Smart meters were heralded by energy suppliers and some environmentalists as a major tool by which we could control our energy consumption and thereby help to reduce greenhouse gases. Each house could monitor its energy consumption room by room, billing would be easier and more efficient as it would not have to rely on armies of meter reader getting, or not getting, access to your meters, the energy companies would have an immediate overview of consumption patterns and trends. But….. And isn’t there always a ‘but’?
While the energy companies could only see benefit in using wifi to transmit hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute readings of our energy consumption to local wifi hubs and thereby to their central processing units, the plan rang warning bells with those already concerned about the growing electromagnetic pollution of world, especially its urban areas. And it scared the wits out of those who were already electrosensitive as they foresaw their homes being bathed in yet another layer of electrosmog from which they would be unable to escape.
I have just put an update on the FM website covering the health aspects of smart meters – and the very welcome concession by the UK government that householders will not be forced to have smart meters installed in their houses unless they want them. (No that that helps the ultra sensitive who will still react to the smart meters that their less sensitive neighbours have installed next door.)
However, smart meters are cause for a number of other concerns which have nothing to do with health but everything to do with privacy, efficiency and our safety – that our government is so paranoid about protecting. To quote Mike Mitcham of the ‘Stop Smart Meters’ campaign:
I do have a growing sense of unease that there is a controlled dialogue happening in the media which is deliberately ignoring some of the major threats from this programme and guiding the conversation away from other key issues, notably unwarranted and outrageous privacy intrusions and loss of sovereignty & control of our own energy and appliance usage. This is also not to mention how our personal data will be sold and used to perform the kind of customer profiling/data modelling that’s done with store cards, but extended into not just what we buy but how and when we actually use what we buy in the home.
Do you really want your private life within your own house (when you turn on the kettle for a cup of tea, when you turn on the light to go to the loo) mapped minute by minute? In theory, of course, the data will be ‘securely protected’ but absolutely nothing in previous history would suggest that ‘secure’ actually means secure. Whatever about it being used to enable Amazon or anyone else to try to sell you things 24 hours a day, who trusts governments?
As far as the consumer’s relationship with the energy companies is concerned, the theory is that smart meters will make billing far more efficient but experience of all too many consumers in the US, where the rollout is already far more advanced, suggests that bills generated via smart meters can be wrong (massively wrong) just as often, if not more often, than via the old meter reading system. (And in these times of high unemployment, is it really a good idea to throw all those meter readers out of a job?)
And then there is the safety aspect. Just as every new tax only inspires new and more ingenious ways of evading/avoiding paying it, so every ingenious, new, ‘secure’ on-line system merely inspires a new generation of even more inspired ‘hackers’. A recent report in Natural News detailed how hackers in Puerto Rico had reprogrammed smart meters so as to alter the charges and went on to give five ways in which smart meters could be fooled, hacked or tampered with – to protect one’s privacy, be it said, rather than fiddle one’s account!
Far more concerning is the fact that the smart meter network could also be used to bring any country to a complete halt by turning off the power. In an article in Business Wire, hacking expert David Chalk said:
There is not a power meter or device on the grid that is protected from hacking – if not already infected – with some sort of trojan horse that can cause the grid to be shut down or completely annihilated. One of the most amazing things that has happened to mankind in the last 100 years is the Internet. It’s given us possibility beyond our wildest imagination. But we also know the vulnerabilities that exist inside of it. And then we have the backbone, the power grid that powers our nations. Those two are coming together. And it’s the smart meter on your home or business that’s now allowing that connectivity.
You can watch an interview with David Chalk here.
Another security expert, Mike Davis, quoted in the Natural News piece, recently reverse-engineered a smart meter bought on Ebay and installed a computer programe that replicated itself across the wireless network and blocked the utility company as it went. ‘We won’t have to worry about getting bombed if ever we go to war again’, commented Jack Bode on Canada.com, ‘the enemy only has to “hack us” and turn the power off.’