I recently read an article on thehill.com about Google pushing for smart grid technologies. The article made the same points most smart grid articles do; protects the grid; upgrades an outdated method for reporting usage; lowers cost. The article did not, however, question the safety of the technology.
Smart meters in Texas have become somewhat of a heated subject. Many residents have written the Public Utility Commission expressing their concerns that the new technology violates privacy and could cause health issues.
Before I get into the details let me say I’m for new gird technologies and smart meters. Change, when done right, is a good thing.
I have done some research into both the health and privacy issues and can tell you they both are real. The RF frequencies smart meters use can be damaging if exposed to but the frequencies are lower and comparable to smart phones. Residents are more likely to get exposed to RF frequencies using a cell phone than from having a smart meter installed on their home. Consumers should read the safety fact sheet pdf on the Public Utility Commission’s website.
To research the privacy issue I decided to test my hacking skill and hack into my own smart meter. Smartmetertexas.com only needed my ESIID and my meter ID for me to get access to my usage. I looked up my ESIID number online. I walked up to my meter, which is outside on the side of my house, and found the meter ID. It was easy and a little scary to think someone else could have done it and know when I’m not at home.
Why does Google even care?
Haven’t you heard? Google is trying to take over the world. Smart grid technology gives Google control of our electricity. What will it take control over next our breakfast cereal? “Google Os” are coming watch out.
I don’t really believe Google is going to take over the world. I have a friend who does. He is so paranoid he won’t even get a Gmail account but I digress.
A college professor of mine would always say “follow the money.” Google wants to make money and the best way to do that is to fulfill a need. Smart meter technology will use a lot of data which Google could store on its servers. $$$ka-ching$$$. Obviously I’m pointing out the obvious.
Google also could make some really cool apps and gadgets people could use to track their electricity usage.
Either way, Google will benefit from smart grid technology.
Donny has been writing about the deregulated energy markets since early 2007. His knowledge has helped consumers lower their electricity cost.