The head of Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) almost
giddy opinion piece in support of the controversial wireless "smart
meters" currently being installed in Vermont, prompted immediate
rebuttal from two state legislators and others.
Deborah Markowitz, Secretary of ANR since January 2011,
discussed her notification that she would soon get a smart meter at
her home. Using language like a power company brochure, she
wrote: "I can't wait! With a smart meter we'll be able to
track our electricity use more accurately (particularly important
with a house full of teenagers) and help us save money."
The first comment on her piece, by Scott Garren who already has
his smart meter, disputed this rosy outlook, writing: "… there is
no useful information from the damn thing at all…. There are no
dials to read and no instructions on what the inscrutable display
on the device means."
Also taking issue with Markowitz's cheerleading style was
Bennington County State Senator Bob Hartwell, who led the effort in
the legislature this year to slow the smart meter bandwagon and to
give all Vermonters the choice of not having a smart meter, at no
cost to the customer. The Legislature passed this opt-out provision
into law earlier this spring.
Hartwell countered Markowitz by saying, "All consumers should
take a hard look at smart meters; they pose serious threats to
privacy and not a single advocate has shown any concern about
health hazards… This is a system poorly thought through and
designed only for the benefit of the utilities."
Markowitz does not address health or privacy issues, but rather
kvells about how the "smart grid uses wireless meters and computer
technology" to integrate renewable energy sources into the electric
grid, to allow utilities to charge variable rates, to create "the
fully web-connected smart home," and to establish "an electric
vehicle network across the Northeast."
The ANR article also touts the Vermont Electric Cooperative for
leading the way in installing smart meters in their customers'
homes. It does not point out that the Coop installed wired
meters, not wireless ones - or that the wired/wireless distinction
is a significant fault line in the debate about implementing the
smart grid and the affects on health are unknown.
One of Markowitz's vocal defenders of this initiative has been
Kevin Jones of the Vermont Law School and recipient of a $450,000
federal grant to support the smart grid, although he did not
mention these connections.
Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) is "the state agency
with primary responsibility for protecting Vermont's environment,
natural resources and wildlife."
"We will need to keep careful track of what the utilities, the
Department of Public Service, and the Public Service Board do with
rates so that if the anticipated cost reductions do not materialize
the utilities cannot shift the costs of their poor business plan