T Nation

Smart Meters for Electricity Consumption


#1

So I got the notice in the mail telling me I'm getting a smart meter installed. That's fine, we need to slow down on our(society in general) consumption of electricity.

Has anyone here have any experiance with one of these things?. Does my toaster, microwave, cordless phone base, power adapters, etc really draw a signifigant amount of power when not in use?

It's going to suck having to unplug everything everyday but I'll get over it soon enough I guess, no choice really. Power bars will make it somewhat less of a hassle. My wife went on the web site and looked in the complaints section and people are devastated that their bill has doubled and they might not be able to keep their home. Extreme case of course.

Thoughts?


#2

If its the same as we have in CA, you will most likely hate it. It lets them charge different rates for peak use (like the times when most people are home). I don't know if you have to run your AC a bunch in the summer, but we are installing an evap cooler so we don't have to use ours any more. If you can be home and not use much, you may be OK, but expect an increase. They are smart indeed, if you are the utility.


#3

They just installed it in my apartment building yesterday. I thought the smart readers were suppose to take the jobs away from all the meter readers.


#4

I don't understand, are you basically going to be billed for something you weren't being billed for before?


#5

True, they report in realtime back to the utility. This allows them to tier your rate by the time of day as well as total use. Before when you had a meter reader, they could only get a total number each month. Now they know exactly how much you use at what times, and they charge more for peak times.


#6

Yep, that's the jist of it. JLu, it's coming for you too.

It makes sense but do they really expect people to do their laundry at two in the morning when they consisder it non peak times?...yes, I believe they do.

In some cases it's double the charge or worse. I just hope it will control some of the fucktards with all their useless outside lighting and such. Example: One of my neighbors has a goldfish pond and they decided to get a water heater for the winter, picture a floating heating element.

Anyway, when they plugged it in someone happened to be looking at the meter and we were shocked at how much the dial speed up. Can't even guess how much power it was drawing and what it cost them for the winter, all just to keep six fuckin' puny goldfish alive, and no they weren't koy's, they were cheapos...idiots.


#7

I write software that is used for "Smart Grid" systems. One of just a few companies in the world who have been doing this before "Smart Grid" was the big buzzword.

Like most things that are new and somewhat controversial, there is a lot of misunderstanding, fear, and speculation. By and large, the vast majority of smart meter projects implemented thus far only allow the DMS (Distribution Management System) of the utility to collect total consumption at the meter.

The real intelligence provided by appliances and devices in the household (or consumer) is still very rare in most places.

As far as the loss of meter reader jobs go, as you might expect, there is also a lot of misinformation, mostly from Union shops who don't like change. In every single smart meter project that my company has done and the ones I can think of that others have done, in every case, while the "meter reading" job was phased out, the "meter readers" were offered, sometimes years in advance, the opportunity to be trained, for free, to move into different and often better positions in the utility.

No jobs were "lost"-- in otherwords, those people weren't just fired or laid off-- they were offered to be moved at company expense and taken care of.

For example, the more ambitious readers were sent to school to become linemen or engineers, engineering techs, IT folks, or similar. There were always those who could not fathom doing anything other than reading a meter. Those savings are real.


#8

In Toronto, time of use pricing is being implemented along with smart meter installation. There are 3 rates, depending on time of day and varying between summer and winter. The meter will store hourly readings and transmit them wirelessly to a server, once a day, for billing purposes.

It's early days, but homeowners already on the system are complaining that, even with diligent use, total bills have risen. I like the idea of usage feedback - just log in to your online account and get close to real time consumption readouts.

Regarding meter readers losing their jobs - as SteelyD said, the utility will ensure that they get retraining and reassignment, or a payout if that's what they want.