Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Smart Meters

Imagine sometime in the not-too-distant future, the power company that supplies your home with electricity comes round to install your new "smart" meter to comply with the recent federal legislation. These meters will be able to switch power on and off, control the heating and air conditioning, and regulate power use during peak demand periods to help prevent brown- or black-outs. The new smart meter will save money, too!

Now, imagine if you will, someone like a friend of mine from college. I'll call him Mark.

Mark lived a few steps away from the campus of the Ohio State University in a large old house that had been converted into apartments which were rented to graduate students. The rooms were very large, and the house was not well insulated. Mark was required to pay his utilities himself, but he could not control the thermostat. The first of the winter weather moved in, and Mark's heating bill was more than he could afford.

Rather than move out, Mark decided he would use a small space heater to heat only the room he was occupying at the time. He also placed a small lamp under the thermostat.

The heat from the burning bulb was enough to fool the thermostat into sensing the room to be 75 degrees. The heat never came on except for the few times it became bitterly cold outside. Although he paid a little more for his electricity, it was a significant savings over the gas bill.

While Mark was being frugal, he was nonetheless controlling a thermostat over which he had no "legitimate" control. Are "smart" meters really so smart that they will be able to "know" when someone is manipulating them in an "inappropriate" manner? Short of a federal agent with a gun sitting in your living room, I don't see how the government (federal, or otherwise) will be able to control absolutely one's power usage. But then, energy consumption is not the chief concern. The Statist wants to control you.

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