Sedona Arizona Update-Incompetence and Misinfo at the ACC’s “Consumer Services”

Incompetence and Misinfo at the ACC’s “Consumer Services”
Information & Perspective by Warren Woodward
Sedona, Arizona ~ June 28, 2015

           Among the emails and documents I recently received via a Public Records Request of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) were some complaint forms from the ACC’s Consumer Services section. Whenever someone calls or emails the ACC with a complaint or question about a utility, these forms are used to record the complaint or question as well as the ACC’s response.

Attached is one that unfortunately contains typical ACC misinformation.

A Tucson Electric Power (TEP) customer called in with the following question as described by Jenny Gomez who evidently took the call at the ACC:

“She wants to know if these meters will cause health problems like the radio wave kind and are they more accurate.”

Gomez’s misleading and untruthful response:

“I advised that the TEP meters are not radio wave and they are read through the electric lines and yes they are more accurate than the analog type.”

The unfortunate customer who called in was grossly misinformed by Gomez.

TEP’s meters transmit microwaves every 30 seconds. That is a matter of public record.

At TEP’s website we find the following: “Our AMR meters send out readings approximately every 30 seconds.” ( https://www.tep.com/news/updates/meters/ )

As well, anyone can view the video archives of the March 23, 2012 ACC “workshop” meeting and watch the TEP/Unisource representative tell everyone that TEP’s meters transmit every 30 seconds (at 4:54:08 here: http://azcc.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=469 ).

As a sadly humorous side note, in the TEP/Unisource representative’s world, every 30 seconds is not “continuous.” If you had a dog barking next door every 30 seconds would that be continuous or not?

Additionally, not having done any comparative testing, neither Gomez not the ACC is qualified to make statements about the accuracy of TEP’s meters.

How can the ACC regulate something about which they know so little?

UK-Smart meters set to cost Blighty as much as replacing Trident

Smart meters set to cost Blighty as much as replacing Trident

‘Significant issues already exist’ with spybox tech, too

 29 Jun 2015 Kat Hall

Smart meters will cost as much as the Trident nuclear deterrent to implement, with the full cost of the scheme rising to £19bn, according to a government report.

Total lifetime costs of the programme have now risen by £2bn since 2013, according to a report by the Major Projects Authority.

In contrast, the Trident replacement programme is estimated to cost between £17.5bn and £23.4bn.

Surprisingly, the smart meter project has been flagged as “amber” — meaning “successful delivery appears feasible but significant issues already exist.”

This is despite a number of warnings that the programme is in danger of turning into a “costly failure”.

Earlier this year a report by the Energy and Climate Change Committee said it does “not believe” plans to install 53 million devices in homes and businesses by 2020 will be achieved.

Last year, £13.14m was spent on the programme which is still in its ‘foundation stage’, an increase of £1.76m to fund additional assurance and risk reduction activities in line with recommendations from the National Audit Office and MPA Review.

However, DECC insisted changes in cost were solely driven by the change in accounting methodology, not by underlying cost changes, said the report.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is one of three government departments to take the lion’s share of big project spend.

Of the £489bn locked into 188 big projects over the next 40 years, projects at DECC, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Transport contribute soak up 80 per cent.

The report said this reflects the high capital cost of “innovative defence equipment, of new energy infrastructure that will tackle climate change, and of modernising the UK’s transport infrastructure.”

It added: “Since these are large capital projects, these departments have many of the projects with the longest duration, for example, the Department for Transport’s High Speed Rail Programme … and the Ministry of Defence’s Successor Submarines, which will carry the UK’s future strategic nuclear deterrent.” ®

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/06/29/costs_of_smart_meters_rise_to_19bn/

In Drought, Smart Meters Prompt Privacy Concerns

In Drought, Smart Meters Prompt Privacy Concerns

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

surveil 1

Smart water meters are being used for a non-traditional purpose in California, where authorities are trying to enforce conservation measures during the drought.

When Governor Jerry Brown mandated that water use be cut by 25 percent compared to 2013 levels, some waters utilities found the restriction difficult to institute. Water departments, after all, are not “spy agencies,” as a recent Wired article pointed out. The Long Beach Water Department, for instance “doesn’t have the resources to conduct surveillance or stage sting operations to catch water wasters in the act.”

Smart water meters are bridging the gap for some utilities, as the technology is increasingly used to monitor water wasting, Wired reported:

Traditional water meters essentially provide a running tally of how much water a customer has used. Your bill is based on your current total, minus last month’s total. The utility has no idea how much water you actually use on a day-to-day basis, let alone what time of day you use the most water. But to enforce water restrictions, utilities need to know exactly that. The Long Beach Water Department is one of a small but growing number of utilities turning to electronic “smart” meters to solve the problem.

The use of utility data for purposes other than billing has sometimes prompted suspicion from customers. In previous year, the energy industry has encountered criticism for the release of ratepayer data. The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

The American Civil Liberties Union warned that energy-use information represents one more way for government agencies to peer into Americans’ lives. The release comes in the wake of recent disclosures about how the National Security Agency uses cell phone ‘metadata’ and other personal electronic records when investigating national security threats.

One group called Smart Grid Awareness has alleged that smart water meters expose customers to potential privacy breaches, although this is not a mainstream concern. “[The features of smart meters mean] that you would be subjected to constant surveillance, even though no mention is made of customer privacy invasions by vendors or utilities. Moreover, combined with the granular data collected by smart electric meters, an even clearer picture emerges on your behaviors in the home,” the group argues.

Smart water meters are not just being used to get people in trouble. “Many people just want to use less water and want more immediate feedback on their usage than monthly water bill can provide. So as part of a pilot program, the Water Department [in Long Beach] also gave out around 200 smart water meters to residents. [A department official] says the city believes they are having an impact,” Wired reported.

Some water utilities are resistant to smart water meters, according to Wired, since conservation challenges revenue and because installation is costly.

For more on the latest metering innovations, visit Water Online’s AMR, AMI and Metering Solutions Center.

http://www.wateronline.com/doc/in-drought-smart-meters-collect-data-prompt-privacy-concerns-0001

Smart Meters Fire, Living Hell and Bureaucratic Messes

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Smart Meters Fire, Living Hell and Bureaucratic Messes

Source

By Catherine J. Frompovich

This is the real life story about what a Smart Meter can do to your home and your life, especially when a public utility company, a state regulatory agency and insurance company are involved. Colleen, of Yardley, Pennsylvania, has been living a Faustian nightmare and feels she has been pressed to all reasonable limits all because of PECO, an Exelon company, installing a SMART METER on her house. All surnames have been deleted because there is a lawsuit involved.

Colleen contacted me with her story, asking if I could write an article about it. However, after reading it, I thought I would submit it in her trauma-stricken words, since I never could do it the justice her Smart Meter odyssey needs in every manner: morally, legally and financially.

No utility customer should have to go through with the devastatingly unknown problems Smart Meters cause: fires, explosions, problems with insurance companies, housing displacement, etc.—even some deaths due to Smart Meter fires. Nonetheless, it seems Pennsylvania state officials are turning totally deaf ears to consumer complaints about Smart Meters. One state legislator, Representative Robert Godshall, who chairs the Consumer Affairs Committee where Smart Meter Opt-out bills have been referred to, refuses to bring HB 394, HB395 and HB396 up for a vote. Apparently, too many state legislators want legal opt-outs from Smart Meters for Pennsylvanians—as other states provide.

Furthermore, when Pennsylvania legislators originally voted and approved HB2200, which became Act 129 of 2008, Smart Meters would NOT be mandatory, but the PA Public Utility Commission has misinterpreted and overreached in implementation regulations making Smart Meters mandatory for every household and building in Pennsylvania. That’s illegal and has to be addressed by the Governor and the state court system.

What follows is a story every utility company customer EVERYWHERE should read to know what happens when a Smart Meter is retrofitted on a home’s metering panel and then malfunctions. Please take the time and learn from one family’s excruciating and unbelievable Smart Meter nightmare. Now, I defer to Colleen.

—————————————
I’m Colleen of Yardley, Pennsylvania, and writing my story because the facts and truth need to be told about what my children and I have been through because of PECO, Grid One and State Farm Insurance. I’ve stayed quiet, like my attorneys have told me to, but as the latest series of events have unfolded, I’m not even sure whom I can trust anymore. My story begins on January 4, 2013.

Read full article at: http://www.activistpost.com/2015/06/smart-meters-fire-living-hell-and.html

FCC: ‘Prime Example of Institutional Corruption’

Federal Court

FCC: ‘Prime Example of Institutional Corruption’

Captured AgencyIn a new publication just released from Harvard University, Norm Alster examines how the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is dominated by the industries it presumably regulates.  What follows are selected quotations which are organized in a way to effectively create a synopsis version of the original 59-page document. [1]

“Consumer safety, health, and privacy, along with consumer wallets, have all been overlooked, sacrificed, or raided due to unchecked industry influence.” [2]

“The Federal Communications Commission sits at the heart of a bipartisan Washington web of institutional corruption that has for many years championed corporate interests, typically at public expense.  Echoing industry, the FCC has ignored the growing evidence that wireless technologies pose serious health risks.” [3]

“A troubling body of evidence suggests exposure to even low emission levels at typical cellular frequencies between 300 MHz and 3 GHz can have a wide range of negative effects.”

“Just months ago, a German scientist who had been outspoken in denouncing the view that cell phones pose health risks reversed course.  In an April 2015 publication, Alexander Lerchl reported results confirming previous research on the tumor-promoting effects of electromagnetic fields well below human exposure limits for mobile phones.  ‘Our findings may help to understand the repeatedly reported increased incidences of brain tumors in heavy users of mobile phones,’ the Lerchl team concluded.  And in May 2015, more than 200 scientists boasting over 2,000 publications on wireless effects called on global institutions to address the health risks posed by this technology.” [4] 

Industry Control of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [5]

“Industry controls the FCC through a soup-to-nuts stranglehold that extends from its well-placed campaign spending in Congress through its control of the FCC‘s Congressional oversight committees to its persistent agency lobbying.  ‘If you‘re on a committee that regulates industry you‘ll be a major target for industry,’ said Twaun Samuel, chief of staff for Congresswoman Maxine Waters.  Samuel several years ago helped write a bill aimed at slowing the revolving door.  But with Congress getting its marching orders from industry, the bill never gained any traction.

Industry control, in the case of wireless health issues, extends beyond Congress and regulators to basic scientific research.  And in an obvious echo of the hardball tactics of the tobacco industry, the wireless industry has backed up its economic and political power by stonewalling on public relations and bullying potential threats into submission with its huge standing army of lawyers.” 

Corruption at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [6] 

“As a captured agency, the FCC is a prime example of institutional corruption.  Officials in such institutions do not need to receive envelopes bulging with cash. But even their most well-intentioned efforts are often overwhelmed by a system that favors powerful private influences, typically at the expense of public interest.”

Note:  “Captured agencies are essentially controlled by the industries they are supposed to regulate.”

“Perhaps the best example of how the FCC is tangled in a chain of corruption is the cell tower and antenna infrastructure that lies at the heart of the phenomenally successful wireless industry.  It all begins with passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, legislation once described by South Dakota Republican senator Larry Pressler as “the most lobbied bill in history.’ …   Specifically, [local governments] cannot cite health concerns about the effects of tower radiation to deny tower licenses so long as the towers comply with FCC regulations.”

“The FCC‘s network of corruption doesn‘t just shield industry from needed scrutiny and regulation on matters of public health and safety.  Sometimes it just puts its hand directly into the public pocket and redistributes that cash to industry supplicants.”

“The General Accounting Office (GAO) has issued several reports citing fraud, waste and mismanagement, along with inadequate FCC oversight of the subsidy program.  Bribery, kickbacks and false documentation can perhaps be expected in a handout program mandated by Congress and only indirectly supervised by the FCC.  But the scope of fraud has been impressive.  The most striking corruption has marred the E-Rate program, which subsidizes Internet hardware, software and service for schools and libraries, and the Lifeline cell phone subsidies.”

“Where there is institutional corruption, there are often underlying dependencies that undermine the autonomy and integrity of that institution.  Such is the case with the FCC and its broader network of institutional corruption.”

“Temptation is everywhere in Washington, where moneyed lobbyists and industry representatives throw the best parties and dinners.  Money also allows industry to control other important factors, like the research agenda.  All of this works together to industry‘s advantage because — as with other instances of institutional corruption — there are compromising dependencies.  Policy makers, political candidates and legislators, as well as scientific researchers are all compromised by their dependence on industry money.”

What about Privacy? [7]

“The FCC … has never been a consumer advocate. …  That‘s what makes the FCC‘s potential move into privacy protection so important and so surprising.”

“When the smoke clears — and it hasn‘t yet — the FCC could make consumer identifiers like IP addresses the equivalent of phone numbers.  Suddenly, the Internet companies that have trafficked in all that personal data would be subject to the same controls as the phone and cable companies.”

“It remains to be seen if [officials] at the FCC are really willing to take on privacy enforcement.  Such a stance would require great courage as the entire Internet infrastructure is built around privacy abuse.  It is also questionable whether the FCC would have the courage to challenge Google — a rare corporate ally in the battles over Net Neutrality.”

Survey of Consumer Attitudes [8]

“The inclination of consumers to change behavior should negative health effects be confirmed suggests the stakes are enormous for all companies that derive revenue from wireless usage.”

It‘s clear at this point [that] confirmation of health dangers — or even of behind-the-scenes political pressures — from wireless will substantially diminish public trust in the FCC.  [See figure below.]  Skeptics might argue that this gives the FCC motive to continue to downplay and dismiss further evidence of biological and human health effects.  Those of a more optimistic bent might see in these findings reason to encourage an FCC concerned about public trust to shake itself loose from special interests.”

Various Possible Facts

A Modest Agenda to ‘Right Some of the Wrongs’ [9]

“There are some steps — and most are modest — that the FCC can take now to right some of the wrongs that result from long years of inordinate industry access and influence:

  1. Acknowledge that there may be health risks in wireless communications.  Take down the dismissive language.  Maturely and independently discuss the research and ongoing debate on the safety of this technology.
  1. In recognition of this scientific uncertainty, adopt a precautionary view on use of wireless technology.
  1. Back off the promotion of Wi-Fi.  As Professor Lennart Hardell has noted, there are wired alternatives that do not expose children to wireless risk.
  1. Petition Congress for the budgetary additions needed to expand testing of emissions on antenna sites. …  There is evidence of vast non-compliance and Congress needs to ensure that tower infrastructure is operating within the law.
  1. Acknowledge that children and pregnant women may be more vulnerable to the effects of RF emissions and require special protection.
  1. Promote cable debundling as a way to lighten consumer cable bills, especially for those customers who don‘t care about high-cost sports programming.
  1. Apply more rigorous analysis to properly assess the value of technology in education. Evidence continues to pile up that technology in education is not as valuable as tech companies claim.
  1. “Take over enforcement of personal privacy rights on the Internet. …  It would involve challenging many of the entrenched powers of the Internet.”

Concluding Thoughts [10] 

“Let‘s be clear. …  The problem is not technology, which unarguably brings countless benefits to modern life.   The problem is with the over-extension of claims for technology‘s usefulness and the worshipful adulation of technology even where it has fearful consequences.  Most fundamentally, the problem is the willingness in Washington — for reasons of both venality and naïveté — to give technology a free pass.”

“Personally, I don‘t believe that just because something can be done it should heedlessly be allowed.  Murder, rape and Ponzi schemes are all doable — but subject to prohibition and regulation.  Government regulators have the responsibility to examine the consequences of new technologies and act to at least contain some of the worst.”

“Beyond legislators and regulators, public outrage and the courts can also play a rolebut these can be muffled indefinitely by misinformation and bullying.” 

References and Notes

[1]  “Captured Agency: How the Federal Communications Commission Is Dominated by the Industries It Presumably Regulates,” by Alster, Norm; Cambridge, MA; Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University (2015).  PDF document available at:   PDF: http://bit.ly/FCCcaptured.

Material from the original publication has been adapted/ remixed for purposes of this blog article by SkyVision Solutions.  Such adaptation is allowed under the terms of a Creative Commons 4.0 license, but the publication author does not necessarily endorse this adaptation.

[2]  “Captured Agency: How the Federal Communications Commission Is Dominated by the Industries It Presumably Regulates,” page 5 of PDF document at:
http://bit.ly/FCCcaptured.

[3]  Description for “Captured Agency: How the Federal Communications Commission Is Dominated by the Industries It Presumably Regulates Kindle Edition,” at http://www.amazon.com/Captured-Agency-Communications-Commission-Industries-ebook/dp/B010CB0TWA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1435350065&sr=8-1&keywords=norm+alster

[4]  “Captured Agency: How the Federal Communications Commission Is Dominated by the Industries It Presumably Regulates,” pages 11, 18 of PDF document at:
http://bit.ly/FCCcaptured.

[5]  Ibid. page 5 of PDF document at: http://bit.ly/FCCcaptured.

[6]  Ibid. Keyword search results of sentences or paragraphs for the word “corruption” contained within the PDF document at: http://bit.ly/FCCcaptured.

[7]  Ibid. pages 44, 45 of PDF document at: http://bit.ly/FCCcaptured.

[8]  Ibid. pages 55, 56 of PDF document at: http://bit.ly/FCCcaptured.

[9]  Ibid. page 48 of PDF document at: http://bit.ly/FCCcaptured.

[10] Ibid. page 49 of PDF document at: http://bit.ly/FCCcaptured.

http://smartgridawareness.org/2015/06/27/fcc-prime-example-of-institutional-corruption/