Big brother is watching - and reporting every light switch flip and ounce of water pouring out of your faucet to the government. The California water drought is being used to push, once again, for smart meter installation into every American home.
Smart meters utilize wireless technology and instantly tell power companies how much electricity a home is using, and even can report on the power usage by individual appliances. Smart meters supporters generally feel that the high-tech electricity gauges are more energy efficient and think the “real-time” billing the meters provide, decreasing the number of utility workers needed, is also a positive aspect associated with the devices.
California government workers will now be able to detect "illegal" water usage quickly and begin issuing the approved punishments for the infraction. A significant increase in the shipment of IoT devices have occurred already reportedly occurred in 2015.
The 10 percent uptick in smart meter sales is due to orders by utility executives and government officials, a Business Insider report states.
Those opposed to smart meters have voiced valid concerns about government intrusion on the most personal level -all without a warrant, of course. Other smart meters concerns uttered by activists working diligently to stop the high-tech meters mandate, include fire and health hazards fears.
A Stop Smart Meters website reports states that fire dangers are also a problem associated with smart meters. Fire calls after smart meter installations reportedly include the shorting out of electronics of all varieties and the burning out of appliances.
The Stop Smart Meters group also maintains that the devices do not always emit less RF (radio frequency) exposure than a cell phone — as some utility companies allegedly state
“People are becoming increasingly aware of the potential harm done by chronic exposure to RF radiation-emitting devices and are taking steps to change how they use them,” the report said. “Most people are not offered a wired smart meter and you can’t turn it off once it is installed,” the group contends.”
“One of the next areas of value comes from taking smart meter data and ‘disaggregating’ it to tell us exactly how customers are using electricity,” according to a report by Smart Grid News. “Do external devices already do this? Sure. Just as progress in the smart phone world reduced the need for external devices, cameras, alarm clocks, radios, pedometers, navigation systems, etc.) the ability to get accurate, appliance level feedback, without the need to invest in external hardware, is the next step in the world of smart meters.”
Long Beach Water Department General Manager Kevin Wattier said that his department saw an immediate spike by tens of thousands of gallons each time a McDonald’s “over-watered” their property after smart meters were installed.
“It collects the data every five minutes, then after midnight, the cellphone that’s built in here comes on, makes one call, and calls it in to the database that we and the customer, through a password security system, have online access to their consumption,” Wattier added. “The accuracy is just incredible, because we get the data the next day.”
Smart meters are being forced upon residents in a multitude of states. The Obama administration began pushing for smart power and a smart grid in 2009. President Obama wanted to use funds from the taxpayer-funded stimulus bill to install 40 million smart meters around the country.
Cyber hacking of smart meters to possibly overload and garner control of significant portions of the power grid is also an often-voiced worry by smart meter opponents.
Smart meters can literally control newer household appliances that have the capability to communicate with the device using a WiFi router. In Connecticut, 30 percent of customers in a pilot program had higher bills after smart meters were installed.
A massive smart meter battle in Illinois by Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) customers governed by the Illinois Commerce Commission garnered nationwide attention about smart meter concerns.
The governmental agency said that customers fighting back against smart installation are merely "delaying the inevitable."
ComEd Customers who refuse to allow the device to be placed on their property will reportedly be charged an extra $21.53 per month. The commission attempted to justify the added fee to cover the salaries of meter readers to determine monthly bills.
In 2013 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a $14.3 million Smart Grid Technology grant for the furtherance of smart grid systems in rural regions of America.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology issued a report warning about smart meters:
“In the current operation of the electric utilities, data taken from traditional meters consists of basic data usage readings required to create bills. Under the smart grid implementation, smart meters will be able to collect other types of data. Some of this additional data may constitute personal information or may be used to determine personal activities. Because of the associated privacy risks, only the minimum amount of data necessary for services, provisioning, and billing should be collected.”
Illinois residents who do not want the smart meters have refused ComEd access to their existing traditional meters so the devices could not be swapped. ComEd is required to finish installation of smart meters in all homes by 2022.
Illinois residents are not the only ones engaged in an uphill battle against government regulations and intrusion on both property and privacy rights. Maine electric customers started vocalizing their opposition to the smart grid technology in 2013.
Environmentalist Ed Friedman is one of the folks leading the charge against smart meters in America. Friedman believes that the smart power devices not only prompt an invasion of privacy, but pose health risks, as well.
According to the Take Back Your Power documentary, smart meters may have a negative impact on human blood cells. The Maine man also objects to utility companies and governmental agencies being able to receive and transmit information from his home without his permission.
“I called the company, I said we didn’t want one. And they said ‘You don’t have a choice.’ That got my back up. In this country, we have no choices about technology,” Friedman said.
Former CIA Director David Petraeus once said that internet accessible appliances will transform the art of spying. Petraeus also noted that spies will be able to monitor individuals without ever breaking into their home and planting a bug.
He went on to say that remote control radio frequency identification devices, or energy harvesters, sensor networks, and small embedded servers, all connected to an online network, will be all that is necessary for clandestine intelligence gathering. Unfortunately, it is not only possible power grid spying by foreign terrorists Americans need to worry about, but quite possibly the the same actions being taken by state officials and the NSA as well.