Got Solar? Expect The End Of Net Metering

As part of Smart Grid rollout in 2008, it was the utilities themselves who dreamed up net metering to encourage homeowners to invest in expensive solar panels. Now, those who obliged are being thrown under the bus. ⁃ TN Editor

Net metering is not the future of solar, Bill Ellard says.

An economist who lives just outside Zion National Park in Southern Utah, Ellard installed his own rooftop array in 2013 after several years of watching Utah’s air quality deteriorate with growing concern. But while he remains a staunch advocate for rooftop solar and clean energy, he and other experts agree net metering is not the way these things will be accomplished.

In the mid-2010s, despite its notoriously conservative politics, Utah seemed to embrace its identity as a sort of promised land for the solar industry, with installations tripling one year to the next until thousands of residents purchased rooftop arrays every week. Businesses sprang up to meet the demand, motivated not only by the opportunity to earn a fortune, but to clean up the environment and promote self-reliance to boot.

That rapid growth led to calls from both state energy officials, and Utah’s electric utility monopoly, to end net metering and government-backed subsidies for the booming rooftop solar industry. Solar company officials believed the then-unrelenting growth trajectory was proof their industry was sufficiently established to stand on its own two feet. So they sat down with state and utility leaders and hammered out an agreement to replace net metering with a yet-to-be finalized program.

Where net metering required electric utilities to reimburse rooftop solar customers for excess power at full retail rates, the new program would allow the utility to cap reimbursement tariffs at a lower rate that more closely reflects wholesale power costs. State regulators initially set a temporary tariff at $.092/kWh pending a series of rate cases scheduled to take place this fall.

PacifiCorp — which does business under the Rocky Mountain Power name in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming — has proposed discussing a $.015/kWh tariff later this year as part of a rate case planned when state regulators agreed to end net metering in 2017. Per that agreement, the new tariff — which Rocky Mountain Power emphasizes is paid as a credit against future electrical bills — would take effect in 2021. The new rate would only apply to customers who install rooftop systems after the end of this year.

News of the agreement sent solar sales in Utah tumbling, but as the rate hearings approach, no one is clambering to bring net metering back. This is because net metering, Ellard says, was structurally unstable from the start.

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Virginia Is 4th State To Reject Smart Metering Plans

In a serious blow to the establishment of Technocracy, four states rejected Smart Metering plans in 2018. Smart meters control energy distribution and consumption, which is a key requirement for Technocracy. People and legislators are pushing back across the nation.⁃ TN Editor

On January 17, Virginia utility regulators rejected Dominion Energy’s bid to deploy ‘smart’ electricity meters across the state.

In doing so, Virginia joins state regulators in Kentucky (Aug 2018), Massachusetts (May 2018), and New Mexico (April 2018) in rejecting ‘smart’ meters. In Canada, New Brunswick (July 2018) also rejected ‘smart’ electricity meters.

UPDATE 29 Jan 2019: We received word that parts of Kentucky do have ‘smart’ meters, and KU seems to be still deploying even though the PSC ruled against their proposal. There’s also a similar situation in New Mexico, where the regulatory ruling there seems to not apply to all utilities. We’d like your help to get to the bottom of such situations where regulatory rulings seem to be only partially applicable. If you have further info on these details, please comment below!!

The official reasons for energy regulators’ decisions in all of these regions has been a) exorbitant costs; and b) lack of customer benefit. Though in my view, it is very likely that the liability associated with other aspects about this dangerous technology also played motivational factors, such as privacy violations, documented biological harm from radiation and voltage transients, home fires(including fatalities), and hacking / securityissues.

Dominion Energy’s plans included spending a whopping $5.07 billion just for ‘smart’ / AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) meters. The denial by the State Corporation Commission is “without prejudice,” however, allowing Dominion to refile a revised proposal in the future. identified this this latest rejection in Virginia as

“part of a trend that has seen AMI deployment flatline at roughly 50% of electric customers [in the USA].”

In response, Marjorie Leach-Parker, Chair of Sierra Club’s Virginia Chapterstated:

Today’s decision by the SCC was a victory for all of Dominion’s customers who have grown tired of watching the corporation’s pockets get fatter at their expense. We would have loved to support a true “grid modernization” proposal by Dominion, if the company had proposed measures to increase renewable energy penetration, reduce energy waste, and facilitate electric vehicle integration. Instead, Dominion’s self-serving proposal was met with a firestorm of opposition, and the SCC rightly rejected it.

I envision that since the trends strongly indicate that ‘smart’ meter technology is being widely recognized as useless if not harmful, the “50% deployed” number will diminish as ‘smart’ AMI meters start to be replaced with safe, proven electromechanical technology which does not waste money, lasts 6-8 times longer, is far more accurate, does not surveil utility customers, and does not cause either physical harm or damage to property.

However, whether the trend of ‘smart’ meter proposal rejection (by PUCs) leads to the widespread replacement of ‘smart’ meters (with safe technology) is entirely dependent on the actions of utility customers.

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Siemens: Forever Pushing Smart Grid And Smart Cities

Technocracy-minded Siemens is a global leader in “smart technology” and has launched a massive propaganda campaign to sell their wares no matter what the problem. Siemens is the hammer and the whole world is its nail. ⁃ TN Editor

A new Siemens report has found electrification is a big priority for cities in North America and will continue to be emphasized, although leaders will need to make tough decisions to modify their electric grids to support the change.

The report, entitled “Technology Pathways for Creating Smarter, More Prosperous and Greener Cities,” used the company’s City Performance Tool to pull in data from 70 different areas of city life. It has assessed 40 cities globally, of which 11 are in North America.

“Our grids across cities are not particularly stable and not really capable of taking on this level of power, so we have to start understanding what all the factors are around making this transition and working with all the key players: city leaders, legislators and others that have to make the tough decisions about how you make that transition and make it properly,” Martin Powell, Siemens’ global head of urban development, told Smart Cities Dive.

The electrification trend is one that is gathering momentum across cities, including in transportation. At a conference this month hosted by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), General Motors’ vice president of North American Policy Dan Turton said the electrifying of cars and the growth of electric vehicles (EVs) is “going forward anyway,” regardless of what anyone else says, including those who favor propping up the fossil fuel industry.

Powell warned that while electrification will help cities cut emissions in areas like buildings and transportation — the major causes of pollution and emissions — it will have a “huge amount of demand on power” and require modernization and better use of data to cope. “Cities were built when populations were a third or a quarter of what they are in most of these big cities today,” he said. “We’ve always bolted on things and expanded systems, so it’s very difficult to get all the efficiency you need out of a system that does that.”

And as vehicles and other pollution sources electrify, Powell said they should work on data-driven and modernized systems to help reliability. Such issues have plagued electric buses at times, so while electrifying fleets has been a bit point of emphasis for American cities, they must also balance that priority with ensuring there are fewer maintenance problems. That, Powell said, could make this country a world leader. “The U.S. has an opportunity to deliver that future but in a way that works properly,” he said.

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Smart Meters Continue To Raise Data Security Questions

Almost 50% of all meters have been replaced with Smart Meters but data and privacy issues have never been adequately addressed. The utility spokesman in this article falsely claims that meters “only monitor how much energy is used in total, not how it is used within the household.” ⁃ TN Editor

As utility companies across the state roll out new Internet-connected electrical meters, Smithfield Township supervisors are calling on Met-Ed to show how they’re protecting customers’ information. The Board of Supervisors penned a letter this week to FirstEnergy Corp., Met-Ed’s parent company, and state regulatory officials asking what protections are in place to keep private consumer data from unwanted eyes.

“What limits have been placed on data collection and permissions for data collection beyond monthly billing cycle totals?” it says in the letter, dated Nov. 14, to FirstEnergy’s president, regional president, state president, the state Office of Consumer Advocates and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. “The notice sent to our residents makes no mention of this, yet is it is of prime concern to us in order to protect and secure data of our residential households.”

“What security is in place, how is it administered, and who monitors its effectiveness in regards to preventing hacking of the system and the possibility of denial of service incidents?” the letter continues. “We strenuously urge that both of these issues be addressed before smart meter technology is allowed to progress.”

Pennsylvania Act 129 of 2008 requires large power companies in the state to install Internet connected monitoring devices, or smart meters, by 2023 or sooner. The mandate was enacted in an effort to increase efficiency, as the smart devices increase system-wide control and improve data availability for both utility providers and consumers by transmitting energy usage wirelessly.

Installations have begun in some households already. Met-Ed began its rollout for the greater Stroudsburg service area in June, and the company plans to transition its entire Monroe County service area by March of 2019, according to Met-Ed’s most recent deployment schedule.

On Friday, Met-Ed spokesman Aaron Ruegg said the company was making every effort to protect customers’ privacy.

“FirstEnergy places the utmost importance on the security and protection of all aspects of our electric system and associated sub systems,” he said in a Friday afternoon email. “Our communication network is a high security environment that uses multiple layers of protection from unwanted access — including the use of passwords, firewalls, data encryption, continuous monitoring and other security controls.”

The smart meters, which are in many ways similar to their unconnected counterparts, only monitor how much energy is used in total — not how it used within the household, he also said. Smart meters also do not store or transmit any personally identifiable customer information such as names or address.

“We follow the cybersecurity guidelines established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology,” Ruegg said. “FirstEnergy takes the responsibility to protect the privacy and security of our customers very seriously. And, we protect your information in the same way under current privacy protection laws, regardless of meter type.”

The National Institute of Standard and Technology declined to comment on its guidelines for cybersecurity. Experts within the NIST could not discuss any related threats without technical knowledge of the utility company’s implementation details, spokesman Chad Boutin said on Friday.

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smart meter

WIN! Landmark Seventh Circuit Decision Says Fourth Amendment Applies to Smart Meter Data

A major Appeals Court has ruled that Smart Meters violate your protection of illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. Depending on what citizens around the nation do with this ruling, it could potentially send Technocracy back into the last century where it belongs.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” – Fourth Amendment, U.S. Constitution ⁃ TN Editor


The Seventh Circuit just handed down a landmark opinion, ruling 3-0 that the Fourth Amendment protects energy-consumption data collected by smart meters. Smart meters collect energy usage data at high frequencies—typically every 5, 15, or 30 minutes—and therefore know exactly how much electricity is being used, and when, in any given household. The court recognized that data from these devices reveals intimate details about what’s going on inside the home that would otherwise be unavailable to the government without a physical search. The court held that residents have a reasonable expectation of privacy in this data and that the government’s access of it constitutes a “search.”

This case, Naperville Smart Meter Awareness v. City of Naperville, is the first case addressing whether the Fourth Amendment protects smart meter data. Courts have in the past held that the Fourth Amendment does not protect monthly energy usage readings from traditional, analog energy meters, the predecessors to smart meters. The lower court in this case applied that precedent to conclude that smart meter data, too, was unprotected as a matter of law. On appeal, EFF and Privacy International filed an amicus brief urging the Seventh Circuit to reconsider this dangerous ruling. And in its decision, released last week, the Seventh Circuit wisely recognized that smart meters and analog meters are different:

“Using traditional energy meters, utilities typically collect monthly energy consumption in a single lump figure once per month. By contrast, smart meters record consumption much more frequently, often collecting thousands of readings every month. Due to this frequency, smart meters show both the amount of electricity being used inside a home and when that energy is used.”  

The Seventh Circuit recognized that this energy usage data “reveals information about the happenings inside a home.” Individual appliances, the court explained, have distinct energy-consumption patterns or “load signatures.” These load signatures allow you to tell not only when people are home, but what they are doing. The court held that the “ever-accelerating pace of technological development carries serious privacy implications” and that smart meters “are no exception.”

This is critical precedent. Last year, roughly 65 million smart meters had been installed in the United States in recent years, with 88% of them—over 57 million—in homes of American consumers; more than 40% of American households had a smart meter. Experts predict that number will reach about 80% by 2020. And law enforcement agencies are already trying to get access to data from energy companies without a warrant.

In this case, a group of citizens called Naperville Smart Meter Awareness challenged Naperville’s policy of requiring every home to have a smart meter, objecting on Fourth Amendment and other grounds. The district court held that smart meter data—despite being collected directly a city utility, not any non-governmental third party—was subject to the so-called “third party doctrine.” In other words, the lower court reasoned that simply because the utility company held the data, it was automatically devoid of constitutional protection.

The Seventh Circuit reversed the district court’s decision, holding that the third party doctrine did not apply. The court first noted that application of the third party doctrine would make no sense in this case. The city itself collected the data; there was no third party. The court then cited the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Carpenter v. United States, which rejectedthe third party doctrine in a case involving cell site location information. In Carpenter, the Supreme Court held that this antiquated doctrine does not apply to the exhaustive stores of personal information information collected today by wireless carriers, which can be used “detailed chronicle of a person’s physical presence compiled every day, every moment over years.” The Court reasoned that people do not “voluntarily ‘assume the risk’ of turning over a comprehensive dossier of physical movements” just by choosing to use a cell phone. The Seventh Circuit held that the same goes for smart meter data: “a home occupant does not assume the risk of near constant monitoring by choosing to have electricity in her home.” As the court explained, the third-party doctrine rests on “the notion that an individual has a reduced expectation of privacy in information knowingly shared with another” and “in this context, a choice to share data imposed by fiat is no choice at all.”

After concluding that smart meter data is protected by the Fourth Amendment, the Seventh Circuit next assessed whether the municipal utility’s “search” was reasonable.  The court, after weighing the city’s interest in collecting the data with the residents’ privacy interest, concluded that the city’s collection of smart meter data in this context was reasonable. The court explained that smart meters play a crucial role in the modernization of the energy grid, allow utilities to restore service more quickly when power goes, permit utilities to offer time-based pricing to reduce the strain on the grid by encouraging consumers to shift usage away from peak demand periods, and reduce utilities’ labor costs because home visits are needed less frequently.

Critically, the court noted that its analysis would be different if Naperville conducted the search with “prosecutorial intent,” if the search was conducted by law enforcement instead of the city’s public utility, or if the data was more easily accessible to law enforcement or other city officials outside the utility. The court cited the city’s policy of not providing customer data to third parties—including law enforcement—without a warrant or court order.  The court also noted that its conclusion might also change if the city were to collect data at intervals shorter than every 15 minutes.

The court did, however, chide the city for failing to give residents the option of keeping traditional meters: “Naperville could have avoided this controversy—and may still avoid future uncertainty—by giving its residents a genuine opportunity to consent to the installation of smart meters, as many other utilities have.”

We applaud the Seventh Circuit for recognizing that smart meters pose serious risks to the privacy of all of our homes, and that rotely applying analog-era case law to the digital age simply doesn’t work. We hope that courts around the country follow the Seventh Circuit in concluding that the Fourth Amendment protects smart meter data.

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Hacked Air Conditioners And IoT Could Shut Down Power Grid

Technocrats who are building out the Internet of Things are unable to secure their creations against hackers. If air conditioner motors in a single large city were all started at the same time, it would break the power grid for a multi-state area. ⁃ TN Editor

When the cybersecurity industry warns about the nightmare of hackers causing blackouts, the scenario they describe typically entails an elite team of hackers breaking into the inner sanctum of a power utility to start flipping switches. But one group of researchers has imagined how an entire power grid could be taken down by hacking a less centralized and protected class of targets: home air conditioners and water heaters. Lots of them.

At the Usenix Security conference this week, a group of Princeton University security researchers will present a study that considers a little-examined question in power grid cybersecurity: What if hackers attacked not the supply side of the power grid, but the demand side? In a series of simulations, the researchers imagined what might happen if hackers controlled a botnet composed of thousands of silently hacked consumer internet of things devices, particularly power-hungry ones like air conditioners, water heaters, and space heaters. Then they ran a series of software simulations to see how many of those devices an attacker would need to simultaneously hijack to disrupt the stability of the power grid.

Their answers point to a disturbing, if not quite yet practical scenario: In a power network large enough to serve an area of 38 million people—a population roughly equal to Canada or California—the researchers estimate that just a one percent bump in demand might be enough to take down the majority of the grid. That demand increase could be created by a botnet as small as a few tens of thousands of hacked electric water heaters or a couple hundred thousand air conditioners.

“Power grids are stable as long as supply is equal to demand,” says Saleh Soltan, a researcher in Princeton’s Department of Electrical Engineering, who led the study. “If you have a very large botnet of IoT devices, you can really manipulate the demand, changing it abruptly, any time you want.”

The result of that botnet-induced imbalance, Soltan says, could be cascading blackouts. When demand in one part of the grid rapidly increases, it can overload the current on certain power lines, damaging them or more likely triggering devices called protective relays, which turn off the power when they sense dangerous conditions. Switching off those lines puts more load on the remaining ones, potentially leading to a chain reaction.

“Fewer lines need to carry the same flows and they get overloaded, so then the next one will be disconnected and the next one,” says Soltan. “In the worst case, most or all of them are disconnected, and you have a blackout in most of your grid.”

Power utility engineers, of course, expertly forecast fluctuations in electric demand on a daily basis. They plan for everything from heat waves that predictably cause spikes in air conditioner usage to the moment at the end of British soap opera episodes when hundreds of thousands of viewers all switch on their tea kettles. But the Princeton researchers’ study suggests that hackers could make those demand spikes not only unpredictable, but maliciously timed.

The researchers don’t actually point to any vulnerabilities in specific household devices, or suggest how exactly they might be hacked. Instead, they start from the premise that a large number of those devices could somehow be compromised and silently controlled by a hacker. That’s arguably a realistic assumption, given the myriad vulnerabilities other security researchers and hackers have found in the internet of things. One talk at the Kaspersky Analyst Summit in 2016 described security flaws in air conditioners that could be used to pull off the sort of grid disturbance that the Princeton researchers describe. And real-world malicious hackers have compromised everything from refrigerators to fish tanks.

Given that assumption, the researchers ran simulations in power grid software MATPOWER and Power World to determine what sort of botnet would could disrupt what size grid. They ran most of their simulations on models of the Polish power grid from 2004 and 2008, a rare country-sized electrical system whose architecture is described in publicly available records. They found they could cause a cascading blackout of 86 percent of the power lines in the 2008 Poland grid model with just a one percent increase in demand. That would require the equivalent of 210,000 hacked air conditioners, or 42,000 electric water heaters.

The notion of an internet of things botnet large enough to pull off one of those attacks isn’t entirely farfetched. The Princeton researchers point to the Mirai botnet of 600,000 hacked IoT devices, including security cameras and home routers. That zombie horde hit DNS provider Dyn with an unprecedented denial of service attack in late 2016, taking down a broad collection of websites.

Building a botnet of the same size out of more power-hungry IoT devices is probably impossible today, says Ben Miller, a former cybersecurity engineer at electric utility Constellation Energy and now the director of the threat operations center at industrial security firm Dragos. There simply aren’t enough high-power smart devices in homes, he says, especially since the entire botnet would have to be within the geographic area of the target electrical grid, not distributed across the world like the Mirai botnet.

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Structural Reform: Japan’s Radical Energy Technocrats Drive Smart Cities

Energy is always at the heart Technocracy. In Japan, Technocrats are restructuring the energy industry in order to transform traditional cities into Smart Cities. The result will be control over every facet of living, ie., Scientific Dictatorship. Apparently, the Japanese citizenry has no idea what is happening right under their nose. ⁃ TN Editor

Japan’s December 14 general election is essentially a rigged referendum on Abenomics. Despite the dismal economic news, team Abe can hardly lose against the splintered and poorly led opposition parties at the national level. The hapless Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) seems likely to gain some seats; but Abe has defined defeat as the loss of his parliamentary majority, which is simply not going to happen.1 Electioneering per se is set to begin on December 2. It will almost certainly not feature substantive debate on the stark choices confronting Japan, meaning how to achieve resilient, decarbonizing, resource-lite growth in the world’s most rapidly ageing society. There will be no serious discussion of the fact that Japan faces among the direst threats from climate change, the developed economies’ most gargantuan public debt, extreme dependence on increasingly precarious fossil fuels, an unprecedented economic experiment (Abenomics) now clearly in deep trouble, dangerously poisoned relations with important neighbours, and a multiplicity of other challenges that collectively defy precedent. All developed and developing countries face dense clusters of “wicked problems,” particularly on the water-energy-food nexus in an epoch of climate crisis, but surely Japan’s are among the most daunting if one strips out the failed states.

Mainstream economic and business analysts are, of course, furiously pumping their bellows of gaseous advice. They insist that Japan can fix all the above by aiming the faltering Abenomics programme at opening markets via the Trans-Pacific Partnership and structural reform that gives large firms and megabanks more freedom to allocate capital in ever more unsustainable ways. By and large, the structural reformists want Japan to be more like post-Reagan America. Key elements of this vision have little appeal for most Japanese and have been thoroughly discredited by such astute students of comparative political economy as Sven Steinmo.2

However, while the rhetoric of Abenomics has dominated international discussion, Japan is already undertaking a radical and massive public-sector-centred structural reform of a very different variety. This reform is steeped in astute application of approaches most fully realized in Germany, and Japan is already at work renovating industry, building resilience, and bolstering local democracy. The most recent summary statement of this project is found in Smart Communities: A Smart Network Design for Local Government Infrastructure, an important new Japanese book, organized by Japan’s top mainstream energy intellectual Kashiwagi Takao, and published October 15, 2014.3 The book describes – especially its initial chapter, written by Kashiwagi – how Japan’s energy technocrats are using the feed-in tariff, stadtwerke (municipal business), power-sector deregulation and other key elements of Germany’s green energy transition as engines for something much more ambitious. And the Japanese are also hooking up their project to multiple firehoses of fiscal and financial policy. This is a sharp contrast to the Germans, whose energy shift is hobbled by fiscal austerians seemingly bent on sacrificing the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain), the entire EU, and thus themselves as well.4

Smart Communities as the Growth Strategy

Even before 3-11, Japan’s growth strategies emphasized smart grids and other green innovation, focused on the urban contexts in which over half of the world’s population already live and which are growing apace. For example, on June 18, 2010, the Hatoyama cabinet approved a New Growth Strategy that emphasized green innovation, centred on smart communities, in order to build YEN 50 trillion in new green business and 1.4 million new jobs by 2020.5The METI “smart city” elite were clearly prominent among the technocrats designing this approach, as is evident from their very detailed December, 2010 presentation (in Japanese) “Policy Evolution Towards the Realization of Smart Communities.” Perhaps because of the strength of the nuclear-obsessed Tepco and other power-monopolies’ labour unions as the DPJ base, the Hatoyama cabinet itself was more enthusiastic about nuclear than the METI smart community technocrats. The latter’s documents of course include nuclear in the centralized baseload power mix (which was explicit energy policy at the time); but they exhibit far more interest in distributed generation, smart grids, power storage, smart meters and other devices that even then were core to the fast-emerging smart community paradigm. They also evince a keen awareness of developments in Germany and elsewhere as well as deep concern at the risk that Japan might build yet another Galapagos as it already had in electronics, energy, and some automotive technology.6

Working in the context of an archipelago, with minimal reserves of conventional fossil fuels, and desiring to maximize domestic energy independence, the pre 3-11 Japanese technocrats looked to expand nuclear and renewables as much as possible. The Fukushima disaster appears to have taken the nuclear role off the table, so far as smart communities are concerned. Hence, after 3-11 nuclear reactors tend to disappear from the smart-community power schemes, and renewables move to the fore. Though the technocrats do not write it out explicitly – and perhaps they never actually debated this – the logic of distributed power and resilient communities also leads away from nuclear. Unless one is prepared to offer the world smart communities with a small-modular nuclear reactor (SMR) underneath, low-carbon (or even no-carbon) smart communities mean green power. This claim is not tree-hugging craziness, but rather what makes economic and environmental sense. The US Navy’s Office of Naval Research is, for example, taking a central role (via a DC smart grid and other gear) in such projects as 100% renewable Chiang Mai World Green City (ASEAN’s first), with explicit aims to broaden that collaboration elsewhere in Thailand as well as Vietnam, and explicitly as part of the pivot to the Asia-Pacific.7

Of course, the enthusiasm for SMRs remains strong within the nuclear industry. Toshiba’s 4S (“Super safe, small and simple”) micro sodium reactor is said to be ready to be buried 30 meters underground and relied on to pump out several dozen megawatts of power.8 For its part, Hitachi has the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s Power Reactor Innovative Small Module (PRISM) project.9 Yet even Toshiba and Hitachi’s corporate PR for smart communities emphasizes 100% renewable energy. So perhaps somewhere along the recent time-line the smart energy engineers, within those power-unit makers, kept the enthusiasts of underground mini-nuke from slipping an SMR in blue-chip Japan’s smart community design and thus making their offerings an unmarketable NUMBY (“not under my back yard”) waste of investment and opportunity..10

In his book Smart Communities: A Smart Network Design for Local Government Infrastructure, Kashiwagi deliberately and explicitly positions smart communities as the key item in Japan’s growth strategy. He has been doing this very assertively for well over a year, judging from dozens of articles and events that centre on him. Kashiwagi appears to have helped immensely to realize the June 14, 2013 New Growth Strategy’s explicit commitment to ICT-led growth as well as coordinate the expansion of smart-community projects and the increasing streams of finance flowing from the various ministries of the central government plus their allied quangos (Quasi Autonomous Non-Governmental Organization) such as the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

Kashiwagi seems able to do this because he is an enormously influential figure in Japanese energy policymaking circles. He plays multiple key roles such as specially appointed professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology, chair of Japan’s Hydrogen/Fuel Cell Strategy Council,11 chair of the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry’s (METI) new energy subcommittee of its Committee for Natural Resources and Energy, Project Leader of Tokyo Institute of Technology’s Advanced Energy Systems for Sustainability,12to name just a few. Aside from the content of his recent activism and writing, what makes Kashiwagi especially interesting is that he is both a core member of the nuclear village as well as an enthusiast for renewable energy.

Kashiwagi thus straddles both Japan’s deeply damaged paradigm of nuclear power as well as its rapidly emerging paradigm of distributed power and smart communities. He is not ready to dump nuclear yet, but neither does he write about its role in the smart community. With a technological imperative driving smart communities towards green, as well as the need to make smart choices in the midst of multiple constraints, Kashiwagi has evidently decamped from the nuclear village. Kashiwagi is the designer of Japan’s first smart community, a 100% renewable microgrid project, linking NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development) and other facilities, that went live at the 2005 Aichi World’s Fair,13 so he has a lot of emotional and intellectual capital invested in these initiatives.The power monopolies, with their focus on centralized power and control of the grid, as the core of their business model, stand in the way of a nationwide diffusion of smart communities. Hence true deregulation of the power sector is key to Kashiwagi’s argument. So also is the diffusion of distributed renewable power supported by the feed-in tariff (FIT). Kashiwagi argues that, for starters, Japan’s local governments stand to gain YEN 5 trillion of the YEN 15 trillion power economy through distributed energy supported by the FIT.

What has been missing from Japan’s – not to mention the global – debate on smart communities is an explicit statement that they are focused on energy and can provide a powerful engine for their diffusion. Japan’s smart communities stand out against their competitors elsewhere in being primarily about energy, whether in sustainable generation, smart and small-scale transmission, and maximizing efficiency on the consumption side. That only makes sense in an archipelago with minimal conventional resources, one that is still reeling from a massive shock to a deeply entrenched power monopoly.

As for the engine, Kashiwagi places Japan’s smart community initiative in the context of creating something akin to the German stadtwerke of municipally owned utilities. These agents were among the major winners from German power deregulation. Germany’s 900 or so stadtwerke are also increasingly recognized as key to that country’s ability to diffuse renewables, because they have the organizational, financial and other heft together with community demand for renewables.14 So Japan’s centring of smart communities on stadtwerke is not a model of building smart communities by stripping off functions and giving them to the private sector, together with the residents’ data.

Japanese cities have long had their utility functions, especially water, serviced by public agency, contracting with private companies for pipes, valves and other gear. But when it comes to power, postwar Japanese cities have been passive consumers of centralized and privately-owned power, delivered by Tepco and other monopoly firms that also dominated their catchment areas’ political economies. Going distributed, and fast, through smart public agency, is the surest way to destroy the old business model of the power utilities. The private utilities know this, which is why they are desperate to water-down the power-sector deregulation slated for 2016 as well as get their people in charge of the new agency to police the grid.

The power stadtwerke in Japan offer a mechanism that puts the incentives to champion revolutionary change into the hands of the cities and towns. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), a fortuitous blend of ICT enthusiasm and responsibility for local fiscal health, has in fact set a goal of establishing no fewer than 1000 local energy firms over the five years from 2015. The national government will not only allow the locals to finance investments in these firms, but it will pick up half the interest payments.15

The Japanese model of the stadtwerke is technocratic, to be sure. But it also does not require replicating the German experience of building a political movement for renewables over several decades. We have seen since 3-11 that Japanese people’s-power initiatives have been incredibly valuable in stopping nuclear (despite Abe administration pressures, as yet no nuclear power station has reopened), but they have not been very successful in leading an energy shift. The fact that an energy shift will not be an issue in the Abenomics election speaks volumes.

In the face of considerable inertia and a shortage of time to act on climate change and resilience, there is something radical in Kashiwagi’s vision and in what the MIC and others are doing. City walls are being raised again, not to stop commerce and control the community, but rather to ensure that the community’s interests are served by the composition of interests running its core lifeline infrastructures. Kashiwagi also stresses that deregulated power and the FIT are essential to the Japanese-style stadtwerke, because the aim is to strengthen inter-regional equity as well as sustainable growth. He also wants to build on this, very fast, and make it regional, encompassing East Asia and elsewhere.

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Forbes: Smart Grid Dreams Fading Without Congressional Support

Of course, Technocrat smart grid vendors would love more free money from taxpayers to complete the ensnarement of all energy consumers into a massive data collection grid. However, don’t let rhetoric hide the fact that Smart Grid will be completed with or without more Federal funding because it is a key requirement of Technocracy to do so. ⁃ TN Editor

Congress hasn’t allocated funding explicitly for the Smart Grid since the Obama stimulus package in 2009, the Congressional Research Service noted this month, and without Congressional support, the grid could develop in slow and piecemeal fashion, with increased risk of incompatible parts.

Richard J. Campbell, an energy-policy specialist for CRS, reports that current funding levels, delivered through Department of Energy programs, state programs and utilities, cannot meet the estimated cost to modernize the grid by 2030.

“Congress could provide funding to help bridge the funding gap if it chooses to accelerate adoption of the Smart Grid,” he writes in an April 10 report to members of Congress. “A number of near-term trends—including electric vehicles, environmental concerns, and the ability of customers to take advantage of real-time pricing programs to reduce consumer cost and energy demand—would benefit from investments in Smart Grid enabled technologies.”

If Congress were to legislate deployment of the Smart Grid, it could cost $338 billion to $476 billion over a 20-year period, according to an Electric Power Research Institute estimate. That investment would result in benefits worth $1.3 to $2 trillion, EPRI estimates.

But if current spending levels continue, the electric industry will invest only about 10 percent of that estimated cost: $46 billion by 2030.

Smart Grid technologies include sensors, controls, and data-management technologies that allow energy providers to optimize interconnected elements of the electric system. They are expected to reduce costs over time by increasing electric system reliability, flexibility, and grid resiliency.

They also empower consumers in the electricity marketplace, support energy storage, and enable more distributed- and renewable-energy generation.

Without federal support for a formal transition to these technologies, Smart Grid elements are being installed by utilities as older components are replaced.

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Siemens Is Blanketing Europe With Smart Meters, Including Portugal

Thanks to a TN reader in Portugal (hat tip to JL), this article points out that Smart Grid via Smart Meter installation is a global affair, as pointed out by this article translated from a Portuguese journal. All of the global Smart Grid initiative was started at the same time in 2009 with the release of stimulus money after the financial meltdown. The fact that multiple nations funded their Smart Grid projects in the same manner at the same time indicates a global strategy where some global entity or group was pulling all the strings. I suggest it was Technocrats pulling for Technocracy, aka, Sustainable Development. ⁃ TN Editor

Siemens is one of the suppliers of the new smart meters that EDP Distribuição is already installing at the clients’ homes, in a phased strategy. But in addition to the smart meters the company also developed the system that will allow to manage and control all data of the electrical network.

More precision in consumption measurements but also more detailed information, and more regular data communications with the power service provider – no need for manual counts – are some of the advantages that the new smart meters (also known as smart meters or Energy Boxes ) allow. And the immediate benefits are transferred to customers and to EDP Distribuição, but they also prepare the system for future challenges, such as the possibility for each user to be a producer and store of energy.

By 2020, 80% of customers’ home-installed meters will be smart, gradually replacing analog meters that are still in the vast majority of Portuguese homes and bringing the model closer to what has been developed in Evora with the InovGrid project, which is globally recognized as a case of innovation. And by 2022 all accountants have to be changed, by imposition of the European Union.

The transformation is being done in a phased way and 1.3 million meters must be installed by the end of this year. This year there are 600 thousand that are in the plan, as confirmed by EDP Distribuição to TeK.

EDP ​​Distribuição adds that it has already installed “around 900,000 equipment that is more than a mere meter of electricity consumption. They are state-of-the-art equipment, generators of efficiency throughout the system.” And it guarantees that the installation of the equipment is free and in no moment will be charged any value by the installation or the equipment.

The new counters are installed without customer intervention and the energy company explains that “all new places of consumption are equipped with this new equipment. We are also already assembling this equipment in all places of consumption of urban areas of the capitals of district “.

And who will receive these accountants? In addition to new installations, there are also substitutions “for other technical reasons”. “The abovementioned program follows a criterion of structured expansion around the transformer stations supplying low voltage networks, covering, as long as there are conditions of access, all the places of consumption technically linked to those processing stations, independently of the marketer with which each customer has its supply contract, “explains the company in response to the TeK questions.

A significant part of the new meters installed is the result of a contract signed by Siemens Portugal and Landis + Gyr with EDP Distribuição, which provides for the installation of 800 thousand Energy Boxes by the end of 2018. Among the suppliers qualified to provide smart meters are also the ZIV, ENERMETER, ZTE and JANZ.

EDP ​​Distribuição also notes that smart meters are only part of the investment that the company is making “as part of its program to renew the measurement park at low voltage points of delivery up to 41.4 kVA of contracted power.” “In the expansion of these assets, it is necessary to consider other necessary technical devices such as communication systems and controllers in the processing stations. Overall, taking into account other activities and associated developments, the investment value is around 35 million euros, “he says.

Large design 

In a meeting with journalists, Fernando Silva, responsible for the Energy Management division of Siemens Portugal, explains that the project is one of the largest in the area of ​​smart meetering and brings great advantages in terms of energy consumption management and tools for customers to measure and track expenses, opening doors to flexibilization and dynamic tariffs.

“This system has a great potential since the billing is based on real values ​​and not estimates, and brings more transparency to the process, with providers to be able to provide more detailed information on consumption, which reduces litigation” , explains Fernando Silva.

He says analog meters, which are still being used in most cases, have a longer lifespan, staying for 25 years or more, but this is because digital counters evolve according to progression of the energy supply business and allow new tools for operators. The reliability of the counts is always one of the important criteria in the selection of these equipments, being the minimums above 99.9%, but in the case of Energy Boxes of Landis + Gyr it is also contemplated the possibility of software and firmware upgrade remotely, and some control alerts.

Currently the company is already delivering, per week, 9 The10 thousand Energy Boxes manufactured by Landis + Gyr. EDP ​​Distribuição is already installing the equipment in the customers’ homes, with the goal of reaching 2 million homes by the end of 2018, and 100% of households by 2022, as defined by the European Union targets for the use of smart counters.

A platform for smarter network management

In addition to the provision of smart meters, Siemens Portugal is also implementing a network information management system at EDP Distribuição that bridges the new meters and analogue models, and also allows the collection and management of network data .

The Energy Data Manager is based on the Siemens EnergyIP platform but integrates Portuguese know-how and ensures greater flexibility for EDP Distribuição, which is one of the largest implementations of the platform worldwide.

The system is being developed about a year ago and goes into production in early July, on a scale of 1 to 10 by the end of the year, with the connection to 600,000 meters, and should be running in full across the network until January 1, 2019, when it will manage 6.2 million customers in Portugal.

“The biggest challenge was to integrate legacy systems (analog meters) and new smart meters, with the same reliability,” explains journalists Fernando Silva, who also highlights the volume of data that will be managed.

“With 6.2 million meters, and even if the count is done hourly, we are talking about 150 million readings per day,” he says. And if the regulation allows readings every 15 minutes the challenge is even greater.

“Siemens has a great advantage in these integrations because we know the whole course, from electrification to automation and now we are in digital transformation,” says Fernando Silva.

So far EDP Distribuição had several different systems to process all this information and it was necessary to put everything together in a single platform that integrates with the company’s SAP billing system.

The objective is also to use the system in other operations of EDP Distribuição, of electricity and gas, but also to export this know-how added to the platform to other geographies, namely in the region of Australia but also in Brazil. “We are working in these countries with these projects with the experience engineering and software from Siemens, and also with the proximity of the language, ” he told TeK.

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Smart Grid, Smart Structures Key To Lifting World Out Of Poverty

The Technocrat’s solution to every problem known to man is technology and more technology. This is a false premise from the start because there is no demonstrable evidence that it is true. In other words, dreamers who imagine the future do not create reality merely because they imagine it. ⁃ TN Editor

It is a truth universally acknowledged that billions of people around the world live in poverty. But does it have to be that way? Today’s technological progress means that tomorrow we will be able to produce more, more efficiently – lifting people above the breadline with accelerated economic growth all around the world.

Key to these efforts are smart buildings. A world of connected structures, making use of the whole range of technologies and data to enable efficient energy use, could ease the delivery of healthcare, education and industrial production across the developing world. And by leveraging abundant renewable energy sources such as solar, this can all be achieved in a sustainable way – without incurring large carbon costs.

But we are not there yet. The story of smart buildings in the developing world is still in its first few chapters. To make sure the tale is a happy one, smart buildings ought to operate on a smart grid. Yet in many developing countries, the grid itself is under tremendous pressure. These nations need to take charge.

The burden of batteries

A major obstacle standing between developing countries, such as India and Pakistan, and smart grids is intermittent energy supply through the network. And batteries, the traditional solution to such a problem (and indeed a technology that is crucial to building flexible smart grids), can exacerbate the issue.

Imagine a grid that is offline for a few hours a day – an issue that is rather common in villages around the world. When such a system goes down, people use their batteries instead. So far, so good. But unfortunately, as soon as the grid comes back on, these batteries all start charging.

And when there are lots of batteries in a small area, this can have a real impact on the network. Grids are rarely designed to handle such loads and repeatedly overloading transformers in this way dramatically reduces their lifespan – meaning expensive infrastructure costs just to maintain the grid. And for governments with limited budgets this makes it very difficult to invest in building something better.

Taking charge

It is apparent therefore that developing nations need to take control of their grids. To help flatten out energy consumption – reducing loads and preventing the spikes in demand that are holding local power sectors back.

This should start on an individual building level – making buildings smarter to support the smart grid upon which they will depend. By integrating sensors into these buildings and the appliances within them, both power suppliers and consumers will be able to track and manage energy consumption and start matching supply to aggregate demand across the grid throughout the day.

This would seem like a complicated calculation. But with machine learning, we can program algorithms to decipher consumption patterns and predictively allocate power wherever and whenever it is needed; allowing governments to focus on developing the infrastructure, rather than merely maintaining it.

Indeed, this is the focus of my work at Enervalis with the InnoEnergy PhD School. Working with support from Enervalis and InnoEnergy’s huge network of contacts, I have been developing smart controllers that respond to sensor data and optimise the allocation of energy in real-time. And things are looking promising; in large scale pilots in the Netherlands, we have already seen that these algorithms can reduce energy consumption without affecting the comfort of building occupants.

In fact, the benefits to occupants in developing economies can be even greater, saving hundreds of thousands of households in South Asia up to €50 per year – a huge amount for people in villages where the annual household income can be as little as €1,000.

We are now in the midst of a year-long test of our technology in Lahore to investigate its potential for replication, with a view to undertaking a full pilot next year.

Incentives for change

But just having the technology is not enough. It needs to be implemented. And implemented properly. Perhaps the biggest difficulty that developing countries face is in getting the legal framework right to enable a flexible smart grid and smart buildings.

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