We’ll let you be the judge of which is which in today’s good, bad and ugly smart meter round up, which will fill you in on everything from the latest opt outs, roll outs and left outs – to sabotage and another conspiracy theory.
ComEd outlines its strategy…
You may recall the big dust-up in Illinois last fall when the governor vetoed smart grid legislation that would have deterred Commonwealth Edison’s smart grid plans and then legislators mustered enough votes to override the veto. Well, on Monday ComEd filed its official AMI deployment plan with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). It calls for deployment of 130,000 smart meters this year, another 370,000 in 2013 and 520,000 the following year with no opt-out provisions, according to the Sun-Times. Over a 10-year period ComEd anticipates deploying over 4 million smart meters, leading to operational efficiencies that could save customers $2.6 billion over the 20-year life of the meters, according to a cost-benefit analysis by Black & Veatch that was filed with the ICC. The ICC still has to approve the plan.
Meanwhile, in the UK…
One of the United Kingdom’s leading power and gas companies, E.ON UK has chosen Elster to be its smart metering partner on its “dual fuel” rollout. The company will deploy up to 100,000 Elster smart meters in residential properties by the end of 2012, with up to 200,000 more in 2013. Part of E.ON’s commitment to install one million smart meters across the UK by 2014, Elster says the deployment will include one of its latest innovations, the next-gen AS300P electricity smart meter with its modular communications hub, and the BK-G4E gas smart meter. The new meters were designed to support tailored solutions for utilities working to comply with the European directive for smart gas and electricity metering.
That last bit is important if you consider the plight of Britain’s Centrica, which Reuters reports may have to replace many of the 400,000 smart meters it installed before the government came out with its specifications. Still, the company is putting a happy face on what could cost it big bucks: “The potential need to replace earlier smart meters was part of our business case. We wanted to get smart meters to our customers as soon as possible,” a spokesman said.
Peco asks: What’s in a name?
You’ll notice in the deployment stories above, the words “smart meters” were used throughout. That’s not the case with the installations that Philadelphia-based Peco started last month. The Philadelphia Inquirer notes that the utility is deploying the first of 1.6 million new-generation electric meters but has quietly stopped referring to them as “smart meters.” Noting a recent customer mailing left out the term altogether, an AP report quoted Peco spokeswoman Cathy Engel Menendez: “We did spend a lot of time talking to customers before we rolled out the project and found that the term ‘smart meter’ really seemed to mean something different to everyone.”
Customers come first in California…
Earlier this month Southern California Edison celebrated a milestone in the installation of its four millionth Itron smart meter. Last week the California Public Utility Commission made a final decision on an opt out program that will allow residential customers of SCE as well as San Diego Gas & Electric to opt out. The CPUC’s final decision requires customers who opt out of the program to pay a $75 one-time set-up fee and a $10 recurring monthly charge. The cost covers manual meter-reading and associated operational and billing activities. Income-qualified customers pay $10 for the initial set-up fee and $5 a month.
But no sour grapes from SCE. Customer Service SVP Erwin Furukawa said of the decision: “Meter technology worldwide is transitioning from analog to digital technology, but our customers come first. Customer choice is something that is important to us, and we’re glad that the CPUC was able to come to a timely decision to accommodate all our customers.”
Controversy continues in Naperville…
If you’re following the situation in Naperville, Illinois where some residents are trying to stop the city’s smart grid initiative, the latest twist came last week when a federal judge in Chicago declined to issue a preliminary injunction sought by smart meter opponents. They wanted the court to order the city to allow residents and businesses to keep their analog meters while the lawsuit they filed works its way through the system. But it’s far from over, as the Naperville Sun explains.
JUST OUT THERE
Smart meter sabotage in Australia…
Power company Jemena confirmed tampering of 23 smart meters since December, according to an ABC News report. The meters were believed to have been sprayed with a chemical substance, likely chloride, which caused them to fail but no fires were reported. Police are investigating. “Tampering with any electrical equipment is very reckless and extremely dangerous,” said Jemena spokesman Scott Parker, who called on the perpetrator(s) to stop before someone is seriously injured.
It’s a plot to control your toaster…
A story in WND Politics has author Brian Sussman warning that smart meters are a plot by the federal government and the United Nations to control energy usage in American homes. Sussman, author of Eco-Tyranny: How the Left’s Green Agenda Will Dismantle America and Climategate, maintains smart meters are the first step in a move that could lead to citizens losing the freedom to run their appliances as they wish.