Mr. Big — Edicts from the Mountain

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smart meterThe news­pa­per in Ida­ho Falls, ID is the Post Reg­is­ter. Yes­ter­day they had an edi­to­r­i­al writ­ten by a mem­ber of [sic] City Coun­cil. Appar­ent­ly, he is a qua­si-staff mem­ber because the Reg­is­ter allows him a bul­ly pul­pit on a reg­u­lar basis. I found that out when I wrote a response to an edi­to­r­i­al he wrote and I request­ed equal space.

I received an answer by email from the Post Reg­is­ter invit­ing me to sub­mit a 250 word response even though I live out of the area (70 miles down the road). I said ‘No thanks, I’ll just pub­lish it on my web­site. So here it is… with my response below:


Ed Marohn — Guest col­umn on Smart Meters:

Guest col­umn: No pass­ing the buck
Sep­tem­ber 28, 2014
Those who refuse to con­vert to smart meters should pay for the added costs of cling­ing to an archa­ic sys­tem, writes Ed Marohn.


By Ed Marohn

Ida­ho Falls Pow­er has already installed AMI meters (smart meters) with more than 60 per­cent of its elec­tric cus­tomers. The goal is 100 per­cent by year’s end. When the project was planned years ago, pre­vi­ous City Coun­cils faced three choic­es for imple­ment­ing AMI meters:

Option 1: Per Ida­ho Falls City Code 8–5‑11, the city owns the meter and has installed the meter of its
choice for more than 100 years. Under this option, fail­ure to accept the AMI meter (smart
meter) results in ter­mi­na­tion of the elec­tric service.

Nation­al­ly most cities have imple­ment­ed this option. No AMI meter instal­la­tion, no electric
ser­vice to the customer.

Option 2: Dis­able the com­mu­ni­ca­tion device in the AMI meter, which elim­i­nates the abil­i­ty to transmit
data wire­less­ly for opt-out customers.

Option 3: Retain the old­er, electro­mechan­i­cal meter at opt-out locations.

In Ida­ho Falls, a few peo­ple have opposed instal­la­tion of smart meters for var­i­ous rea­sons. As a result, Ida­ho Falls Pow­er offi­cials have been work­ing slow­ly to get imple­men­ta­tion to 100 per­cent by allow­ing opt outs tem­porar­i­ly while the util­i­ty address­es their concerns.

Option 1 for com­plete con­ver­sion to the AMI meter is best for the city and its cit­i­zens in terms of cost sav­ings from low­er util­i­ty rates and tax­es. With full sys­tem upgrades to smart meters, pro­ject­ed hard sav­ings to the city are more than $600,000 annu­al­ly. Opt-out cus­tomers erode these sav­ings for the rest of Ida­ho Falls’ res­i­dences and business.
Smart meter ben­e­fits to elec­tric cus­tomers are mul­ti­ple: auto­mat­ed meter read­ing and man­age­ment (reduces city over­head — no per­son is need­ed to man­u­al­ly read the meter); instant out­age vis­i­bil­i­ty for Ida­ho Falls Pow­er to man­age elec­tri­cal flow to cus­tomers; avoids inven­to­ry cost from main­tain­ing out­dat­ed and no longer man­u­fac­tured electro­mechan­i­cal meters of the 1960s; and allows many pow­er issues to be resolved elec­tron­i­cal­ly with­out dis­patch­ing Ida­ho Falls Pow­er employees.

Options two and three will mean added costs because a per­son is need­ed to read meters man­u­al­ly. This means man­ning costs and equip­ment costs for the cit­i­zens of Ida­ho Falls.

Who will bear the addi­tion­al cost to have anoth­er per­son or per­sons dri­ve around town to read the opt outs, which com­prise less than one per­cent of the population?

Who will bear the costs for sep­a­rate data keep­ing and billing, since the AMI data will be disconnected?

Who will pay for the added inven­to­ry of stor­ing out­dat­ed electro­mechan­i­cal meters?

Who will pay for dis­patch­ing employ­ees to rem­e­dy opt-out cus­tomers’ prob­lems when this could have been done
elec­tron­i­cal­ly had they con­vert­ed to smart meters?

The choice in our free enter­pris­es sys­tem is easy. Those caus­ing the addi­tion­al costs pay for them through extra fees. The major­i­ty of Ida­ho Falls cit­i­zens should not be penal­ized finan­cial­ly due to these opt outs.


The Response that won’t be published:


Mr. For­tune 500, Ed Marohn’s let­ter on smart meters demands response. The smart meter is a com­put­er­ized gate­way device that attach­es the home to the smart grid. The smart grid is an Infor­ma­tion Tech­nol­o­gy sys­tem that is an over­lay on top of the elec­tric trans­mis­sion and dis­tri­b­u­tion sys­tem. The IT sys­tems – hard­ware and soft­ware – are addi­tion­al over­head costs that make the costs of meter read­ing look like pet­ty cash. By way of exam­ple, you can buy 3 meter read­ers for the price of 1 com­put­er pro­gram­mer. The alleged sav­ings to be achieved by smart meters are illu­so­ry. Anoth­er way to think of it is – the income from three fam­i­lies is being trans­ferred to one person.

AMI diagram
The con­tract that the city had to pro­vide elec­tric­i­ty was a stan­dard con­tract the same across the coun­try. The meter­ing of elec­tric­i­ty was to mea­sure the total amount used — peri­od. The oblig­a­tion of the cus­tomer was to pay for the total amount used — peri­od. A new con­tract imposed on one of the par­ties by extor­tion – which is what is hap­pen­ing with the smart meters – is unlaw­ful. It is also uncon­sti­tu­tion­al because the smart meter is a com­mu­ni­ca­tions device that records the moment by moment usage of elec­tric­i­ty which implic­it­ly is reveal­ing of activ­i­ty with­in the home. That makes it de fac­to, a sur­veil­lance device – 24/7 unlaw­ful wire­tap on the home – in vio­la­tion of the Fourth and Fifth Amend­ments to the Constitution.

The smart meter was designed as a com­mer­cial device to mea­sure the infeed­ing of elec­tric­i­ty to the elec­tric trans­mis­sion grid as well as the use of elec­tric­i­ty. The elec­tric trans­mis­sion grid is under a sep­a­rate – and inter­na­tion­al –  “self-gov­er­nance” sys­tem of “elec­tric reli­a­bil­i­ty” (See North Amer­i­can Ener­gy Reli­a­bil­i­ty Coun­cil [NERC]). Most homes will nev­er infeed elec­tric­i­ty to the grid but the pres­ence of the meter on the home cre­ates reg­u­la­to­ry ambi­gu­i­ty. Does the pres­ence of the Smart Meter on your home draw you into com­merce – and there­fore sub­ject to reg­u­la­to­ry con­trol? That’s an issue that will have to be decid­ed by a court but it seems pret­ty clear that this is the intent based on all of the lit­er­a­ture on Smart Grid.

All you have to do to ver­i­fy that is to search on the terms “demand man­age­ment” – and “shave the peak”. Demand Man­age­ment means that they intend to man­age your use of elec­tric­i­ty with­in your home. Shav­ing the Peak means that they will cur­tail your use of elec­tric­i­ty if they feel like it. Any­body who doubts that should go to the Library of Con­gress web­site (THOMAS), find the Ener­gy Inde­pen­dence and Secu­ri­ty Act of 2007 and read it. And after you do that, if you are not appalled, then you’re not a red-blood­ed Amer­i­can wor­thy of the name.

This idea that every­thing has to be embed­ded with tech­nol­o­gy is pro­pa­gan­da brought to you by the peo­ple who prof­it from it. Tech­nol­o­gy has it’s place but that doesn’t mean every­place. Tech­nol­o­gy doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly make things bet­ter. It does make things cost more, and it opens us up a wide vari­ety of vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties that didn’t exist before and it pro­vides the capa­bil­i­ty for con­trol over human activ­i­ty that has nev­er been avail­able before in the entire his­to­ry of mankind. Tech­nol­o­gy is a tool and a weapon at the same time and the use of it should be judi­cious when it comes to “soci­etal lev­el systems”.

Final­ly, instead of talk­ing about “user fees” that amount to a penal­ty for not acquiesing to extor­tion and uncon­sti­tu­tion­al wire­tap­ping, we should talk about the price that needs to be paid to the Amer­i­can peo­ple for the whole­sale cor­po­rate takeover of our gov­ern­ment. There will be a price to be paid – but it won’t be in mon­ey. There is name for this type of “pub­lic-pri­vate” gov­er­nance. It’s called Cor­po­ratism – more com­mon­ly called Fas­cism. It would be to our eter­nal dis­grace to leave our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren liv­ing as slaves under a soul-killing, dis­eased sys­tem like this. The place to start tak­ing back our coun­try is to stop the instal­la­tion of the smart grid, smart meters and the cen­tral­ized com­mand and con­trol struc­tures that are being put in place with it.