protect the public’s health.”

    The AAEM also calls for:

    Accommodation for health considerations regarding EMF and RF exposure, including exposure to wireless “Smart Meter” technology
    Use of safer technology, including for “Smart Meters,” such as hard wiring, fiber optics or other non-harmful methods of data transmission
    Recognition that electromagnetic hypersensitivity is a growing problem worldwide
    Consideration and independent research regarding the quantum effects of EMF and RF on human health

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