May 29, 2012

Smart Grid Review - Green Network Group April '12 Meeting Results

What do you know about the smart grid. Here's are portions of an article  by Kevin Spear the Environmental reporter of the Orlando Sentinel

" "Utilities are starting to see other service providers moving into the home — cable companies, security companies — and offering energy-management services. Utilities don't want to be left behind,' ....

Florida Power and Light Co. has already equipped three-fourths of its 4.5 million customers with smart meters. But nearly 300,000 FPL customers in Brevard County will finally get their new meters between now and fall; nearly 200,000 customers in Volusia and Flagler counties will get theirs between this summer and early next year; and 67,000 more in Seminole County will get their smart gear between next October and early 2013.

Smart meters use digital technology, have no moving parts and employ a data transmitter, while a conventional meter has a spinning metal disk and five mechanically driven dials that only a meter reader can translate.

Because FPL's smart meters are linked to the Internet via the utility's computer networks, customers can go online to find out how much power they are using monthly or even hourly.
"Customers like choices, and they like to have information," said Bryan Olnick, FPL vice president for smart-grid technologies and operations. The utility is quick to say it doesn't know how customers use its electricity, only how much and when.

FPL's online dashboard can tell a customer the home's energy use in kilowatts or dollars, the temperature outdoors at the time of use, and the probable size of the next monthly bill.
Kevin Linn, an FPL customer in Coral Springs, said his smart meter has revealed to him some of the consequences of his electricity habits...."

But apparently the Smart Meters even though they offer the very good opportunity for customers to track and reduce power may have some ill health affects. 

Smart meter pic

Here are parts of an article from Bloomberg about these ill affects

May 9 (Bloomberg) -- A growing consumer backlash against new wireless digital technology for measuring power usage is slowing U.S. utilities’ $29 billion effort to upgrade their networks.
States including California, Maine and Vermont have responded to customer concerns about higher bills and safety by offering them the option of keeping their conventional devices for an extra charge.

Smart meters, so called because they allow real-time usage monitoring, originally were pitched by the industry as a boon to consumers for increasing control over consumption. While the effort won grants from the Obama administration, consumer advocates say benefits have yet to materialize as promised.

Rising Opposition
A minority of customers complained the devices instead raise their bills, compromise privacy and risk their health with electro-magnetic fields emitted by the wireless technology. In California, more than 50 local governments are opposing use of the smart meters, according to Joshua Hart, director of Stop Smart Meters, a Santa Cruz County-based consumer group.

At the behest of state regulators, utilities such as San Francisco-based PGandE and Edison International of Rosemead, California, plan to use the meters to offer plans that would charge higher rates during peak usage-times such as summer heat waves or winter storms. The devices also promise to save utilities money by eliminating meter readers, shortening response times to power failures, and allowing for remote switching when turning service on or off.
While the companies anticipate cost savings, they’ve pushed for the expense of buying and installing the new meters to be passed on through customer bills.

Holding Off Deployment
The meters are key to the “smart grid” being rolled out nationwide to increase delivery flexibility. Investment by utilities in the new grid has totaled $15.4 billion through the first quarter of 2012 and is projected to increase by another $13.4 billion through 2015, said Theodore Hesser, an analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Not all companies are plowing ahead. In November, MidAmerican Energy Co., a utility owned by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, told Iowa regulators it was waiting to deploy electric smart meters while it assesses how other power companies address complaints.

Alliant Energy Corp.’s Iowa utility told state regulators that concerns about raising customer bills and rapidly changing technology were among the reasons keeping it on the sidelines.

Last fall, Connecticut delayed its decision on Northeast Utilities’ proposal to install 1.2 million smart meters, saying it needed time to establish a state policy on the technology.

Even if a minority of customers keeps their old meters, PGandE still will be able to realize savings from the upgrade,
An increasing number of states are moving to motivate consumers to go along by permitting utilities to charge those who refuse the meters to pay an extra monthly fee. State regulators see “smart” technology as a way of reducing power consumption during periods of peak demand, reducing the need to build expensive power plants and easing the potential for black- outs from capacity that can’t keep up with urban growth.

More Accurate Measurement
Burt of PGandE said the devices are more accurate than traditional analog meters.
Regulators and utilities also point to government studies that say the devices are safe. In 2011, the California Council on Science and Technology, a state-created technology advisory board, said in a report it found no evidence from scientific studies that smart meters were harmful and the devices emit far less radio-frequency energy than microwaves or mobile phones.

Meeting Safety Guidelines
Smart meters must meet Federal Communications Commission guidelines on emission levels and those that meet the standards and are installed properly are safe, agency spokesman Neil Grace said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Chediak in San Francisco at .
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at .

We recently had Diana Schultz of Green and Healthy Homes in Orlando present an update on the possible ill affects of the Smart Grid meters to the health of the homeowner that have them installed at their home. Diana spoke at our once monthly Green Network Group meeting in April 2012. Here are the highlights of her presentation:

-Transmissions from the smart meters emit radiation affecting areas of the home adjacent to the meters.
-There are shielding materials available to protect the homeowner from this radiation.
-The smart meter grid strengthens the utilities control over the electricity use in the neighborhoods where they are installed. Certain appliance manufacturers are equipping their products with tracking devices that allow the utility to better track your power consumption. This can be construed as an invasion of privacy.
-There is concern over the integration due to the merging of the power grid with the vulnerabilities of the web. If the web goes down the utility grid could go down as well.
-If utility customers are worried about the above mentioned ill affects, you can petition your utility to maintain your current non smart grid meter. As the Bloomberg article mentions this is happening countrywide.

Conservastore is a co sponsor of the Green Network Group-join us the 3rd Wednesday of the month from 11:30a-1p to network and learn about the latest in Green Topics


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