Controversial smart meters could be installed in Lincoln

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February 17th, 2012

Lincoln, NE – Lincoln Electric System is considering a controversial new method of recording business and consumer energy usage.

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On October 27, 2009, President Barack Obama announced the largest energy grid modernization investment in US history as part of the Economic Recovery Act. In the speech, Obama set his sights on a central piece of smart grid technology- an electrical meter, commonly referred to as a “smart meter.”

President Obama emphasized "smart meters" in a 2009 push to modernize the U.S. energy grid. (Photo courtesy White House)

“Now let me explain what’s going on with these smart meters,” Obama said. “Smart meters will allow you to actually monitor how much energy your family is using by the month, by the week, by the date or even by the hour. So coupled with other technologies, this is going to help you manage your electricity use and your budget at the same time.”

The intention for the technology was to do just that, and ultimately replace traditional analog, or if you will, “dumb” meters. Here’s how it would work: instead of relying on a meter reader to visit your home and take readings, a smart meter would allow for two-way communication between the meter and a power company, sending readings in different time intervals. Meanwhile, the power company would able to send commands back to the meter remotely. The devices have been hailed by numerous public utilities as being the new face of energy consumption.

But for many, the devices have done nothing more than send out the wrong kind of signals.

Smart meters" have sparked controversy in states like California, where customers saw their rates jump. (Photo credit Stop Smart Meters)

Former President of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Alumni Association, Bryan Van Deun has considered himself an informed and concerned citizen. He’s followed the implementation of smart meters extensively.

“We’ve often referred to the home being our castle where we’re protected from the outside world when we’re in our home,” explained Van Deun. “With smart meters we’re no longer protected.”

Van Deun has pointed to states like California where smart meter technology was implemented on a wide-scale, mandatory basis. The results, he said, have left much to be desired.

Customers saw their energy prices begin to jump. Pacific Gas & Electric blamed the high bills on hot weather throughout the state, consumers however began to suspect their newly-installed meters. It wasn’t long either before Californians began wondering how much monitoring the power companies were really doing, and where that data was going.

Smart meters allow for two-way communication between the meter and a power company, sending readings in different time intervals. Meanwhile, the power company is able to send commands back to the meter remotely. (Photo credit NET)

“The privacy issues are becoming more and more of concern as things in the bigger society have happened,” said Deun. “But, for example, Google is bidding on this meter data to better make it possible to specifically market to you as an individual user. The downside to that is they can also tell when you’re home, what you’re doing in your home, what you’re patterns are and what your lifestyle is. These are all things we don’t want other people to know.”

Van Deun soon turned his attention back home when he was surprised to hear Lincoln Electric Systemwas exploring the same controversial technology.

Currently, LES has been testing 12 smart meters at their service center lab in Lincoln. Although requests by NET News to visit the lab were denied, Todd Hall: Vice President of Customer Services visited the NET studios to discuss LES’ interest in the technology.

“We are just at the very beginning stages of our investigation,” stressed Hall. “We hear really strong positive comments, and we’ve heard comments that are less than positive. Not so much from the technologists, but, to some degree, from some folks who have a concern for wifi and radio frequency communication- which is the basis of how the new meters that we would install communicate back to LES and then back to the consumer with information on how they’re using their energy and what they can do to save money.”

Hall said LES has acknowledged criticism present on a local level and that the organization has made attempts to reach out to those individuals.

“We have had some conversations with a small group of folks here in town – in Lincoln and Lancaster county that have expressed their concerns as it relates to the radio frequency communication,” he said. “Anything that involves our community – we try to engage them in detail and have that dialog with all the parts of our community so we can gather that conversation and educate each other on what some of the concerns, some of the issues, and some of the wants of new technology and better efficiency.”

But that’s a notion Van Deun has rejected. He said that while he and other associates visited LES to discuss their concerns, they felt their concerns weren’t going to be taken into account. He said he’d like to see more research done to address the potential cost and privacy concerns before LES decides to implement smart meter technology in Lancaster country.

In 2007, Nebraska Public Power District, which has catered to large rural sections of the state, began installing smart meters in Milford and Seward. Since then, the public power company has replaced large amounts of analog meters, with the ultimate goal being to install nearly 70,000 meters in their service area by 2015.

As for LES, Hall said that decision is still a few years off. In the meantime, the power company would continue further research with the meters.

“The thing I think that is going to be important is that we need to verify the type of technology we want to pursue, what the benefit of that technology will be, what the cost of that technology will be,” he said. “Part of our investigation is going through that analysis to determine what the impact will be. We need to be cautious, we need to be prudent about how we do our investigation and we need to verify how we go through that process.”

13 Responses

  1. Smarter Meters says:

    It is arrogant and uniformed for anyone to claim there are no biological effects from electromagnetic fields. Because electric utilities have been in the business of distributing electricity for almost a 100 years, they’ve mastered the art of denying such non-thermal effects can occur at low levels.

    Hopefully LES learns from others’ mistakes and avoids wireless smart meters.

  2. patricia stutzman says:

    There are always detractors to any new ideas.

  3. RobertWilliams says:

    “NO PROOF” THAT JUMPING FROM AN AIRPLANE WILL DAMAGE YOU.

    In California, After the National Institute of Health published their results of non-ionizing radiation (the type emitted by smart meters) affecting the biology of the brain (changes in glucose level) after only minutes of exposure, the Utility company (PG$E) representatives said: “We concede the change in the brain, but the NIH didn’t say it was a bad change.”

    There was an immediate roar of laughter from the audience.

    Then the legal team and PR team at PG$E got together and now they won’t discuss it anymore other than their stock statement: “No proof of damage.”

    In biology and medicine and health, there is NO proof of anything, since “Proof” is absolute, 100% certainty. But Overwhelming evidence is what is used to acknowledge relationships and come to conclusions in these fields. And there is overwhelming evidence of damage to the body from the non-ionizing radiation emitted by Smart Meters.

    So don’t jump out of airplane (or allow a smart meter to be installed on your home) simply because there is “No proof.”

  4. Milgram Smart says:

    After the smart meter comes into a neighborhood most everyone can only sleep for 4 hours at a time. The smart meter sends data back to the company every 4 hours. Headaches, tinnitus, dizziness, insomnia, and high blood sugar are just some of the symptoms I experienced after installation. They disappear once removed, but now I am sensitive to all wireless. It sucks!

    • Ravena says:

      he didn’t cosinder twice a second to be constant. I don’t know about you, Hans, but that seems to beggar belief. One jokester asked the exec if he’d cosinder getting punched twice a second to be constant?Back to the math. Since each pulse is about 2 milliseconds long, that comes out to over 22,000 pulses a day, which can be going off at 2 pulses per second. At that rate, twice per seconde28094which is as e2809cconstante2809d as anything could reasonably be cosindered to bee28094the pulses would be going off for about 6 hours per day. My measurements suggest they go off all day, albeit intermittantly. However, I have recorded single 60-sec periods that contained up to 150 pulses, on a single meter.It is only by the bogus and unscientific manipulation of the facts that utilities can claim the short emission periods that they do. A common example of just how bogus can be seen when one cosinders a strobe light, something which also has millisecond pulses. If you time-average the strong millisecond pulses of a strobe light, they e2809cequale2809d a low-wattage light bulb continuously on; but no one with scientific integrity would make such a claim. Strobe lights have distinct neurological effects in many peoplee28094headaches, dizziness, and for some epileptic seizures. Thanks to the work by several citizen-scientists who take it upon themselves to buy equipment, measure e2809csmarte2809d meters, and post documentation online, we have some truly independent data to counterbalance the load of propaganda that the utilities would have us swallow. PLEASE JOIN THE WORK. You can buy your own RF meter. This one detects the individual pulses best: Gigahertz Solutions HF35C high frequency analyser (search for yourself, no one gives us money for recs). These are lower cost, but I find they miss many of the spikes, because the spikes are so high and so short: Cornet ED65 (might be ED83 now)or Cornet ED25G. Write the email address at the top of this page with any questions.

  5. Technology Improvements says:

    Don’t believe the hype.

    * Accuracy: Smart Meters are still fairly new, but are continually being verified on accuracy. Any inaccuracies are rare and will be on a particular brand of meter/firmware version, not as a result of “smart meters” in general. Don’t forget that with the old meters, there are some months where meter readers do not read your meter and therefore estimate usage.

    * Privacy: Usage data is transmitted over highly-secure networks and not shared with the general public. Although there are reports about usage “fingerprinting” to determine appliances that consumers use and TV shows consumers watch, the reports are based on unrealistic data gathering using 10-second data intervals. The utility I work for gathers usage in 15-minute increments and state regulations tightly control how the data is used.

    * Health: Googling legitimate RF reports will show that Smart Meters are also being tested on a regular basis and have signal strength far below that of cell phones or microwave ovens.

    As far as the benefits go, utilities will be able to exercise better control over their meters and accurately read them. Electricity outages will be known by the utilities as soon as they occur. Retailers will be able to offer consumers more flexible and cost-effective plans based on their usage. Through the use of Home Area Networks (HAN) and other tools utilities and PUCs offer, consumers will be able to alter how they use electricity and ultimately save money.

    Don’t forget that smart meters are an essential piece of the larger smart grid, which overall will optimize electricity distribution and minimize rolling blackouts in certain parts of the country.

    In summary, smart meters will provide timely data to help us all make proactive decisions regarding energy usage.

    • Milgram Smart says:

      I don’t believe the smart meter hype due to living it out, in real life. The extreme “microwave sickness” symptoms vanish the next day after the SM is removed.
      If you would like non biased reports from the Naval Medical Research Institute, Defense Intellegence Agency, or NASA google justproveit or magdahavas. There you can find over 2300 studies showing the effects from low level microwave communication. These are in scanned PDF. I don’t use a microwave oven and I don’t use a cell phone when sleeping. The smart meter changes the frequency of normal electricity which is 60 Hz to much higher frequencies around 900 MHz. The home is now a cage of microwave frequecies.

      We are electrical beings. Your brain is more active electrically when sleeping, using this time to repairing itself. Just think of a pit crew having water thrown on them constantly. The repair work doesn’t get accomplished and diseases are able to thrive. Barrie Trower, microwave weapons expert, goes into this in a little more detail.

      • Min says:

        how much power in watts that it cemusnos, and what input voltage is required to operate it , but some motors and ballasts require a little more current to start up. So anyone can easily find out how much energy anything uses, even a light bulb. To figure out how much current a 100 watt light bulb uses, a very easy way to figure is 100 watts @ 120 volts uses about 1 amp, and that same 100 watt bulb operating on 12 volts uses 10 amps, and at 240 volts uses .05 amp. And that 100 watt bulb running for 10 hours uses 1000 watts, or 1 kilowatt, or 10, 100 watt light bulbs running for 1 hour = 1 kilowatt/ hour. That is how PG&E charges for electricity, by kilowatt/hour. The price can vary depending on how much one uses, but is usually costs 11 cents per kwh at tier 1.So, most people are able to see, feel or hear when anything is on in their house and they don’t need expensive computers, smart meters or other automation devices that use energy to tell them how much energy that they are using.Then there is this myth (false advertising) that if people know how much they used yesterday or last year that they are somehow able to save energy today.That is not reality at all, people are going to use appliances when they need to, no matter what the cost is.There are many people here that work from home during the day. They use power tools, heaters, air conditioners and office equipment for their lively hood, and are not going to start working evenings and nights for any reason.Then there are people that have hired help to do chores around the house while they are away at work, like doing laundry, dishes, running vacuum cleaners, construction, landscape maintenance etc. etc. When they get home from their regular job, they want the help gone by 5:00pm. In fact, some towns like Ross insist on any construction going on be wrapped up and done by 5:00. Some people go to bed at 9:00 pm in order to get 8 hours sleep and commute to work early in the morning. They are not going to stay up doing laundry or listening to washing machines and dryers at night. Then there people that do shift work, like police, doctors, nurses, public works etc. etc. They cannot change their schedules for any amount of money.The new meters cannot save any energy, store any energy, make any appliance more efficient or save the customers any money at all. In fact, the new meters use energy to do what they do, so they increase our carbon footprint and cost us more money for energy to boot. The main reason for the new meters is to eliminate meter reading jobs.In Marin, so far PG&E has transferred 1 meter reader to another job in the company, eliminating 1 route. Even though about 70% of the electric and gas meters have been changed, the only places so far that are actually receiving the data and eliminating that one position are part of Novato, part of San Rafael and part of Tamalpais Valley. It could be many years before PG&E gets done with the infrastructure to utilize the new meters in Marin, so we will still have meter readers here. In other parts of the region, that is not the case, and more meter readers have been transferred or let go.There are many problems for PG&E in Marin, there is the topography, low density, long distances between meters and repeaters, many dead spots for cell phone coverage and the political climate with all the refusals of meters. When people refuse the meters, it screws up the mesh network with even more dead spots. That is why they want to charge us even more money if we refuse a new meter.

    • RobertWilliams says:

      To Technology Improvement: You and other utility company shills are the hype.

      * Accuracy: Walking around the neighborhood and the grocery store, we asked 53 people about their utility bill since smart meters were installed. 38 said their bills are definitely higher with smart meters. Of the other 15, seven thought it may be higher but they weren’t sure and 8 people hadn’t paid attention. No one’s bill went down.

      Skyrocketing Utility Bills after installation
      TV News Video (3 minutes)
      http://www.bakersfieldnow.com/news/63581287.html?tab=video

      * Privacy: Two College Kids have already hacked smart meters DEMONSTRATING specific TV channels the people were watching, the ability to shut off, increase or decrease their utility usage numbers and the ability to identify with over 97% certainty if no one is home or if young children are home alone, all based on the types of devices being used in the home, and which ones are NOT being used.

      CIA Director James Woolsey calls Smart grid “Stupid” due to National Security problems caused by so-called smart meters.
      News Video (1 minute)
      http://www.energynow.com/video/2011/08/10/preview-mix-james-woolsey

      Smart Meter Privacy Violations 4-minute you tube video
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8JNFr_j6kdI

      * Health
      WIRELESS SMART METERS – 100 TIMES MORE RADIATION THAN CELL PHONES.
 Video Interview: Nuclear Scientist, Daniel Hirsch, (5 minutes)
      http://stopsmartmeters.org/2011/04/20/daniel-hirsch-on-ccsts-fuzzy-math/


      WIRELESS SMART METERS – CANCER, NERVOUS SYSTEM DAMAGE, ADVERSE REPRODUCTION AFFECTS. 
Video Interview: Dr. Carpenter, New York Public Health Department, Dean of Public Health, (2 minutes)
      
http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=3946

      INSURANCE COMPANIES won’t insure smart meters due to biological damage seen by scientists they hired. 
 TV Video (3 minutes)

      In summary, “Technology Improvements” is a utility company shill or an industry parrot (or both).

    • MinHee says:

      As an eairtceciln for over 30 years, I can say that I have some very strange things happen with electrical wiring installations done many years ago. But these hoaky installations usually fail when someone comes in and tries to do things up to code.I know that a good copper wire installation can last for 100 years or more, as long as nobody messes with it, even if it is knob and tube wiring done correctly.For these power companies to claim that the fires, malfunctions of GFCIs and AFCIs, appliances that are UL approved, medical equipment, radio gear, switchgear and security lighting systems is not the fault of the new radio meters is a lie.It is the fault of the new meters, it’s obvious when all the devices have been working fine for decades in a building.When troubleshooting, we start at where the problem is and work backwards to the source, in the case of the malfunctioning new radio meters, that is where the problem is. If everything else checks out fine, then these power companies are completely liable for their faulty installations done by non-eairtcecilns who are not qualified or permitted to work on something as critical and important as an electrical system which is the most important system (besides water) for any dwelling.It seems to be the new age of trashing electrical codes, complete disregard for citizens health and safety, trashing citizens property and privacy rights, propaganda brainwashing campaigns- using federal stimulus money to pay for all this BS, and basically treating everyone that is not one of the elite in the funny money club like dung.How much longer will this continue before there is a real blowout ?Even PG&E admits that the addition of all the new energy hogging meters will cause brownouts (voltage sags due to the new load of the meters), but what about actual blackouts ?That is when traffic signals go dark, people get trapped in elevators, electric transit systems fail, water and sewer treatment plants and related pump stations are shut down, and the corporate looters move back in to really clean up .Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights- and don’t give up the fight.Bob Marley.

  6. Mr. Widemouth says:

    Smart Meters – something to be afraid of? http://www.squidoo.com/beware-of-smart-meters

    • Cris says:

      I commend the EMF Safety Network and the poplee in the greater SF Bay area and Marin County for their dogged persistence in challenging Smart Meters, a grave menace to public health, our liberties, freedoms, and privacy. If this precedent is allowed to exist, we shall lose far more. Even with just this outrageous device, the following can (and likely will) happen:1. the health of Americans will be destroyed. I have all but one symptom named in a report of health effects from RF radiation – and that includes a new, disturbing, virulent form of skin cancer on my face (smart meter located by head of my bed).2. hackers, government, or private companies could choose who to sicken with radiation exposure – no one would be safe. They would have a device on our homes and buildings that can be dialed up to sicken or even kill the occupants. This is not science fiction, this is a reality, now.3. privacy destroyed – our indoor air space permeated with radiation emissions, where once, we had the choice to have a healthy home4. privacy destroyed – data gathered on our activities and how often we are there, this can be hacked into or misused by government or private companies5. security issues6. interference with other devices, including medical devices and technologies in the home. This can be deadly. A man in my Smart Meter-blanketed-neighborhood with pacemaker and defribrillator dropped dead suddenly, unexpectedly. His device stopped working, I was told.7. Power given over to government, corporations (often owned by international interests), terrorists/hackers who can now harm us in our homes from a great distance.This is outrageous and must not be tolerated. I hope the National Tea Party and any others who are seeing the extreme dangers of Smart Meters and the entire plan will step up and raise the issue up to the highest levels in all our states and in Congress.

  7. Tamiles says:

    You all miss the holy grail of Smart Meters It’s not about hlipeng YOU manage your electrical usage. It’s not about laying off all the meter readers to save money. It’s not about a high-level manager at PG&E getting a handsome kickback from the manufacture. It’s not about the health effects (PG&E and your government don’t care if you live or die, but actually prefer you were dead).It’s about control, control over YOU. It’s about all the new Smart Meter Enabled laws that are already written and waiting for you. It’s about requiring Smart Meter Enabled appliances be in place in your home. It’s about some appointed jerk deciding what appliances he/she will order turned off at any time they feel the electric grid needs a break (thus THEIR statement of using Smart Meters to Better Manage the Grid ). It’s about no new power plants (they’ll just trim everyone’s usage to make them unnecessary) . It’s about YOU on a hot day and some jerk turning off your air conditioner because there is not sufficient generation available to power the grid (due to no new power plants). It’s about YOU are the commodity and YOU will be MANAGED. Smart Meters have TWO receivers and TWO transmitters in them. One for the surveillance and billing, the other to CONTROL *YOUR* usage. Your new Smart Meter Enabled appliances will be automatically field-programmed to communicate with your Smart Meter, and not your neighbors. It will serialize itself using a Powerline Carrier (signal superimposed on the 60Hz AC) that the Smart Meter will, from then-on, identify as being your toaster or waffle iron that is on or off. You will adhere to a usage schedule or face fines. You will be put in the dark if that is what the controllers of this system want. You may end up with a monthly usage limit much like some internet companies impose on their customers for data, where once you have used up all your KWH, you get cut off until the next billing cycle or pay a super-premium rate to continue.It’s about YOU are nothing more than a SLAVE to the Government, the banks, the utilities, and the food suppliers. YOU will work like a slave and get what THEY decide is proper for YOU to live with. Slaves have no rights, and are NOT allowed to complain.Still think you are free? Try complaining about your Smart Meter!

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