Tanya Schroeder 11:48 a.m., Dec. 12
SDG&E Leading Nation in Smart Grid Rollout, Like It or Not
In the future, we will all get more than power for paying our monthly electrical bill. We will also be paying to be controlled from afar, all in what San Diego Gas and Electric Company likes to think is our best interests.
According to Michael Niggli, chief operating officer of both SDG&E and Southern California Gas, SDG&E's smart grid implementation will eventually include SDG&E's on-off control of household appliances in individual San Diego homes.
Among Niggli's comments to IBM's Andrew Nusca: “We’re making sure the marketplace is prepared. Let’s start at the house. When I think of interoperability, my first thought is at the smart meter — the interface point between our customers and the grid. The smart meter is truly an enabler of new technologies. Our company will be the first utility in the United States to have all of its customers on smart meters, to finish in the latter half of 2011. That allows our customers to have a lot better information about their consumption patterns and therefore they can know more about when to consume. We send them price signals that help them conserve and shift their load. Secondly, we link through to appliances. Ultimately there are going to be chips in your air conditioners, dishwashers, freezers and garage that allow communication, telling their homes how to react to heat waves and so forth.”
So far, the implementation has not been flawless, including neighborhood blackouts from remote smart meter software upgrades, installation then replacement of hackable smart meters, and dual dependencies on networks that the United States Secret Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency have cited as prone to terrorist and foreign military cyberattack. According to SDG&E, PG&E, and SCE attorneys in their Wildfire Expense balancing Account (WEBA) A0908020 application, public power utilities cannot be expected to follow all safety regulations at all times nor can those utilities be responsible for employee negligence.
California's Public Utilities Code plainly states that the acts of a public utility employee are the acts of the public utility.
I am starting to wonder if Niggli has ever seen the Governator in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
Personally, I have to ask: If smart meters are installed in everyone's home but 95% of the local power grid consists of power lines that remain overhead until 2063, how smart of a grid is that?
Isn't this like trying to turn a B-17 from World War II into a supersonic stealth aircraft with a flat black paint job and nitrous oxide bottles?
SDG&E's Niggli states, “The smart meter is truly an enabler of new technologies”: Currently, SDG&E has no idea of small business and consumer consumption patterns on anything less than a monthly basis. Smart meters are the enabler of SDG&E's proposed PeakShift at Work/PeakShift at Home (PSW/PSH) A1007009 rate hike. According to SDG&E attorneys who filed the A1007009 application with California's Public Utilities Commission, PSW/PSH is designed to send consumers a price signal to leave the daytime business hour electricity market through prices that may be as much as ten times higher than evening and weekend small business and residential rates. If a customer of SDG&E is a small business or a residential power customer and a smart meter has already been installed, get ready for some daytime rate increases. For those residents who don't want to opt into PSH, SDG&E has already requested authority from CPUC to bill all customers $118 million, paying for advertising to us that paying more for the same amount of daytime business hour electricity is somehow to our benefit.
SDG&E's Niggli states, “We send them price signals that help them conserve and shift their load.”: See the attorney language in the A1007009 application about the plan to drive residential and small business customers (but not large commercial accounts) from the daytime business hour electricity market through “price signals”.
SDG&E's Niggli states, “Ultimately there are going to be chips in your air conditioners, dishwashers, freezers and garage that allow communication, telling their homes how to react to heat waves and so forth.”: Now, in software, we tend to refer to this as a trojan or a worm, something virus-like and potentially malicious, which is why we should all have a firewall running along with anti-virus guarding software active and running. By law and CPUC regulations, SDG&E is an energy industry public utility, meaning that it sells natural gas and electricity to customers who use delivered natural gas and electricity as we see fit; we bought it, and typically under California law, we get to say how we use it, or we really don't own what SDG&E delivered beyond their side of the meter to us, smart meter or not. With 21st-century smart meters slapped onto a dumb 20th-century grid, our future appliances will now be told electronically to shut down based on SDG&E's preferences, not ours. I don't think any of us really want to pay for that. In addition, people who work away from home during the day may find that it is to Sempra Energy's SDG&E advantage to have everyone's appliances running full blast when nobody is looking, like what was done to California as a whole by Enron and others in the 2000 Energy Crisis. CPUC already recognizes that Sempra Energy takes money out of SDG&E for shareholder dividends that SDG&E could have used to put power lines underground or make other infrastructure improvements. Right now, the only infrastructure improvements that Sempra Energy seems interested in are in Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Mexico, as one stated purpose by SDG&E for PSW/PSH is to avoid building power plants in San Diego.
Thanks to SDG&E's Niggli for cluing us all in.
Niggli quote source:
SDG&E PeakShift A1007009 Application: