Friday, March 23, 2012

Musings: Voluntary is the Operative Word

A bird started twittering around 5:45 a.m., and it wasn't me, though the dogs and I got up shortly afterwards and went walking in a flower-scented world that was already brightening, despite the dense gray clouds that delivered enough rain to send us running for the last quarter-mile back home. It's always so nice when nature waters the garden, which I fluffed up — some of the beds had been compacted by the recent downpours — and re-seeded at the spring equinox.

I was talking to Adam Asquith yesterday, about his smart meter lawsuit against KIUC, as well as the state of his taro patches. The loi at Kealia were totally submerged twice in the floods, but they're recovering well, although yields likely will be affected, he said, perhaps resulting in a poi shortage four or five months from now. The humans, meanwhile, are scurrying to repair the irrigation ditches that got blown out so they can get water back into the loi.

Just as KIUC was scurrying to do damage control with the press release it issued after Adam filed a complaint in federal District Court seeking a halt to the smart meter rollout. “I was really surprised because my family washes its laundry before we hang it out, and we hang it in the backyard so only one neighbor can see,” Adam said of the release. “This remains an issue between one homeowner and KIUC.”

Of course, the resolution of that issue will affect other homeowners, which is what worries KIUC. All Adam wants, he said, is for KIUC to “honor the sanctity of my home and never attempt to install a small meter without my written permission.” If the utility agrees to that, he said, the lawsuit will be over.

But if KIUC agrees, it will have to offer the same option to other homeowners, and that is obviously something the utility does not want, or it would have included an opt-out mechanism in its smart meter plan. Despite recent talk about a “deferral process,” the message from KIUC has consistently been that it is going to replace all analog meters with smart meters — no exceptions.

Adam said the press release, which brands him a “local smart meter opponent,” is “a total mischaracterization of my stance on smart meters. This is entirely an issue of the sanctity of my home and my right to deny installation of a very new and novel device at my home. I'm a strong proponent of smart technology and smart meters in certain applications. I really would like to be a voluntary participant in this federal project.”

The operative word here is voluntary. “If they would seek consent, they'd find it, but if they seek to force this, they'll find resistance,” he said.

It's a similar stance to the one Adam took on FERC. He's a proponent of hydroelectric power, but he didn't like the way KIUC entered into a contract with Free Flow Power that committed us to following the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission process — before consulting with the members of the co-operative.

He filed the complaint in federal court because federal monies are involved — a Department of Energy grant is picking up half the $11 million smart meter roll out tab — as well as privacy rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. “People died for these flipping rights,” he said. “We shouldn't be so cavalier about just throwing them away.”

He suggested that people re-read the KIUC press release and change the words smart meter to camera, which may make it easer “to understand where I'm coming from.”

So what about those privacy issues? For starters, it might be helpful to read this press release issued by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), of which KIUC is a member. It's important to remember that we are participating in a pilot project:

“Our cooperatives will be evaluating how and whether these technologies can assist them in their mission to provide safe, reliable and affordable electric power to their member-consumers,” [NRECA CEO Glenn] English said.

And one of the things they plan to look at is, emphasis added:

The cooperatives’ demonstration project represents the first opportunity to conduct a nationwide pilot extending and testing end-to-end connectivity – from the power plant to the consumer’s home – and interoperability using MultiSpeak®, a specification developed by NRECA through the MultiSpeak Initiative. This project will extend the MultiSpeak specification to new functions and applications and include cybersecurity in the testing process. Cyber security consultants SAIC and Cigital will work with the cooperatives to explore security issues surrounding enhanced interoperability and connectivity.

This project is all about meshed networks that communicate with one another. So the data collected from our homes won't be sent only to the KIUC power plant, but bounced over to the mainland. And why would they be sending data there, other than to mine it to determine if there's something useful to sell to third parties?

Furthermore, the reason why the feds are funding it is because this is part of a larger national effort to connect everyone so the grid can be centrally monitored and controlled. Which is about as Orwellian as it gets.

Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether this pilot project will result in any meaningful benefit to those of us who are paying for it. According to the article “NRECA Releases Interoperability and Cybersecurity Plan” published in the December 2010 issue of “KIUC Currents”:

Each project tests the value of the new technologies for cooperative consumer members.

In the end, it's all well and good if everything works out fine, and we get a smart system at half the cost. But what if this thing turns out to be a big bust? Our co-op will be saddled not only with our $5.5 million share of the installation price, but any subsequent costs that might be incurred if the system needs to be revamped, tweaked or totally scuttled.

Which might be a risk we're willing to take, like paying FFP millions in hopes of coming up with a viable hydro project. But Adam's lawsuit drives home the key point: voluntary participation is always preferable to a KIUC management dictate.


Anonymous said...

Big Brother wants to watch YOU!

Money would be better spent else where. But, if they have to pay off the electric company that we owe millions to, they would discourage conservation, alternative energy, and instead find ways to charge us more. The smart meter would be one way to increase revenue.

Don't forget the fat salaries and perks being paid.

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

Why is kauai ground zero for testing? Whether missiles, chemical laden agribusiness, smart meters...the machines they make you go thru at Lihue airport...

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Adam.

Anonymous said...

Is this a rhetorical question? Island, with limited land and population. Seems ideal to me as a test market.

Anonymous said...

Planes still here daily if you don't like it...

Anonymous said...

Planes still here daily if you don't like it...

since I never leave Kauai, maybe you should go . All this testing is new here. Are we like Bikini Island now, disposable peeps, no care for the people who live there.

Anonymous said...

Is this a rhetorical question? Island, with limited land and population. Seems ideal to me as a test market.
When did Kauai have a vote that we'd like to be the test popI didn't want to be a test subject, nor did i sign up to beulation for friggin everything?

Anonymous said...

rats in a cage...

Anonymous said...

We are not volunteers; we are, indeed, test subjects and have been since WW2. And to what end? Corporate and government (often the same entity) control and power. We (the 99%) are disposable, just like the culture foisted upon us. Do we have a say in the proceedings? Can we just ignore power? Can we live our lives as we see fit?

Unknown said...

"... so the grid can be centrally monitored and controlled"

When did this become a blog for the Tea Party? If they don't control the electric grid, it fails. You can't have it both ways.
If you are talking about privacy of your usage, then check the KIUC privacy policy. I'm sure they have words about this. It seems unfair just to spread rumors like this.

Anonymous said...

Friends, it takes time to start to understand the intricacies of decisions made without public disclosure. We have never been shown the grant contract giving our $11M in tax and rate money over to a grid system that is rolling out simultaneously, all over the British Empire.

The privacy statements at KIUC do not encompass software made and controlled by third parties, such as the software of wireless smart meters.

The injunction doesn't even touch into the health problems broached by FCC warnings on cell phones in 2009, and WHO classification of RF as carcinogen in May 2011.

Nor does injunction get into the deceit of industry and government in telling us the meters emit RF 8 times a day, when it is really many thousand to 190,000 a day.

Agent Orange was tested on Kauai back in 60's and 2-4-D will be tested at Monsanto and other gmo testing fields soon. Is there radioactive residues at PMRF? Why was little Kauai given a cancer scanner with TSA? Yes, Kauai is a dumbed down island for testing, and smart meters are capable of much more than it says in KIUC brochures.

See and

Ray Songtree

Anonymous said...

2-4-D will be tested at Monsanto and other gmo testing fields soon.
fyi, the testing for this has been and is currently ongoing. Remember, we are the test site, so it happens here before they roll the product out for farmers .
So cancer rates, asthma rates , miscarriage, look for the the west side to be off the charts . and no, we are not mice in a cage, just treated that way.

Anonymous said...

thank you, there was just an article in paper about high incidence of cancer on Kauai