Tavares, FL - Wed., July 22, 2012
Updated Jul 23 to add link to video of 8/22 presentation to citizens on Smart Meters. Update comments based on the 8/22 meeting are below in italics like this sentence.
According to today's Daily Commercial article at the link below, a city representative will "offer tips" on using the "new meters" at 7pm at the Magnolia room at Lake Sumter Community College. The "new meters" are really "Smart Meters" which have been castigated all over the internet for safety and privacy invasion reasons.
UPDATE: Here is our video of the Aug. 23 Presentation to Leesburg residents by City Manager Jay Evans about the Smart Meters - 1 hr 28 min. Evans answered most issues described below.
There was no discussion in the article on how much the conversion to Smart Meters will cost the city, Federal taxpayers or the Leesburg utility customers. (However, on the video, the City Manager explained they got a $10-million Federal grant, and have generated savings to pay for the other $10-million of the cost, for a total of
Awhile back. we talked to Leesburg City Manager Jay Evans about the Smart Meters and here is what we learned and OUR opinion:
- Many YouTube videos question the safety of Smart Meters because they use RF (Radio Frequency) to send data updates to central computers similar to cell phones, and some meters might send it frequently and without adequate insulation. Evans says their meters only send out a very few updates and should be safe. (At the meeting, Evans said the meters only dial out four times a day for a total of about 60 seconds - much different than meters in California.)
- Smart meters are accused of invading privacy because they can sense and record times and types of appliances used. I don't think this is a major issue now, but could be in the future if they start using sensors to see how often you use the ice box and then send you ads for more efficient regrigerators. (The presentation did not mention privacy and none of the 100 or so attendees asked about it.)
- Smart meter data can be used with future technology coming in appliances to turn off your appliances. Thus, rather than let the market decide prices for usage of dishwashers during peak power cost times, if government establishes regulations that allow them to turn off any of your appliances for any reason (like your wine cooler or bandsaw or clothes dryer), you should be worried. At this time, Leesburg has no plans for this but you never know if the future City Council is filled with "greenies" like in California. (At the presentation, Evans did describe a future capability to optionally turn appliances off and on during peak periods, IF the customer asks for it.)
- Smart Meter future data could be used to fine you for using certain appliances during prohibited times. I don't think this would happen in a small utility like Leesburg, but I would be worried about large utilities "partnered" with a State government or County government where rabid environmentalists turn off your appliances to meet their idea of how the world should work. (This was not discussed at the presentation.)
So, except for the safety issue, which needs monitoring, Leesburg users probably won't see negative effects as LONG AS the utility allows freedom of choice (i.e. pay higher rates for peak period usage, and lower rates for non-peak usage). But, if some greenies get in, start selling your usage data for marketing purposes, and start setting mandatory restrictions that eliminate freedom of choice, that is when you should get worried. (My belief is that the City is too close to the voters to do anything outrageous unless greenies take over the Council OR the utility is sold to a large firm under the control of a larger state or Federal government.)
I would watch what happens in California as these smart meters are rolled out to see what happens. Any attempt to use the meters to restrict market forces or freedom of choice over appliances and usage should be watched with cynicism.
And, remember, but creating incentives or fines to reduce usage of appliances during peak power times DOES save money, because the cost for buying power once local generation runs out of capacity is huge.
If you do a search on the internet on "Smart Meters" you will find many sites dedicated to fighting smart meters, such as this one:
You should do your own research. I don't know whether you can refuse to have these meters installed.
NOTE: I am going to the 7pm meeting - if I find anything of interest, I will post it HERE: See link to meeting video added at top of article. vj