At the recent European Utility Week, Itron provided a demonstration of its new OpenWay Riva ‘smart’ meter.
SkyVision Solutions has several concerns with this new ‘smart’ meter. First, the Itron representative made mention that the new meter polls data once per second. The frequency of this data collection would enable the ultimate in consumer privacy invasions in that the more frequent the data collection, the more precise one can analyze exactly what is going on inside the home. Here are some selected quotes from the video provided below:
“This is not your grandmother’s smart meter.”
“We’re working on 1-second data. … Forget the 15-minute polling. … 15 minutes or an hour is an eternity from an electrical perspective.”
“When 15 years ago [utilities] moved from electromechanical meters to electronic meters, they thought that was a revolution. But this is 10-times that.”
“These [meters] are really moving away from being billing devices to being intelligent devices, … intelligent devices that one of the things they do is … billing.”
[The above video contains material used pursuant to the Fair Use Doctrine under 17 U.S.C. 107 and is presented in the public’s interest for non-commercial purposes.]
As you can see, the people in the video were quite excited about the new “intelligent” meter and what it could do. There was no mention of the privacy invasions that would occur with data being polled once per second.
Another potential issue with the new Itron OpenWay Riva meters is the communications technology. OpenWay Riva meters employ Adaptive Communications Technology (ACT) which combines RF Mesh, PowerLine Carrier (PLC), and Wi-Fi communications onto the same chip set within each ‘smart’ meter device. Itron claims that ACT provides “dynamic and continuous selection of the optimal communications path, and the most appropriate frequency modulation at every link in the network to ensure the fastest and most reliable path back to the utility.”
The video below describes the new ACT communications capability for OpenWay Riva meters. No mention is made of potential health effects of combining three separate communications protocols into one meter or the adjusting of the frequency modulation as necessary to ensure a ‘fast and reliable’ path back to the utility. SkyVision Solutions does not know whether the bioeffects will be better or worse than the ‘old’ technology, but the basic description is concerning that it may be even worse than current meters.
Third, SkyVision Solutions has concerns that using three separate communications protocols within each meter would increase the cyber threat risks since hackers would now have multiple ways to enter the system, particularly through either RF mesh or Wi-Fi.
There appears to be no limit on how far utilities are willing to go when it comes to privacy invasions, negligently increasing cyber threats, and ignoring potential health effects related to their so-called ‘smart’ meters. It would also appear that only an increased public backlash can stop the insanity, but, alas, most consumers seem too busy checking for the latest smartphone apps to pay much attention on what is happening.
Also take note of the mention in the video that utility meters are no longer just billing devices; they are “intelligent devices that one of the things they do is … billing.” That should be a strong clue to the public that a major transformation has occurred.
Source Material for this Article
“Moving beyond the smart grid to the active grid,” at http://www.engerati.com/article/moving-beyond-smart-grid-active-grid
Itron OpenWay Riva at https://www.itron.com/mxca/en/productsAndServices/Pages/OpenWay%20Riva-s.aspx
Adaptive Communications Technology, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rih7QdPk-Z8