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A Different Opinion on Smart Meter “Phobia”

Recently someone sent me James Tracy’s blog on an editorial written by the Palm Beach PostSmart Media Phobia Sad, But Don’t Cut Power” regarding FP&L’s smart meters. The Palm Beach Post circulation covers the area for which FP&L maintains its headquarters. Essentially the editors feel that the Internet is a blessing and a curse because people, other than them, don’t know how to interpret data and they are reading things other than the mainstream media and are being “misinformed”. We apparently repeat these misunderstandings until they sound like “fact”.

The editorial goes on to repeat industry propaganda about how one can be continually exposed to smart meters for 375 years and that would equate to a 15-minute cell phone call. Dr. Tracy, in his blog post, details all the science he has previously provided FP&L that refutes such nonsense. I decided to call out the Palm Beach Post on other false information in their Op-Ed. Most likely they won’t print it, but luckily we have alternative media to by-pass their censorship power.

My response sent to the Palm Beach Post editorial was as follows.

Editors of the Palm Beach Post:

I am the lead petitioner in the action against the Florida Power & Light (FP&L) smart meter opt out fees currently before the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC). I read your editorial published September 4, 2014 and shook my head, as it is nothing but another corporate propaganda piece that spreads misinformation.

First, I take exception to the insinuation that I suffer from “lack of training to parse data”. I am a CPA and trained auditor. I know how to research, source and interpret data. I also have a background in the regulatory process having worked 11 years for a telephone company. I have handled complicated transactions such as the AT&T divestiture to the planning and implementation of Sarbanes – Oxley regulations for a multi-billion dollar company. I have spent about 10 hours per day, 5 days a week for two years reading every governmental and industry report on the smart grid and smart meters. My computer is now overloaded with downloads.

Second, it is not a fact that “the vast majority of FP&L’s approximately 4.6 million customers have “adopted the new technology without a second thought”. The truth is the vast majorities don’t even know they have a smart meter or what it does differently. But what is true is that the claims of the smart meter giving people information to help manage their energy are a lie, as the current information provided to customers is useless. This can be supported by FP&L’s disclosure that the vast majority of customers have yet to even access their silly Energy Dashboard. But I am sure the editors of this paper do so every day, correct?

Third, the biggest lie in your is this statement “The facts are clear: Smart meters lower everyone’s utility bills by reducing the need for trucks, fuel, and meter readers. They reduce the length and extent of power outages. They pose no credible threat to health.”

Smart meters do not reduce the length and extent of power outages – smart technologies (sensors on equipment like transformers and substations and smart switches on feeders) do provide this benefit.

Regarding your statements of “credible threat to health”, where have we heard that phrase before? Ah, yes, the tobacco industry used that phrase for decades quite successfully, didn’t they? Now let’s look at the credibility of FP&L’s lead consultant on smart meter health, Dr. Peter Valberg. He claims that there is no “credible” science that shows RF harm. Your readers should know that he also testified on behalf of Phillip Morris in their light cigarettes deceptive marketing case. His testimony essentially stated that light cigarettes were just not being smoked properly, and also that the tobacco studies performed by Philip Morris were consistent” with what was known to the outside scientific community. No deception, right? How “credible” is this guy? Your readers can decide but they should also do an internet search on the BioInitiative Report before they make their decision.

But most importantly, smart meters have not lowered your bills – not one penny – they have actually increased them. Let me count the ways:

First, the old meters had a net book value (NBV) of $75 million and an estimated useful life of approximately 36 years. FP&L wrote off $101 million (includes cost of removal) when they threw the perfectly operational old meters in the garbage. The annual depreciation charges for these meters were around $7 million per year ($249 Million Gross value/36 yrs). The approximate annual return on investment FP&L received on the NBV of $75 million, using 9.48% pre-tax cost of capital was $7 million.

Contrast that to now. The smart meter project capital is $645 million with an estimated useful life of 20 years (and if you believe the 20 yr life, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you). This equates to depreciation charges of about $32 million per year ($645M/20yrs). The return on investment FP&L will earn on this new smart meter capital will be about $61 million per year ($645M at 9.48%), decreasing by about $3 million each year to reflect the lower NBV from depreciation.

Second, FP&L current rates are based on a 2013 test year and the 2012 rate case settlement agreement keeps the rates the same until at least 2017. The 2013 test year reflects an overall net Operations & Maintenance (O&M) cost of $3.4 million for the smart meter project. (Funny, in 2009 they estimated that the year 2013 would produce a net O&M savings of $20 million. I guess the project is overrunning its budget.) FP&L recently testified that once the project was completed in 2013 there would be about $40 million annual net savings in O&M.

When rate case settlements are made they are made for a period of time. Each party looks at that period of time to determine if anything needs to be considered and factored in before the final settlement is agreed to and finalized. FP&L raised its hand high, saying, look over here, I have new plants coming on line in these outer years and we need to raise rates to recover our investment and such was granted. But did FP&L raise their hand or did the FPSC insist that the smart meter savings of $40 million, which would start to be realized during that period, also be accounted for? No. FP&L was not required to reduce the rates in the outer years to reflect the savings.

Third, lets not forget to count all the new costs that are being incurred that did not exist with those old analog meters. Now you have communication costs to send the data wirelessly back to FP&L, cyber-security costs, software license and maintenance fees, data storage costs, big data consultants, settlements on fires and property damage, more equipment to be damaged in storms and the list goes on.

So Palm Beach Editorial Board, please disclose to your readers your facts to support your claim that smart meters have lowered our utility bills. The miscellaneous tariffs for all these activities – service connects/disconnects, reconnects for non-payment – are EXACTLY the same as they were when FP&L didn’t have smart meters. FP&L’s 2013 test year also included significant manual meter-reading costs as they still had over 800 thousand meters left to install in their assumptions and those costs are still baked into our current rates.

Your readers can decide for themselves, if FP&L, who made NO disclosure in their rate case settlement agreement that they planned to file these smart meter opt out tariffs (despite smart meters being an issue in the rate case), is deserving of an additional $2 million a year in revenue from these customers when they are keeping the $40 million in savings for three years and overcharging smart meter customers for truck rolls they are no longer performing. Is FP&L violating the rate case settlement agreement by trying to change rates for services already provided at the date of that agreement?

From my vantage point – if they are deserving of the $2 million in additional revenue because the project is over and we need to recognize a new ‘cost of service” – then it is only fair to re-price all activities affected by this fact and reduce the rates for all customers by $40-45 million.

There is no financial payback for me as I have sunk tens of thousand of dollars into this effort and countless unpaid hours of time. I do so for two reasons – 1) the many “Friedman’s out there who have no voice and are being harmed by this product and 2) to expose the illegal coordination and fraud/deception that took place between FP&L and FPSC as it pertains to this project.

The documented audit trail of deception is as long as the distance from my house in Venice to Tallahassee. Quite frankly, the conduct of our FPSC that I discovered on this journey is more disturbing than FP&L’s. I will take that item up with our state legislators when they return to Tallahassee for the next session.

Florida Power & Light: The Smart Meter Challenge Continues

People in Florida are taking a stand against “smart meters” being installed across the state of Florida.  Two different groups of approximately 100 people have filed 2 separate petitions with FP&L. These people did not want a smart meter attached to their homes and now FP&L wants to charge them extra for their old analog meters.  Did you have a choice?  What benefits are you really getting from having a smart meter on your home?  Have you noticed any savings on your bill because of your smart meter?  What about your privacy, safety and health?  Who is answerable to you, the customer?

If you haven’t been aware or noticed what kind of meter you have on your home you might want to check it out… if you are one of the 4.5million FP&L customers who are getting them it’s time for you to educate yourself and see what you have attached to your home.

David, that’s you, the homeowner really hasn’t been truly educated on these transmitters, keep in mind that FP&L saved a ton of money by getting rid of meter readers, those folks now get to enjoy more leisure time with their friends and family while you, David, get to enjoy radio waves transmitting from your home.  Remember FP&L received $500,000.00 from the federal government to have GE build these meters to be placed on your home.  Why?

Safety standards for the smart meters are not a concern to Goliath (FP&L) but they should be of grave concern to David (the homeowners) who has them attached to their homes.  There is a lot of information out there on some of the safety hazards of smart meters…one distinct hazard are of fire.  “Smart meters are often installed in pre-existing meter sockets. Meter sockets are expected to operate safely for many years. However, the safe operating life of the meter socket may be reduced by many factors including (but not limited to) excessive moisture, environmental contaminants, frequent changing of meters, excessive electrical load (overload or short circuit), vandalism, ground settling, storm damage, and other conditions.

As utilities move toward two-way communications for meters and remote meter reading, the opportunity for inspection of meter sockets is expected to decline. The interval between site visits by utility personnel could be more than 100 times longer than current monthly schedules”  Who will have the liability for this problem?

Privacy issues with smart meters are:

Homeland Security said our electric grid should not be dependent on wireless systems, which are by their nature extremely vulnerable. We understand that police will be allowed to subpoena the data that the ‘smart’ meter collects from utility companies.  In addition, third party corporations will be able to access and analyze your private household appliance use data without your knowledge or consent.  For example, if your health insurance company found out from your utility that you opened your fridge often in the middle of the night, they may raise your premium to cover their liability for your unhealthy lifestyle.”

Some people are not concerned with having their lives out there for anyone to view and use, I for one care very much for my privacy and have never given consent to any utility to use my data or spy on my lifestyle.

Health concerns are wide and varied, coming from multiple sources and doctors.

“ Exposure to microwave and radiowave radiation from these meters is involuntary and continuous. The transmitting meters may not even comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “safety” standards (see http://sagereports.com/smart-meter-rf/). However, those standards were initially designed to protect an average male from tissue heating (cooking) during a brief exposure. These standards were not designed to protect a diverse population from the non-thermal effects of continuous exposure to microwave and radiowave radiation. Therefore, these “safety” standards were not designed to protect the public from health problems under the circumstances which the meters are being used.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine has called for a moratorium on the installation of transmitting utility meters on the basis that:

“Chronic exposure to wireless radiofrequency radiation is a preventable environmental hazard that is sufficiently well documented to warrant immediate preventative public health action.”

I applaud these David’s in taking on Goliath as years from now who will know the final toll this will have on your health and the health of your children.  Are you willing to risk your well being, health, safety and privacy of yourself and your loved ones, I’m not!

Maine and California have a opt out option for Smart Meters and it looks as if Massachusetts is set to follow.

Sources:

http://www.electricalpollution.com/smartmeters.html

smartgridnews.com/artman/publish/Business_Strategy

http://www.smartgridnews.com/artman/publish/Technologies_Metering/Smart-meter-fire-hazards-A-safe-and-sane-approach-5167.html#.UwT9FumPLmQ

Florida Nuclear Plant Nearly Melts Down

Marimer Matos from Courthouse News Service reports, “Florida Power & Light fired a safety officer for shutting down a dangerously leaking nuclear reactor, because it cost $6 million to repair, the man claims in court.”

“Mark W. Hicks sued Florida Power & Light Co. in Port St. Lucie County Court, alleging whistleblower violations, intentional infliction of emotional distress, libel and fraud,” according to Matos.

“It was clear to Hicks that there was great potential peril, as a reactor which loses too much nuclear reactor coolant has a potential of causing core damage, which could ultimately lead to a nuclear meltdown at the power plant, putting the entire civilian population, which would be in proximity to the reactor, in danger,” the complaint states.

Matos reports, “In fact, the same type of coolant leak that Hicks observed at the St. Lucie power plant [pictured above] was what caused the partial nuclear core meltdown on March 28, 1979, known as the Three Mile Island Accident, in Middletown, Pennsylvania, which was the worst nuclear accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history …”

“At the time of the incident, Hicks was following the plant safety procedures outlined in FPL’s Technical Specification § 6.8, and from his own general safety knowledge regarding the procedures required to reduce the safety concern.”

Hicks adds: “Following protocol, Hicks reported to the head of the Nuclear Power Division of FPL and the Executive Vice President of FPL Manoochehr Nazar, who then shockingly and recklessly insisted that Hicks start up the reactor.”

“Despite Hicks’ evaluation of the situation, the obvious safety concerns, and the clear legal requirements which dictated that Hicks and FPL shut down the reactor, Nazar ordered Hicks to sign off on starting up the reactor without repairing the valves,” reports Matos.

“Nazar took the position he did, to startup the reactor, strictly from a position of greed. The bottom line is that he was willing to risk the health, well being, and even the lives of the citizens of Florida to avoid the loss of revenue, while the reactor was being repaired,” states Hicks.

The Port St. Lucie  plant, pictured above, was built in 1976 and contains two nuclear reactors in separate containment buildings. St. Lucie Plant, Units 1 and 2 are located near Jensen Beach, FL (10 MI SE of Ft. Pierce, FL) in NRC Region II; Operator: Florida Power & Light Co.; More information on the NRC facility page link here and at this link.

Read more at Courthouse News Service.

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St. Lucie Nuclear Plant not in danger of Japan-like meltdown, experts say

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