Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Open Letter to Memphis City Council

Dear Memphis City Council,

Today you will be voting on whether to allow MLG&W to spend $10.15 Million to start implementing their plan for installing 60,000 "smart meters". This is just the down payment for a proposed $215 Million they say it will take for all MLGW customers to be converted to "smart meters".  I listened to the report by WREG New Channel 3 last night. 

"The News Channel 3 Investigators decided to separate fact from fiction, so we put the three types of meters MLGW currently uses to the test.

"This was a controlled test at an MLGW facility and News Channel 3 cameras recorded 24/7 to make sure nobody could tamper with the meters.

"Here’s how the meters record how much energy you use:

"First, the analog meter.

“'You have a stater, which calculates your consumption,' MLGW’s Anthony Wilson said.

"Digital and smart meters are similar.

"They read your energy use — also known as kilowatt hours — with capacitors.

"Smart Meters send usage information directly to MLGW.

"As of now, there’s no scientific proof smart meters cause health problems, although there’s also no proof they don’t.

"What News Channel 3 could prove is if the smart meter will force your bill to go up.

"In our week-long test, MLGW sent an extra heavy load through the system to simulate what an average customer uses in a month.

"The amount of energy the meters read rises in the video. You can also see the numbers are pretty similar on all three meters.

"We had them run non-stop for 96 hours. The results were as follows:

"Analog: 1:42:55
Digital: 1:43:40
Smart: 1:43:53

"What do those numbers really mean?

"With the analog meter, your bill would be $207.40

"The digital meter adds up to $205.09

"The smart meter would charge you $205.38

"All three numbers are within MLGW’s two percent margin of error.

"The smart meter also lets you monitor how much energy you’re using.

"You can also choose to sign up for a time of use program, which charges you different rates depending on when you’re using the most energy."

Kudos for the great propaganda piece for MLG&W.  I noticed that they left out several key items in their “test”.  They mentioned the time of use rates at the end.  ~the highlighted portion of the report"  Why didn’t they run the test with the current rates against the time of use rates? 

From the cut and paste document that MLG&W provided you with to answer those of us who contact you. 

Smart grid technology is another proven tool to help customers identify energy consumption and make improvements to lower their usage—while lowering their utility costs.” 

That statement implies that goal of MLG&W is to lower customer’s usage of power.  While you say that the time of use rates are optional at this time, what is going to happen when the carrot approach doesn’t work?  What is the stick going to be? 

Another quote from the MLG&W answer sheet;

Smart meters only indicate the amount of energy used every 15 minutes. They do not control appliances nor tell what a customer is watching on TV. The encrypted data only provides a reading and a meter number.”

One simple question; are these “smart meters” one way or two way communication devices?  Big difference.  Will they only be able to transmit data to MLG&W or will MLG&W ~or someone else~ be able to shut them off remotely or reprogram them remotely?  If MLG&W can reprogram or shut them off remotely, then this is the perfect “stick” in their stated objective of lower customer’s usage of power. 
I just received a reply from MLG&W via the WREG page regarding the two way communication of the Smart Meter.
MLGW  "Smart meters communicate with the utility once a day and, when needed, we can communicate with the meter to connect or disconnect service."

So these smart meters will have two way communication capabilities. 

Relating to your answer regarding our privacy; all one has to do is look at the recent revelations with the NSA and Edward Snowden to question how “private” the data that is collected from these meters will be. 

There was another CBS station that did an investigative report on "smart" meters in California. 

In this report, it talks about the utilities ability to "control your usage remotely"  See video at about 1:13 in the video.  "So if there's a heat wave, they can turn your air conditioning down from a distance."

I am asking you to tell MLG&W no today and instead let the voters of Memphis decide on Smart Meters.  I know that your MLG&W answer sheet says that MLG&W customers will be able to opt out and thus we will have a choice and a referendum is unnecessary.  What is MLG&W afraid of with a referendum?   

Have a Great Day!


P.S.  I will see you downtown. 

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