Letter old meters are like old cars not worth much letters to editor ptleader.com electricity grid code

It looks like I wasn’t explicit enough in my comment. By analog meters, I mean DUMB analog meters which is what SMOG is proposing, not AMR meters as we currently have. Dumb analog meters do not report usage every 5 minutes; they do not report usage at all. They are typically read monthly and are therefore incompatible with time of day rates. To say that the PUD has not announced time of day rates in their long range strategy is to ignore the fact that the PUD has no realistic long term strategy. Within the lifetime of the next generation of meters, it is increasingly likely that we will no longer have a reliable snowpack and dependable access to hydropower or to be able to rely on BPA for our electricity needs. The excess generation capacity that we take for granted currently is based on fossil fuel combustion, a practice that we need to wean ourselves from. As we do so, the gap between generation capacity and momentary demand will decrease, and time of day rates will be much more common to distribute loads more evenly over the day.

It is also misleading to say that control of the grid is done by the distribution system. In Jefferson County, we have a coarse grained distribution system. Smart meters essentially allow a fine grained meter-by-meter distribution system. Such a system could be useful in the event that our electricity supply is severely decreased in an emergency such as the Cascadia earthquake. For example, the Quimper Grange building could function as an emergency center and homes with individuals too ill to move to an emergency center could be served with power as would essentials services and businesses while most homes and businesses would not get power.

The statement “No – hell no – Big Brother” to controlling household devices is an expression of heroic individualism more suited to the 19 th century than today. Problems such as climate change require cooperation, not individualism. I would have no problem with the PUD turning off my electric hot water heater for a few minutes in a demand response to avoid brownouts. The effect on water temperature would be negligible. I would also have no problem if access to my electric vehicle charger were restricted to several time periods in the day, depending on system usage. Of course, what could be controlled is an important discussion. The PUD is not likely to turn off your TV in the middle of your favorite program. (Edited by staff.)

Tom Engel and his new car. Mr. Engel cannot possibly appreciate the massive carbon footprint these new meters require to be manufactured. There is a lot of plastic made from fossil fuels in these meters, there is also numerous heavy metals such as tin/lead in the solder materials. In addition acid effluent for etching of circuit boards. Circuits provided by China under virtually slave labor conditions, copper components produced in off shore mining operations and the list of wasteful utilization of natural resources goes on and on. This is not economically sustainable and is dramatically contributing to our throw away society. We have an analog meter that have an outstanding life expectancy and re-use of these assets is an extremely sound fiscal and physical use of resources. The only time to incorporate new technology is when it provides a direct positive benefit to society by reducing consumer costs. Not utility cost, bit consumer coast. Not one public utility has ever given one dime back to a customer as the result of implementing AMI meters. In fact the pre-ponderous of evidence is exactly the opposite. I will give Tom Engel $1,000 if he can find me an entire public utility consumer base, where the bill to the consumer has been reduced to a rate in effect before implementing AMI meters. He won’t find one. The only way for the AMI meter to reduce your bill is to cut your power off at the discretion of the utility, and perhaps is the agenda after all. How dare we turn our lights on!

Note that Mr. Bathgate did not challenge the main topic of the letter, that so called refurbished meters are actually used meters. A central goal of the meter replacement program is to minimize costs. We can all agree that used meters will need to be replaced sooner than new meters. Because the labor cost of replacing all meters is one million dollars, it is not prudent to install used meters of unknown age. We do need assurance that AMI meters will last 20 years before deploying them. As they have not been in use that long, we need information from utilities that have had them in use for the longest time, which will be close to 10 years. That information, coupled with information on a closely related previous generation of meters will be the best source of information on which to predict a usable lifetime.

I agree with Mr. Bathgate that “The only time to incorporate new technology is when it provides a direct benefit to society”. AMI meters meet that criterion. Within the new meter lifetime, we may no longer have a reliable snowpack and hydropower may not be available in the summer months. Renewable solar production will be concentrated in the Southwest, and wind power will be generated in the Midwest. We will need a smart grid and AMI meters to balance these sources with small scale locally generated power and storage, time of use rates, and peak shifting. These needs can’t be met with used analog meters. An additional technological advantage of digital meters is that unlike analog signals, they display error signals. There is no way to find those analog meters that are running slow and costing the PUD revenue. This is a major technological advantage.

I also agree with Mr. Bathgate on the need to modify how goods are produced. My favorite example is laptops. Let’s require modular designs that allow the central processing unit to be replaced while retaining the keyboard and display. That is a long term goal. We need to replace our meters now, and have to rely on products that are available now.

Mr. Bathgate does not seem to know that the PUD is a publicly owned utility so that reducing utility cost is the same as reducing consumer cost. His understanding of how projects such as meter replacement are financed is naïve. The initial cost comes out of reserves or taking on debt, in our case it would be reserves. In a financially justified program, savings ensue and the reserves are replenished. At some time, probably after about 10 years, the reserves are totally replenished and further cost savings delay rate increases that would always occur through inflation and increased labor and electricity costs. In this scenario, neither rate increases nor decreases arise through meter replacement.