What’s So Smart About the Smart Grid?
Monday, January 27, 2014
SAN FRANCISCO - There's a growing rebellion against "smart meters" for measuring electricity use, in California and around the nation, and experts are saying the smart energy grid they're supposedly serving is a waste of taxpayer and ratepayer dollars. A panel discussion in San Francisco will tell how new meters and networks don't improve energy efficiency, don't help balance supply and demand, don't help integrate renewable, sustainable energy, and may threaten consumers' health and privacy.
According to Dr. Tim Schoechle, a communications and computer engineering consultant, the smart meters have been oversold.
"The public has been misled about the utility or the usefulness of the smart meters as being part of the smart grid," he charged. "They have really nothing to do with the smart grid."
He also said not enough is known about the possible harmful effects of the electromagnetic frequencies generated in homes by smart meters. Critics say they're only good for gathering information about consumers' energy use and habits, data that's used for advertising and marketing purposes.
James Turner, who chairs Citizens for Health, said the FCC and the EPA should examine not only how electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) can raise the temperature of living tissue, but look into non-thermal effects some people suffer as well.
"It could be headaches, it could be what appear to be allergic reactions, it could be depression, things that are not directly related to the heat output of the EMF."
Turner said the really smart grid of the future will integrate energy generated by consumers, through solar and wind power, and send it on a two-way grid.
"We believe really strongly in a dispersed energy framework where the periphery, the end users, are generating energy back into the grid, and then the grid is actually just basically a switching system that switches it out to where it needs to be used."
Tim Schoechle cautioned that smart meters raise invasion-of-privacy issues too.
He said the situation is "just like has happened in the Internet, with phones and browsers collecting massive amounts of personal information for advertising purposes. And that's really what this massive amount of data that's been collected from these meters has gotten diverted into, purposes like that."
The event, led by the National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy, is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at the Commonwealth Club of California, on Market Street in San Francisco.
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