‘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.”

  • Smart meters are being introduced by a “network of actors” that I refer to as technocrats.  These technocrats believe that the decision-making process related to smart meter deployments should be left to the experts and not be opened to public debate.
  • The underlying and primary reason for smart meters being deployed is to facilitate the reduction in energy consumption by consumers.
  • Consumers are viewed by the technocrats as “economic actors” with “knowledge, engagement, and moral deficits.”  To compensate for these deficits, schemes are devised such as “dynamic pricing” as well as the promotion of home automation products and services.
  • Smart meter deployments result in a conflict between what is perceived as being necessary for the “public good” by the technocrats versus individual autonomy for the consumers and citizens.
  • “The role of the citizen as a consumer is often neglected by policy makers, as well as their opinions, attitudes, drivers and barriers towards the acceptance of the new energy system.”
  • “Substantial social implications [of smart meter deployments], such as privacy, security, external control of appliances within private households, health-related issues, environmental perspectives and consequences for financially vulnerable households, are not being sufficiently addressed.”
  • Rather than treating the consumers as deficit burdened subjects requiring behavioral modification, consider them as citizens with legitimate rights and concerns.  Technocrats should consider interaction with concerned consumers and citizens as an opportunity to create a modernized electric grid that has both a high level of public acceptance and resiliency.

Who Envisioned the Smart Grid?

Even though there are broad implications for society and substantial consequences for consumers in implementing the smart grid, there is little public debate of these implications or the risks.  Why is that?  As stated by a September 2015 article [1] from Norway by Ballo:

“Part of the explanation for the relative lack of debate seems to be that discussions regarding the future Smart Grid and the introduction of smart meters mainly are taking place within a network of actors with recognized expertise, competence and knowledge.”

I have sometimes referred to the above “network of actors” as technocrats [2] [3].  In this instance, they consist of a combination of technical professionals and executives from the energy industry and related corporations and associations, technical experts from research organizations, bureaucrats from regulatory authorities, and powerful politicians.  These are people with technical backgrounds and economic interests and who have the power over the purse and the power to make or influence public policy decisions.

Research conducted for the above mentioned article [1] shows that the “introduction of smart meters [in Norway] was initiated even though this was not found to be socioeconomically beneficial.”  It was done essentially because the technocrats having the power to make it happen believed that the actions they were taking were for the “public good.”

Having a network of actors where technical experts play a significant role in the direction that a society takes is not unique to the emerging smart grid.  In fact, when the electric grid itself was “envisioned” over a hundred years ago, there was a similar network of actors.  From the book, When Old Technologies Were New: Thinking About Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century [4]:

“Much of the literature on electricity in the late nineteenth century can be read as the wishful template of a world that electrical professionals believed they would create, given the opportunity. …  For them, electricity was the transformative agent of social possibility.  Through their power over it, it would be a creator of social miracles.  Electricity had the vitality of a natural force; they had charge of its control and direction.”

In the world of today, however, the actions being taken in the name of the “public good” by the technocrats, by their nature, will result in a loss of freedoms and liberty as well as exposure of the consumer and society to numerous risks that are not being discussed or debated in the public arena.  Even consumer organizations have little input on the direction that the smart grid takes.  Whenever there is recognition of an issue, for example, on privacy, it is categorized by the “network of actors” as a technical problem requiring a technical solution.  As stated in the article [1]:

“An emphasis on technologically advanced smart meters which generates detailed information has implications for privacy.  However, this is often reduced to being seen as a technical issue.  Furthermore, the aspect of how this will affect financially vulnerable households, is to some extent silenced.”

In addition, as stated by a June 2015 article [5] by Inderberg:

“The interests of private customers have been formally represented in the hearings, but in practice with limited influence on the regulation.” 

Why Were Smart Meters Envisioned for Deployment?

Now that we have broadly defined who envisioned the smart grid, why specifically are smart meters being deployed as part of that vision?

I have previously discussed in articles at this website of how the envisioned smart grid enables huge financial profits for corporations, government sanctioned surveillance, and consumer behavioral control mechanisms [6] [7] [8] [9].

The quick response to the above question might therefore seem to be: “profit, consumer surveillance, and behavioral control.”  But that is more about what the technology enables, not the underlying reason for why it was envisioned by the technocrats in the first place.  Remember they believe their vision is being implemented for the “public good.”

The underlying and primary reason for smart meters being deployed, at least in the developed world, is to facilitate the reduction in energy consumption by consumers.

Note:  In developing countries, smart meter deployments have primarily been aimed at combating lost revenues due to illegal connections, unbilled consumption, and non-payment, which in some areas, losses can approach 50% [10 ].

There are ancillary reasons that can be discussed as to why it might make sense to have smart meters deployed, but there is no evidence that the current rapid deployments being promoted globally would otherwise be occurring.  For example, smart meters eliminate the need for manual meter reading personnel and thus create an immediate benefit for the utility in terms of reduced labor costs.  But that is not why they are being deployed since those costs savings can in no way financially justify the huge investments that accompany smart meter deployments.  In short, there must be an overarching public policy goal to “justify” broad-based smart meter deployments as they cannot be justified by an objective business case analysis.

Note that based upon research conducted for a separate 2013 article [11] from Norway by Throndsen, smart meters were simply mandated without any real understanding on how they might be used for the smart grid that would later follow:

“Smarter grids are irrelevant for this project because AMI has been decided on and will be implemented, regardless of what we will use it for later on.”

One can argue whether or not implementation of smart meters would actually lead to a reduction in overall energy consumption and whether it is even necessary to reduce consumption.  I have previously provided substantial evidence that smart meters are not effective at reducing energy consumption [7] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16].  In any case, that is somewhat beyond the scope of this particular article.  The important point here is that the technocrats believe that universal smart meter deployments will lead to a reduction in energy consumption and help meet sustainability goals.

Technocrats know that it is not good public relations to just tell people to reduce consumption and that you will be penalized if you don’t, but the message is clear.  I will present a number of quotations from published literature to demonstrate there is little doubt on the primary objective for smart meter deployments.

Here is how a September 2015 article [17] by authors from France characterizes the reason for smart meter deployments and the potential ramifications:

“Efficiency targets proposed as part of international commitments to reduce CO2 emissions include future changes in individual patterns of energy consumption.  This goal is presently being addressed in France through the installation of smart meters.”

“Participants in all groups [of the French study] acknowledge the importance of reducing energy use and actively engaging in energy saving practices.”

“Participants started thinking that maybe a top — down, coercive approach could possibly be envisaged to control abuses in energy use, rather than leaving this control up to individual consumers.  Soon after, participants discussed the issues behind this type of option: individuals would have to be told what to do all the time, how to behave and how to organise their household activities, which probably would involve fines — for excessive heating, for example.  Participants ended up rejecting this type of surveillance and punishment, that is in line with results from previous studies depicting this type of coercive approach to private sphere behaviours as unpopular. …  However, research could bear upon the possible future acceptability, e.g. under increased pressure from climate threats, of more control exerted upon what is considered today as a protected private sphere.”

A March 2016 article [18] just published by authors from Spain describes smart metering as follows:

“Smart metering [is] an inherent part of smart grids.  Smart grids are discussed in this document … firstly through the options for control and management of consumption that they introduce, and secondly due to the way they can incentivize the efficient use of energy if they are combined with an appropriate pricing model based upon the time period in which energy is consumed.”

It is instructive to note based upon [18] that a mandate to install smart meters in Spain was made by “Royal  Decree” and that:

“Spain has not carried out a cost-benefit analysis on a national public scale, either before or during the process to determine its definitive economic viability.”

From a September 2015 article [19] by authors from Germany:

“In this paper, we offer a psychological model of behaviour change to analyse in detail this task of saving electricity and point to appropriate measures to support actors in their endeavour to reduce electricity consumption.”

“Here we outline the type of smart meter information system that incorporates intervention strategies and feedback in order to support the formation and implementation of action plans.”

From a May 2015 article [20] by Westskog, et.al., on energy-related feedback:

“[A]uthorities in some countries such as the UK require that suppliers provide their customers with in-home displays together with the smart meters.  The assumptions underlying such initiatives follow the logic of information measures which build on the so-called ‘information-deficit’ model…:  Increased feedback leads to increased awareness or knowledge which induces changes in energy behavior and decreased consumption.  The model presumes that customers are motivated to reduce consumption for financial, environmental or other reasons, and that the provision of real-time electricity consumption data will lead to increased awareness or knowledge at the consumer end.”

In the United States, the Department of Energy posted a blog article [21] at energy.gov in January 2016, indicating that “We hope to ultimately see these [smart] meters on every home and business in the country.”  This “vision” is simply stated without justification.  It is just what the technocrats have decided, regardless of the costs or risks to consumers or society.  The reason is they believe smart meters are the best means to facilitate consumers reducing their energy consumption.  This objective of energy usage reduction was succinctly stated in a document by Mission:data, a U.S. based technology company, in December 2015 [22]:

“America’s single biggest energy challenge is how to reduce energy use in buildings.”

“The good news is that the U.S. has invested billions of dollars to deploy 60 million advanced or ‘smart’ meters that can provide consumers information about their energy use that they can in turn use to significantly reduce their own consumption.”

How Do the Smart Grid Technocrats View Consumers?

As stated in the previous section, the smart grid visionaries believe that smart meters will lead consumers to reduce energy consumption.  Why is that?

Consumer behavior is basically forecasted to follow specific economic models, one primary example being simply called that of a “rational actor” [11] [23] [24].  As rational actors, consumers, when given additional and detailed information about their energy consumption, are expected to conscientiously and thoughtfully use this information to find ways to better manage their energy bills and reduce energy consumption.

Technocrats have an expectation for a “competent consumer” who senses a moral obligation to meet sustainability goals and take individual actions to help fight climate change.  Realizing this consumer expectation as an ultimate goal or ideal, technocrats in practice recognize that current consumers are burdened with “knowledge, engagement, and moral deficits.”

Because of these consumer “deficits,” the technocrats construct additional means to achieve their objectives for reduced energy consumption, such as:

  • Implementation of so-called “dynamic pricing” or time-of-use (TOU) rate schemes that provide financial incentives for consumers to pay more attention to electricity prices and to adjust their behaviors accordingly;
  • Automation of the home and encouragement for consumers to purchase “smart appliances” that can be controlled remotely.

As discussed by the September 2015 article [1] by Ballo, the objective of technocrats is to change the “technological basis of households” and:

“The smart meter is also seen as central for instrumenting the home, and for a development towards Smart Homes.”

“It is imagined that smart appliances, or certain elements of the Smart Home, also could be remotely steered and controlled by external actors. … Thermal loads, such as domestic hot water cylinders or heating in floors, are often highlighted with regards to remote steering. … such loads could be turned off for sometime without considerable change being noticed in the household.”

And as explained by a 2013 article by Throndsen [11]:

“[I]ntroducing technologies that would be energy efficient for us … solves the problem of knowledge, morals and habits that has riddled the reality…, as they relied too heavily on the contribution of the right kind of behavior from the consumer.  Introducing a technological fix contributes by factoring the erratic human right out of the equation.”

“Consumer Flexibility” Needed to the Achieve Smart Grid Vision

The introduction of smart meter devices for consumer engagement, dynamic pricing, and home automation illustrates that consumers have a central role in the envisioned smart grid.  They are expected to be “flexible” in order to serve the “public good.”  As explained by the article [1] by Ballo:

“‘Consumer flexibility’ is a key concept that illustrates the central role of consumers in the imaginaries of the future Smart Grid.  It is often stated that consumers should contribute to the energy supply system by ‘[providing] flexibility’.  This entails what is referred to as having a ‘more correct’ consumption profile; electricity consumption in line with the [market]-based price signals.”

“Consumers’ economic rationality and lack of knowledge is perceived as an impediment for an understanding of the ‘public good’.”

A September 2015 article [25] by Schick and Gad from Denmark more realistically acknowledges that consumers are in some ways actually quite “inflexible,” and they are not likely to actively engage with such devices as smart meters:

“Grid companies may choose to make consumption patterns available online, but …, the future consumer is rather expected to invest in energy management and home-automation systems.”

“Such systems, however, are very expensive.  Meanwhile, the possible savings for regular family amounts to little more than a few bottles of wine.   This is one reason why the advisor to the Minister and the Head of the Alliance for Intelligent Energy express doubt whether people will invest in such systems.”

“The Smart Grid Network hopes that inventive apps and services will engage people in energy.  However, exactly what these new products and services are, how they are suppposed to emerge, and how they may change electricity consumption is not clear.  Indeed, there are serious doubts about the extent to which such services hold any real potential for activating flexibility.”

Also, as summarized by the Sepetmber 2015 article [26] by Skjølsvold, et.al., describing methods for “activating flexibility” on the part of consumers, direct engagement methods may not lead to optimal results and that:

“Instead, there is a focus on making consumers invest in home-automation that will make life easier for all parties.”

Regarding “consumer flexibility,” there thus appears to be a clear disconnect between a world imagined by technocrats and the real world for what is actually achievable.

The Lack of Transparency for the Consumer and the Need for Public Debate

Public Debate on Smart MetersConsumers have a central role in the envisioned smart grid, yet there is little to no public debate that involves them.

As stated in a February 2016 article [27] by Lucia Vesnic-Alujevic, et.al.,

“As the success of the new energy system depends on users and not only on the producers, it often happens that ‘selected’ benefits of such systems are emphasised and confidently communicated to the public, while the challenges and risks are often kept away from the larger population’s ears.”

[T]he role of the citizen as a consumer is often neglected by policy makers, as well as their opinions, attitudes, drivers and barriers towards the acceptance of the new energy system.”

“In a paper on Energy Citizenship, Devine-Wright argues that in the deficit view of the public as energy ‘users’ or ‘consumers’, we can talk about scepticism in broader deliberation about energy systems, in the sense that decision-making processes should be left to experts or technocrats and not be opened to the public.”

“[O]ur analysis suggest that the concerns of citizenry are downplayed, that the rhetoric of empowerment with which smart meters are presented to citizens is in need of examination.”

“Citizens’ views with regards to smart meters, as expressed in online platforms we analysed, show concerns for issues such as their rights, surveillance, health, safety, etc., which, as we have seen in some EU countries, results on public resistance to the dominant visions about energy futures.  We argue that those concerns have not been fully examined in the SG [smart grid] policy proposal.”

“In referring to the publics, little is said about their concerns, expectations; public issues are described through issues of ‘privacy’ and ‘security’ as if public dimensions of such ‘critical infrastructures’ can be reduced to these aspects.”

“Based on the study presented here, we argue that there is a strong need for more participation and public debate in policymaking processes about energy futures.”

Returning to the article [1] by Ballo:

“The transition to a future Smart Grid … entails potentially substantial consequences for individual consumers and has comprehensive social implications.  In many countries, grassroots resistance has emerged with the introduction of smart meters, emphasizing concerns related to privacy, security, health and costs.”

“However, the communication to the public about the introduction of smart meters and the future Smart Grid strongly emphasizes potential benefits for consumers.  This could also be contributing to the lack of public debate, since this communication does not include information about uncertainties or potential social implications.”

The imposition of price tariffs to achieve behavioral changes is characterized by Ballo as “an interference in people’s everyday habits in their private homes” and “could also be considered a reduction of the privacy or freedom in homes.  In addition:

“[D]ifferent households will have various financial situations, and financial incentives and price tariffs as a means to achieve desired behavior change will hit some households harder than others.  Financially vulnerable households might not have the choice of ‘offering flexibility’, but rather feel forced to adapt.”

“The conceptualization of homes as ‘Smart Homes’ and the possibility of external steering makes the border line between public energy infrastructure and private homes more blurry, which call for considering the implications of such a change for the privacy of the home.”

The Ballo article [1] also discusses the “remote disconnect” feature included with most smart meters and that some experts interviewed as part of the research conducted for the article stated that:

“Some informants express concerns, however, such as the possibility of hackers getting control of this functionality and hence being able to turn off the electricity in households or whole neighborhoods.  A related concern is unauthorized access to personal smart meter data through hacking.  Another potential challenge outlined is the risk of turning off health-related equipment in homes which might need electricity to function.  Another perspective is the idea that access to a minimum of electricity should be a right for everyone, regardless of whether the electricity bills are being paid, especially since some households rely on electricity for heating.”

Ballo discerns that there exists an “underpinning tension” between those who envision the emerging smart grid being implemented for the “public good” and “the autonomy and privacy rights of individuals on the other hand.”  Furthermore, with regard to this tension between the smart grid vision and the rights of individual:

“Several examples in the empirical material show how the former seems to come at the expense of the latter.  Potentially substantial social implications, such as privacy, security, external control of appliances within private households, health-related issues, environmental perspectives and consequences for financially vulnerable households, are not being sufficiently addressed and to some extent also being reduced to technical issues.”

The author concludes that a “radical transformation is now gradually starting to take form without public debate” and that:

Lack of democratic legitimacy [of the smart grid] calls for transparency and public participation.”

Ballo references a 2014 article by David Hess [28] as a possible solution where it is suggested to see “public opposition as an opportunity to develop innovations in system design that could reduce conflict in a long-term perspective, rather than aiming to ‘educate’ consumers based on assumptions of knowledge deficits.”

Consideration of Consumer Interests with Smart Grid Redesign as Needed

David Hess authored an article [28] in April 2014 providing an examination and analysis of the public opposition to smart meters in the United States and Canada.  Unfortunately, Hess starts the article by appearing to initially accept the technocrat-type narrative that smart meters offer many benefits, stating:

“Smart meters and the smart grid offer many important sustainability benefits (such as time-of-day pricing and the capacity of the utility to turn off appliances during peak load), but as smart-meter installations have spread, so has public opposition.”

At least the mention of TOU pricing and remote operation of appliances immediately exposes the heart of the controversy surrounding the technocrats’ objective to facilitate the reduction of energy usage by consumers.  That is, part of the controversy is about who will really benefit from these energy reductions and will smart meters actually accomplish the desired reductions in the most efficient manner, assuming that such reductions are even necessary.  Certainly to many consumers, it appears that the corporations will simply profit and “benefit” at the expense of the consumer.

In any case, Hess later states that he does not attempt to evaluate the validity of public claims and concerns regarding smart meters but treats them as “social facts that have social and political effects.”

Hess notes that many utilities “view growing interest in opt-out provisions with concern” and tend to devise “strategies to reduce the number of customers who elect to opt out of smart-meter installation.”  Utilities tend to dismiss consumer concerns, but these tactics may underestimate the degree to which opposition may grow, especially if any number of consumer concerns become more validated by future events beyond the control of the utilities.  Furthermore, actions aimed at limiting opt-outs conflicts with generally accepted beliefs regarding “household-level privacy and rights to control over residential property.”  Hess further states:

“A more proactive strategy would view the opposition to wireless smart meters not as a scientific, communication and political challenge to be surmounted but instead as a technical challenge that can be the basis of continued experimentation with system design and governance.”

Hess suggests that a more “innovative approach” would be to redesign some aspects of the smart meter program in order to “reduce long-term political conflict.”  Some possible elements include:

  • “Experimentation with fibre-optic and telephone lines, wake-up meters (which transmit only when prompted), prepaid meters, shielding and other design changes in order to gain information about the effects of design innovations on customer acceptance, cost and security vulnerability relative to wireless and power line communication systems.”
  • “Development of strict industry privacy standards such as the Dutch guidelines of daily reporting with an opt-in provision for more frequent intervals and an opt-in provision for sale of information to commercial third-parties.”
  • “Exploration of other, perhaps less expensive ways to manage peak load (such as through distributed energy storage) that may not require changes in customer oriented technology and habits.”

Finally, Hess concludes:

“By treating the concerns of a small but vocal mobilised public as an opportunity rather than as a threat, it would be possible [to] construct a technological system that has a high level of public acceptance and is more resilient to future knowledge about health and other risks posed by the new technology.”

What Hess proposes sounds reasonable but, of course, requires that the technocrats listen and act on the concerns expressed by consumers.  It requires that the smart grid proponents be more transparent about their true motives and methods and welcome a public debate on the consumer-related issues of costs, health, privacy and control over property and appliances, fire hazards, and cyber threats.

Conclusion

This has been one of my longest and arguably most important articles dealing with the rapid deployment of smart meters and the effects on the consumer.  I discovered a number of studies published over the past couple of years dealing with the social aspects and implications of smart meter deployments.  In a comprehensive way I have shown the following:

  • Who envisioned the smart grid and the introduction of smart meters.  Smart meters are envisioned to be universally deployed to all homes by a “network of actors” that I refer to as technocrats.
  • Why smart meters were envisioned for deployment.  The underlying and primary reason for deployment is to facilitate a reduction in energy consumption by consumers.  All other reasons are ancillary, and it can be argued that other possible reasons for using smart meter technology can be more efficiently accomplished through other means.
  • How the smart grid technocrats view consumers.  Consumers are viewed ideally as “rational actors” who should sense a moral obligation to meet sustainability goals and take individual actions to help fight climate change by reviewing smart meter data and reducing their energy usage accordingly.  Realizing this consumer expectation is at least somewhat flawed, technocrats in practice consider the consumers as burdened with “knowledge, engagement, and moral deficits.”  Technocrats implement dynamic pricing and encourage home automation in order to compensate for perceived consumer deficits.
  • Lack of transparency and consideration for consumer interests.  Even though the consumer is key to the success of smart meter deployments meeting the objectives as set by the technocrats, they downplay consumer concerns and instead insist on “consumer flexibility.”  This condition therefore exhibits a lack of democratic legitimacy which fully justifies increased public opposition to smart meters.
  • Need for public debate and adjustment of smart grid design in order to finally consider consumer interests and rights.

In line with the sentiment and analysis provided by the Hess article [28], rather than treating the consumers as deficit burdened subjects requiring behavioral modification, consider them as citizens with legitimate rights and concerns.  Smart grid proponents and technocrats should consider interaction with concerned citizens and consumers as an opportunity to create a modernized electric grid that has both a high level of public acceptance and resiliency.

As referenced in the conclusion for the Ballo article [1]: “It is rare to find a technological decision that calls for nothing more than the opinions of specialists.”

References and Notes for this Article

[1] “Imagining energy futures: Sociotechnical imaginaries of the future Smart Grid in Norway,” by Ingrid Foss Ballo, Energy Research & Social Science, volume 9, pp 9-20, September 2015; available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214629615300384

[2] My reference to technocrats in this context relates to those who could either be technical experts or have managerial or administrative roles.  What they have in common is making decisions solely based upon technical information or belief in what is best for the “public good.”  These decisions can be made in a way that disregards majority public opinion and individual rights.  Although the word technocrat may refer to one who is an adherent of technocracy, it is not my desire to narrowly define it as such here.

Put in another way, for purpose’s of this article, just think of a “technocrat” as a technically oriented bureaucrat who desires to micromanage your life based upon his or her perspective of what will best serve the public good.  This technocrat may also be motivated by financial profit which creates an inherent conflict of interest as compared to what might actually be in the public interest.

I previously wrote an article summarizing the content of a recent book, Technocracy Rising: The Trojan Horse of Global Transformation, which describes how, in part,  the smart grid can be explained as being a result of the actions of adherents to technocracy and where a new, post-capitalist “green economy” is being created that is based on energy production and consumption.  A technocracy, as envisioned, is a “scientific society” that cannot be run successfully without comprehensive monitoring and control of all aspects of society and the members within that society.

Although what is described in this article is quite consistent with what would be expected in a world headed towards technocracy, I perceive less direct linkage to such organizations as the Trilateral Commission which is normally the focus when writing about technocracy and its origins.  From my perspective and from a sociological point of view, the technological and societal changes that are occurring can more easily explained as the natural result of what is referred to as “sociotechnical imaginaries” and an “epistemic community” as referenced in the Norway article from [1] and as originally described by Haas [3].

[3] “Introduction: epistemic communities and international policy coordination,” by Haas, P. (1992); International Organization 46:1, pp 1-35; available at https://skyvisionsolutions.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/haas-on-epistemic-communities-1992.pdf

[4] When Old Technologies Were New: Thinking About Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century, by Carolyn Marvin, Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (May 24, 1990).

[5] “Advanced metering policy development and influence structures: The case of Norway,” by Tor Håkon Inderberg, Energy Policy, volume 81, June 2015, pp 98-105; available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421515001007

[6] “Smart Meters Generate a ‘Gold Mine of Data’ for Utilities,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, December 2015, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2015/12/31/smart-meters-generate-gold-mine-of-data/

[7] “Smart Meters are ‘Guilt Meters’ and an Example of a ‘Fraudulent, Bogus Innovation’,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, December 2015, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2015/12/01/smart-meters-are-guilt-meters-and-bogus-innovation/

[8] “Analyzing Your Smart Meter Data Leads to Big Profits for the Utilities,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, January 2016, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2016/01/20/big-profits-for-the-utilities/

[9] “Smart Meters Represent Industrial Profiteering and Government Sanctioned Surveillance, According to Study,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, January 2016, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2016/01/11/industrial-profiteering-and-government-sanctioned-surveillance/

[10] “Smart Meters Take Bite Out of Electricity Theft,” National Geographic News, September 2011, at http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2011/09/110913-smart-meters-for-electricity-theft/

[11] “Constructing the Norwegian smart grids: To fix what is not broken?,” by William Throndsen, Norwegian Science and Tech, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, Norway; 2013; available at http://proceedings.eceee.org/visabstrakt.php?event=3&doc=6-333-13

[12] “Smart Meter Rollout a Waste of Money, According to Study,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, December 2014, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2014/12/21/smart-meter-rollout-a-waste-of-money/

[13] “Smart Meters Have Failed and Were a Dumb Investment,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, December 2014, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2014/12/18/smart-meters-have-failed/

[14] “President Obama Touts ‘Smart Meters’ at Clean Energy Summit,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, August 2015, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2015/08/25/president-obama-touts-smart-meters/

[15] “Consumers and Environment Unlikely to Benefit from Smart Meters, Confirms Latest Research,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, September 2015, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2015/09/11/consumers-and-environment-unlikely-to-benefit-from-smart-meters/

[16] “Smart meters giving Victorian consumers ‘no benefit’ on electricity bills, auditor-general says,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, September 2015, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2015/09/16/smart-meters-giving-victorian-consumers-no-benefit/

[17] “When meters start to talk: The public’s encounter with smart meters in France,” Energy Research & Social Science, by Raquel Bertoldoa, et.al., Volume 9, September 2015, pp 146-56; available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214629615300372

[18] “Smart metering trends, implications and necessities: A policy review,” by Javier Leiva, et.al., Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 55, March 2016, pp 227-233; available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032115012526

[19] “An analysis of smart metering information systems: A psychological model of self-regulated behavioural change,” by Malte Nachreinera, et.al., Energy Research & Social Science, Volume 9, September 2015, pp 85-97; available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214629615300396

[20] “The Effects of In-Home Displays — Revisiting the Context,” by Hege Westskog, et.al., Sustainability, May 2015, Volume 7, Issue 5; pp 5431-5451; available at http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/7/5/5431

[21] “An Explainer: How “Grid Modernization” Could Improve Your Life,” U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), January 2016, at http://www.energy.gov/articles/explainer-how-grid-modernization-could-improve-your-life

[22] “The EmPOWERED Consumer: How Consumer Access to Energy Data can Help Solve our Biggest Energy Challenge,” Mission:data; December 2015; available at http://www.bluelineinnovations.com/files/EmPOWEREDConsumer_CaseStudy_final.pdf

[23] The “rational actor” reference is an economic theory more formally called “the homo economicus ideal,” whereby the consumer seeks to attain very specific and predetermined goals to the greatest extent with the least possible cost.  Note that this kind of “rationality” does not say that the individual’s actual goals are “rational” in some larger ethical, social, or human sense, only that he tries to attain them at minimal cost [11] [24].

[24] Wikipedia, Homo economicus, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_economicus

[25] “Flexible and inflexible energy engagements — A study of the Danish Smart Grid Strategy,” by Schick and Gad, Energy Research & Social Science, Volume 9, September 2015, pp 51-59; available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214629615300360

[26] “A traveler’s guide to smart grids and the social sciences,” by Tomas Moe Skjølsvold, et.al., Energy Research & Social Science, Volume 9, September 2015, pp 1-8; available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214629615300402

[27] “What smart grids tell about innovation narratives in the European Union: Hopes, imaginaries and policy,” by Lucia Vesnic-Alujevic, et.al., Energy Research & Social Science, Volume 12, February 2016, pp 16-26; available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214629615300803

[28] “Smart meters and public acceptance: comparative analysis and governance implications,” by David J Hess, Health, Risk & Society, Volume 16, Issue 3, 2014; pp 243-258; available at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13698575.2014.911821

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Raising public awareness and finding solutions for smart grid issues related to invasions of privacy, data security, cyber threats, health and societal impacts, as well as hazards related to radiofrequency (RF) radiation emissions from all wireless devices, including smart meters.
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6 Responses to ‘Smart’ Meters Being Deployed without Transparency or Necessary Public Debate

  1. Sharon Noble says:

    Another wonderful article and the lack of transparency or public debate as described fits perfectly what has happened in British Columbia. The program was mandated and begun with no information having been given to the public in hopes, I believe, that the smart meters would be on our homes before we knew what had happened. The government and the utility failed to perform due diligence, leading to a program that is not only dangerous and invasive but horribly expensive, with no end in sight. This article needs to be circulated widely so that those who are just beginning to suffer the consequences of this technology can become educated and, hopefully, will join with us to regain control over our homes.

  2. Jennette Miller says:

    The governments of North America have decided for us what we will eat, what we will use as drugs and what other dangerous things we will be exposed to. That’s the truth of the matter.

  3. ewindheim says:

    I just read the entire article. It is so well written … Your article is in the same league as the recent one titled FCC: A Captured Agency.

  4. ewindheim says:

    This is an extremely well written article and very informative! Thank you!

    • Thanks. I had a question on Facebook about this article that I interpreted as someone saying that people normally do get to a chance to have their input at public meetings before smart meters are implemented.

      My general response was that this article addresses having true transparency (not spin) and public debate on the issues, not just be provided 3 minutes to get your comments on record at a public meeting as a formality.

      Actually in Naperville for scheduled hearings a couple of years ago on smart grid, the City used legal gymnastics to bar the local smart meter awareness group from acting as an intervenor; I wrote a review of that maneuver as clearly illegal, but the City is in charge; they wanted no debate. They did the same to not allow a City referendum for installing smart meters.

      In Sacramento, they allow people to have “their say” and then the Board president concludes meetings by saying: “Any efforts or investments made to avoid smart meters are entirely wasted. I know that change can be unnerving, especially when it comes quickly, but giving into hysteria and falling victim to the alarmists and the charlatans of our era will not improve anyone’s lives.” See video at: https://smartgridawareness.org/2015/09/26/elected-official-who-dismisses-concerned-consumers-as-charlatans/

      So no, there has not yet been transparency or public debate on the many issues that exist related to smart meters. And having an opt-out, particularly with a fee, is also not addressing the issues, just an attempt to get people to shut up and avoid the real debate.

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