Smart Meters: Government Pushing For Installation To Detect 'Illegal' Water Usage

Tara Dodrill

Water drought concerns have reportedly created a government push for the installation of smart meters to detect "illegal" water usage. A significant increase in the shipment of IoT devices have occurred already this year, according to a Business Insider report. The 10 percent uptick in sales is due to orders by utility executives and government officials, the report also states.

Smart meters utilize wireless technology and instantly tell power companies how much electricity a home is using, and they can even report on the power usage by individual appliances. Smart meters supporters generally feel that the high-tech electricity gauges are more energy efficient and think the "real-time" billing the meters provide, decreasing the number of utility workers needed, is also a positive aspect associated with the devices.

Those opposed to smart meters have uttered concerns about government intrusion on the level of electricity used, as well as fire and health fears.

"One of the next areas of value comes from taking smart meter data and 'disaggregating' it to tell us exactly how customers are using electricity," according to a report by Smart Grid News. "Do external devices already do this? Sure. Just as progress in the smart phone world reduced the need for external devices, cameras, alarm clocks, radios, pedometers, navigation systems, etc.) the ability to get accurate, appliance level feedback, without the need to invest in external hardware, is the next step in the world of smart meters."

Long Beach Water Department General Manager Kevin Wattier said that his department saw an immediate spike by tens of thousands of gallons each time a McDonald's "over-watered" their property after smart meters were installed.

"It collects the data every five minutes, then after midnight, the cellphone that's built in here comes on, makes one call, and calls it in to the database that we and the customer, through a password security system, have online access to their consumption," Wattier added. "The accuracy is just incredible, because we get the data the next day."

A Stop Smart Meters website reports states that fire dangers are also a problem associated with smart meters. Fire calls after smart meter installations reportedly include the shorting out of electronics of all varieties and the burning out of appliances.

"People are becoming increasingly aware of the potential harm done by chronic exposure to RF radiation-emitting devices and are taking steps to change how they use them," the report said. "Most people are not offered a wired smart meter and you can't turn it off once it is installed," the group contends."

The Stop Smart Meters group also maintains that the devices do not always emit less RF (radio frequency) exposure than a cell phone — as some utility companies allegedly state.

What do you think about smart meters? Are they efficient and safe or an intrusive hazard?

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