More On Smart Meters

February 18, 2013

I want to thank Jerry Collins, President of MLGW, for reading and responding to my posting on Smart Meters. He invited me to meet with Chris Bieber, Vice President of Customer Care. I also met three other employees involved in Smart Meters.

I had a series of questions which I put to them and they were all answered with good and complete answers. Here are some of the high points.

  •  Are there any directives or financial grants from TVA or the federal government concerning smart meters and its use and present and future purposes? The federal government came down with a lot of money after the 2009 stimulus and we got some for a downtown electrical project but none for smart meters. Chattanooga which was apparently faster on their feet, got lots more. As a result they have a lot more smart meters paid for by federal taxpayer money. The Federal money has dried up for now.


  •  Tell me about the electric rate schedule from TVA to MLGW. Is MLGW charged time of day rates? Answer-TVA started charging MLGW time of day rates in October 2012 (the beginning of TVA’s fiscal year) at the request of the MLGW. I found this interesting as this was just before the 2012 November election. I will publish more on time of day rates later. Time of day electric rates take into account that electricity cannot be stored. Therefore the base load is best carried by nuclear plants and hydro generators. When you need more power during the summer peak times (12pm to 8pm during weekdays and during winter 4am to10am during weekdays), TVA has to put on auxiliary generating plants which costs more money.


  • What company furnished the 1200 smart meters that were installed in 2010? They were purchased from SmartSynch which has since been taken over by Itron. They cost around $200 each.

The new order for 60,000 meters will be bid by the middle of March 2013. They will not have the inside home display device used in the original 1200 smart meters as the inside home display did not work due to technical problems. Instead the user will be able to monitor the meter online. The new order will contain new smart meters for gas and water as well as electric so that all three services can be metered.

No one will be required to take smart meters unless they want them.  However those who refuse them may eventually have to pay an extra fee for a human meter reader to come out and read their meters. The 60,000 new meters will be spread out over the city and county more or less evenly so that the MLGW gets a broad experience with various customers with different usage and income patterns.

My overall impression of this program, as it was explained to me, is favorable. I was raised in a home where we conserved things and did not waste food, energy or the other essentials of life. We waste a lot of energy in this country due to poor construction standards and not being directly affected by poor conservation habits. By being able to directly relate our utility bills to our habits could cause us to change our habits to save utility money. Example: If you operate your electric dishwasher, clothes dryer and oven at the same time, your power demand measured in KW is greater than if you operated them separately. Smart meters can help you to make common sense decisions and form conservation habits.

This is a complicated subject and it will take years to educate the public. There will be savings to the MLGW in that excess meter readers as they quit work at the MLGW will not be replaced. The average meter reader leaves after 3 years due to the requirements of the job. Mr. Bieber assures me that no one will be required to take a smart meter if they do not want it and no one will be arrested for refusing a smart meter. However, I pointed out to him that in the final analysis, it will be the Federal government that will set the policy concerning smart meters, not the MLGW.

I will publish more information in the next few weeks on smart meters and how they will affect you.

4 Responses to “More On Smart Meters”

  1. KB says:

    TVA already has peak-load facilities to generate more electricity, for example, in summer heat. This has been common operating procedure for years. One facility is called Racoon mountain, near Chattanooga. It is hydroelectric.

    Here is our problem: TVA is shutting down three coal fired plants due to EPA regulations. Strange because our coal fired plants are cleaner now than ever, but still Not good enough for EPA.

    Bottom line: generating electricity is not wrong! if we need more plants, build them.

  2. KB says:

    One more thing: what will the rate be per kW hour in Juky and August between 12-8 pm? I have heard reports of 16 cents per kW hour. That is four times the standard rate.

    How will the elderly afford to run the AC? How much of this cost will be passed on to the consumers who buy food, etc? Every good and service we buy is heavily dependent on electricity.

    Please aak MlGW to post the time of use rate schedule and the standard rate.

  3. MA says:

    Mr. Saino: please do not treat the issue of “Smart Meters” as cavalierly as you have, or accept MLGW’s feel-good propaganda BS about them, as you appear to be doing. The smart meter program is INSIDIOUS.

    “Smart Meters” are part of increasingly intrusive practices which include everything from “smart” phones which track their users’ movements, to ubiquitous surveillance cameras to the increasing use of drones for civilian purposes to you name it, all at the cost of personal privacy. We are rapidly becoming a surveillance society.

    The fact is, these meters give the utility the ability to know, and monitor, our personal habits because that is the kind of information these meters are transmitting to the utility. Now, you may trust that information won’t be mis- (or ab-) used, but most people aren’t that trusting, especially since they’ve seen how this kind of access to private information can be misused, misappropriated, hacked into or otherwise put to unauthorized use. Smart meters are going to become part of an electrical grid that will be far more prone to cyberattack and other means of malicious interruption than anything we have witnessed so far.

    The people who have opposed smart meters aren’t a bunch of wild-eyed conspiracy theorists. The women who were arrested in Naperville, for example, for preventing the municipal utility from coming onto their properties to install these meters were ordinary housewives with ordinary families. The same goes for a nationwide effort to stop this technology from becoming ubiquitous.

    And, as for the harmful effects of the radiation emitted by these devices, please do not discount the credible reports of adverse health consequences from the deployment of these devices, or be so willing to accept the denial of the industry that has a vested interest in installing them everywhere that they have no harmful effects.

    Remember, the tobacco industry waged a decades-long campaign to deny its product was carcinogenic, only to have that effort proven to be false and fraudulent. I have no doubt we will eventually discover the true effects of cell phone and other forms of transmittable radiation, including the kind emitted by these meters.

  4. MA says:

    One more thing, since I know this site is dedicated to the transparency and accountability we ought to be able to expect from our public servants.

    I would like to see the site do the same analysis of the salaries of MLGW employees as it’s done for city employees. I think that would be considerably more eye-opening for the people who pay those salaries, we the ratepayers. MLGW, much like the city, is a bloated bureaucracy that suffers from the same kind of cronyism as the city does. It pays its employees far too much for what they do, and it has entirely too many of them to boot. Who isn’t familiar with the scenario of the MLGW work crew that has one or two people doing the work while four or five watch. The result: we pay for that generosity and inefficiency.

    Also, the utility isn’t providing us with the information we need to evaluate what we’re paying for what they sell us. They tell us on our monthly bills what the average temperature for that cycle has been, even though they, themselves, use the far more accurate criterion of degree days. So, for example, the most recent bills show the same average temperature as the previous cycle even though the heating degree days for the current cycle were 50% higher than the previous one.

    In addition, they’ve stopped breaking out what the charges are, in dollars and cents, for electric and gas “adjustment” fees, which are a substantial component of our bills. By making it difficult to figure out what these charges are, in dollars and cents, they are able to hide their effect on our bills. For example, the increase in those charges during the last billing cycle resulted in a significant increase in our gas bills, something even the utility’s supposedly informative web site hid from us.

    MLGW is NOT customer oriented, and it’s time to stop accepting their protestations that they are. They are run by overpaid executives, overseen by a rubber stamp board (and a mostly AWOL City Council when it comes to oversight). In my opinion, it’s time to stop treating the utility like a sacred cow, sell it so we can reap the benefits of a competitive utility market, and use the money a sale would reap (BILLIONS) to ease the burden of an increasingly (and soon to be even more so) onerous amount of property taxes.

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