Letters to the Editor

No benefit of switching to smart meters

To the editor:

Alliant Energy recently sent postcards to Fairfield customers announcing that they will be installing “smart” meters here soon, and listed supposed benefits. Here are their claims, and why they are not valid.

Alliant leads with “faster outage reporting.” Alliant has continually emphasized this minor (and unproven) point. Why doesn’t Alliant claim “faster service restoration?”

It is service restoration, not mere outage reporting, that helps its customers. Does Alliant know service restoration may be no faster?

The two known outage studies show a) utilities in smart meter areas still use customer calls more than smart meters for outage reporting, and b) no relationship exists between outage reporting speed and service restoration speed.

Without smart meters, Alliant would probably receive a call of a large outage within one minute. With smart meters, they may know in one second - a 59-second savings on a 1-2 hour outage repair is not significant. Faster service restoration due to configuring the outage area has so far not been evidenced.

What smart meters have really meant is higher rates with little or no customer benefit. Smart meters cost six times more than analogs ($20 or less compared to $120 smart meters), and analogs last three times longer (10 years compared to 30 years). So smart meters cost 18 times more than analogs.

Who is going to pay for that? You are - through on-going rate hikes, already begun, to pay for the current installation. And Alliant just announced another rate hike proposal - 25 percent!

Dozens of cost benefit studies have consistently documented no cost benefit. For example, California’s 2017 financial report showed no utility cost savings or reduced energy usage from smart meters (five states have rejected smart meters for this reason).

Alliant claims “minimal estimation of bills.” Few will understand this means ability to estimate usage remotely - a low impact benefit compared to what it will cost in higher rates.

Another Alliant claim is “simpler to move service.” Simpler for Alliant, not for you? Alliant may save from moving your service, but instead of receiving those savings, you will pay more to create those savings for Alliant’s profit?

Alliant also claims “easier connection to green energy.” Analog meters already allow easy connection to solar. Will smart meters make it easier, or just more expensive? Alliant’s program is so un-green it denies solar customers opt-out rights.

Alliant further claims “future new tools to manage energy use...high usage alerts.” Is this code for “peak pricing” controls down the road?

Do we need “new tools” to save energy? Or just common sense, a lower thermostat, and energy-saving tips? Better that welcoming a Trojan Horse into our home so Alliant can mandate what energy we can use and when, and collect data to market more to us, and sell for even more profit.

Regardless of claims, and according to scores of consistently dependable studies, smart meters are a shiny new toy to save money for utilities but not for customers. Twenty percent of Fairfield Alliant customers have opted out by calling Alliant at 1-800-255-4268, to not take part in this financial project of Alliant’s. You can too.

Signatories: Chris Cambridge, Bernadette Cardinale, Bruce Charlestein, John Congden, Ed Hipp, Jesse Holubeck, Joe Moschak, Michael and Susan Murphy, Einar and Mary Cathryn Olsen, Representative Jeff Shipley