Efficient Alternative to Smart Meters

See article below re: Attorney General of Connecticut’s rejection of Smart Meters for his state.

The ERT meters you refer to are the first generation of RF meters that Chellis Glendinning and I mentioned in a footnote in our Energy Bulletin piece last year at


Connecticut installed these meters statewide beginning about 7 years ago. They have a 20-year life expectancy and it is for that reason that CT Attorney General George Jepsen asked our Dept. of Public Utility Control not to install smart meters.

This first G network replaced all of the older analog meters here. Some states — like California — appear to be trying to go right from analog to smart meters when this other RF meter is perfectly viable.

The problem, from an economic perspective, is that meter readers are still necessary to cruise a neighborhood once a month and utilities enthralled with the smart grid want to get rid of them to improve the corporate bottom line.

At the time the meters were being changed out in CT, I insisted that our utility company hook us up via the landline phone system instead — a metering method that utility companies were already doing in areas with high ambient RF backgrounds where signals are not easily obtained because there’s just too much interference.

Be aware that there are two types of first G’s though… One transmits only when called upon by special equipment in a van; another transmits constantly. I’d be curious to know the health status of the van meter readers with so much RF going from and to them. That’s a captive occupational exposure just waiting to be delineated…

For a long-range cost-effective environmentally safe solution, we should push for metering over (via) landlines. Most structures already have copper landlines going into them even if phone service has been disconnected, so a vast national infrastructure already exists. Plus, AT&T is petitioning the FCC to allow them to abandon their entire landline network anyway.

The copper is worth more on the ground as a commodity and they are committed to wireless. If we could get Congress to redirect the funds allocated to the Dept. of Energy for the smart grid buildout toward the government buying the landline network and “owning” it the way we own the airwaves, then the utilities could regionally lease areas of the network for metering just like the telecoms now lease areas of the spectrum.

The taxpayers would benefit and the companies would profit from eliminating meter readers while still maintaining real time energy use collection. The whole thing would likely cost less than the direction we are now headed with the smart grid, which is dangerous to boot — and that’s not even factoring in the cost shifting onto the medical sector.

We would save all the energy of manufacturing new meters — both first G and smart; recycling all the old ones; all the hidden vampire energy of constantly “on” smart metering and the incredible data storage required for that system. Such a national landline system could be matched directly with analog or first G meters already in place.

Such a system would be far less vulnerable to cyber attack. Simple plug-in devices are already available for those who want to know when their highest energy use is. The only smart grid favorites that would have to be abandoned would be two-way communications between the utility and the consumer (which most people find creepy anyway); the ability to remotely shut-off service; the security intrusion aspect dear to Homeland Security; and the appliance manufacturers would have to give up their new models with antennas embedded in them.

But also with such a system, people could still maintain their landline connections without threats of it falling into the hands of an unregulated monopoly as is now the case, or the complete dismantling of one of the world’s great infra-structures. We have an embarrassingly intelligent, simple solution possible that is not even that hard of a technology interface. It is just a question of getting the right progressive environmentalists and politicos on board — fast.

Blake Levitt, Science Journalist

Feb 14, 2011 12:06 PM


Connecticut Light & Power Co.’s plan to replace existing electric meters with advanced technology would be expensive and would not save enough electricity for its 1.2 million customers to justify the expense, Attorney General George Jepsen said last week.

Jepsen made the comments in a brief filed Feb. 8 with the state Department of Public Utility Control, which is reviewing CL&P’s request to replace all existing meters with advanced meter infrastructure. The company also asked regulators to guarantee that the company will be allowed to recover its full cost of installation before the department actually evaluates what the costs actually were and whether those costs were reasonable.

“CL&P’s proposal would force the company’s ratepayers to spend at least $500 million on new meters that are likely to provide few benefits in return,” Jepsen said. He urged the regulators to “continue to evaluate emerging meter system technologies as well as other conservation programs” and only approve installation of the advanced meters when they are cost-effective.

To evaluate the technical capabilities and reliability of the advanced metering system, state regulators previously approved a limited study of 10,000 meters. Between June 1 and Aug. 31, 2009, CL&P tested the meters on 1,251 residential and 1,186 small commercial and industrial customers, who volunteered and were paid for their participation in the study. The company reported its results to the DPUC on Feb. 25, 2010.

“The pilot results showed no beneficial impact on total energy usage,” Jepsen said. “And, the savings that were seen in the pilot were limited to certain types of customers and would be far outweighed by the cost of installing the new meter systems,” he said.

Also, the existing meters, installed between 1994 and 2005, have a useful life of 20 years and replacing them early would incur additional costs for customers, Jepsen said.

Assistant Attorneys General Michael C. Wertheimer and John S. Wright are representing Jepsen before the DPUC.

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