Dec, 6 2011
The more I look, the less I find to like about smart meters.
Personally speaking, my biggest concern is the privacy issues. Smart meters brings the prying eyes of corporations and the government right into your very home.
EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center on Smart Meter privacy issues;
Privacy implications for smart grid technology deployment centers on the collection, retention, sharing, or reuse of electricity consumption information on individuals, homes, or offices. Fundamentally, smart grid systems will be multi-directional communications and energy transfer networks that enable electricity service providers, consumers, or third party energy management assistance programs to access consumption data. Further, if plans for national or transnational electric utility smart grid systems proceed as currently proposed these far reaching networks will enable data collection and sharing across platforms and great distances.
A list of potential privacy consequences of Smart Grid systems include:
- Identity Theft
- Determine Personal Behavior Patterns
- Determine Specific Appliances Used
- Perform Real-Time Surveillance
- Reveal Activities Through Residual Data
- Targeted Home Invasions (latch key children, elderly, etc.)
- Provide Accidental Invasions
- Activity Censorship
- Decisions and Actions Based Upon Inaccurate Data
- Unwanted Publicity and Embarrassment
- Tracking Behavior Of Renters/Leasers
- Behavior Tracking (possible combination with Personal Behavior Patterns)
- Public Aggregated Searches Revealing Individual Behavior
Read more from EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center http://epic.org/privacy/smartgrid/smartgrid.html
OG&E Positive Energy® Smart Grid
OG&E is building the Positive Energy® Smart Grid in partnership with customers to improve energy efficiency. As the technology continues to rollout across OG&E’s service territory, it not only helps Oklahomans use energy more wisely, but it helps us meet the growing demand for energy and the desire for environmental stewardship.
The smart grid uses a secure wireless network for two-way, real-time communication with smart meters installed on the outside of customer homes. In the future, that meter could communicate with programmable thermostats or other technology inside customers’ homes.
Federal Funds Push Oklahoma Deployment
Norman Oklahoma began deployment of smart meters in a program study which began January 1st, 2010. OG&E planned to extend its Smart Power rollout to all of its customers beginning in 2012 contingent upon the success of the Norman study and after approval from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. But that is not what happened.
On Dec 29, 2009 OG&E received a grant from the Dept. of Energy for $130 Million.
“The Company’s original plan was to review the results from the Phase 11 Norman Project and then perhaps within five years establish system wide deployment, however, after applying for and receiving the grant of $130 million in 2009 from the DOE, OG&E’s timeline for deployment of Smart Grid was moved up. OG&E saw the additional funding by the DOE as an opportunity to move sooner rather than later, on the deployment of system wide Smart Grid technology, even prior to receiving the study results from the Norman Project.”
Q: What were the results of the SmartPower project in Norman?
A: Since, the Norman project will not be fully implemented until June of 2010, there are and were no results from that project at the time this Application for pre-approval was filed.
Q: Why is OG&E requesting pre-approval to move forward with Company wide deployment before the Norman Project (Phase I) is completed ?
A: The Company believes a window of opportunity was created for further deployment in 2009, with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) which contained an estimated $3 .4 billion in stimulus grant funding for Smart Grid investment.
OG&E’s full rollout of the smart meter/smart grid is not based on any actual significant evidence that this technology is a wise choice for Oklahoma, that it would save energy or money, but rather because of the opportunity to for OG&E to receive millions in federal funds.
OGE in Oklahoma City, Okla, $130 million grant, “Oklahoma IOU plows ahead with system-wide project plans,” (SGT, 2009-Aug-25);
I received a call from a gentleman last week who told me how he was pressured by an OG&E meter reader to install a smart meter on his house. This man has a notice on his current analog meter stating that he does not want a smart meter installed and he has sent in a certified letter stating the same to OG&E. The OG&E employee at first refused to give his name or to call his supervisor as requested by the homeowner but finally relented and the smart meter was not installed on the man’s home.
If you have a complaint about your smart meter in Oklahoma, you can file a complaint with the Corporation Commission at www.occeweb.com Click on “Complaints” “Public Utilities” and fill out the form.
One lady in central Oklahoma submitted her concerns to the Corporation Commission and asked about relocating the meter on her house. She shared the response with us.
Thank you for your e-mailed correspondence regarding Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company (OG&E).
I have reviewed your concerns regarding Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company (OG&E) and I understand your objection to the implementation of the Smart Meter Program.
However, there are no provisions that allow a consumer to opt out of the use of a smart meter. (Emphasis added) Additionally, if a meter is moved for the convenience of a consumer, in accordance with the rules of the Commission, the consumer will bear that cost.
However, as a courtesy, I have forwarded this matter to the Company for review. You may be contacted by a representative of the Company to further discuss your concerns.
I hope that this matter can be resolved to your satisfaction.
Kimberly Dobbins, Manager
Oklahoma Corporation Commission
Consumer Services Division
Public Utility Complaints
Oklahoma Smart Meter/Grid – Just Trust Us
People are being told that Oklahoma’s Smart Meter/Grid system is substantially different from systems in states. Concerns about privacy, safety and health are being downplayed. I have seen no evidence that this is true but will be following up on these claims.
Here is what a little research into the system being utilized by OG&E turns up;
OG&E has selected Acatel-Lucent to build its communication system for the smart grid.
OG&E, Alcatel-Lucent, Osmose and ABB] OG&E selects communications, field inventory and DMS partners for smart grid
Alcatel-Lucent will work with OG&E’s WAN team to build a multi-tiered IP/MPLS communications network across the utility’s 30,000 square mile service territory. The network will include a 6.0 gigahertz, point-to-point microwave backbone system, plus a 3.65 gigahertz point-to-multipoint layer. The WAN will transport two-way data traffic from smart devices on the power delivery distribution system to enable real-time automation and advanced metering.
Besides being two way communication devices, another fact to remember about smart meters is that they to whatever degree that they do work to reduce your energy use is by changing your behavior.
Smart metering is primarily intended to make consumers more conscious of energy consumption, thus leading to reduced consumption during peak periods and an overall reduction in the production of greenhouse gases.
Informing the user is merely the first step: facilitating the desired action by consumers requires two other capabilities:
- The use of tariffs to encourage energy consciousness (whereby high instantaneous demand during periods of peak demand is charged a premium price)
- Direct control of major household appliances
A fuller exploration of these topics can be found in the Alcatel-Lucent white paper, Smart Metering – Enabling Greater Energy Efficiency.2
In this Alcatel-Lucent strategic whitepaper, they are marketing to utilities the dream of controlling the consumer.
CONTROLLING THE CONSUMER
In the long-term, we can envisage distributors or energy retailers wanting to be able to incent customers to allow them to control non-essential demand.
For example, in exchange for a favorable tariff, the customer would allow the distributor to regulate their air-conditioning in order to shed load at times of excessive demand.
This is not a dream. The technology is ready. Domestic appliance manufacturers are starting to implement standard remote control protocols that would enable this sort of control. All that is required is the political will and a rollout of enabled smart meters.
“Incent” or Coerce?
Can they incent you into giving up control over your air conditioner?
First of all, I don’t think incent is even a word. But I am sure that with the right incentives they can get you to do a lot of things you you’d prefer not to do. “Incent” or incentivize, in my opinion, is a stand in for a more appropriate term such as “coerce”. They can make it completely unaffordable for those who prefer to continue to set their own thermostats controls themselves but that strikes me as a negative method which deserves a negative term like “coerce”
Alcatel-Lucent gives the features and benefits of smart meter technology;
RECORDING USAGE DATA
Maintain data records of the usage within the meter at configured intervals for a set amount of time.
REMOTE INTERVAL METER READING
Interrogating the meter usage data at configured intervals ranging from 15 minutes to every three months.
REMOTE ONE-OFF METER READING
Interrogating the meter usage data on an ad-hoc basis.
REMOTE METER ACTIVATION, SUSPENSION, AND DEACTIVATION
The ability to configure a meter to be off (deactivated and not assigned to a customer account), to be on with a configured maximum capacity, and to be suspended (deactivated but remaining configured to a customer account).
CUSTOMER INFORMATION ON CURRENT AND HISTORIC CONSUMPTION
Providing a display unit (probably remotely from the meter itself). Equally this could be a web interface to the customers account.
METER DATA MANAGEMENT
Assembling and storing the data received from each customer, partitioning it by customer, by customer type, by geography, by retailer (if appropriate), etc. Providing the statistics required to manage the service (for example, gross demand from a given geography by time over a given period, gross demand by customer type over a given period, etc.)
Formatting for transmission to the retailer (if appropriate), archive management.
FLEXIBLE TARIFFING AND RATING
Applying the tariff plan appropriate to that customer, customer type, retailer, etc. and creating the appropriate billing records for onward transmission to the customer.
REAL-TIME TARIFFING AND RATING
Applying the above in real-time. This is of great importance in the case of pre-paid metering.
CREDIT LIMIT CONTROL
Implementing a rules-based decision tree when credit expires or a credit limit is reached dependent upon customer, customer type, retailer, etc.
This can include the temporary reduction of power to a “social minimum” where credit becomes an issue or configuring the meter to suit the circumstances of the particular customer.
LOSS OF POWER NOTIFICATION
In the case of power outages, the meter can transmit a “last gasp” that alerts the distributor to a failure in the network.
REMOTE DEVICE READING AND CONTROL
In the longer term, there is the ability to register remote devices in the premises, to read their configuration and, upon suitable authority, to regulate them. The example, cited above, of raising the temperature of air-conditioning is a typical application. Others could be the activation of other devices (for example, washing machines, when the lowest tariff threshold is reached).
Alcatel Lucent (Yes. The same guys implementing Oklahoma’s Smart meter/grid communications system) has had a very interesting document turn up in WikiLeaks’ newly released “Spyfiles”
Alcatel-Lucent Unified Lawful Interception Suite
1357 ULIS adds lawful interception functions to Alcatel-Lucent products, adapting their internal interfaces to the standard lawful interception interfaces of law enforcement agency monitoring facilities.
The Alcatel-Lucent 1357 ULIS is a complete communications interception solution. It provides government authorities/LEAs and network operators with an integrated system for transparently intercepting and extracting real time information from vast amounts of voice, data and multimedia communications over virtually any type of network.
So Alcatel-Lucent is adapting their products to permit “law enforcement monitoring facilities” to intercept your data.
For interception to be lawful, it must be conducted in accordance with national law, following due process after receiving proper authorization from competent authorities. Typically, a national Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) issues an order for LI to a specific network operator, access provider, or network service provider, which is obliged by law to deliver the requested information to a Law Enforcement Monitoring Facility. Link
What sort of data can Alcatel Lucent intercept?
The Alcatel-Lucent 1357 ULIS is a complete communications interception solution. It provides government authorities/LEAs and network operators with an integrated system for transparently intercepting and extracting real time information from vast amounts of voice, data and multimedia communications over virtually any type of network. (Emphasis mine) . Link
But it says “Lawful Interception” so what is the big deal? What do you think it takes to ‘lawfully’ intercept information these days? A warrant? A subpoena?
For some relevant background on Lawful Interception and the newer laws and policies that show that “lawful” may not mean what you think it does, see Lawful Interception: Technology that is legally watching you
The Bottom line?
Based on the law as it stands, you will likely never know if law enforcement or intelligence services are using intercept or intrusion technologies against you. If you do, then it may be accidental or long after the fact.
So what is the state doing to protect our sensitive data?
Oklahoma HB 1079, The Electric Usage Data Protection Act was passed into law and signed by the governor on May 24, 2011.
There is little protection afforded to the customer of their personal data collected by the smart meters.
HB 1079 authorizes OG&E and other utility providers in the state the right to share your meter usage data, without your consent, to various third parties for purposes of “development, enhancement, marketing, provision of energy-related products and services or promotion of public policy objectives.” The third parties, according to the bill, will keep our info “confidential”
The bill does not define what “confidential” means legally. The law states that a representative of the third party has to state that they will keep the information confidential in writing so maybe a copy of this statement or form would give a better idea of the parameters. Also, there are no penalties provided for improper uses of our data in the bill which make it hard for me to believe that our privacy is being taken seriously at all.
The Electric Usage Data Protection Act went into effect on Nov 1, 2011.
I agree with Alcatel-Lucent. It is all about control.
Howard and I gave some attention to the topic of smart meters on our October 21, 2011 show.
Citing concerns with the health effects, privacy, safety and accuracy, some residents are telling their utility company NO! They do not want the new meters installed and they say they are being told that unless they comply, they will lose service.
Here is the audio for that show; A4L_2011-10-21_64k.mp3