Smart meters are spying devices. Not breaking news? Likely not for those of us who have researched the issue for quite a long while, but an admission by those who make the devices is rather shocking.
That is exactly what has happened, as SmartGridNews, a website supported by the high-tech meter industry, acknowledged that smart meters are gathering private information on homeowners.
Smart meters utilize wireless technology and instantly tell power companies how much electricity a home is using, and even can report on the power usage by individual appliances, as Smart Grid News said. Smart meters also can literally control newer household appliances that have the capability to communicate with the device.
“One of the next areas of value comes from taking smart meter data and ‘disaggregating’ it to tell us exactly how customers are using electricity,” reads a new story on the website. “Do external devices already do this? Sure. Just as progress in the smart phone world reduced the need for external devices (cameras, alarm clocks, radios, pedometers, navigation systems, etc.) the ability to get accurate, appliance level feedback, without the need to invest in external hardware, is the next step in the world of smart meters.”
The Stop Smart Meters website states that fire dangers are also a problem associated with smart meters. Fire calls after smart meter installations reportedly include the shorting-out of electronics of all varieties and the burning-out of appliances.
Cyber hacking of smart meters to possibly overload and garner control of significant portions of the power grid is also an often-voiced worry about the smart power initiative. In Connecticut, 30 percent of customers in a pilot program had higher bills after smart meters were installed.
According to the Stop Smart Meters group, the smart grid devices do not always emit less RF (radio frequency) exposure than a cell phone — as some utility companies allegedly state.
“People are becoming increasingly aware of the potential harm done by chronic exposure to RF radiation-emitting devices and are taking steps to change how they use them. Most people are not offered a wired smart meter and you can’t turn it off once it is installed,” the group contends.
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Smart grid opponents have long opposed the gathering of their personal usage information.
Former CIA Director David Petraeus once stated that WiFi-connected devices, such as appliances commonly found inside many homes, will “transform the art of spying.” Petraeus also said that spies will be capable of monitoring Americans without going inside the home or perhaps even acquiring a warrant. He went on to state that remote control radio frequency identification devices, “energy harvesters,” sensor networks, and small embedded severs all connected to an Internet network will be all that is necessary for clandestine intelligence gathering.
The Smart Grid News report said customers surveyed in a recent report supported smart meters.
“Customers were delighted with the initiative as it showed how their new smart meters could work for them,” the website said. “Utility companies wanting to meet their specific conservation targets to drive customer engagement should ensure they are making the most of their smart meter investment. They can now use the power of smart meter data disaggregation to identify the customers who are most likely to help them reach their specific targets and turn them into willing partners in the drive for energy conservation.”
Data disaggregation basically means the automatic collection of personal energy habits of the homes attached to smart meters. The more customers know that is the case, the more they will oppose smart meters.
How do you feel about smart meters and the creation of a smart grid? Let us know in the comments section below.