BRANDON MAYER: Smart meters are surprisingly stupid

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The purpose of Hydro One’s “smart meter” is simple enough: two way communication between power usage meters and monitoring stations without the need for house to house meter readers. But like most technology, the meters act up occasionally. Just to be clear, by “act up”, I mean they spew out utter insanity, and by “occasionally”, I mean a lot.

There’s nothing to be done about technology taking over the world, but in my opinion every techno gadget sold with the intention of replacing humans should come with backup customer service. That’s not what the “victims” of faulty smart meters are getting.

The now-famous Baker family in Prescott got a bill for more than $10,000 and subsequently had to cut off their hydro because they couldn’t keep up. The most mind boggling part of the story is the lack of common sense. Everyone with a brain knows that a family heating only with wood and having “energy efficient everything” shouldn’t be paying $10,000 for hydro unless they’ve fallen several years behind on their payments.

The Bakers were essentially told to pay the bill, and that they would be reimbursed the difference if a mistake was found. Putting aside the nonsense that writing a cheque for ten grand is no biggy, my concern is the failure of customer service to realize that something was wrong. Had the Bakers paid the bill, it would not surprise me if Hydro One decided to take the word of the machine over common sense.

The smart meter problems add to a whole slew of other problems with Hydro One. We have an excess of electricity that we have to sell to Quebec and the United States at a loss. Yet at the same time we pay foreign companies to build wind farms, and then pay them not to produce electricity we wouldn’t need (you may have to read that last sentence again, but I assure you there are no typos).

We are trying to build a green energy province before we’ve figured out how to make energy affordable. As much as I love wind turbines (not much), their only use will be as 500 foot tall eyesores once Ontarians can no longer afford electricity.

Someone down at Hydro One might wake up and get a clue...eventually. Until then, let us all hope that we don’t become the next Baker family.

Organizations: Hydro One

Geographic location: Quebec, United States

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  • Kel
    January 16, 2014 - 20:12

    Today I just received a $19,000.00 bill from Hydro One for a house that is vacant and the electricity has been turned off. The Hydro company told us to rip up.

  • Angry in Victoria
    January 10, 2014 - 20:41

    Let's list the problems: emits radiation exposing us to a 2b carcinogen; gathers and sends personal data not needed for billing; cannot report outages any faster than we could when we had analogs; costs increasing without any benefits; bills so high we have to choose between heat and food; fire risk on the walls of our homes, making us lose sleep with worry. Now let's list benefits: corporations rake in a fortune year after year when new software has to be installed. No wonder the world is so anxious to "upgrade"!!