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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Smart Meters Create Headaches for Energy Users

The Good and Bad
About this Emerging Technology

Smart meter technology -- which is a computer-based meter that the utility hooks up to your house that can provide you with real-time information about your energy use -- is coming. You may already have a smart meter attached to your home. If not, you will -- in about 5 years the majority of homes in the USA will be using smart electric and gas meters.

There are good and bad aspects.
  • The good: You can look at your use in real time -- from your utility's website or from Google PowerMeter -- and take control of your use and bill.
  • The bad: Your utility can read your meter automatically and remotely. That means no more meter readers walking around manually reading and recording your energy usage. Who can afford to lose a job in this economy?
  • Also bad: More to the point of this blog, your electric bills may increase -- a lot -- and that in spite of the fact that you may have reduced how much energy you used.
To learn about this nasty possible blow back from smart meters, check out what happened to PG&E's customers in Bakersfield, California (read the comments from PG&E's customers -- $600 energy bill for just two weeks!)

Customers got new meters just when the big air conditioning season got started -- it can get really hot in Bakersfield).

And their bills went through the roof.

Energy savings can be achieved using these meters -- see how one newspaper tried to explain this -- but you have to be planning ahead.