back to article Americans resort to padlocking their dumb meters

Campaigners across America are resorting to padlocks and metal cages to protect their 'leccy meters, convinced that the smart versions will damage their health. The Georgia Senate is busy passing a bill allowing customers to opt out of having a smart meter fitted, and without cost, but some of the locals are concerned that …

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  1. Jon Massey
    WTF?

    Dumb meters for dumb people

    Electrosensitivity loons are one of my favourite types of loon

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Dumb meters for dumb people

      The most hilarious part of this issue is that most of the dumb meters in question already have radio transmitters. So do most gas meters and water meters. The "meter readers" just drive down the street and a RF scanner in the car reads the meters.

      1. JC 2
        Thumb Down

        Re: Dumb meters for dumb people

        Actually no most of the dumb meters don't have radio transmitters and I've no idea what makes you pretend to know otherwise.

        That doesn't mean I'd against smart meters, but I am against wasteful spending and throwing tech where there isn't any advantage for the customer while incurring cost to do so.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Dumb meters for dumb people

          What's it got to do with the customer? Business exists for the good of the shareholder.

          Smart meters allow them to increase prices as the market price for power goes up - in theory it could also allow them to reduce prices when the market price goes down ( snigger )

        2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re JC2: Dumb meters for dumb people

          "...I've no idea what makes you pretend to know otherwise."

          The fact that I've owned 3 houses over the last 20 years and all of their water, gas & electricity meters had RF transmitters for remote reading. That's 9:0. One house was in Massachusetts, one in Florida, and one in California. In most States, meters have to be replaced by the utilities every few years. Where I live now, gas meters are replaced every 5 years, water & electricity every 10 years.

          The utilities have been switching to remote meter reading over the last decade or two is because one meter reader can read a huge number of meters compared to one who has to walk around people's yards.

          1. AndrueC Silver badge

            Re: Re JC2: Dumb meters for dumb people

            > In most States, meters have to be replaced by the utilities every few years

            I think it's too late to worry about them ripping you off then. Two of my three meters are as old as the house - 17 years. The water meter was replaced a couple of years ago. What is the logic in replacing the meters so frequently? Lousy build quality?

            1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: AndrueC: Dumb meters for dumb people

              "What is the logic in replacing the meters so frequently? Lousy build quality?"

              Maybe you should move to a less corrupt locale, where the politicians actually believe they serve the people who elected them...

              I live in a State with very strong utility regulation and consumer protections. My understanding from talking to the gas company is that the requirement (for the gas meter) was a combination of safety and proof of meter calibration. The old meter gets refurbished and recalibrated, then is placed back into the pool of meters to go back into service. My water meter was replaced last year, and they claimed it was to insure calibration, and again the old meter gets refurbished and eventually placed back into service. I presume the electricity meter replacement has a similar rational.

              I've no doubt that part of the periodic meter replacement is for the utilities protection. If nothing else, by replacing the meters every decade or half-decade, they can inspect the installation for tampering.

            2. Tom 13

              Re: Re JC2: Dumb meters for dumb people

              Did you read the list of states where he's owned houses? The state of taxachusetts, the state retirees from taxachusetts move to because they can't afford taxachuesetts anymore, and the land of fruits and nuts, who incidentally are going bankrupt even faster than Greece, but since they aren't a country all their own, aren't making international headlines.

              Short version: stop feeding the troll.

        3. Daniel 4
          FAIL

          Re: Dumb meters for dumb people

          "Re: Dumb meters for dumb people

          Actually no most of the dumb meters don't have radio transmitters and I've no idea what makes you pretend to know otherwise."

          Bzzt! - No cookie for you!!!

          It depends on the area, but simple usage status radios of meters have been in use as early as 1978! (the Metretek, Inc. AMR). Of the last three places I lived, two were definitely AMR equipped. So yes, it is in use, has been for decades, and you, as well as millions of other the uninformed, simply don't know what you are talking about. Frustrating, as people complaining about such things distract us from real problems.

          -d

    2. Eddy Ito Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Dumb meters for dumb people

      Not just for dumb people it's also for the ones who don't want to deal with the hassle of spending months complaining to SoCal Edison trying to convince them that you didn't actually use more than 3 times as much electricity during the month they "upgraded" the meter than any other month before or since the "upgrade". In fact I could probably show I wouldn't use that much electricity even if I left the door open and the AC on during the whole of August.

    3. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Dumb meters for dumb people

      Hey! Leave the 'electro-sensitivity loons' alone. You, me, we're all electro-sensitive. I'm especially so. I find that any kind of contact whatsoever with a mere 230V AC, even the sort that comes out of the socket on the wall, really knocks me off my feet for the rest of the day. How do you think that'd feel, every day of your life? I can tell you, it soon begins to pall.

      Now then, I must see to getting that bedside lamp earthed properly. Been meaning to do it for years.

  2. Cosmo
    Meh

    Smart Meters

    I agree with your point in the article about Smart Meters. I got one free when I switched to nPower. Looked at it for a week, and then put it in the cupboard where it's gathering dust to this day.

    1. cs94njw

      Re: Smart Meters

      Yeah - ditto.

      Realised what things were causing the high usage. Changed our behaviour. Meter uses electricity, so turning that off was next obvious decision.

    2. deshepherd

      Re: Smart Meters

      Sounds like an electricity monitor and not a smart meter - smart meter replaces your exisitng electricity meter and is intended to send meter reading automatically via a wireless/mobile connection to remove the need for meter readers to come and read your meter. N.b. in the US (well at least 10-15 years ago when I was there) meter reading must be a significant expenses as PGE read our meter *every* month (as did the water company) - compared to the UK where it seems to be about once every 18-24 months to check that your reading/their estimates are sufficiently accurate

      1. SYNTAX__ERROR
        FAIL

        Re: Smart Meters

        An electricity meter can only be fitted by an authorised agent of the electricity distribution authority. In the UK it is illegal to tamper with one. And you can't turn them off.

        1. Daniel 4
          WTF?

          Re: Smart Meters

          " And you can't turn them off."

          ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

          Yes!!! Are people even paying attention to the topic here?

          -d

        2. Tom 13

          Re: Smart Meters

          Sure you can turn them off. You don't think the installer is damn fool enough to put it in while the feed is live do you?

  3. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Boffin

    $300 savings for the company perhaps,

    but what about costs incurred having to visit people to measure usage?

    Very high levels of shortwave radio signals (we are talking powerful radar here) have been documented to have adverse health effects. I think some people do a linear interpolation between zero effect at zero W to a handful of points of massive problems in the MW range, with little or no data in the intermediate range. I very much doubt that damage at the levels experienced is real. All the symptoms described (including those of the diabetics) could be explained by stress (caused by the fear of the effects of radio signals, perhaps?). BTW, I am not saying the complaints are not real, I am saying that the cause might be different.

    1. Jimbo 6

      All the symptoms described...

      ....(insomnia, ringing in the ears, heart palpitations - and irrational technophobia) could also be explained by them watching too many Republican Party nominees' speeches.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: All the symptoms described...

        "watching too many Republican Party nominees' speeches"

        that is a major cause of stress ;-)

      2. Gerard Krupa

        Re: All the symptoms described...

        could be attributed to eating at American chain restaurants (mentioning no McNames)

      3. GotThumbs
        Windows

        Re: All the symptoms described... Re: Trolling

        Stick to the topic of the story and STOP Trolling.

        Twit.

        1. Tom 13
          Devil

          Re: Stick to the topic of the story

          The topic of the story IS trolling. They just used synonyms to say it.

      4. L0ki
        Joke

        Re: All the symptoms described...

        Republican Party nominees' speeches generally cure insomnia...

    2. petur
      Boffin

      Re: $300 savings for the company perhaps,

      It always reminds me of the woman who started to feel all these bad things after they installed a GSM antenna next to her home. Some journalists dug a bit in, went to the mobile company, where they found out the antenna wasn't in use yet... It's all in the head ;)

  4. Hoagiebot

    Radio transceivers unhealthy?

    I have to wonder how many of the people who claim that they are getting sick from having these SmartMeter radio transceivers around also have mobile phones, 802.11b/g/n wireless routers, and cordless landline phones and yet have never experienced any so-called health problems with them.

    1. IglooDude

      Re: Radio transceivers unhealthy?

      Indeed, given that the SmartMeters use GSM (or CDMA, here in the US) cellular wireless connections exactly the same as the device people hold up to their head for hours at a time, except that the connection is a few seconds per hour and not three inches from their skull, it baffles me how the SmartMeters could be causing health issues that are not already endemic from mobile phones.

      However, the people that take issue with the SmartMeters giving the utility company free rein to turn off electrical mains connections during a billing dispute, or accidentally, or while blinded by red tape have an argument that I can sympathize with.

  5. Jeebus

    RADIO CANCER KILLS

    Your children, pets and spouse will all be dead by thursday of serious pain disease, probably RADIO CANCER.

    It's all an illuminati conspiracy.

    1. Crisp Silver badge
      Trollface

      All I hear is

      Radio goo goo....

      Radio ga ga.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      All thise RF noisy plasma TVs oh noes they want to give us all cancer :P

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      That's just what the brain rays want you to think !

  6. tempemeaty
    Stop

    Not writting it off....

    If I can't see it with my eyes then it isn't there, isn't hurting me. Scientists and technical people throughout history have acted like that. Surgeons would never wash there hands. 100 years later oops that stuff we couldn't see well...we make sure ER's are clean of it now.

    So I DON'T write off the whole issue out of hand without some good amount of UNBIASED time and scientific testing to prove or disprove. For all we know there might be a electronic noise threshold for complex organisms like humans before it begins to cause biological disruptions in them.

    1. dotdavid
      Thumb Down

      Re: Not writting it off....

      But how do you prove something is *not* causing something bad to happen? You can't.

      As soon as someone comes up with some solid evidence that radio waves cause any of these problems, that's fine. But until then it would be just as valid to claim my cat is the leading cause of global warming as to claim that smart meter emissions are harmful.

      1. Matthew 3

        Re: Not writting it off....

        We've been meaning to talk to you about that cat.

      2. Jinxter
        Pirate

        Re: Not writting it off....

        " But until then it would be just as valid to claim my cat is the leading cause of global warming "

        Lets not be silly here. Its been irrefutably shown by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster that the rise in Global Warming is a direct result to the decline in the number of pirates over the years.

        1. TeeCee Gold badge
          Coat

          Re: Not writting it off....

          And those silly AGW fanatics are still coming up with ever more tortuous arguments to explain the recent not-warming-much-at-all spell.

          Nothing to do with the upsurge in piracy off the horn of Africa of course.....

        2. HelenaHandcart

          Re: Not writting it off....

          Has the number of pirates declined? There seem to be quite a lot about these days.

      3. Giles Jones Gold badge

        Re: Not writting it off....

        Placebo is the only way. It is why that test is done, in many cases people get symptoms when you suggest the idea.

        Just like telling people they are looking at an original oil painting makes them say they like it even though its not. The human mind is pretty suggestible, probably why blind taste tests are required too.

        1. Swarthy Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Not writting it off....

          I posted on a similar article a while back with a simple, effective study that while not 100% infallible should be easy to run and fairly cheap (in terms of equipment; the educations needed to observe the results properly, not so much).

          Still waiting for someone to do something similar.

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Not writting it off....

      Look up "softenon" and "thalidomide" ..

      Not that I say that the issue is as grave - we simply don't know yet. For all we know, it may even help. The problem is indeed the lack of funds for doing a study which is without bias. A mobile company sponsoring the research doesn't inspire trust in the results, however good the intentions may be - the tobacco companies have taken care of that..

      1. Chad H.

        Re: Not writting it off....

        Again Fred, how do you prove something is not happening.

        We're still waiting for any evidence - any whatsoever - that links cancer to radio waves. How many studies is it going to take until we all accept the universe just doesnt work that way?

        Funny how when we agree with something its "Fair and objective" but when we don't its "biased".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not writting it off....

          Many years ago, they did a study in Philadelphia (I think) and may have demonstrated a correlation between 60cycle RF and cancer. They tracked the cancer rates in a of a row of houses with aboveground power and found that the incidence of cancer peaked at every pole on which there was a transformer.

          On the other hand, the coolant in those transformers was later designated toxic waste and had to have special handling....

    3. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Re: Not writting it off....

      Satellite TV and GPS are beamed to earth along with other communications. The frequency is very high to get through the ionosphere of the planet. You don't hear many people complaining about that?

      WIFI, mobile data and smartmeters must use much lower transmit power than GPS or Satellite TV.

      1. Donn Bly

        Re: Not writting it off....

        WiFi, Mobile Data, and Smartmeters have a much lower transmit power than Satellites (which have half a kilowatt ERP), but you don't sleep next to the Satellites (or, at least, I don't - I can't vouch for Giles) and by the time they reach your roof you are looking at an RSSI of around -155 dBW - barely above noise floor.

        I haven't heard or read anything about what frequencies and transmit power the smart meters are using - but I also haven't been looking. I have read that many of the manufacturers of Smart Meters have already exited the market because they foresee it as being unprofitable.

        In WiFi, the maximum output power is less than the amount of allowable leakage around the seal of of a Microwave Oven (which is why your WiFi drops out every time you fire it up).

        Personally, I am of a mindset that the power company should not be able to tell me what I can and cannot do with the power that I purchase from them. It is their responsibility to project estimated peak loads and be able to handle them. If they can't, certainly don't want them to be able to remotely shut down the air conditioning and have my servers fry because they overheat. I would rather that the grid goes dark and have everything go to backup generator.

        1. Richard 81

          Re: Not writting it off....

          But it says it's dangerous on the walls of men's toilets, so it must be true.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not writting it off....

          well here's a really daft idea, why not *monitor* your AC like every decent Op does and switch in the backup generator when the power goes off before the servers cook themselves?

        3. alan buxey
          Mushroom

          Re: Not writting it off....

          I dont sleep next to my electric meter - its 2 floors down in the cellar...but I do sleep next to my mobile phone - on my bedside table. The smart meter is using GSM - my mobile phone has WiFi and 3G on. I'd still worry far more, like others have mentioned about the phone...given that its next to my brain for quite a large amount of time...and if not in use...right next to my chest in my coat pocket, yes, we'll find its a killer technology, literally, in maybe a few decades and a cause of new, currently unknown cancers...but we'll also find that other tech that we've lived around for a long time and these smartmeters ARENT a cause of ill health...and if used right should help save the human population from its own doom (peak oil gone, lack of any natural resources and all that good stuff) - people blocking the install should be charged more and pay for not having smart meters

  7. Chris Walton
    Big Brother

    Subtle mind control

    I can't help but think that the objections based on seemingly loony concerns about radio waves and health issues are being presented very vocally to make ANY objection to smart meters seem rediculous, rational people won't want to be associated with the loonies and so will accept smart meters without question.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Subtle mind control

      Rational people are...er... rational. They think, they don't simply accept the lunacy, or buy into snake-oil cures or causes of illness that are so easily accepted by the loons.

  8. Grease Monkey

    I love the idea that that the emissions from a smart meter could somehow harm you, but the emissions from all that electrical gear in your house won't. Like those idiots who campaign against mobile phone masts while spending half their time with a mobile phone stuck to the side of their heads and the other half complaining about the lack of signal.

  9. Yesnomaybe

    "A lot of people are getting sick, they're getting symptoms of insomnia, ringing in the ears, heart palpitations, some diabetics are having trouble controlling their blood-sugar levels" says Leah Spitzer

    Yes, granted, a lot of people are getting ill. No link to meters though. Smart or otherwise.

    But: People are allowed to believe whatever silly thing they want, and as long as they aren't a danger to others, should be allowed to decide how they want to live their lives.

    And I must admit smart-meters make me a bit uneasy, in a "Thin-end-of-the-wedge" kind of way.

    1. Gav
      Boffin

      Watching you

      Have to agree. There is plenty opportunity here for the power companies to abuse the connection into your home and monitor things other than energy usage. All to "help improve our service to you", of course. But the idea of there being a spy on your electricity line watching what you're doing each day isn't that far fetched.

      The RADIOWAVES CANCER campaigners are, naturally, loons with very little idea of how tiny the power of these devices. They very probably already been living for years with electrical appliances that inadvertently broadcast just as much as radio noise.

    2. King Jack Silver badge
      Joke

      I have all those symptoms...

      I'd better get a meter fitted pronto to cash in.

  10. Scott F. Gunelius
    Big Brother

    Tinfoil Cures All

    It's nothing a little tinfoil hat can't solve.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: Tinfoil Cures All

      That and duck tape!

      1. Haku
        Coat

        Duct tape is like the force

        It's light on one side, dark on the other, and it binds the universe together.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tinfoil Cures All

      Yes Potatoes everywhere, wearing them are also well protected from the Alien mind control...

      they still wind up well done!

  11. pditty

    Learns How Much Enegery You Are Using

    So I can learn how much power I'm using with a new meter?

    I'm fairly certain that information has always been on my bill.

    1. Chad H.

      Re: Learns How Much Enegery You Are Using

      Does your bill break it down into daily usage, or tell you what devices were using it?

      1. A Known Coward
        Stop

        Re: Learns How Much Enegery You Are Using

        Smart meters don't break down the usage by device, they can't, like 'dumb' meters they only know how much power is flowing into the property before the consumer box and before it's split into various circuits for lighting, sockets and high power devices like ovens. You're confusing a smart meter with electricity metering devices like the kill-a-watt which sits between a device and the socket.

        A smart meter is just a standard electricity meter that allows for real time readings to be taken automatically by the power company and when they want, to remotely turn off your power because the grid is overloaded or you haven't paid your bill. Those are in fact the only two reasons why power companies are pushing out smart meters, the nonsense about allowing people to better manage their usage is just the justification they are giving for the inconvenience and cost to the customer that these 'upgrades' are causing. They have government backing, especially here in the UK because of the projected shortfall in electricity production in the next few years which will necessitate rolling blackouts. They can't turn off every house in a neighbourhood without risking killing some poor bastard on a ventilator, smart meters allow them to exclude such homes and those of your local MP ...

        As for the latter, yes, my dumb meter (30 years old) has always told me the daily usage, even the hourly usage by virtue of the figures displayed on the front. Note the figure at the start of the period you want to measure and subtract it from the figure at the end of the period - easy peasy.

        1. Mike VandeVelde
          Holmes

          Re: Learns How Much Enegery You Are Using

          My power company says its all rainbows and unicorns:

          http://www.bchydro.com/news/conservation/unplug_this_blog/2011/home_area_networks.html

      2. Andrew Norton

        Re: Learns How Much Enegery You Are Using

        Does it break it down by device? No.

        Does it give you daily usage? no

        Hell, It doesn't even tell them when the power is out (or for that matter, when it's back on)

        We've had 9 power outages in the last 13 months, the longest was 3 days (when a tornado took out the sub station for our 'extension cord' last March). I only count outages of 10mins or longer mind.

        I'm with Georgia Power, and got a 'smart meter' about 2 years ago.

        It's actually harder for me to see usage. Before I could see how fast the disc spun, now it's a guess as to how long the lcd segment takes to move on to the next.

        I wish they'd spent the money on upgrading the infrastructure. We're literally on an 'extension cord' from a town to the northwest, which means we get our power from upstate.

        Funnily enough ,we have a hydro power station in the county. We're not linked to it. There's a massive coal plant (the biggest CO2 polluting plant in the US) about 20 miles south of us, we're not linked to it. There's another coal plant 15 miles east of that, we're not linked to that either. I just want power thay doesn't go out if it rains hard. Is that too much to ask?

  12. Hollerith 1

    That pesky readio frequency and my diabetes

    Oh yes, it is the TV and my phone that are making my sugar-levels soar sky-high, not the fries and doughnuts.

    Speaking as a diabetic, and having interacted with lardies who find everyone to blame for their high blood-sugar but them and their mouths, I can say that I have noticed every new technology allows people to shift the blame from tiresome facts to the Uncontrollable Other.

  13. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    WTF?

    No tinfoil hats

    2 very logical objections to smart meters.

    1. Whats the long term benefit to me, once I've found the high consuming devices (its not like I dont know what they are. And no - the reduction of my emissions to AGW to not count. How much carbon does the production of a smart meter cost? How many years until the pay off point?

    2. How long until they get p0wned?

    No need for tinfoil hats at all - the sensible objections are enough.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: No tinfoil hats

      Good points.

      Really smart meters could be of benefit when you have really smart equipment in the house to negotiate good (=cheap) moments to switch on (like the washing machine automatically picking suitable times to do the washing to minimize cost). Whether there are any benefits now is debatable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No tinfoil hats

        They can already do that- give it a 'power saving' mode that stops it turning on during whatever the power companies agree is Peak Time (I guess when Eastenders or Corrie are on). There's got to be a simple table somewhere...

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Red Bren

          smart new equipment

          Rather than replacing big, expensive white goods, put a timer switch between the appliance and the wall socket, so it switches on during the off-peak periods.

          1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

            Re: smart new equipment

            What Red Bren said.

            I live in a small apartment in an Italian village; the gas option is actually more expensive as it's priced on the assumption that most demand will be for families and businesses. Small apartments in cheaply-converted 400-year-old structures aren't really worth the faff of digging up the cobbled streets for.

            So I have a 40 litre electric heater—essentially a kettle nailed to my bathroom wall. This is plugged into a €7 timer bought from a local supermarket, which, in turn, plugs into a standard 16A socket. It's set to switch on in the morning and evenings for 30 min. each, with a 15 min. 'top-up' around 1300 hrs. as otherwise I tend to run out of hot water for the washing-up.

            This is in a country that imports almost all its energy supplies—fossil fuels included—as it lacks natural reserves for production of same. Italy gets about 70% or so of its electricity from the French and the Swiss. (Ironically, almost every village around here proudly announces its "nuclear-free" status on their boundary signs.)

            And, yes, that "cellphone masts = CANCER!" bullshit appears to be here too, albeit only in the smaller, more isolated, areas. There are quite a few dead spots as a result. None of the morons responsible for that appear to understand how cellphone technology works: the further apart your masts are, the more power your phone needs to use to reach them, thus negating their entire argument: by refusing permission to build more masts, they're exposing themselves to more RF energy, not less.

            Ignorance seems to be easy to find in the countryside, where techniques for working the land haven't really changed all that much in generations. The horses have been replaced by large, noisy machines, but these machines are performing functions any farmer can recognise; the only thing that's changed is power source, which used to be organic, but now has the name Ferrari* stamped on its sides. It's that newfangled "electricity" stuff they're still struggling with.

            * (A pretty common name in Italy, so yes, there is such a thing as a cheap Ferrari, as long as you don't mind it having a large, noisy, diesel engine, no doors or roof, and a top speed of roughly 30 mph. In green.)

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge

          @Larry F54 Re: No tinfoil hats

          If you have some non-smart washing machine without a start timer, then in most cases a simple timer unit between the socket and the washing machine will solve that.

    2. Chad H.

      Re: No tinfoil hats

      Well, a possible potential benefit is when energy is cheap (in the middle of the night) you can have your new super-quiet dish and clothes washing machines run saving you a few pence.

      But we're a long way from that it seems.

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: No tinfoil hats

        @Chad H

        You can already do that. The old, dumb, electromechanical meter has two readings, one for daytime and another for off-peak. Presumably the demand curve doesn't vary that much from day to day, so a day/night scheme works OK.

        The trouble is that you pay more for peak-time power under this scheme. The original idea was to run night-storage heaters, so the heavy usage during the off-peak period would offset the extra daytime cost. Night storage heating is about as popular as the central fire below a hole in the roof these days, but I bet there are still a lot of dual-rate meters around.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          @Kubla Cant Re: No tinfoil hats

          I recently had my old mechanical spinning-(single)-disc meter replaced by a new, dualmode-LCD-meter so that I could take advantage of lower 'leccy rates at night to run the washing machine, the dishwasher, the breadmaker and other devices as applicable. No electric water heater here, except for a 10l close-in boiler under the kitchen sink (powered all day, so no benefit there)

      2. King Jack Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: No tinfoil hats

        Cheap leccy at night but they charge you more than everyone else in the daytime. Unless you are an owl or a insomniac you don't save any money.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          @King Jack Re: No tinfoil hats

          Depends on your usage pattern. I have very modest power usage during daytime, then just your average lighting during the evening, and the power-hungry stuff happens at night (washing, dishwashing), and I definitely have a lower bill. So much so that the cost of meter replacement (which I got billed for as I had asked for it) will pay itself back in about three years.

  14. mark 63 Silver badge

    That region of america is really diving fast towads the Ideocracy depicted in mike Judge's film.

    Due nearly entirely to religion.

    1. Hawknic
      Headmaster

      Re religion causes stupidity

      I think the causal link is more: rational thought = absence of religion rather than religion = absence of rational thought. Same correlation applies but you can't blame the pope for rednecks.

  15. turnip handler

    Energy company PR

    <rant> The thing that gets me about smart meters is that the energy companies try to sell it as a benefit to me. If I want to know what my energy use is I have a meter which I can look at when ever I like. Not that I can easily work out the cost or compare the cost as they like to have so many tariffs so as to make it very difficult.

    The smart meter is for them to build a picture of my energy use to either charge me more (to at least cover the cost of the smart metering system and provide some shareholder value) or to better control their costs (reduce costs and deliver shareholder value).

    </rant>

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smart meters serve two main functions

    i) allow for the possibility of dynamic tariff rates

    ii) allow for remote disconnection of supply. The meter disconnects supply anyway if the meter loses wireless connectivity.

    Everything else is deception.

    So what's in it for me? And what's in it for the utility suppliers?

    1. Anna Logg
      Flame

      Re: Smart meters serve two main functions

      "The meter disconnects supply anyway if the meter loses wireless connectivity"

      Please tell me that's not true!!!!! That's an insane idea.

      Lorry parks by smart meter, cuts off signal, all power goes off ......

    2. Usually Right or Wrong

      Re: Smart meters serve two main functions

      You forgot one, in the UK anyway.

      Smart meters will be pre-paid, which removes the embarrassment of the pre-pay rates currently charged, usually to people who can least afford them, so everyone goes prepay and hides the issue. Run out of pre-pay and your option ii) to shut you off is always available.

      The whole issue of pre-pay and shut off is very much a UK thing and political, whilst making UK meters more expensive, so we will all pay for that. Roll-out is from 2014 - 2019 and it is unlikely that options to decline will be allowed.

    3. E Haines

      Re: Smart meters serve two main functions

      What's in it for you (or at least for me): not having to shovel a path to the meter during the winter anymore. Also, a bit less pollution by not having a bunch of guys driving trucks around to all the meters constantly. My old meter was replaced last year...aside from the total lack of warning when they did it, no complaints so far. We'll see how it goes.

  17. SJRulez

    If the people are so sensitive that they are affected by having a Smart meter installed in their home they wouldn't be able to function like a human at all, the amount of background radio noise its horrendous and they would surely be affected by that all day not to mention:

    Short range radio for ID tags

    Short range radio on traffic control systems

    Lifts

    Vending machines

    Photocopiers

    Wireless

    The list goes on, if it really affected them that much they would probably have already moved to a deep cave in the darkest part of the world.

  18. Tom Kelsall
    Stop

    Misinterpretation

    Smart Meters referred to here are NOT the ones which tell you which appliances are the ones costing you money. Smart Meters are the ones that dynamically feed your usage data hour by hour to the Energy company so that you are accurately billed and your forecasted usage is more accurate too.

    All these concerns about health could be removed by ensuring that the antenna used was sited on the roof with a coverage of 360 degrees in azimuth but only 190-200 degrees in elevation. That way, no antenna that was close enough to do harm would send energy in your direction. (The signal strength received falls off proportional to the square of the distance from the antenna).

    1. Richard Cartledge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Misinterpretation

      They also have the ability for OTA firmware updates and in the future will be used to ration types of smart devices which can be used at different times. e.g. No internet for United States Security reasons. Yes sir!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Misinterpretation

      You must live somewhere flat. From my desk, I can see 14 of my neighbor's roofs. Tell me I won't see any of that RF again.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Misinterpretation

      I am glad at least ONE person is thinking about a rational solution, rather than just having an emotional rant, so thank you Tom Kelsall.

      In the USA, many object to the intrusion on privacy, others are already reporting billing inaccuracies. Some are fine with the concept of a "smarter meter," but have a very real concern about the wireless transmission methods, where your meter is not just like a cell phone, it acts as a cell tower - relaying all kinds of data unrelated to your home, and in "bursts" every 40 seconds, which Electrically Hyper-Sensitive people report are more troublesome than continuous radiation.

      There are many other ways to transmit the data other than using cell phone signals, for example transmitting right back on the power line. They will probably resist the rooftop antenna suggested on cost basis.

      One has to ask, why do they want to create this wireless network when they already have a wired network (the power lines themselves can carry data signals)?

  19. Wize

    RF interference

    What about the effect on other wireless devices using the same frequencies? I know of one remote monitoring system that went toes up after someone installed a wireless CCTV system.

    And how smart are the meters? Is it just monitoring or control? Could we have a drive by disconnection of a whole area?

    1. Wim Ton

      Re: RF interference

      Disconnection is a major concern for the security design.

      The idea is to use a digitally signed command for that single meter. Broadcasts are not allowed by design.

    2. propanebeefdog

      Re: RF interference

      Our smart meter *IS* causing me insomnia, but not the kind the tinfoil will solve.

      It turns our our smart meter stomps all over the frequencies used by our baby monitors, causing a *SPZZRT* every second or so while it is transmitting. You can actually hear the other meters communicating down the mesh over the monitor (SPZZRT....Spzzrt....spzrrt...). This happens every hour or so, often waking up my wife and I.

      BUT - at times there is other activity , either some kind of test or software update that results in a few hours of constant chatter.

      Interesting for me from the techno-geek stand point, but pretty much wipes out our baby monitor's usefulness. Good thing our kids are old enough we don't really need them much except when the kids are sick.

  20. Richard Cartledge

    Good for them

    One thing you can be sure of, is that these aren't for the benefit of the householders.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So disappointed

    with the exception of the 'cat' (further up) no one has yet linked this to global warming - your just not trying!

    1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      Re: So disappointed

      How about...

      Smart meters use more power than normal ones, therefore they force us to emit more CO2 into the atmosphere causing GLOBAL WARMING!!! PANIC!!!

      Lord, think of the children....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Re: So disappointed

        Did you neglect to account for the lack of manual data collection?

  22. Christian Berger Silver badge

    There are people linking this to global extermination

    http://www.gandhi-auftrag.de/energybox.htm

    Unfortuantely that's in German, but google translate gives a good enough translation.

    Some quotes:

    "3G has always been basically a pure weapon system and 3G mobile phones are just side effects."

    Of course they link it to Nostradamus and Mind-control and whatever. There's even IBM marketing blurb in the mix. In a nutshell this is all there for global extermination and mind control.

  23. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    Friends in high places?

    "Here in Blighty smart meters won't be compulsory..."

    Unless someone has another word with the right Lord, perhaps?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/4389589/Lords-fiasco-Lord-Truscotts-meetings-with-minister-and-officials.html

  24. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Demo EM fields

    Take a magnet (the little tiny super-strong sort) and hold it in you hand so that it's free to wiggle about. With an electric stove top, turn it on and quickly (before it gets hot and burns your hand) probe the magnetic field with the magnet. You'll be amazed at how vigourously the magnet will vibrate. If you're lucky, you can even get it spinning inside your closed hand.

    Smart meters would be about 12 orders of magnitude less.

  25. Jamie Kitson

    Brilliant

    > some diabetics are having trouble controlling their blood-sugar levels

    Isn't that the definition of diabetes?

    1. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Brilliant

      diabetes means that your pancreas does not make enough insulin and or cells do not respond to insulin normally. It can be controlled.

  26. Giles Jones Gold badge

    If they hadn't been told it was using radio signals they wouldn't have even noticed.

  27. andy 45
    Thumb Down

    I dont think enough research has been done

    ..to prove that these meters are safe.

    The same with Wi-fi and mobile phones etc.

    Maybe a threshold will be reached where we'll all start to cook!

    1. Vic

      I dont think enough research has been done

      ...to prove that beer is safe.

      I shall be conducting field trials over the coming weeks. I want a grant.

      Vic.

  28. Martin Maloney
    Big Brother

    Giving the electric company remote control

    Dumb meter: You don't pay your bill, and the electric company sends someone out to disconnect your power.

    Smart meter: Someone else doesn't pay his bill, and someone at the electric company hits a wrong key on a keyboard, and your power is turned off.

    Dumb meter: The electric company monitors and records your total electric use during each billing period.

    Smart meter: The electric company monitors and records your electric usage continuously.

    If you still don't get it, then watch "Brazil" and read/watch "1984."

    1. bazza Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Giving the electric company remote control

      "If you still don't get it, then watch "Brazil" and read/watch "1984.""

      Seconded, but I wouldn't bother with 1984. Brazil is all you need to see to understand big bureaucracy gone out of control. A very good film indeed. And now I can't get the music out of my mind, "da daaaaa, da da da da da da da daaaaa, da da da da da da da daaaaa, etc.

      Customer: my electricity has been switched off

      Central Services: is you name Buttle?

  29. Tom Reg
    Big Brother

    Smart Meters DO NOT show daily usage

    By and large, in order to figure out current draw and daily usage, consumers must visit a web site, which no one bothers to do.

    A real meter - which I have - like the TED5000 shows a $/hr reading all the time on a display we keep by the kitchen table. The kids and I pick up on that info, and have lowered electricity usage by about 20%. Even I, a 'cheap dad' hardly ever visit the web site.

    That's the real thing the electrical companies fear - that usage DROPS because that will cause a drop in profits. So they hide behind clumsy web interfaces. A law that puts these readouts in every new or newly renovated house would save at least 10% of electricity usage. (more in places like North America where waste is much worse). Don't expect the green - industrial - complex to allow them, though.

  30. The elephant in the room
    Terminator

    Rebranding required

    Dont call them "smart meters" - "smart" is intimidating to the sort of people who suspect that they could be outsmarted by them; and "meter" sounds a bit metric, like the kind of thing a European communist nazi might use.

    Relaunch as the "Freedom PowerVendor(R)" - "Freedom" being a meaningless but inexplicably sales-uplifting word, and PowerVendor(R) embodies capitalist ideals of success, dominance and selling the product, namely power.

    Anyone that doesn't demand that a stars-n-stripes-emblazoned Freedom PowerVendor(R) is immediately fitted to their trailer is clearly a pinko fag and card-carrying member of al-jazira.

  31. NomNomNom

    "some diabetics are having trouble controlling their blood-sugar levels"

    I thought that was the point

  32. Red Bren
    Windows

    A genuine "smart" meter

    would broadcast the real-time unit cost so that "smart" appliances and sockets would switch on or off when the price crossed a threshold set by the consumer. Imagine the scene played out in homes across the UK:

    TV: "Time now, for a depressing episode of $SOAP... Dum-dum-dum-dum d-d-d-d<click>"

    Wife: "What's happened to the telly?"

    Husband: "Sorry dear, the electricity must be too expensive right now."

  33. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    Tell you what.

    You, the power lads, start investing heavily in Shale Gas and Nuclear power.

    That way there'll be enough to go around and the price will stay stable, so I might stand a bloody chance of saving a bit of cash by using less of it.

    Then we'll talk about smart meters. Frankly I cannot be arsed as long as my bill keeps going up regardless of how much I use.

  34. JaitcH
    FAIL

    UK User Pay; North America Suppliers Pay

    The proposal was, at one point - who knows now - that USERS in the UK were to PAY for the METER.

    In the States there is an element of choice whereas, in Ontario, Canada, there isn't. Still there are many ways to shield the meter so that it effectively is neutered.

    Ontario has gone remote metering crazy.

    The latest trend is to meter hot water, so they stick all these meters in condominiums (rental units are barred by law) and they are read remotely.

    ONLY there is one BIG PROBLEM. The meter can;t differentiate between HOT, WARM or COLD water so in effect they are little more than a scam. One remote reading company is owned by shareholders whose forbears were involved in protection rackets - now they atr taking in the dollars and don't have to break a bone doing it!

  35. Ecobusiness Exchange

    Don't Panic Smart Meters will not kill you any day soon

    Last week the consumer focus group reported on Smart Meters to a group at Intellect. They have advised the government that they need to investigate the health scare quickly to reasure consumers that smart meters are not going to damage their health. Sure, just knowing what you are consuming doesn't magically reduce your consumption- however if you don't know till you get your quarterly bill how the heck will you be able to make intelligent decisions!

    The key debate here is make smart meters smart- vendors are key in ensuring that there is uniform standard for meters that includes privacy, interoperability so you can change suppliers and that the data displayed is useful.

  36. jake Silver badge

    Speaking only for myself ...

    "they're getting symptoms of insomnia, ringing in the ears, heart palpitations"

    Probably because their bills have been increasing.

    Here at the Ranch, I have 17 PG&E meters, ten electricity and 7 gas. PG&E, in all their brilliance, have seen fit to replace half the electricity meters and four of the gas meters with so-called "smart meters". The half which were replaced have seen a spike in usage. The half that have been there since the year dot are still consuming 'leccy & gas at the rate expected, based on my decade-old records.

    Yes, I'm consulting my lawyer.

    No, I'm not an "Oh knows, teh wireless is gonna kill us ALL!!!" loony.

  37. DJO Silver badge
    Boffin

    The RF equipment in smart meters is exactly the same as in a mobile phone, even down to the SIM. (on the shelf behind me there are several smart meters used for test purposes all with SIMs fitted)

    To avoid entirely justified accusations of hypocrisy I hope everybody who is arguing against smart meters on the grounds the RF emissions are a hazard have also rejected mobile phones.

    While many people will squeeze a mobile phone against their head I seriously doubt many people will jam their heads next to a smart meter when it is sending.

    Although the meters are capable of sending readings at any interval and in commercial premises the readings are often taken daily for a residential setting there really is no reason to collect more often then once a month.

    So the deadly health risk is essentially a basic mobile phone being used in another room maybe once a month for perhaps 15 seconds – Oh the horror!

    1. Truth Helps

      The use of cell-phone frequencies is EXACTLY why people who have become Electrically Hyper-Sensitive (EHS) do not want them on their houses. They already have trouble when cell phones are in use near them. I have met many such people, and I have personally observed their reactions to be in direct response to cell phones that were near them without their knowledge.

      I agree is it not necessary to transmit information every 30 seconds. One University Professor with EHS reports it is those "burst of information" transmissions that seem to be more troublesome, which belies the idea that the total overall energy transmitted is low. It's like the difference between the constant background noise of a city having a lot of overall sound energy, but it is nowhere near as jarring to a human as someone sneaking up on you and shouting in your ear every 30 seconds.

  38. Truth Helps

    Why be part of a bad health experiment in your own home?

    People should not be forced to be part of an experiment on what causes cancer, etc. in their own home. It isn't even a controlled experiment.

    Do some people get irrationally afraid at the sight of a technology (cell towers) they don't understand? I am sure. Do some people become ill around certain common electrical devices? Also undoubtedly true.

    Just because nobody understands what is happening in no reason to assume people are "loons." Man made electrical radiation is a new invention (100 years?) and I do not believe we know all the possible health effects. In the USA, current federal guidelines for Radio Frequency emissions pre-date the wide introduction of cell phones and do not consider any possible health effect except the degree to which they cook flesh, called "thermal effects."

    If you want to be a part of an uncontrolled experiment at the possible risk of your health, fine. I'm already in enough involuntary experiments, thank you.

    1. Nigel 11
      WTF?

      Re: Why be part of a bad health experiment in your own home?

      "Do some people become ill around certain common electrical devices? Also undoubtedly true."

      Cite proof, please. A double-blind test.

      Put a person who claims to be electro-sensitive in a screened room (Faraday cage) with a concealed wireless router, cellphone, whatever. Neither the experimental subject nor the person telling them what to do is allowed to know beforehand whether it is turned on or not. Ask them how they feel BEFORE finding that out. Repeat until a statistically significant body of evidence is gathered.

      In a less kind and possibly unethical variant on this experiment, let the subjects know where the router is concealed (say, above a ceiling tile) but don't tell them about the spycam recording their every move and the *other* concealed router permanently turned on. I'd bet 9/10 "electrosensitive" subjects would feel the need to sneak a look at the router (and then report back that they're fine when they see it's turned off, despite the fact that the other one should be making them feel ill.

  39. Doug Glass
    Go

    GPC

    I worked for the company in question for many years and I can say with great authority that Georgia has some of the highest quality rednecks you could ever ask for. I myself installed radiation filters on meters back in the '70s to prevent radioactive electricity from the company's first nuclear plant (E. I. Hatch) from contaminating homes. The filters were cheap and easy to install looking somewhat like two tie wraps and a small sheet of Aluminum. Some even had "Coke" or "Pepsi" on the inside. Some were made by "Coors".

    We were also asked by customers if the plants were so expensive to build why didn't we just buy one instead.

    Oh yeah, highest quality rednecks you could ever want.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: GPC

      I know someone who, to this day, is absolutely convinced that using a microwave oven makes food radioactive. Sad thing is he has several college degrees ...

  40. The Grump
    Big Brother

    Rise Of The Socialists

    Make no mistake, this isn't about helping YOU. It isn't about saving energy. It isn't about mysterious medical conditions. It isn't about global warming, hacking, or the mythical Speghetti Monster. It's about POWER. Not electrical power - it's about total control of the Socialist iron fist. Once the "smart" meters are installed, the Socialists can do what they want with your power, cut it back, or turn it off whenever they want. Pelosi could black out an entire city, as punishment for protesting Obamacare. Or global warming ... whatever reason they want. They crave that kind of control - they live and breathe it, they dream about it, it's all they ever wanted. Will you hand over your freedom like good slaves, or fight the Socialist enslavers ? Will you help - or damn - your children, their children, and so on ? Your choice.

    The government cake is always a LIE !

    1. Nigel 11
      Thumb Down

      Re: Rise Of The Socialists

      Actually, no. If the abuse of power got that bad, then everyone would do what the criminal classes do already: an insulation-displacement bypass between the streetside of the meter and the house.

      It's called theft at present, not protest.

    2. Red Bren
      Stop

      Socialists

      You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

      You might not have noticed but these are private, capitalist corporations that want to install smart meters. Replace the word "socialist" with something more appropriate and your rant might make more sense...

  41. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    So that's what the fear is? Not the fear that if the electricity company reps can take a drive-by reading with something resembling a TV remote that they will be laying off hundreds of meter readers who stand little chance of getting a job in this economy?

    Because, you know, that is what I heard. When I asked my meter reader why the (British parent owned company's) gas and electricity meters couldn't be like my water meter.

    But I guess your version has more Anti-American-Knee-Jerk comment possibilities (and I see plenty of people taking advantage of them already so clearly you are right).

  42. Risky

    they can try

    The meter is inside a granite outbuilding. I don't think they 'll get much of a signal unless they're outside the door so it won't save them much.

    They'd be better off spending some money on replacing the bloody poles before the rot through instead of after each one rots away.

    1. Nigel 11
      Meh

      Re: they can try

      Blocked by a granite wall - are you sure? I've sent ordinary Wireless-G Ethernet 30 metres sideways and down through a reinforced concrete floor. Didn't even need directional antennae. Only got 5Mbps out of it, but it worked. How many Mbps does one need to read a meter?

  43. earl grey Silver badge
    Facepalm

    OMFG, the new meter is making me stoopid

    Too late, dearie....

  44. The Unexpected Bill
    Go

    I know this is stupid...

    ...but the only thing I don't care for concerning the new meters is the loss of a spinning disc to "indicate" real time power consumption. The more modern meters seem to all have a boring digital display. While it may be capable of more, around here the display simply switches between a self-test and an accumulated kWh reading.

    Couldn't they at least have included a "snake" character that changes its "crawl" speed based on power usage?

    I've been told that remotely-readable meters with spinning discs exist, but I've never seen one. As it is, I'm not sure that all the modern meters are remotely readable. Only the ones located in rural areas clearly indicate such capability, at least for now.

  45. horse of a different colour
    Happy

    Down with this sort of thing

    Careful now

  46. Ben Burch

    I'm sorry my fellow Americans are so stupid.

    Sometimes I am quite ashamed of the ignorance here.

    1. jukejoint

      Re: I'm sorry my fellow Americans are so stupid.

      Don't cry for me, Ben-ita!

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Me no likee

    Smart meters just seem a bit of a waste of resource to me (at the moment any way).

    In these frugal times for most if not all, I'd rather have a means of popping in the numbers (meter readings) and seeing an informal bill appear (rather than a formal one if you kno wot I mean).

    Controlling my own domestic energy use from afar is not really high on my shopping list at all.

  48. Mark Scorah
    Facepalm

    "Total Load Phenomenon"

    appears to be missing a couple of words. insert "of Bullshit" between Load and Phenomenon.

  49. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alien

    Lizard masters

    Smart meters will mean that we'll soon be under the mind-control of our lizard masters.

    Mutate now and avoid the rush!

  50. Derek Currie
    Joke

    Do it right or don't do it at all! The AFDB.

    Let's use proper terminology please! It's formally called the AFDB or Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie. AND be certain that you make your beanie according to approved specification standards or it won't work! Do it right or don't do it at all.

    http://zapatopi.net/afdb/

  51. AndrueC Silver badge
    Facepalm

    My budgie has been within two metres of a WAP for all of his life. He even lived just above the base station for a cordless phone for the first three years. He's now eight years old and still full of life. If it doesn't hurt a budgie it doesn't hurt us.

  52. simmondp
    Meh

    Actually some good arguments

    Actually reading the letter they propose sending to US utility companies, 80% of it make good rational sense - unfortunately it's the other 20% that defeats their argument and makes them seem like loons.

    http://stopsmartmeters.org/sample-letter-to-utility/

  53. despun

    Chaos

    If they're like the radio controlled off-peak meters, they may have problems with radio reception losses. Sorry - you can't have any electricity today, I haven't been able to "phone home".

  54. Clive Harris
    Flame

    Smart meter safety in Australia

    They're rolling out (compulsary) smart electricity meters here in Australia and they keep catching fire due to dodgy installation. Now that's definitely harmful to your health!

  55. jukejoint
    Black Helicopters

    As an American I can honestly say

    that all our meters are belong to Them.

    The article surely brought back childhood memories of one meter reader in particular, who would always call out "Water man! Water man here!" so as not to get shot while sneaking 'round the side of the house.

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