Archive for May, 2014

Washington (Platts)–23Jan2013/223 pm EST/1923 GMT

The US Department of Energy has failed to properly manage a $700 million program aimed at demonstrating the use of smart grid technology, with millions of dollars in questionable spending, the agency’s inspector general said Wednesday.
The funding came under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and is meant to demonstrate innovative smart-grid technologies, including advanced electricity meters, automated distribution systems and grid-scale energy storage systems.

“Our review of 11 projects, awarded $279 million in Recovery Act funding and $10 million in non-Recovery Act funding, identified weaknesses in reimbursement requests, cost-share contributions, and coordination efforts with another Department program,” DOE Inspector General Gregory Friedman said in a report to Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

 

“These issues resulted in about $12.3 million in questioned costs,” Friedman said. “In the absence of significant improvements, the program is at risk of not meeting its objectives and has an increased risk of fraud, waste and abuse.”

IG investigators examined 11 of the 32 projects that received funding under the program.

Specifically, the IG found that DOE had overpaid two recipients a total of $9.9 million based on estimated costs and not actual costs, and reimbursed a recipient $2.4 million for several energy-storage units that had not yet been manufactured.

In addition, DOE failed to follow proper procedures in vetting recipient cost-share contributions, and improperly awarded $14 million to a project that had already received $2 million under the department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, according to Friedman.

Click the link to hear the show… its only 17 minutes but tells the status of the moratorium in Sheffield and updates on new info about the tariffs for opting out and more.

WSBSMay14.mp3

Smart meters are hackable!

Posted: May 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

In 2009 the FBI investigated power theft in Puerto Rico where smart meters were in use. The perpetrators were said to have hacked into the smart meters using an optical converter device connected to a laptop, allowing smart meters to connect with the computer. The hackers were able to change the settings for recording power consumption using software available on the internet after making a connection.

A recent example of smart meter hacking was demonstrated by Mike Davis, a security consultant. He reverse-engineered a smart meter bought on Ebay, and installed a computer program that replicated itself across the wireless network and blocked the utility company as it went. Jack Bode, writing for Canada.com, made the wry observation that we won’t have to worry about getting bombed if ever we go to war again. The enemy only has to “hack us and turn off the power.”

http://patriotsandpaulies.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/5-hacks-that-render-smart-meters-dumb/

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Spokesmen for the power company NStar told the Martha’s Vineyard Commission Thursday that they believe the commission has no jurisdiction over a project to install new, oversized utility poles around the Island. NStar says the taller, wider poles are needed to accommodate heavier equipment and provide more reliable service. The poles have raised the hackles of Islanders and public officials who say they are ruinous to roadside aesthetics and out of character for the Vineyard.

Not only are the poles taller, but they installed mid-span poles too  to make the community look like they were riddled with a giant picket fence. Evidently the town has no say in what kind of poles are replaced, but can have a say in the mid-span installation. Taller poles are part of many smart grid installations. Sheffield is seeing taller poles being installed (look down Maple)

See more at: http://mvgazette.com/news/2013/08/12/commission-takes-nstar-task-over-new-taller-utility-poles?k=vg533a14f50fb70&r=1#sthash.k8Hd2kRD.dpuf

If you missed the showing at the Sheffield library in January you can still see the movie at the Berkshire Film Festival May 31 in Pittsfield at 11 am. and noon Sunday in Great Barrington.

Link to info on the movie

Sheffield residents by a substantial majority, voted to place a moratorium on smart meter/smart grid programs at the annual town meeting on May 5th, based on concern about the controversy surrounding National Grid’s smart meter/smart grid pilot in Worcester and its potential future implementation for the rest of the Utility’s customers as the result of a possible DPU mandate.

 

The warrant asked for a moratorium because of potential violations of the Sheffield By-law 7.1.1 and 7.1.10 which states in the approval criteria for tower citing section, “that such structure will not have an undue adverse impact on historic resources, scenic views, residential property values and natural or man-made resources.” Sheffield residents who are in favor of the moratorium are concerned that the infrastructure being proposed will litter their landscape with antennas and data transmission towers. In response to community opposition over the last 14 months, National Grid is attempting to co-locate transmission units where possible in Worcester, but Sheffield has few cell towers and no structures that could accommodate co-location, raising fears that new structures would be erected. Worcester’s legal counsel made a determination that tower citings did not fall under the Telecommunications Act of 1996; therefore its zoning board is not compelled to approve application for tower erection based only on gaps in coverage. The moratorium would afford the community time to evaluate the Worcester pilot program’s safety, cost effectiveness, security, and energy savings before the program would be expanded into Sheffield.

 

With such overwhelming support from voters, it is assumed that the town Selectmen will approve the moratorium request and that Sheffield will become the first town in Massachusetts to adopt a prudent and precautionary stance that places the burden of proof on the utility to justify the program.  The moratorium merely allows the town to further review conflicting claims about the efficacy of the program and to allow National Grid time to create a no cost Opt Out program to consumers or communities, at which time the town can schedule another vote to continue the moratorium or embrace the technology.