By Catherine J. Frompovich
There is information about AMI Smart Meters probably very few people know anything about, but will affect them enormously, especially when consumers don’t know to expect what’s happening.
It’s demand-side management (DSM), which allows electric utilities to turn off various appliances in order to conserve energy—one of the main, if not the key reason—for AMI Smart Meters, in my opinion, in addition to surveillance.
Instead of improving electric utilities infrastructure; building new energy production facilities; or providing renewal energy sources, I offer, utilities can cut, reduce electric service, or provide “brown outs” to 25 percent—maybe more—customers on a rotating basis so only 75 percent of customers will be using peak energy levels at any given time during peak load demands. Electric utility customers should think consecutive “rolling brown outs.” One specific creature-comfort impacted is air conditioning during hot, humid summer weather.
DSM has been around since the 1980s, maybe even earlier in the 1970s. At one time customers could “buy into DSM” in order to save on energy costs, but from what I gather, current AMI SMs will make DSM an automatic “built-in” feature customers will have no say about how it’s implemented by the utility. It’s there to be used at the sole discretion and control of the utility. So, don’t be surprised if your air conditioner goes quiet for 15 minutes, or longer, during peak demand periods. Nothing may be wrong with your air conditioning unit; it may be your electric company sending a microwave signal to your AMI Smart Meter to shut off the air conditioner, specifically newer models or a “smart, energy-saver” air conditioner with a built-in ZigBee transmitter, which operates on microwaves in the gigahertz range.
The same DSM principle for “brown outs” can be applied to other appliances: refrigerators, washers, dryers, water heaters, or other “high demand” appliances in your home. That’s what utilities’ algorithms are all about: monitoring your electric consumption by recording and tracking each appliance’s electrical ‘signature’.