SMART GRID: TECHNOLOGY FOR “BIG BROTHER”
By Sarah Foster
September 14, 2011
It’s not been two years since utility companies rolled out Smart
Grid, the massive project to restructure the nation’s electrical system, which includes replacing existing old analogue meters on homes and businesses with ones that transmit information by radio frequency. “Smart grid delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers using two-way digital technology to control appliances at consumers’ homes to save energy, reduce costs, and increase reliability and transparency.”
But despite glowing promises of energy savings and lower rates, the project from the outset has faced opposition from a public that does not want a technology that can “control appliances” from a point outside the home, and is increasingly alarmed by the threat the meters pose to health and privacy. And that opposition is growing.
“There is a major war being waged in this country, although you’d never know it by the silence from the old, disgraced media (ABC, CBS, NBC) and all the cable ‘news’ networks,” writes columnist Devvy Kidd in a recent report for NewsWithViews. “This new assault on our bodies and privacy is over another relatively new piece of technology that allegedly will save energy … When I say millions of Americans are up in arms over this, I am not exaggerating.”
Those millions of Americans come from all points on the political spectrum – conservative, libertarian, liberal, independent. Democrats and Republicans, tea partiers and progressives find themselves united against the local utility company and, ultimately, the U.S. Department of Energy, the lead agency for the project.
But apart from health and privacy issues, every taxpayer has reason for concern. Smart Grid doesn’t come cheap. Estimates vary as to cost and range from $100 Billion to $2.2 Trillion. In February 2010, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) announced Smart Grid will cost $165 billion over the next 20 years.