Smart Meters: A Dumb Idea

TURN opposed Smart meters from the beginning. We’re still waiting to see whether customers will see any benefits commensurate with the costs.

What are “smart meters” and how do they work?

Smart meters are expensive devices that allow electric companies to track and control electricity usage in an individual household. Consumers are skeptical that they are worth the $5.4 billion California utilities are charging for them.

Are the meters supposed to save electricity?

No. Smart meters merely track electric usage, just like their older, dumber predecessors. Consumers who purchase additional devices can receive detailed information on the energy costs of individual appliances. Utilities will encourage customers to sign up for high “time of use” rates in order to reduce peak demand.

What additional expenditures will be required on the consumer end?

Existing air conditioning cycling programs, energy efficiency measures and consumer education programs are the most direct way to reduce demand for electricity, especially during peak times. Consumers who take advantage of existing programs can already lower their bills and carbon footprint substantially.

What additional expenditures will be required on the consumer end?

In order to get the purported benefits of smart meters, consumers will purchase their own communications devices, computers, high speed internet, special thermostats, appliance chips and other automated equipment. The cost of retrofitting or replacing existing appliances alone will be astronomical.

Without the expenditures, consumers will not see any difference from the new meters except higher electric bills.

Why are so many consumers complaining about smart meters?

Many consumers believe the meters are inaccurate, or that their usage data is not being transmitted correctly. Due to the hundreds of complaints TURN and others have received about smart meters, the CPUC launched an investigation, but it failed to answer many of the questions consumers continue to have about the accuracy, effectiveness and safety of these expensive new meters.

TURN remains skeptical that Smart Meters are a smart investment for consumers. The meters have failed to provide customer benefits commensurate with their costs.

What other problems are associated with smart meters?

  • Elimination of meter reader jobs.
  • Allows utilities—or hackers—to shut customers off remotely.
  • Risk of private data being lost, stolen or accessed.

What consumer protections are needed?

  • Privacy protections to prevent loss, theft or misuse of customer data.
  • Moratorium until CPUC investigation is completed.
  • Allow customers to opt-out.
  • Provide rebates and energy efficiency assistance to consumer whose bills have increased due to smart meters.