Letter: Smart meters hold great promise

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Your April 13 article “Full Speed Ahead: Smart Meters Coming to WNC” [Xpress] presented a very distorted perspective on smart meters, and I’m deeply concerned that it will create controversy where one doesn’t need to exist. It’s incredibly sad when a technology that holds so much promise for helping to solve our very urgent energy/climate problems is introduced to the public in this way. If there has ever been a time for humans to check their tendency toward conspiracy theory thinking, we are living in it.

Smart meters are a necessary step if our electricity grid is going to accommodate distributed storage (residential batteries like the Tesla power wall). They also offer endless opportunities for apps and other data-driven efficiency strategies that we haven’t dreamed of yet. There’s also a reduction in fossil fuel use when meter readers don’t have to drive to homes anymore.

The [radio frequencies] issue is so minor that it’s important to put it into context. If you (or your neighbors) are using a cellphone or have a wireless network, you’re getting much more exposure already. And if this were a lurking public health problem, I would expect we’d already have obvious cluster health effects in people who experience high exposures in their jobs.

Yes, human health is something we need to be concerned about. But we should start by focusing on things that have known, documented, very serious and real health effects — like pollution from using fossil fuels for energy. Smart meters will reduce this pollution while also saving money for rate payers.

The privacy issue is real and will require care on Duke [Energy’s] part to handle appropriately. Fortunately, they have every incentive to do so to avoid a public relations nightmare.

I’ve asked Duke to consider my home as a pilot participant in this program and will be thrilled to participate if that happens. It deserves to be portrayed in a more positive light.

— Amy Musser, Ph.D.

Editor’s note: Amy Musser is co-owner of Vandemusser Design, an Asheville energy-efficiency consulting and certification company that helps clients build energy-efficient and net-zero energy homes.


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7 thoughts on “Letter: Smart meters hold great promise

  1. bsummers

    Thanks for your thoughtful message on this topic, Dr. Musser. Unfortunately, I for one do not trust Duke or any large corporation to “handle” ever more personal info about my private life.

    About 15 years ago, I knew a guy whose main job was as a sheriff’s deputy, but he was moonlighting in the glass shop I worked in. He told us stories about drug busts he was part of, that started with a tip from Progress Energy that said that a resident’s power usage indicated they probably had a marijuana farm in their basement. He said that he & his superiors marveled over the fact that nobody asked Progress Energy to rat out their customers – they cheerfully volunteered this info.

    This is the culture of the institutions that we are constantly being told we should grant more & more access into our private lives. If a “smart” meter can be used as yet another gateway into spying on my private life, I have to assume that it will be. Until we have a major shift in our national awareness of corporate and govt. surveillance, I will not be comfortable with the onslaught of more & more “smart” devices in my home.

  2. So you are opposed to smart meters because you knew a guy who said he was part of a bust developed from an unsolicited Progress energy tip. Sure he was.

      • The Real World

        Ashe Villager missed your macro point. If you know of one time Progress did that, then they’ve done it hundreds or thousands of other times. And what other big corporate entities are doing the same? Lots of them, I figure.

        I’ve never been a Facebooker, partly because I don’t care about personal minutiae, but also very much because Zuckerberg has proven time and again that he is a very UNtrustworthy guy. ALL of that data is archived and you may as well assume that .Gov ponies up warrants (or doesn’t bother) all the time for access to some of it. For all we know Zuckerface continually supplies them with some personal data based on keyword scans or whatever.

        Barry, guess what? I totally agree with you on this issue. But, here’s what I really don’t understand. If you feel that way, then why would you support more >.Gov involvement in our lives? I can assure you that in acquiring health insurance from the ACA Marketplace (now an oxymoron; with only one provider) you basically grant the Feds your health records, some hair follicles, skin cells and your first born. It’s very unnerving.

        The more socialist steps we take, the more privacy and freedom we lose. And you’ve got to believe it would be a helluva fight to get either back once acquiesed! So what gives on that?

      • Deplorable Infidel

        Amazingly I totally agree with sweet Barry on this and wonder the same things, RW. BSummers seems confused on ideology
        which is very common within the population, and it illustrates how education truly HAS changed for the worse since the Dept of Education was established by Jimmy Carter.

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