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April 2012 Comment: H D Diener

April 2012 Comment: H D Diener

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Published by: msmaorg on Jul 04, 2012
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David1.Collins,ExecutiveSecretary,MarylandPublicServiceCommissionWilliamDonaldSchaeferTower6St.PaulStreet,16
th
FloorBaltimore,Maryland21202April3,2012DearCommissionersRe:CaseNos.9207and9208TheDepartmentofEnergyandtheutilitiesarepushingtheideathatSmartMeterswillenabletheratepayerstobettermonitortheiruseofelectricitywithSmartMetersandtherebysavebothenergyandmoney.Therealityisquitedifferent.
NoEnergySavings
Theutilities'primaryjustificationforultra-expensivepublicexpendituresforSmartMetersistheirclaimthatthenewmeterswillbeusedbycustomerstosubstantiallyreduceenergyuseand/ortoshiftusetonight-timehours(thusdecreasingtheuseof"peaker"electricityplants).Ineithercase,supposedlythesmartmeterswillhelpslowdownglobalwarming.Isthereevidencefromotherregionstosupportpredictionsofincreasedcustomerenergyconservation?No,becausesmartmetersareanewphenomenonworldwide,therehasbeenlittleopportunitytodatetoevaluatesuchpredictionswithactualusagestatistics.Butarecentresearchreport(fromLowerCarbonFutures,theEnvironmentalChangeInstituteatOxfordUniversity)informsusthat"littleevidenceexiststoshowoveralldemandreduction".Arecentextensivereport,jointlyissuedbynationalnonprofitorganizationsincludingPublicCitizenandAARP,lookedthroughhundredsofutilitydocketsandfoundthatthereisnosignificantevidenceofsustainedoverallenergyconservationduetouseofAMI(thetechnicalnameforsmartmeterprograms.Infact,theonlystudytodateofanactualwirelesssmartmetersystem'senergyconservationoutcomeswasofthesysteminTorontoandenvironsinCanada.That1-yearstudyof10thousandhouseholdsshowednosignificantenergyconservationonaper-householdbasis;indeed,ifthesystemwerefactoredin,therecouldwellhaveactuallybeenanincreaseinoverallcarbonfootprint.However,inthisstudy,theresultingincreaseincustomers'energybillswasindeedquitesignificant-80%ofhouseholdshavebeenpayinghigherratesthanbeforesmartmeterswereinstalled;andthisisinadditiontocustomershavingpaidthehugecostsofinstallingthesmartmeterinfrastructure.Whataboutthelikelihoodofsmartmetersfacilitatingtime-shiftingofelectricityuseawayfromperiodsofhighdemand?Utilitiessometimesclaimthatsmartmetersconstituteaneffectivetoolfor"loadmanagement"(i.e.,customerusagetime-shiftingtogeneratepeakloadreduction),aimedtoreducingC02emissionsbyreducingthebuildinganduseof"peaker"plants.Aboutthis,thePublicCitizenreportsays:"Residentialcustomerscandeliverthesameorsimilarlevelofpeakloadreductionifpromisedarebateorcreditcomparedtothecustomerswhowereoncriticalpeakprices.Furthermore,theobjectiveofobtainingasignificantlevelofpeakload
 
demandreductioncanbemetwithoutanexpensivenewmeteringsystem."Tothebestofourknowledge,therehavenotbeenanydeployedmandatoryAMIsystemsforwhichsubstantialpeakloadreductionwasachievedandmaintainedforasignificantperiodoftime.Norhavethereevenbeenlong-termpilotstudiesforthissituationinwhicheveryonereceivedasmartmeterandtime-of-useofdynamicpricingwasused.Again,there'snoevidencetodatesuggestingthatasmartmetersystemwillmakeanysignificantinroadsinthisdirection.Differentialtime-of-useelectricityrateschedulesarealreadyavailableasanoptionforcustomerswithouttheneedforsmartmeters.Withasmartmetersystem,asufficiently-motivatedcustomercouldseekelectricityusagedataonline,butcouldonlyaccessoverallhouseholdusagestatistics...andforperiods24hourspriororearlier.Onewouldhavetokeepvery-carefulpersonalrecordstotrackwhatwasinuseatthattimeandcompareitwithusageatotherearliertimeswhenperhapstheTVordishwasherhadn'tbeeninuse.Typically,themaximumsavingsfromtime-shiftingwouldtotalnomorethanafewdollarsamonth,hardlyenoughtomotivatelarge-scalebehaviorchange.Usingtime-of-userateswillcontinuetobevoluntary,sotheywon'thaveanyeffectonthosemostenergy-profligate.Indeedifsuchrateseverbecamecompulsory,thatwouldgreatlypenalizethepoorandpeoplewhoseschedulesrequiregreaterelectricityuseduringthedaytimehours.(Theabove-mentionedreport-byPublicCitizen,AARP,ConsumersUnionetal-expressesgraveconcernsaboutpotentialharmfulimpactsofmovestowardtime-basedordynamicpricing.)Andcertainly,onahotdaynooneisgoingtoshiftuseofanairconditionertonight-time.It'struethateventuallysmartmetersystemswillinauguratealaterphasethatcanprovidenearreal-timedataaboutelectricityusefromvariousappliancesinthehome,buttheadditionalfinancialcosts,energyconsumption,andwirelessradiationrequiredbysuchsystemswillmakethemanathematomostcustomers.And(asdiscussedbelow)evenwhentheyareused,they'relikelytoactuallyincreasetotalelectricityuseratherthandecreaseit.Moreaboutthelikelihoodthat,overall,smartmetersystemscanactuallyincreaseoverallelectricityuse...Toutilizethesystemthatwillprovidereal-timedataforindividualappliances,theconsumerwillneedtopurchaseexpensivenewappliancescontainingbuilt-inwirelesstransmittersandreceivers.Theywouldalsohavetoinstalla"HomeAreaNetwork",includingawirelessrouterwhichsendsapowerfulsignal
2417.
Allconnectedapplianceswillbesendinginformationtothesmartmeter,tobebouncedfromthereviaallthesurroundingmeterstotheutility'sdatacollectordeviceandeventuallytotheregionaloffice.Alltheselevelswilladdconsiderablymoreelectricityusagethatisnotneededcurrently.Besidestheenergyrequiredfordatatransmission(andrepetition),eventheinternalmeterelectronics(especiallytheswitchingpowersupply)consumesenergy
2417,
effectivelyactingasyetanother"vampire"deviceateachservicelocation.Inaddition,thesepulsesofdatawillcollectivelyrequirestorage(inaformavailableforonlineaccess
2417)
ofabsolutelyhugeamountsofinformation.(AU.S.utilityindustrynewsletterestimatesthatby2015annualsmartmeterdatastoragerequirementswillclimbto35petabytes,where1petabyte=Ibillionmegabytes.)Thestorageandserverequipmentrequiredforthiswilloperate
2417
andwillitselfrequireatremendousincreaseinelectricityusage.Tomaketheenergyaccountingcomplete,weneedtonotforgetthecontributionstooverallcarbonfootprintbyexternalitiessuchasthe
 
manufacture,shipmentandinstallationofallthesemeters,aswellasthecollectionanddisposalofstill-functionalanalogmeters.(Willtheybelandfilledclosetohome,orshippedtoAsiafordisposalthere?)
It
istruethattherewillalsobeareducedcontributiontocarbonfootprintbyvirtueoflessneedforon-sitemeter-reading;however,thisenergycostcouldbemostlyeliminatedbyofferingaprogramwhereinusersofelectromechanicalanalogmetershavetheirmonthlybillsestimated,withon-sitereadingsonlytwiceayearwhentheratestructurechangesseasonally.Factorinallthesevariouselements,anditisexceedinglylikelythatoverallcarbonfootprintwillrise,notfall.Wecanbecertainthattheutilities-whilebusilytoutingtheirpredictionsofreducedpeakelectricityconsumptionduetosmartmeters-willignoretheseadditionalenergycoststhatwouldbepartofamorehonestaccounting.Hopefullyenvironmentalistsandotherswillseethetruthbelowtheveneeroftheutilities'"funnymath".TheSmartGridisagrandconceptthatincludeshelpinggettingelectricpowerfromwhereit'sproducedtowhereit'sneeded,
It
istruethatmoreadvancedinfrastructureanddesigncertainlycanbehelpfulinmakingtheoverallgridmoreefficientandreliable.Buttheseimprovementscaneasilybemadewithoutanyneedformonitoringindividualcustomers'usage
2417.
It
isalsothecasethatifconnectionstocustomer'shomeswereindeedneeded(theyarenotlj-wiredfiberopticscouldbeused,extendingallthewayfromthesubstationstotheindividualcustomerlocations.Theabovecommentsareexcerptedfrominformationfoundatwww.stopsmartmeters.orgwhereevenfurtherinformationcanbefound.
Nodemonstratedratesavingstoconsumers
TheAttorneysGeneralintwodifferentstates(ConnecticutandIllinois)opposedtheirstates'respectiveproposedsmartmeterdeploymentssolelybecausetherewerenodemonstratedsavingsfortheratepayers.ConnecticutAttorneyGeneralGeorgeJepsenstudiedthatstate'ssmartmeterpilotprogramandconcludedthattherewasnoenergysavings."Thepilotresultsshowednobeneficialimpactontotalenergyusage,"Jepsensaid."And,thesavingsthatwereseeninthepilotwerelimitedtocertaintypesofcustomersandwouldbefaroutweighedbythecostofinstallingthenewmetersystems."hestated."Also,theexistingmeters,installedbetween1994and2005,haveausefullifeof20yearsandreplacingthemearlywouldincuradditionalcostsforcustomers."Jepsensaid.http://\\\\'\\'.cLgov/ag/lib/ag/prcssreleases/20J1/020811clpmeters.pdfIllinoisAttorneyGeneralLisaMadiganstated,"ComEdandAmerenhavefailedtoprovethere'sanurgentneedforthisexcessivespending.Infact,evenutilityexecutivesadmitdoubtsaboutthebenefitsoftheseinvestmentsandquestionwhethertheyareworththecost."ChicagoTribune,June21,2011.http://articies.chicagotribuDc.com/20
11
~06··2l/news!ct-oped-0621·madigan-Zu
110621..
1._.smart-grid-ameren-comedInterestingly,theutilityexecutiveshequotedisnoneotherthanJohnRowe,theChiefExecutiveOfficeroftheExelonCorporation,thenowparentcorporationofBGEasofMarch12th.HestatedinregardtotheSmartGrid,thethingtheSmartMetersaredesignedtocreate,"...itcoststoomuch,andwe'renotsurewhatgooditwilldo.Wehavelookedatmostoftheelementsofsmartgridfor20yearsandwehaveneverbeenabletocomeupwithestimatesthatmakeitpay."

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