A smart meter is a meter that records consumption, mostly
electricity, but can also be used for water, gas, etc. It is
labelled “smart” because, using digital technology, in a lot of ways
it offers a lot of technological advances over the older “analogue”
or mechanical meters.
They have the mechanism to record in intervals of an hour or less,
and CAN COMMUNICATE through an in-built two way transmitting
system to the utility for monitoring and billing purposes, and
possibly other uses, such as:
Creating a plan where the rate charged is a not constant, a
higher cost per Kilowatt hour at a time of high demand. This is
the reason that some people call this meter a “TIME OF USE”
The ability to disconnect supply from a head office to a
customer who is in default of payments, without anyone coming
close to the home or street in question.
Pre payments for power if the system allows it
As the rollout continues and system stabilises, no doubt other uses
are found that can take advantage of this technological little box
and its infrastructure. The present meters used in Victoria are
using Wireless technology for their transmission, although
Broadband lends itself cheaper and possibly safer for this
operation, but it would have delayed its deployment if the
authorities waited for the National Broadband Network's fibre
optic cables to be up and going throughout suburbia.
regarding the ........
HEALTH, PRIVACY, Unit PRICE, PEAK HOUR RATES
AFFORDABILITY, and probably
the most contentious issue for a lot of people - as to the Democratic
right in NOT wanting it, in the first place.
Health:- The pulsed radiofrequency radiation emitted by smart meters is the source of health concern.
Environmental Medicine scientists do not agree as to what is a safe
level of radiation, perhaps no different than Mobile Phones,
internet Wi-fi, and any other wireless application that we have
around our home. The frequency used in these devices is lower and
hence it deserves better monitoring for any adverse effects.
On January 19, 2012, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine
called for the California Public Utility Commission to place
an immediate moratorium on Smart Meter installation and to hold
hearings on Smart Meter health impacts, stating that: ......
“As representatives of physician specialists in the field of
environmental medicine we have an obligation to urge precaution when
sufficient scientific and medical evidence suggests health risks
which can potentially affect large populations”.
Privacy:- When one considers that a device
fitted in people’s
transmitting periodical information of what is going on in
the privacy of suburbia, that brings out a lot of questions about
how NOT SO PRIVATE our lives are becoming…This unit is for power
consumption, some would argue that it is feasible that we could see
other meters coming along for other uses.
These can be used for surveillance, revealing information about
people's possessions and behaviour. For instance, it can show when
the customer is away for extended periods.
Most of these units being
installed around the world, do not incur a…. BUY NOW price tag,
instead the costs and roll out of these units are invariably being
paid for by Governments and privatised distribution companies, and a
yearly levy being then imposed on the customers to be added to their
usage. It is a shady area; levies vary from place to place and from
year to year, quite often determined by the PROVIDERS. So many unknown factors still abound, and even
Government legislation keeps changing. At present, installation of
these meters will incur IN VICTORIA in addition to the
YEARLY CONSUMPTION a charge of between $70 and $140.
According to eMeter Corporation, a meter data intelligence
department of Siemens, the average cost of smart meters sold to
utility companies in the US is $221, and in Europe $272. A
spokesperson for the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) confirmed the
Victorian distribution companies paid an average of $346 to their
suppliers. Powercor paid the highest at $423.......New South Wales
is still in the process of implementing the rollout, their wait and
see policy is no doubt paying dividends in better value for money
for the consumers, and in ensuring better transparency with the
suppliers of these meters and their wholesale price to the power
distributors......Australia seems always to pay more for electronic
hardware, perhaps as a result of a smaller population or not enough
government control on the supply chain.
The first round of manufacturers of these devices have been the
traditional "Western Countries" keeping a tight control on
price, but like any other invention, the unit price will surely fall
considerably just like the price of computers, and it seems to the
writer of this article that governments should take this into
consideration and NOT to enter into LONG TERM Unit price agreements
with privatised power distributors.
Peak hour Price Affordability:- The authorities behind this
project, both government and private enterprise do not hide the fact
that one of the intended reasons of this changeover is to be
able to charge a graduated PRICE RATE OF USAGE that rewards people
in using less energy at times of high POWER STATION demand.
In a World with an ongoing march for a cleaner, ENERGY EFFICIENT way
of life, you could argue that this is no different than the
legislation put in place around the carbon emissions/footprint
blueprints. The ratio of energy consumption between peak and
off peak times is quite large, and generation infrastructure has to
accommodate this divergence, which in turn means waste and
unnecessary pollution. The notion that one charges a higher rate at
high demand times is in a way no different than the charges of
petrol pricing or an airline or hotel booking.
It is not an easy debate to tell someone, that to be able to afford
power to your home, you should go to bed at 7pm and get up at 4am to
even the load on the Power generator!!! I am sure that in time,
humans will create a better arrangement as to the use of
our resources, this is a period of transition, and just like the
motor car gradually replaced the horse carriage, so will we find a
better way of doing things smart meter wise.
This rationale has to
be balanced with people of lower income and the more vulnerable
members of our community, that has to cope with these rises, and
then it becomes the duty of government to make reasonable
financial stop gaps for this group.
about if I don't want to change to a new meter?
Online FORUMS are filled with thousands of irate consumers
venting out these feelings, not to mention TALK RADIO, and other
It is not the intention of the writer of this article at
to enter this arena, but we help our readers to be informed by
following some of the links we are providing for further information
of this subject.
In conclusion, The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
reviewed in Jan 2011, more than 36 different residential smart
metering and feedback programmes internationally.
Their conclusion was: “To realise potential feedback-induced
smart meters must be used in conjunction with
on-line) displays and well-designed programmes that successfully
inform, engage, empower and motivate people”
Joseph C Agius, for Melbourne-Vic.com