By Katie McKenzie
On October 23, 2017, John Finnigan, Senior Regulatory Attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund, posted a blog: “These Ohio Customers pay for their smart meters, and They Should Have Access to the Benefits.”
John Finnigan is the senior regulatory attorney for EDF’s US Climate and Energy Program, representing EDF before state public utility commissions on smart grid deployments and energy efficiency matters
Mr. Finnigan may be one of the few people who have directly acknowledged that Ohioans have been paying for their Duke Energy “AMI” (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) so-called “Smart” Meters since they were installed in 2010.
Now 700,000+ Ohio meters installed between 2010-2015 need to be replaced due to depreciation and now obsolete infrastructure. Duke wants customers to pay approximately $143.4M for this.
All Duke AMI “Smart” Meters installed between 2010-2015 in Kentucky and North Carolina have to be replaced as well.
In 2009, Duke received $204M in federal stimulus to install current meters. In 2014, Ohioans were hit with a customer rate increase to complete the installation of currently installed meters.
Mr. Finnegan doesn’t acknowledge in his blog that many Ohioans have been reporting problems – not benefits – with these current meters.
Similar problems with Duke’s AMI “Smart” Meters have also been reported in 5 other states as well.
In 2011 Consumer Digest published an article which accurately predicted the short life span of these Duke meters.
Coincidentally EDF includes a bio for Mr. Finnigan which doesn’t include that he was once a Vice President for Duke Energy.
Below I have quoted from Mr. Finnigan’s blog, followed by “REALITY CHECK” context and links for reported Duke Energy AMI “Smart” Meter problems:
EDF’s Finnigan: “Studies show that customers with access to energy-use data can save up to 18 percent on their energy bills every month. Based on a typical monthly bill of $120, households could save nearly $360 every year – a substantial chunk of change.”
Customers have reported unusually high bills after Duke Energy installed these meters in 6 states.
EDF’s Finnigan: “This type of energy data is gathered by advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), specifically smart meters.”
Mr. Finnigan acknowledges that current Duke Energy AMI “Smart” Meters have allowed them to collect personal energy usage data 24/7.
Therefore, Duke Energy knows exactly when we turn our lights on and off, use our appliances, etc. This is a violation of privacy. It’s also risky because hackers could break into Duke Energy data storage centers and determine when residents aren’t home due to their utility usage (or lack thereof).
Before so-called “smart” meters, there was no invasive data collection like this.
EDF’s Finnigan: “Yet collecting the data isn’t enough to see those savings – customers need access to the information and new products and services, like cell phone apps, to help understand it.”
Consumer Union’s Senior Policy Counsel, Shannon Baker-Branstetter wrote an article about how Ohio customers shouldn’t be required to purchase and use additional products and services to understand their bills and reduce their energy use.
Of course, all customers complaining of unusually high bills might be interested in having their utility data so they can prove that Duke is overcharging them. Maybe that’s why Duke Energy is still refusing to provide it.
EDF’s Finnigan: “That’s why Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), along with our partners Ohio Environmental Council and Mission.data, recommend that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio require Duke Energy to release customers’ energy use information, specifically through the implementation of the Green Button ‘Connect My Data’ program.”
The 2011 Consumer Digest article paints a very unflattering picture of environmental groups like EDF as do other articles including this more recent one.
Environmental groups like EDF are continuing to endorse “Smart” Meter technology despite the fact that hundreds of thousands have already been replaced since 2010 due to various problems. This is contributing to e-Waste which isn’t eco-friendly.
In 2013, a documentary was produced about all the problems associated with “Smart” Meters. In 2017, another documentary was produced which addressed problems with these meters as well.
Environmental groups such as EDF who continue to endorse these meters anyway seem to be either fools or perhaps they are simply profiting from them along with the utility companies.
One environmental group that chose to discontinue endorsing “Smart” meters is the Sierra Club in San Francisco. In March 2011, their executive committee voted unanimously to send a letter to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors requesting an ordinance prohibiting any further “smart” meter installations because of all the reported problems in California.
Wouldn’t it be great if more environmental groups did the same?
EDF’s Finnigan: “Duke is currently asking Ohio for $143 million to replace its smart meters.”
Again – current so-called “Smart” meters were installed between 2010-2015 and were paid for with $204M in federal stimulus given to Duke Energy in 2009 and a 2014 rate increase to Ohio customers.
All of these soon-to-be obsolete Duke AMI “Smart” meters installed within the last 5-7 years will have to go someplace – perhaps a landfill. That’s not eco-friendly.
Original analog meters lasted 40 years on average. These so-called “Smart” Meters don’t work. The only “environmentally-friendly” aspect seems to be for the utility companies’ bottom lines, with the receipt of millions of dollars of federal “stimulus” incentives and the firing, nationwide, of many hundreds of meter readers.
(It’s worth noting that monthly in-person meter readings were never necessary. Bills could be estimated or customers could submit their own readings to the utility companies.)
EDF’s Finnigan: “The utility wants its Ohio customers to foot the bill for the new meters without giving them access to their meter data.”
It’s great that Mr. Finnigan continues to draw attention to Ohioans “footing the bill.” But he continues to not acknowledge all the problems associated with current meters as well as problems associated with “Smart” meters everywhere. This could be considered “lies of omission.”
EDF’s Finnigan: “Sharing the data would give customers a chance to enjoy significant potential savings from their investment in AMI.”
“Potential” savings isn’t actual savings. Having access to this data guarantees nothing. Consumer Union’s Senior Policy Counsel, Shannon Baker-Branstetter seems to think so as well.
EDF’s Finnigan: “Sharing anonymized electricity data with third parties would enable businesses to develop new products and services, too.”
In reality, and Finnigan should acknowledge this, Duke Energy will be SELLING this electricity data to third parties, not “sharing” it. This data is yet another profit center for Duke Energy. Again, whose side is EDF on?
There have been problems with “Smart” Meters reported everywhere. All over the world, there are organizations trying to keep these meters out of their communities. A list of organizations from states with Duke Energy AMI “Smart” Meters is included at the end of the article.
By contrast, John Finnegan’s advocacy for so-called “smart meters” on behalf of Environmental Defense Fund is a case study in “Greenwashing” and the damaging promotion of wasteful corporate boondoggles in the name of environmentalism.
Finnigan is a former Vice President of Duke Energy turned “Regulatory Attorney” who keeps pitching crappy Duke Energy products that have never been beneficial to customers or genuinely “eco-friendly.”
Finnigan is asking Ohioans to pay YET AGAIN for an expensive, unneccessary, and hazardous “smart” meter infrastructure, which Ohioans never asked for in the first place!
In addition to contributing to landfill waste, these meters also emit wireless WiFi radiation and are contributing to Electrosmog which is also NOT eco-friendly. In fact, these meters have been known to make people and animals very sick and that’s definitely not eco-friendly.
If you are a Duke customer and you don’t like any or all of this, contact the following organizations:
- Stop Smart Meters Ohio: https://www.facebook.com/Stop-Smart-Meters-Ohio-312918642421542/
- Stop Smart Meters North Carolina: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1459086210979866/
- Stop Smart Meters South Carolina and Worldwide: http://www.facebook.com/StopSCSmartmeters
- Raleigh ES: http://www.raleighes.info/
- SC Smart Meter Awareness: https://www.facebook.com/groups/434507450216942/
- No Smart Meters 4 Indiana: https://www.facebook.com/No-Smart-Meter-4-Indiana-165960906904648/
- Stop Smart Meters Florida: http://microwavechasm.org/