Mr. Big - Edicts from the Mountain


The newspaper in Idaho Falls, ID is the Post Register.   Yesterday they had an editorial written by a member of City Council.  Apparently, he is a quasi-staff member because the Register allows him a bully pulpit on a regular basis.  I found that out when I wrote a response to an editorial he wrote and I requested equal space. 

 I received an answer by email from the Post Register inviting me to submit a 250 word response even though I live out of the area (70 miles down the road).   I said 'No thanks, I'll just publish it on my website.  So here it is... with my response below:

Ed Marohn - Guest column on Smart Meters:

Guest column: No passing the buck


September 28, 2014

Those who refuse to convert to smart meters should pay for the added costs of clinging to an archaic system, writes Ed Marohn.

By Ed Marohn

Idaho Falls Power has already installed AMI meters (smart meters) with more than 60 percent of its electric customers. The goal is 100 percent by year’s end. When the project was planned years ago, previous City Councils faced three choices for implementing AMI meters:

• Option 1: Per Idaho Falls City Code 8-5-11, the city owns the meter and has installed the meter of its
                   choice for more than 100 years. Under this option, failure to accept the AMI meter (smart
                   meter) results in termination of the electric service.

                  Nationally most cities have implemented this option. No AMI meter installation, no electric
                  service to the customer.

• Option 2: Disable the communication device in the AMI meter, which eliminates the ability to transmit
                   data wirelessly for opt-out customers.

• Option 3: Retain the older, electromechanical meter at opt-out locations.

In Idaho Falls, a few people have opposed installation of smart meters for various reasons. As a result, Idaho Falls Power officials have been working slowly to get implementation to 100 percent by allowing opt outs temporarily while the utility addresses their concerns.

Option 1 for complete conversion to the AMI meter is best for the city and its citizens in terms of cost savings from lower utility rates and taxes. With full system upgrades to smart meters, projected hard savings to the city are more than $600,000 annually. Opt-out customers erode these savings for the rest of Idaho Falls’ residences and business.
Smart meter benefits to electric customers are multiple: automated meter reading and management (reduces city overhead - no person is needed to manually read the meter); instant outage visibility for Idaho Falls Power to manage electrical flow to customers; avoids inventory cost from maintaining outdated and no longer manufactured electromechanical meters of the 1960s; and allows many power issues to be resolved electronically without dispatching Idaho Falls Power employees.

Options two and three will mean added costs because a person is needed to read meters manually. This means manning costs and equipment costs for the citizens of Idaho Falls.

Who will bear the additional cost to have another person or persons drive around town to read the opt outs, which comprise less than one percent of the population?

Who will bear the costs for separate data keeping and billing, since the AMI data will be disconnected?

Who will pay for the added inventory of storing outdated electromechanical meters?

Who will pay for dispatching employees to remedy opt-out customers’ problems when this could have been done
electronically had they converted to smart meters?

The choice in our free enterprises system is easy. Those causing the additional costs pay for them through extra fees. The majority of Idaho Falls citizens should not be penalized financially due to these opt outs.

The Response that won't be published:


Mr. Fortune 500, Ed Marohn’s letter on smart meters demands response. The smart meter is a computerized gateway device that attaches the home to the smart grid. The smart grid is an Information Technology system that is an overlay on top of the electric transmission and distribution system. The IT systems – hardware and software are additional overhead costs that make the costs of meter reading look like petty cash. By way of example, you can buy 3 meter readers for the price of 1 computer programmer. The alleged savings to be achieved by smart meters are illusory. Another way to think of it is – the income from three families is being transferred to one person.

The contract that the city had to provide electricity was a standard contract the same across the country. The metering of electricity was to measure the total amount used - period. The obligation of the customer was to pay for the total amount used - period. A new contract imposed on one of the parties by extortion – which is what is happening with the smart meters is unlawful. It is also unconstitutional because the smart meter is a communications device that records the moment by moment usage of electricity which implicitely is revealing of activity within the home. That makes it de facto, a surveillance device – 24/7 unlawful wiretap on the home in violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution.

The smart meter was designed as a commercial device to measure the infeeding of electricity to the electric transmission grid as well as the use of electricity. The electric transmission grid is under a separate – and international, “self-governance” system of “electric reliability” (See North American Energy Reliability Council (NERC)). Most homes will never infeed electricity to the grid but the presence of the meter on the home creates regulatory ambiguity. Does the presence of the Smart Meter on your home draw you into commerce – and therefore subject to regulatory control? That’s an issue that will have to be decided by a court but it seems pretty clear that this is the intent based on all of the literature on Smart Grid.

All you have to do to verify that is to search on the terms “demand management” – and “shave the peak”. Demand Management means that they intend to manage your use of electricity within your home. Shaving the Peak means that they will curtail your use of electricity if they feel like it. Anybody who doubts that should go to the Library of Congress website (THOMAS), find the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and read it. And after you do that, if you are not appalled, then you’re not a red-blooded American worthy of the name.

This idea that everything has to be embedded with technology is propaganda brought to you by the people who profit from it. Technology has it’s place but that doesn’t mean everyplace. Technology doesn’t necessarily make things better. It does make things cost more, and it opens us up a wide variety of vulnerabilities that didn’t exist before and it provides the capability for control over human activity that has never been available before in the entire history of mankind. Technology is a tool and a weapon at the same time and the use of it should be judicious when it comes to “societal level systems”.

Finally, instead of talking about “user fees” that amount to a penalty for not acquiesing to extortion and unconstitutional wiretapping, we should talk about the price that needs to be paid to the American people for the wholesale corporate takeover of our government. There will be a price to be paid – but it won’t be in money. There is name for this type of “public-private” governance. It’s called Corporatism – more commonly called Fascism. It would be to our eternal disgrace to leave our children and grandchildren living as slaves under a soul-killing, diseased system like this. The place to start taking back our country is to stop the installation of the smart grid, smart meters and the centralized command and control structures that are being put in place with it.

Vicky Davis