Skip to comments.In this Wisconsin town, you get the smart meter or they shut you down
Posted on 07/11/2013 6:06:50 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
BARABOO Residents in this small southern Wisconsin city have two choices when it comes to the brave new world of the Smart Grid: Go along with new smart meters for public utilities or get along without water, gas or electricity.
Most residents dont make a fuss and let the utilities install the new smart meters, which are supposed to provide utility customers and taxpayers with savings from real-time data usage and less manpower needed to read traditional analog meters.
Some residents, however, including 81-year-old Audrey Parker, say the smart meters are an invasion of privacy, and they believe the technologys use of radio frequency poses health concerns.
Parker and the Sheriffs, a Baraboo family, fought city hall over installation of the new meters and have seemingly lost.
ALL IN: Baraboo is among several Wisconsin communities that requires utility customers to install smart meter technology. If customers refuse, they lose. The two households had their water shut off on Tuesday.
My husband is 74 years old and hes been hauling five gallon buckets of water into the house for us to flush the toilet, said Darcy Sheriff, 65. Its not even sanitary. Its just a disgusting situation.
The Sheriffs recently took in a family with a 2-year-old girl to stay with them until August, adding to the sticky situation.
Were not political crusader-type people. We just know its time to take a stand. This has gone too far. We dont want this thing in our home, Sheriff told Wisconsin Reporter on Wednesday. Its none of the citys business when Im using water or what Im using. Just that we dont know for sure (about health issues) is enough to bother us.
Mayor Mike Palm did not return requests for comment, but city officials told Wisconsin Reporter on Wednesday that the city tried to convince the holdouts to let them in to install the new meter.
With 4,612 customers, theres fewer than a handful left to do, said Tom Pinion, director of Public Works for the city. Every residence in Baraboo that has electric meters and gas meters has this exact same device in their home. Every home has two transceiver units. This is a third.
The smart meter uses radio-frequency waves to send usage data between a utility customers home and their utility company. The high-tech gauges are a key link in the transition to the Smart Grid, the shared initiative of the federal government and the energy industry to modernize the nations electricity transmission and distribution system. Theres a lot of taxpayer money involved in a myriad programs to bring the Smart Grid and smart meters online.
Small pockets of citizens in municipalities throughout the country have balked at the new technology. Some cite health concerns, others see the meters as an invasion of privacy and still others link the technology to United Nations Agenda 21, a conspiracy theory based on an actual UN policy initiative that purports the global elite want to control, among other things, how much energy people use.
Pinion said he hasnt seen any evidence that backs up the health and privacy concerns cited by Parker. Regardless, he said, she has to comply with city policies to receive city resources.
Its not an option, he said. The service shes had the last umpteen years has been water. She can certainly continue to have water, but we have an obligation to change up the meter.
The Public Service Commission has allowed municipalities and private utilities to decide whether they want to offer an opt-out provision. Some communities, like the city of Madison, allow an opt-out, although it doesnt come without a cost.
Madison Water Utility customers who decline the installation of a smart meter have to pay a monthly charge of $7.78 for a quarterly manual meter reading, according to the utility.
Baraboo, like other Wisconsin communities, doesnt offer an opt-out option.
SHUTDOWN: Jim Sheriff pours water into the toilet of his Baraboo home Wednesday. The city water utility temporarily shut off water to the property because Sheriff and his wife, Darcy, have refused the installation of a smart water meter. PSC spokesman Nathan Conrad said less than 1 percent of complaints filed with the commission since 2010 have dealt with smart meters.
Pinion said 17 other Wisconsin communities use the same transceiver model and dont allow an opt-out option.
Were not breaking any new ground here, he said.
State Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, however, wants to give customers statewide the option to opt-out of smart meter installation.
Smart meters are seeking efficiencies, and thats a noble thing, but whats been happening with smart meters is utility providers by and large dont have competition, he said. So when these smart meters are installed, customers are not being given options. This would allow an opt-out for customers who, for whatever reason, dont want smart meters.
Thiesfeldt said hes fielded just a handful of formal complaints from constituents, but has heard concern from other people at public events.
Privacy concerns are the thrust of the bill that I have put forward, the lawmaker said. I think this is a Fourth Amendment issue. People should be able to control their personal data.
Thiesfeldt pointed to government snooping revelations from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden as a reason why personal data collection should be protected.
The public utility is able to measure an unbelievable amount of data in your household, getting down to whether or not youre using a microwave or a stove, he said. I want the public to know what these devices are capable of doing. You ought to be able to control your personal data of whats going on inside your home.
The PSC intervened Wednesday, and by late in the day the Sheriffs water was turned back on, pending an investigation. Darcy Sheriff suffers from a medical condition that exempts the home from the shut-off. Darcy Sheriff told Wisconsin Reporter that the city is demanding a medical form proving her infirmity within 21 days or the utility will shut off the water again.
Audrey Parker was not so lucky. As of late Wednesday, the 81-year-old great-grandmother was still without city water.
Is it possible to shield the meter so they can’t operate it remotely?
seems you could just wrap the meter in tin foil and ground it. Gets rid of the radio wave issues if that’s what’s bothering you.
Of course the invasion of privacy issue is something else. Best to install solar panels and get off the grid entirely
I will be moving further out to the country to do just that.
Although if they use RF connectivity and it doesn't work, a utility will probably send a person out to the meter to fix the problem. Depending on the laws of the community you are in, there could be a fine associated with "tampering" with a smart meter.
He should apply for a grant and put up a bird blender! And festoon his house with solar panels.
True that. If you can’t find a way to block or jam a wifi signal, you just aren’t trying.
I think the smart meter makes a lot of sense. My dogs don't much like the meter reader and I had to remodel part of my new deck after he whined about the position of the handrail.
I’ve recently received word that my 72 yo cousin (whom the entire family thinks is eccentric) has done just that (wrapped her meter in tin foil, as well as her phone). She thinks people (?) are spying on her.
Actually, her younger brother IS spying on her, but that is because he is her legal guardian. Most of the family has written her off as ‘nuts’, but I remember that her late father (who was considered ‘wise’ by the same family) used to listen to Art Bell all night.
The apple does not fall far...
The smart meter can also be used to control any of your modern smart appliances, heat and air. It can also be used to brown/black out individual users.
So they pay you, so that they can remotely turn off your hot water heater, OK.
I'm a little surprised that they find that cost effective, as that is such a low use time of day to begin with. Do they pay anything for going old school and just having a timer at your residence that you can override when needed, and turn off completely when you are gone for a few days?
First - these don’t sound like smart meters, just AMR’s (Automatic Meter Readers). Smart meters are bidirectional - that is, not only do they record and transmit electric usage but the can also send signals to the household to remotely control appliances. It’s this remote control capability that people should be concerned with.
Second, I’ve noticed over the years that the meter is quick to react to increased electric usage - the little wheels spin up very quickly - but they are slow to spin back down. That means they record usage that doesn’t really occur. They cheat you out of a few pennies every time you turn off an appliance!
What I would like to see is some enterprising person develop an isolating transformer or capacitor that would mask usage by filtering the spikes and smoothing out the signal that the meters “see”.
Its none of the citys business when Im using water”
Guess what sweetie?
They will know if you’re using water by reading the meter.
Another bunch of tinfoil hat crap IMO.
Most of those who gin up all of the myths and fearmonger these meters are the now displaced meter readers.
“Im on a private well, so no meters. However, I love the smart meters on my gas and electric service. It saves me from clunky workers tramping through my garden, crushing my flowers under their boots. It also relieves me from liability, should they tumble down the rocky slope behind my house.”
They still have to access the meters, and as far as the gas meter it has to be inspected for leaks on a routine basis per state and federal guidlines even with the ERT installed.
And I always try and watch where I step to keep from damaging plants while going up to the meters.
He’s talking about the water heater, not the entire service.
” I love the smart meters on my gas and electric service.”
Just how much are you going to love them when you start getting the cost of your energy being priced out by the time of day that you use it. Want to do your laundry during the day will cost you more than it will if you stay up and do it after midnight. Then there’s the new appliances you will buy to replace your old ones that will even take that option away from you because the utility will just “turn them off” so you can’t use them except when “they say you can.” Want to use your A/C during the day when it’s really hot? Not if they say you can’t. My advice to you is that if you have fairly old appliances, replace them now before the “new models” come out. At the end of the day, there will be so much RF energy around your house it will be like one big microwave as big brother utilities check your every move with respect to your use of water, electricity and gas. And if you put in solar panels to provide for your own needs, look for them to tax you for “being off their grid.” Want to put down a well? Well most places won’t let you do it because after all the water under your property doesn’t belong to you anymore. Welcome to 1984, it just came later than Orwell predicted. Coming soon, they will want to have a means to know when you have sex!
That's strange. Why would they want to reduce load during NON-peak hours? I am being paid $40 per season so my A/C can be cut to 50% duty cycle between 2-6 PM on weekdays during very high peak loads on the grid in the summer. They did it by installing a pager controlled switch between my thermostat and compressor contactor--easily bypassable by the way.