Smart Meters Can Overbill By Up To 582% Higher Than Actual Consumption*
By Catherine J Frompovich
Science Daily reported about overcharges new electronic ‘energy meters’—aka “smart meters”—are capable of pulling off due to false readings, as per a report of what’s been happening in Dutch households in The Netherlands.
The study was undertaken at the University of Twente (UT) in collaboration with the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS). Due to rumours of overwhelming overbillings, Professor Frank Leferink of UT investigated electronic meters to determine if they, in fact, can give false readings.
“Together with co-workers Cees Keyer and Anton Melentjev from AUAS, he tested nine different electronic meters in this study. The meters in question were manufactured between 2004 and 2014. The meters were connected, via an electric switchboard, to a range of power-consuming appliances, such as energy saving light bulbs, heaters, LED bulbs and dimmers. The researchers then compared the actual consumption of the system with the electronic energy meter’s readings.”
So what were the findings?
- Five of the nine meters gave readings much higher than actual usage!
- Two of the meters gave readings that were 30 percent lower than actual usage!
- Overall, in some of the setups there was a 582 percent higher reading than consumption!
Those study findings parallel what smart meter consumers in the USA have complained about since the retrofit of AMI Smart Meters, only to be blown away by utilities and public utility commissions as “not so!”
What was the explanation for the false readings? According to Science Daily:
“The inaccurate readings are attributed to the energy meter’s design, together with the increasing use of modern (often energy-efficient) switching devices. Here, the electricity being consumed no longer has a perfect waveform, instead it acquires an erratic pattern. The designers of modern energy meters have not made sufficient allowance for switching devices of this kind.
When they dismantled the energy meters tested, the researchers found that the ones associated with excessively high readings contained a ‘Rogowski Coil’ while those associated with excessively low readings contained a ‘Hall Sensor’. Frank Leferink (Professor of Electromagnetic Compatibility at the UT) points out that “The energy meters we tested meet all the legal requirements and are certified. These requirements, however, have not made sufficient allowance for modern switching devices.” [CJF emphasis]As late as August of 2016, Natural News was reporting utility customers in New York State were reporting to the New York State Public Service Commission digital utility meters, aka smart meters, being installed were manufactured in China “without any UL certification or testing for ‘microwave radiation emissions, electrical and fire code compliance or privacy and security risks’.”
What are consumers to do if they suspect their AMI Smart Meters are overbilling?
“Any consumers who do not trust their energy meter can have it tested by an ‘Accredited inspection company’.
“However, if this inspection shows that the meter is functioning properly, then the consumer will have to cover the costs involved. Yet the standardized test does not make allowance for waveform-contaminating power-consuming appliances. As a result, according to the researchers, it is an unsuitable method for detecting false meter readings. Prof. Leferink and Mr Keyer advise any consumers who doubt their meter readings to contact their supplier, who then will pass the complaint on to the power grid operator. [CJF emphasis]”
The above advice apparently applies to Dutch consumers in The Netherlands. In the USA, from what I’ve heard, it’s a totally different story. Utility customers who complained to their utility company, in most cases, were told the meters were operating correctly and “you owed the bill, so pay up.”
However, I think the better way to fight ‘city hall’ is to document electric power usage every way you can, e.g.,
- Chart monthly use. Refer to previous months/years utility billings, which usually have charts showing actual usage for 12 or 13 months.
- Document the brand, type, quantity and watts of light bulbs used.
- Document the brand and type of all electrical appliances. Refer to factory users’ manuals for information regarding usage that may be helpful.
- Learn how to read and record digital meter readings and keep a log – daily readings if need be – to prove your point.
- Document clock times someone is at home; at work; special appliance usage: dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer; and try to keep to a routine schedule so there is a pattern of use established either daily or weekly that can be factored into the consumption equation.
Personally, I’ve heard of utility customers receiving utility bills in the thousands of dollars after a smart meter retrofit, whereas with their former analog meter, their monthly billings averaged within a few dollars of a certain amount each month. Then, I’ve heard of customers receiving no bills but, instead, notices indicating their electric power and service were to be turned off for non-payment.
The problem, as I see it, is that AMI Smart Meters are computers with microwave technology operating systems, tracking devices and two-way radio transmitters called ZigBee, and built with cheap plastic parts and no surge arresters [A surge arrester is a device to protect electrical equipment from over-voltage transients caused by external (lightning) or internal (switching) events. Wikipedia]. Need I say more? However, such combinations almost guarantee Murphy’s Law has to prevail.
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