Research: Smart meters got undue attention in smart grid

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Billions of dollars in federal subsidies for smart utility meters have been misspent on meter technology that will not lead to energy sustainability or contribute to the possibility of a more efficient and responsive electricity grid, contends the National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy (NISLAPP).

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The research contends that Congress, state and local governments, as well as ratepayers, have been misled about the potential energy and cost saving benefits of the new smart meters and that smart meters are confused with the much broader concept of the smart grid with an undue emphasis on meters which diverts badly needed resources for key elements of true smart grid technology.

Dr. Timothy Schoechle, an international consultant in computer engineering and standardization, and smart grid technology expert has been engaged in development of electric utility meters for more than 25 years, calls U.S. smart meter roll outs "a canard -- a story or hoax based on specious claims about energy benefits."

To date, 18 states have organized groups opposing smart meters. Schoechle predicts that this is only the "tip of the iceberg." Ratepayers' desire to opt out of the new wireless meters on privacy, security, reliability, cost and potential public health grounds may herald "an epochal transformation of the political economy of energy," according to the report.

According to Schoechle, some data collected by smart meters is not necessary to the basic purpose of the smart grid, such as supply/demand balancing, demand response, dynamic pricing, renewables integration, or local generation and storage which flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

The research says that state and local governments have mistakenly believed that the installation of smart meters will lead to reduction in use of fossil fuels, greater electricity efficiency and long-term energy economy benefits. But efforts to further develop and standardize technologies that could achieve those goals have languished, according to the report, while investments with stimulus funding have instead been made in technologies that serve only the short-term economic interests of the utility industry instead of the interests of a true smart grid.

For more:
- see the report

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