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December 15, 2011

Smart Meters Enhance Physical Privacy

As a Board Member of the Stowe Electric Department, I get occasional questions about Smart Meters from my neighbors.

"About Smart Meters and privacy…" a woman began.

"So long as the data from the meter's encrypted," I began without letting her finish the question.

"Huh?" she asked. "What's encryption have to do with anything? What I don't like is people tromping over my yard to read the meter. They won't have to do that when we have Smart Meters, right?"

"Right," I said.

"Yeah," a man chimed in. "My dogs don't like the meter readers at all. They'll be glad to have Smart Meters."

"I have a neighbor with a seasonal house and a locked gate. They don't like people knowing when they're there and when they're away. And they don't like meter readers going around the gate, either." This from a third person.

No one asked me about cyber security even though I would've been happy to give them a detailed answer about why they don't have to worry about their meter data being stolen. No one asked me about electromagnetic radiation from meters, which is safe and far, far less potent than holding a cellphone to your ear.

I explained that Smart Meters give the utility data which allows faster restoration of service in an outage; people were interested in that. I explained how better information reduced cost to the utility which means, in the long term, rates lower than they would be otherwise and that automating meter reading saves us all money. "Yeah, I'm for lower rates," someone said politely.

I told a story about querying my Smart Meter data remotely to find that a pump in my house was malfunctioning while I was away. People drifted off to the bar.

I mentioned that electric cars will be simply impossible if we don't have smart meters to make sure they don't all charge at once and bring down the grid. The conversation changed to cars, the non-electric kind. I decided not to be a bore.

Funny the things people are really interested in, like keeping their property private.

Related posts:

Irene Lesson # 1 – Smart Grid Great for Power Restoration

House Flatlines – Smart Grid to the Rescue

What's a Smart Grid and Why Does It Matter?

What The $69 Million Smart Grid Grant Will Mean to Vermont

Don't Like Smart Meters; Opt Out at Your Own Expense

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