Questions Remain Regarding Investigation by Authorities for 2016 Deadly Fire Linked to Utility Meter

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

This is an investigative report on whether a smart meter likely killed 12 horses in March 2016.

On March 15, 2016, a horrific overnight barn fire killed 12 horses at the South Florida Trotting Center, with 11 horses rescued, some with severe injuries.  In addition, two firefighters were hurt putting out the flames.

Local News Reporting Shortly after the Fire

According to the barn owner, Sam Stathis, They made a determination that the electric meter blew up.” [1]

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Smart Meter Cyber Attacks: “A Clear and Present Danger”

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

A new article has been published in the International Journal of Critical Infrastructure Protection entitled, “Security Analysis of an Advanced Metering Infrastructure.”  According to the article [1]:

“Sophisticated cyber attacks on advanced metering infrastructures are a clear and present danger.  The most devastating scenario involves a computer worm that traverses advanced metering infrastructures and permanently disables or ‘bricks’ [2] millions of smart meters in major metropolitan areas.”

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Smart Meters: “A Surveillance-capable Infrastructure”

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

In a letter dated May 25, 2017, the ACLU of Washington raised “significant concerns about the lack of protections for privacy, as well as lack of transparency, in the implementation of Seattle City Light’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure.” [1] [2]

Although the concerns specifically address the planned smart meter program for Seattle, Washington, many of the identified issues apply to all smart meters being deployed across the nation and the world. Continue reading

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Smart Meter Data Analysis Enables Consumer Profiling with “Alarmingly High Accuracy”

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

smart-meter-privacy-alert-clipartFrom a recent peer-reviewed industry article [1], here is what is stated about the issue of privacy and smart meters for the “end user” of electricity:

“Conventional meters were only capable of measuring and displaying the aggregate consumption. The data was collected manually in intervals defined by utility company for billing.  Smart meters however, are capable of collecting information with higher frequencies, i.e., every 15 min.  Initial AMI deployed projects in Ontario, Canada, sustain readings at intervals of 5 to 60 min.  Current technologies even allow for measurements every minute.  By analyzing smart meter’s data, it is possible to perform ‘consumer profiling’ with an alarmingly high accuracy.  Examples range from how many people live in the house, duration of occupancy, type of appliances, security and alarming systems, to inferring special conditions such as medical emergencies or [a] new born baby.

Profiling allows extracting residents’ behavior even without utilization of sophisticated algorithms and computer aided tools.  Murrill and colleagues have shown that it is possible to identify the use of major appliances in a house, by analyzing only a 15 min interval cumulative energy consumption data.  Molina-Markham et al. have shown that with the current general statistical schemes it is possible to identify the usage pattern from AMI data even without the detailed signatures of appliances or previous training.”

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We’re Being “Hunted” by Smart Meters and the Internet of Things

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

were-being-hunted-by-smart-meters-and-iotBecause of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the deployment of devices like utility smart meters we are quickly losing our personal freedom and liberty and further heading toward Orwell’s 1984 [1].  For those aware of what is happening, we realize that “We’re being hunted,” and that, “We feel like prey.”  This process must be reversed if we are to regain our rights as a free people.

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Smart Meter Deployments Result in a Cyber Attack Surface of “Unprecedented Scale”

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

cyber-attack-surface-of-unprecedented-scaleThe Internet of Things (IoT) involves an Internet which will evolve from connecting just machines and people towards connecting “smart” objects and things.  The electric utility industry is currently developing an IoT-based smart grid (SG).  This SG is envisioned as the largest installation of an IoT network for our future world with literally billions of smart objects and things, such as smart meters, smart appliances, and other sensors [1].

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Health Risks Associated with Smart Meter Wireless Emissions

bank-of-smart-meters-croppedby K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Article Key Points

  • There is a “reasonable basis” for concern regarding health risks associated with smart meter wireless emissions.
  • It is “unreasonable” to involuntarily and chronically expose consumers to the electromagnetic energy emitted by smart meters.

Over the past three years at this website I have detailed a number of concerns related to utility smart meters including financial costs, privacy invasions, cyber threats, and the increased risk of fires as compared with analog meters.  Another concern relates to health risks associated with wireless emissions.

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How the Smart Meter ‘Remote Disconnect’ Can Cause Fires

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

Smart Meter Fireball and RDI have previously stated that “the most dangerous ‘feature’ included in the majority of smart meters deployed today is the remote disconnect option.” [1] [2]  At the time, I was primarily referencing the increased risk that the smart meter remote disconnect (RD) poses to the electric grid from a cyber threat perspective.  In addition, however, the RD is one of the features of a smart meter (as compared to other types of electric usage meters) that increases the risk of catastrophic meter failures and resulting building fires.

To help illustrate how smart meter RDs can result in fires, this article will highlight the results of forensic investigations by EFI Global, Inc. (EFI) for a failed Sensus brand smart meter reported as involved in a fire in Las Vegas, Nevada in July 2015 [3].  There were actually two separate evaluations of the failed smart meter, first a non-destructive review in July 2015 and a destructive inspection conducted in April 2016.

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Smart Meter Deployments: Based upon Biased and False Assumptions for Providing Eco-Feedback to Consumers (Part 2)

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Smart Meter Enabled Eco Feedback ImageWhat if the billions and billions of dollars being spent to deploy so-called “smart meters” were found to be justified based upon biased and false assumptions?  Should consumers still be required to pay for smart meters that were erroneously promoted as being installed for their benefit, i.e., to help them manage their energy bills?

This article will demonstrate that based upon the latest research and under the most optimistic circumstances, consumers within the general population might reduce their energy consumption by only as much as 0.5 to 0.7 % if they have access to enhanced feedback from smart meters.

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Smart Meter Remote Disconnect: An ‘Unnecessary Risk’ for Significant Damage to the Grid

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Hacker with Smart Meter Interface to Remote DisconnectI have written numerous articles over the past couple of years describing how smart meters make the electric grid inherently less safe from a cybersecurity perspective.  In fact, in one article I recently stated that: “The most dangerous ‘feature’ included in the majority of smart meters deployed today is the remote disconnect option.” [1] Continue reading

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Little Justification for ‘Smart’ Meters Unless to Serve as “Crude and Heavy-Handed Price Mechanism” to Change Consumer Behavior

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Little Justification for Smart MetersThis article highlights the views of Stephen Thomas on the topic of smart meters.  Stephen Thomas is an Emeritus Professor for energy policy at the University of Greenwich.  Professor Thomas was featured as a guest on BBC Radio’s Money Box program on March 26, 2016 [1].  In addition, he has published a paper entitled, “Not Too Smart an Innovation: Britain’s Plans to Switch Consumers to Smart Electricity and Gas Meters” [2].

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Vast Majority of Consumers Suffer Financial “Net Loss” with Smart Meters

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Frontier Economics and Consumer Net Loss with Smart MetersThis article provides specific information to counter claims made by smart meter proponents that smart meters provide consumers with financial benefits, i.e., saving energy and reducing their utility bill.  In addition, this article presents information to help disentangle how policy makers conflate the topics of grid modernization, smart meter deployments, and sound environmental policy.

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TEDx Talk: “Wireless Wake-Up Call”

Washington DC Immersed in WirelessA TEDxBerkeley Presentation about the Health Impacts of Wireless Technology and Proposed Solutions

On February 6th, Jeromy Johnson, an expert in mitigating the negative impacts of Electromagnetic Field (EMF) exposure, was featured as a speaker at the TEDxBerkeley event for 2016.  The title of the presentation was “Wireless Wake-Up Call.”

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Families Punished by ‘Smart’ Meters and TOU Rates, Recent Study Confirms

Load Curve and TOU Ratesby K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

In describing the effects of time varying electricity rates or Time-of-Use (TOU) rates on consumers, I have previously referenced the logical and common sense assertions of the Berkshire-Litchfield Environmental Council (BLEC) [1]:

“Tiered pricing automatically penalizes the elderly, the self-employed, the infirm, the unemployed, [and] stay-at-home parents with young children …  People can choose to do their laundry later at night but meals and bathing carry fewer options.”

More recently, the social implications of implementing TOU rates have now been described in a study published in September 2015 regarding “peak demand and the family peak period in Australia” [2].

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‘Smart’ Meters Being Deployed without Transparency or Necessary Public Debate

Transparency on Smart Metersby K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

I have discovered several recently published articles and studies that provide profound insight on how the “smart grid” is envisioned to affect the consumer by those developing it and how substantial social implications of smart grid implementation are not being sufficiently addressed or publicly debated.

This article will explain who envisioned the smart grid and why smart meters are being deployed.  Empirical evidence will be presented on how consumer interests and rights are being ignored and why smart meter opposition by the public is fully justified and necessary.  Finally, this article provides possible solutions to correct some of the injustices being imposed upon the consumer.

Highlights and Key Points of this Article

  • Because of the absence of transparency or public debate, the smart grid lacks “democratic legitimacy.”

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‘Smart’ Meters Represent Industrial Profiteering and Government Sanctioned Surveillance, According to Study

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Consumer Dataveillance by Smart MetersIn an article from December 31st, I wrote that ‘Smart’ Meters Generate a ‘Gold Mine of Data’ for Utilities and that they provide a ‘gateway’ to the home.

To better understand the full nature of this “data gold mining” and the motives behind it, I will highlight portions of a newly published paper, “The Neoliberal Politics of ‘Smart’: Electricity Consumption, Household Monitoring, and the Enterprise Form.”  The authors are from Portland State University.

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‘Smart’ Meters Generate a ‘Gold Mine of Data’ for Utilities

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Smart Meter 'Big Data' Gold MineI have been saying for a number of years that utility smart meters invade your privacy and have substantiated this assertion in a number of ways.

Utility companies dismiss privacy invasion claims by replying with simplistic, misleading statements, such as, “Just like standard meters, smart meters will measure the amount of electricity you use – not how you use it.” [1]

In trying to find a new and simple way to explain how smart meters are in fact invading your privacy much more than traditional meters, I thought of an analogy of comparing smart meter data collection with “mining for gold.”

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Congressional Testimony: ‘Smart’ meters have a life of 5 to 7 years.

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Gaines Testimony Oct 2015Introduction

Testimony was provided last week (October 21, 2015) at a Congressional hearing regarding “cybersecurity for power systems.”  A surprising admission was provided by one of the expert witnesses that I will discuss here in this article.

Mr. Bennett Gaines testified on behalf of FirstEnergy Service Company.  He is a Senior Vice President and the Corporate Services and Chief Information Officer.

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Smart meters giving Victorian consumers ‘no benefit’ on electricity bills, auditor-general says

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

Smart Meter DunceIn 2006, the Victorian Government in Australia mandated the rollout of electricity smart meters to all households and small businesses across Victoria under the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) program.

Victorians have paid more than $2 billion for the deployment of the smart meters, but there has been “no overall benefit to consumers,” an auditor-general’s report has found.

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Consumers and Environment Unlikely to Benefit from Smart Meters, Confirms Latest Research

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

Kellogg Smart Meter Graphic with CreditThe smart grid industry has continued to spend billions and billions of dollars to deploy smart meters into the population despite the mounting evidence that they are of no value to consumers and actually introduce significant privacy, safety, and security risks.

Recent research at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago Booth School provides additional confirmation that smart meters are unlikely to benefit either the consumer or the environment.

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‘Dragnet’ Data Collections by Smart Meters and an ‘Infrastructure of Surveillance’

And What Your Utility Company Doesn’t Want You to Know about Smart Meters

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

Smart Meter Big Data Dragnet CollectionIn what was likely a little publicized workshop conducted in November 2013 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on privacy and security issues concerning the Internet of Things (IoT), I found some invaluable insight offered in the FTC video archives on the subject of smart meters.

A presentation was made at the FTC workshop by Lee Tien, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).  Key statements in the presentation and follow-up panel discussion include the following:

I’m not really a cheerleader for the Internet of Things.  To me, it raises a huge number of privacy and security issues, to the extent that IoT devices entail ubiquitous collection of large amounts of data about what people do.”

“And you are also concerned about — or should be concerned about the environmental collection, sort of a non-targeted dragnet collection from devices in the environment.”

Smart meters are a good example.” Continue reading

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Utility Industry Aware of Safety and Accuracy Issues with Digital Meters for Years

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

EPRI White PaperIn reviewing an electric utility industry document from 2010, it is quite clear that the industry knew of safety and accuracy issues with smart meters before they were ever manufactured and deployed.  The title of the document is “Accuracy of Digital Electricity Meters,” published by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

What is so incredible about the document is how strongly it was acknowledged that traditional analog meters were “an amazing of piece of engineering work.”

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Smart Meter Rollout a Waste of Money, According to Study

Waste of MoneySmart meters have been advertised as a means to “empower” consumers with information that will somehow save customers money despite the fact that the deployment of the meters themselves cost billions and billions of dollars.

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“Microwaves, Science and Lies” Documentary Reveals a Product Defense Strategy

Introduction to the Documentary Film

Waves DVD Jacket. Front“When business leads research, can we still trust science?”

For the past ten years worldwide, questioning on the safety of mobile phone antennas has been increasing.  Numerous scientific studies have revealed the adverse effects of electro- magnetic waves on health.  Yet, most health agencies, industry representatives, and a portion the scientific community claim that current health standards adequately protect the public.

Earlier this year journalist Nancy Meritens  and film director Jean Hèches completed their documentary Ondes, Science et Manigances [or Microwaves, Science and Lies], that demonstrates how the telecommunications industry creates doubt about harmful radiofrequency waves through the manipulation of science.

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Smart Meters Slow Hurricane Recovery Efforts

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

In 2015, I wrote a comprehensive article explaining that customer calls, not smart meters are still the primary source of power outage notification for utilities and that “it is unrealistic and misleading to advertise that a smart meter will identify your home as being without power with notification to the utility of that condition.” [1]  This is particularly true for large-scale outages since individual meters generally depend on other smart meters in the system to act as relays for an outage notification signal to make it all the way back to the utility company.  As the number of meters in the system increases which are without power, fewer and fewer meters remain that can act as relays.

Smart meters can also be much more easily damaged during storm conditions as compared to their analog counterparts.  Such is likely the case in Lakeland, Florida, where restoration efforts are still underway from Hurricane Irma.  Up to 500 smart meters are reported as malfunctioning and indicating that power has been restored to the customer when it has not.  Continue reading

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‘Subhourly Smart Meter Data Raises Privacy and Safety Concerns’, According to Paper Referenced by Industry Proponents in Legal Brief

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

I previously wrote an article regarding the case of Naperville Smart Meter Awareness, v. City of Naperville, where an amici curiae brief was filed by smart meter proponents explaining how government searches conducted using smart meters should be considered “reasonable.” [1] [2]

The legal brief [2] filed by the American Public Power Association (APPA), Edison Electric Institute (EEI), and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is literally a joke.

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Government “Searches” Conducted Using Smart Meters Considered “Reasonable” by Industry Proponents

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

A shocking court filing by industry and smart meter proponents reveals the degree to which corporate and government interests will go to get these privacy-invading devices on our homes.

In the case of Naperville Smart Meter Awareness, v. City of Naperville, an amici curiae brief was recently filed by the American Public Power Association (APPA), Edison Electric Institute (EEI), and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). [1]

In that legal brief [1], smart meter proponents state that:

“A smart meter is not an ‘unreasonable’ search, but is a very reasonable means of advancing significant government interests.”

“The reasonableness of a search under the Fourth Amendment is determined by balancing its intrusion on the individual’s Fourth Amendment interests against its promotion of legitimate government interests.”

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Dr. Samuel Milham: “Smart meters are a public health hazard.”

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

As part of direct testimony [1] filed in an electric utility rate case in Arizona, Samuel Milham, M.D., M.P.H. stated:

“It is my professional opinion that smart meters are a public health hazard.”

Dr. Milham (physician-epidemiologist) is the author of Dirty Electricity as well as over 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications.  Dr. Milham’s assertion is that adverse health effects can be caused by the “electrical pollution (dirty electricity) generated by the smart meter SMPS [switching mode power supply].”

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Deflating the Propaganda Argument on How Smart Meter Opt-Outs Shift Extra Costs to Ratepayers

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

In order to penalize consumers who do not wish to take on the additional safety and security risks associated with smart meters, utilities typically charge those customers punitive fees.  They justify or rationalize these fees by proclaiming that other customers should not subsidize the few consumers refusing smart meters.

In actuality, those customers refusing smart meter risks are simply requesting a “same level of service” with a traditional analog meter.  Logically, in those circumstances, why should there be any change in how the customer is billed for electric service?

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Secure Your Family from Cyber Threats with an Analog Meter, Says Michigan State Senator

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

The Michigan House Energy Policy Committee has been conducting hearings on legislation that would restore consumer protections regarding the type of meters that are installed upon their personal property by utility companies.  I provided coverage of these hearings in two previous articles. [1] [2]

In this article I would like to focus on the March 7, 2017, testimony of state Senator Patrick Colbeck, who says:

“One of the ways our citizens can secure their own family from [the] threats to our power grid is to opt out of so-called smart meters and retain analog meters, which have served us well for decades.  Cybersecurity threats today are very real.” [3]

“Against this increased risk, there is little to no consumer benefit to the adoption of smart meters.” [3]

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Expert Testimony on Smart Meters/Grid: “Retain analog systems to the extent possible.”

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Cynthia Ayers is a national security threat analyst, currently working as an independent consultant within the Mission Control and Cyber Division of the Center for Strategic Leadership, U.S. Army War College.  She is also serving as Deputy to the Executive Director of the Congressionally sponsored Task Force on National and Homeland Security.

On March 7, 2017, Ayers presented testimony before the Michigan House Committee on Energy Policy.  Her testimony included an analysis of how smart meters introduce safety and security threats to the electric grid and to civilization itself.  Continue reading

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CIA Looks to Spy on Private Lives through “Smart” Devices

PRESS STATEMENT: (March 7, 2017) Privacy International Reaction to Vault 7 Leaks

Privacy International Executive Director Dr Gus Hosein said:

“If today’s leaks are authenticated, they demonstrate what we’ve long been warning about government hacking powers — that they can be extremely intrusive, have enormous security implications, and are not sufficiently regulated.  Insufficient security protections in the growing amount of devices connected to the internet or so-called “smart” devices, such as Samsung Smart TVs, only compound the problem, giving governments easier access to our private lives.

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The Law is Clear: Details of the Home Are Entitled to the Utmost Fourth Amendment Protection

Invasion of Privacy with SM and LogoA Press Release from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF):

An Illinois Court Just Didn’t Get It: We Are Entitled to Expect Privacy In Our Smart Meter Data, Which Reveals What’s Going On Inside Our Homes

March 1, 2017 | By Karen Gullo and Jamie Williams

Cities across the country are switching to wireless smart meters.  You may even have one in your home.  Utility companies say the new technology helps consumers monitor their energy use and potentially save money.  But smart meters also reveals intimate details about what’s going on inside the home.  By collecting energy use data at high frequencies—typically every 5, 15, or 30 minutes—smart meters know exactly how much electricity is being used, and when.  Patterns in your smart meter data can reveal when you are home, when you are sleeping, when you take a shower, and even whether you cook dinner on the stove or in the microwave.  These are all private details about what’s going on inside your home—details that should be clearly within the bounds of Fourth Amendment protection.

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