What Seattle City Light smart meter forums are like, where to find the next one

 

Here’s a summary from Seattle Privacy correspondent Molly Connelly of the August 19 Seattle City Light forum on Smart Meters:

I went to the AMI (smart meters) forum last night. SCL didn’t do a presentation, and instead just had tables set up for Q&A on Health, Privacy, and Customer benefits, and said they are in the “listening phase” and haven’t made any concrete decisions yet.
Customer Benefits table: City Council approved SCL’s AMI plan in 2012, but they haven’t yet authorized funding for it, and meters will not be purchased until budget authority is given. (This means that potential meter vendors are still unknown, so we don’t know what models will be used and can’t do any kind of security audit on them yet.) (There is still an option to tell City Council to deny funding). Doesn’t sound like federal funding is available for new meters.
Estimated timeline: 2014 get Council to approve funding, secure vendor contracts; 2015 install smart meters (or digital meters if consumer opts out). Opt-out clause is a yes for now, but policy is subject to Council approval, and not clear about additional consumer costs associated with this. Existing analog meters do need to be replaced, options are 1. smart meter, or 2. digital meter (similar to analog but easier to read, no two-way communication, still need a meter reader to physically look at it). Digital meters can’t be converted to smart meters. Industrial/office buildings give useful info about energy usage – potentially could only have smart meters on these buildings (and not residences) and still get good data to help cycle/load energy in efficient manner.
Privacy Questions table: Staffed by SCL employee Kelly E, very friendly/smart/seemed transparent/open to suggestions. Tech citizens concerned about security vulnerability to unauthorized third party access; say wireless can never be truly secure. SCL open to having an independent auditor to test/analyze meter security vulnerability. SCL requires a subpeona to give records to law enforcement and has a legal dept. that reviews all requests before sharing info; mostly deals with fraud issues and sporadic grow-ops.  Citizens concerned about warrantless Fed access, section 215/gag orders etc.
SCL seems unfamiliar with this, and said they don’t know what a fusion center is. Re: danger of federal agencies accessing data without a warrant – SCL suggested a Council ordinance to forbid it. We asserted that if we create a system where big data exists, the Feds will find a way to access it regardless, NSA and co. track record proves this again and again; real-time in-home behavioral data would be an irresistible target for their dragnet surveillance efforts. SCL says meter data can be shared with third parties for “work related to the utility” e.g.  for a conservation effort or fraud detection effort. Tech citizens noted that this option could easily be exploited for data mining.
SCL rep emphasized that SCL is a public utility, owned by the citizens, and offered to create an AMI stakeholders group of citizens to meet regularly and further discuss the privacy issues with her.
SCL rep emphasized that SCL is a public utility, owned by the citizens, and offered to create an AMI stakeholders group of citizens to meet regularly and further discuss the privacy issues with her.
Readers, please note, I’m not publishing the email of the SCL rep because I don’t want her spammed, but if you want to write and encourage the formation of a stakeholders group, please email contact [at] seattleprivacy.org and we’ll get you the email.
Citizen consensus: the inside of our home is the last remaining refuge of privacy (ALPR, cameras, phone GPS etc track our every public movement; NSA tracks every email and phone call. Home is last refuge. Must protect it. This seems like an argument that would resonate strongly with general public). Loss of privacy due to high probability of govt. dragnet surveillance (and third party hacking and data mining) trumps potential environmental and cost benefits of smart meters. Might be helpful to present SCL and City Council with alternative solutions to the problems that smart meters are intended to solve.

The next Seattle City Light forum on Smart Meters is happening September 10 at Seattle Center:

Downtown
Seattle Center – Shaw Room
Seattle Center
305 Harrison St.
Seattle, WA 98109
*Shaw Room is located on the corner of 1st Ave N and Republican St.
(North of Key Arena)

Tuesday, September 10
5 – 7:30 p.m.South
Seattle Housing Authority NewHolly – Gathering Hall
7054 32nd Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118
Thursday, September 26
5 – 7:30 p.m.

 

 

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