Unclassified Info: Covert meter installation really smarts

On July 8 in this paper, Glenn Steiger, general manager of Glendale Water & Power said, “If customers would like to have direct dialogue with us, they can attend one of our ‘Coffees in the Park’ so that we may address any questions or concerns.”

Well it just so happens I did not need to go to a park to have a direct dialogue with an employee working on behalf of Glendale Water & Power. I did it in my backyard as he tried to install a smart meter for the house where I live.

Let me set the scene: I was at home working when my two dogs began barking wildly. Thinking it was a solicitor, I did not feel any need to hobble to the door. A short time later, I went to the kitchen and saw the utility technician in my backyard. Curious, I opened the back door and asked what he was doing.

“I’m here to install your smart meter,” he said.

“But I don’t want one and I didn’t ask for one,” I replied.

“We gave you notice.”

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FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this column incorrectly stated Gary Huerta is a Glendale Water & Power customer. He lives at the residence, but is not the billing customer. Glendale Water & Power verified sending a notice of the meter installation to that customer.

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The worker said that he had already removed the seal from the old meter, and that he would have to leave my house and get a new seal if I refused the smart meter.

“Better get moving then, because I’m just fine with the old meter,” I told him.

The worker complied and left my old meter intact. I felt relieved no resistance was offered.

The next day I went to work. And when I came back, there was a smart meter installed on the house. Maybe it’s simply a matter of Glendale Water & Power knowing how much abuse it can dole out without fear of recrimination.

When it comes down to it, who can we really turn to when big business decides to impose its will? I am beginning to wonder if John Q. Public has a voice anymore. It doesn’t feel like it.

Clearly, there was nothing wrong with the old meter. So what is the point of this expensive meter-switching project?

In my opinion, the exercise of installing smart meters is one of profit. Think about it. When was the last time you heard about any large business investing a large sum of money without expecting a return on investment?

In this instance, Glendale Water & Power’s reasons for installing these smart meters are weak at best. Take a look at some of the so-called advantages Steiger and other utility officials claim the smart meters will facilitate.

I will be able to see my usage in real time through future in-home displays.

Really? And when exactly is this future in-home display set to arrive? Because all I see is a one-sided rush to install the billing component of this new program.

And seriously, who is going to sit around their house monitoring real-time water and electricity usage on a regular basis. Is there some enormous cult of energy geeks I don’t know about?

Smart meters will help me detect water leaks.

Other than underground leaks, isn’t this something I can do most of the time by being observant around my property? I need a smart meter to tell me my toilet leaks? I don’t think so.

Smart meters can help me understand when to reschedule some of my appliances.

This is something almost all utility companies have been advertising for decades on TV, radio and in print. We already know this is something we should do! Is a smart meter actually going to reschedule my appliances? Is it that smart? No.

The truth of the matter is, Glendale Water & Power has given us no breakthrough reason to believe this $70-million project is going to save residents money. Then again, why should it? The operating procedure is nothing more than to sugar-coat something and shove it down our throats because they know we have to swallow it regardless of whether we want it.

We would be fools to believe Glendale Water & Power is investing all this money with altruistic intent. Somewhere within the walls of the utility I’m sure there is a document that shows how much revenue these smart meters will generate over a certain period of time.

I guarantee that document exists, because if it doesn’t, and Glendale Water & Power invested $70 million without any research, it would be an enormously knuckleheaded move.

Personally, I’m less interested in when I should reschedule my appliance during peak times than I am in finding out when Glendale Water & Power will begin to turn a profit on its $70-million investment. I wonder if my new smart meter knows the answer to that?

GARY HUERTA is a Glendale resident and author. He is currently working on his second novel and the second half of his life. Gary may be reached at gh@garyhuerta.com.
 
 

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