AUSTIN, Texas (March 15, 2017) – A bill introduced in the Texas House would allow utility customers to opt out of installing “smart meter” technology on their homes and businesses. Passage of this bill would allow Texans to protect their own privacy, and it would take a step toward blocking a federal program in effect.
Rep. Ken King (R-Canadian) introduced House Bill 3656 (HB3656) on March 9. The legislation would allow Texas utility customers to opt out of any utility company smart meter program with no charge or penalty.
Smart meters monitor home energy usage in minute detail in real time. The devices transmit data to the utility company were it gets stored in databases. Anybody with access to the data can download it for analysts. Without specific criteria limiting access to the data, these devices create significant privacy issues. Smart meters can also be used to remotely limit power usage during peak hours.
Under the proposed law, utility companies would be required to inform customers in writing that they have the right to decline installation of a smart meter. The company would not be allowed to charge the customer for for declining installation, nor for the cost of traditional metering service. HB3656 also includes provisions giving utility customers the right to have an existing smart meter removed. The company would be allowed to charge the customer the cost of installing the replacement traditional meter.
The proliferation of smart meters creates significant privacy concerns. The data collected can tell anybody who holds it a great deal about what goes on inside a home. It can reveal when residents are at home, asleep or on vacation. It can also pinpoint “unusual” energy use, and could someday serve to help enforce “energy usage” regulations. The ACLU summarized the privacy issues surrounding smart meters in a recent report.
“The temptation to use the information that will be collected from customers for something other than managing electrical loads will be strong – as it has been for cell phone tracking data and GPS information. Police may want to know your general comings and goings or whether you’re growing marijuana in your basement under grow lights. Advertisers will want the information to sell you a new washing machine to replace the energy hog you got as a wedding present 20 years ago. Information flowing in a smart grid will become more and more ‘granular’ as the system develops.”
The privacy issues aren’t merely theoretical. According to information obtained by the California ACLU, utility companies in the state have disclosed information gathered by smart meters on thousands of customers. San Diego Gas and Electric alone disclosed data on more than 4,000 customers. The vast majority of disclosures were in response to subpoenas by government agencies “often in drug enforcement cases or efforts to find specific individuals,” according to SFGate.
“Mark Toney, executive director of the Utility Reform Network watchdog group, said the sheer number of data disclosures made by SDG&E raised the possibility that government agencies wanted to sift through large amounts of data looking for patterns, rather than conducting targeted investigations.”
Refusing to allow a smart meter on your property is the only sure-fire way to ensure your energy use data won’t fall into the hands of government agents or private marketers, or end up stored in some kind of government database. Passage of HB3656 would make opting out a legal option for Texans and give them control over their own privacy.
IMPACT ON FEDERAL PROGRAMS Continue reading
From WZZM ABC 13
by April Stevens
February 17, 2017
Watch video here: http://www.wzzm13.com/money/consumer/rep-glenn-homeowners-could-reject-smart-meters-at-no-charge/409317178
LANSING, MICH. – Michigan homeowners may be able to reject ‘smart meters’ at no charge under a bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland.
The bill will be the subject of a public hearing this Tuesday in the House Energy Policy Committee, which Glenn chairs, and again on March 7.
“Republicans and Democrats alike agree it’s all about individual freedom of choice and homeowners’ private property rights,” Glenn said. Among the 17 co-sponsors are four Democrats, including Rep. Rose Mary Robinson of Detroit.
“Homeowners should have the ultimate authority to decide what technology is installed in their homes – not utilities whose government-protected monopoly prevents homeowners from choosing a competing electricity provider,” Glenn continued._______ Continue reading
URGENT CALL TO ACTION FOR CALIFORNIANS:
The Assembly Local Government Committee voted 6-1 to approve SB 649 on Wednesday June 28th (even after hearing the below testimony). It goes next to the Communications and Conveyance Committee at1:30pm on July 12th. People are coming from all over the state to be there on this day to speak out against SB 649, including mayors, and regular people opposed to the bill. Will you be one of them?