Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics and “Smart Meters”
By Katherine Smith
Described by electromagnetic standards expert Dr. Don Maisch, PhD as “enabling devices”, the stealthy introduction of “smart meters” poses potential risks to health, privacy and home security and the loss of independence for New Zealanders…but you’d never know it if the electricity industry were your sole source of information about this new technology…
Over the past few years, a transformation of New Zealand’s electricity industry has been underway. Quietly, usually without any fanfare, the dependable, long-lasting analogue (Ferraris) meters which serve NZ’s home and businesses are being replaced with new electronic “smart” or “advanced” meters. These new meters collect data about electricity use and then transmit it back to the electricity company through a wireless link. Many of the “smart meters” in NZ transmit via the Vodafone GSM network, while others use the 1,800MHz band. (If you are wondering about whether the fact that many “smart meters” use the same transmission frequency bands as cell phones may mean that “smart meters” may pose similar risks to health, keep reading.)
Meter readers are gradually losing their jobs with the introduction of this new technology. The promise of reduced labour costs is obviously attractive to electricity companies in NZ’s competitive deregulated retail market. Another potential benefit to electricity and lines companies is having real time data about electricity consumption.
Another, less obvious benefit to companies in the electricity industry is the data gathered by the “smart meters”. This data can be very detailed as shown at this link: http://smartmeterpowerstruggle.wordpress.com/ . Selling the data gathered by “smart meters” could potentially offer another income stream to any company with access to the data, and the legal right to sell such data. It is interesting to note that in their Terms and Conditions both Genesis and its subsidiary EnergyOnline claim ownership of data accumulated by the “smart meters” in their customers’ homes and businesses.
On the face of it, this is a frank assault on people’s privacy…but there is no public outcry, perhaps because virtually none of these companies’ customers have read the fine print in the Terms and Conditions.
Probably even fewer have considered the potential consequences if the information gathered by “smart meters” ends up in the wrong hands, for example, through hacking or a dishonest employee who has access to the data. Given that patterns of activity within a home can be inferred from the data from a “smart meter”, in the hands of criminals this information could be used to plan, for example, a burglary at a time when they know no one is home.
But wait, as the saying goes, there’s more…for the electricity industry, that is. (A major US utility, North East Utilities recently admitted that there is “no evidence” that a “smart meter” is “a good choice for customers”.See: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/major-us-utility-says-no-rational-basis-for-smart-meters/)
The introduction of “smart meters” is often associated with higher electricity bills. This is commonly blamed on the previous analogue meter’s supposed inaccuracy; however, there is another possible explanation, and that is that “smart meters” can measure not only the electricity actually used by lights and appliances in a home, but also WOULD YOU LIKE TO READ MORE OF THIS STORY?
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