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Smart Meters are Dumb

by Knight Allen, NSC Director of Legislation
Published on  January 12, 2012 - reprinted with permission

     Have you gotten your holiday gift from NVEnergy yet? They've been giving them away for months now. They're Smart Meters and they're free!

  Smart Meters are going to make energy consumption fun. It's a brave new world of smart grids and almost moment to moment feedback and communication between us and NV Energy. With their "dynamic pricing" plan (didn't Charles Atlas sell that 60-70 years ago?  Ooops that was Dynamic Tension – Sorry.) we will have "ownership" of our, power usage. Like we don't "own" our usage now?

  I try not to let the cynic in me get too dominant but I admit to being concerned about the ability of Smart Meters to get into our homes and give to NV Energy so much more information about how we live that they could ever get from the old meters. As to "dynamic pricing" the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) says on its website in the Q&A section on Smart Meters that: "They (consumers) will NOT (their emphasis) be forced to use a new pricing plan." Now that's all well and good but I wonder; how long will that commitment last? Also, if we want to stay on the uni-rate system will the base rate have to be set so high in order to protect NV Energy's guaranteed by statute profitability that we will be forced. to “choose" mutitiered billing just to survive? I have formally asked the PUC to respond to those two questions at their January 18th meeting. I'll let you know what they say.

  This whole process of smart grids, dynamic pricing, green/renewable energy, Smart Meters et al. is driving the cost of electricity higher at a rate far faster than almost anyone's ability to keep up. In the last five years the base rate, including the just published 3.5% increase, is up 25%. The Customer Charge is up 33% and there is really no end in sight.

  I think what bothers me the most is that for a hundred years and more, the utility companies "had to run their operations based on the consumer's wants and desires but all of this smart grid, etc. stuff is creating a system in which we have to conform to the wants and desires of the corporations. Of course we will be able to keep our lifestyle in place; we'll just have to pay a premium price to do so and I'm willing to bet that premium is going to be very high - probably too high for most of us. I'm sure we'll muddle through as we always do but it all seems totally unnecessary to me unless you believe in the insane notion that if we all have less then somehow we'll all have more and we'll save the world from climate change with our collective sacrifice.

   I don't buy it.  Do you?

  Knight can be reached at: