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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Argus Overblows Privacy Concerns on Smart Meters

That Sioux Falls paper does a fine job of digging for controversy where there is little, running a front-page story on the pros and cons of smart grid technology. Sioux Valley Electric is getting ready to use federal stimulus dollars to install 23,000 smart meters here in eastern South Dakota. Smart meters will give you and your utility more information about and more control over how much electricity you use. Just one part of the smart grid, smart meters have been shown to be able to lower electric bills by 15%, and in some cases as much as 50%.

Against all the potential benefits of the smart grid—and Mike Knutson at Reimagine Rural offers a great five-point response on why smart meters are just plain sliced-bread-super—the only con that Sioux Falls paper can find is faintly Tea-Party-esque Big Brother talk. They cite a Bob Sullivan MSNBC article, Wired, and an out-of-state think tank who raise privacy concerns.

(Citing MSNBC and Wired... that Sioux Falls paper is sounding a lot like a blog....)

Not so long ago, my privacy meter might have sounded an alarm as well. Sioux Valley will know when I microwave some popcorn... it's 1984! Aaaahhh!

But if you really want to get bent out of shape about the privacy issues associated with energy-saving smart meters, then you'd better be prepared to decouple yourself from much more than the electric grid:
  1. Cut up your credit cards: Citigroup et al. have detailed records of all that stuff you buy and when and where you buy it.
  2. Smash your cell phone: its GPS chip can tell law enforcement exactly where you are.
  3. Unwire OnStar... or ride your bike!
  4. Get off the Internet: Google knows much more about you than Sioux Valley Electric ever will.
  5. Repeal the Patriot Act (warrantless wiretaps? there's a real privacy freak-out).
So just curious: do any of you have privacy concerns about smart meters? If so, what other aspects of modern technology will you abandon to protect your privacy?

1 comment:

  1. Cory,

    Are smart grids staying voluntary like cell phones, credit cards, and Google? And if so, then the taxpayers are not going to pay for them?


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