Smart meter benefits?
A carefully worded article appeared in the Letters section on Thursday that described the benefits of the smart meters being installed on everyone’s power lines. The article described how the power company will be able to manage its load better and offer incentives to homeowners to use power in off-peak periods when rates will be lower. The off-peak incentives are simply higher electricity rates during the times when it is most convenient for most people to cook, use their air conditioner, wash clothes, etc.
The article described how our rates might go down if the generation costs decrease, but that is not very likely. Every study has predicted a steady increase in the cost of fuels, production, grid maintenance and competition for green power. Until now, the utility averaged out all these fluctuations and charged an average rate. No more.
What was not said in the article is that the power company will now raise rates during peak power usage or when they think you have used your share for the month or when their fuel costs go up or when they must buy power at market prices or for any number of other reasons. Smart meters give the utility the ability to know exactly how much electricity you are using at any given time — at 15-second intervals. With the closing of Vermont Yankee and the purchase of more than 50 percent of our power from out of state, we can expect our rates to frequently change to meet every market fluctuation.
What is most likely is that the off-peak period will slowly shift to a later and later time in the evening and the peak usage penalty will steadily increase over time. Smart meters indeed, but guess who really benefits.
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