Digital Utility Professionals Group

The mission of this group is to bring together utility professionals in the power industry who are in the thick of the digital utility transformation. 

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Smart meters a way forward with real realities...

In much of California, electric and gas Smart Meters are wireless. Smart Meters can also be wired. The meters collect our energy usage information in very detailed format and transmit that information directly to the utility company every day, throughout the day. Most electric meters use a mesh network system in which the meters relay the energy information from meter to meter until it arrives at a collector meter, which then sends the information on to an antenna, usually mounted on a utility pole. From there, it is transmitted to the utility company. Electric Smart Meters have a second antenna to “talk” to new Smart appliances and devices. This is called the Home Area Network (HAN). These appliances and devices, such as thermostats, air conditioning units, refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, and various sensing units are outfitted with 2-way transmitter/receivers which send to and receive information from the Smart Meter throughout the day. The natural gas Smart Meters used by California investor-owned utilities are star system, which means these Smart Meters individually communicate directly with an antenna often mounted on a utility pole. Some electric Smart Meters also use a star system. AMR meters usually refer to meters that use a drive-by reader to collect the data from the meter. Water meters are often AMR. Data collection is done at intervals, such as once a month. Some meters download information wirelessly on command by that reader; other AMR meters are constantly transmitting, and the reader “grabs” that transmission whenever they drive by. There is very little difference between AMI and AMR meters, and installing collector antennas in a neighborhood can enable some AMR meters to become full-fledged AMI meters with complete wireless connection to the utility company. Non-Smart digital meters can have the capacity to be upgraded to Smart Meters merely by installation of a module which enables the wireless function.

The Smart Grid/Smart Meter program has created a growing array of serious problems needing immediate action. The mounting public health emergency and the potential for a national cyber-security and hacking crisis are just two issues that demonstrate the deeply flawed nature of the Smart Grid, Smart Meter, and Home Area Network programs. Doing nothing is simply not an option as the nation is advancing quickly to integrate
AMR/AMIs nationally. Some of the issues that have been noted are as follows:

• Overcharging, accuracy, and the Structure Group report
• Reliability questions
• Privacy invasion
• Fires and electrical problems
• Health problems
• Switching mode power supply (SMPS)
• Interference with electronics
• Interference with medical devices
• Hacking/cyber-security
• Remote disconnection of power
• Vulnerability of nuclear facilities
• Vulnerability to electromagnetic pulses (EMPs)
• No utility liability for hacked data
• Increased burglary risk

In California, a state that is currently 100% AMR/AMI functional customers have seen their bills go up for the same energy use, bills sometimes doubling, tripling and more – including for empty houses. This issue has begun to surface in areas throughout the US that has begun the transition to AMR/AMI meters.

Tye Limuel's picture

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