Thursday, April 8, 2010

We Don't Need No Smart Grid Education

Wrong. If you've ever taken the time to read beneath the articles about Smart Meter vulnerabilities or other looming forms of grid insecurity, you'll suspect that the teaming masses, at least those who read these pieces and have the gumption to respond, are intensely opposed to the whole Smart Grid idea. Here's a couple of random selections for you culled from a recent article on Smart Meter "holes":

Random Comment #1:
We have a smart meter on our home. So far, the only thing that it has been able to do is let me monitor my weekly consumption and get weekly updates on my projected monthly bill. Any savings that I get for off-peak usage has been eaten up by rate increases by my electric utility. As far as I can see, the only thing these meters will do is enhance the profits of the utility companies by letting them sell their power more efficiently. In the long run, it's not really helping the consumer in the wallet.
Random Comment #2:
Wait a minute. Everyone here has missed the point. If I can hack your meter and shut off your power, there is nothing stopping me from shutting off your neighborhood, your town, city, etc. These things are all connected - to each other and to the mother-ship. A hacker isn't interested in turning off your coffee maker, he wants to own all the meters in the city.
Hacker: Give me $10m or I'm going to shut down Seattle
Seattle: Go jump in a lake
Hacker: brings down the city for 2 minutes
Hacker: Wire the money within 60 min or I'll shut down the city for 24 hours.
Seattle: Where would you like it?
Where's Jack Bauer when you need him, eh?

Is the Smart Grid a scheme dreamed up by utilities to rob us blind? No. Are steps being taken to ensure that Smart Meters and the Smart Grid are secure? Yes. But the average consumer, if he/she takes the time to read about the Smart Grid, sees ten negative messages for every positive one. Jack and I have been advocating for much more and better messaging and education to consumers on the who/what/why/when and how's of the Smart Meters that are landing on their houses, and the Smart Grid drivers that have set this all in motion. See: the Smart Grid Confidence Game.

In the "National Power Grid that Thinks" by Alex Kingsbury of US News and World Report, we get a concise statement demonstrating Kingsbury's spot-on situational awareness of the present state of the Smart Grid's image:

Smartening the public is as critical as smartening the grid itself.
We couldn't agree more. Too much is made of the technology and too little effort (by far) is spent educating and socializing the public re: the coming Smart Grid. To that end, we urge the recently formed Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative to pump up the volume asap.

Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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