Neal Walters of AARP’s Public Policy Institute wrote a paper on Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). The Insight on the Issues edition explains the potential benefits and concerns surrounding this unproven technology.
In essence, this well cited paper acknowledges the possible benefits of Smart Meters, but that these benefits are not clear even with pilot test results. Furthermore, the pilot studies “did not take into account the cost of installing the AMI systems.”
“Owing to the lack of knowledge about the impact of advanced metering on consumers, it is not clear how many consumers would be able to reduce their electric bills using AMI systems” and recognizes that there is not enough information to allay the following consumer concerns:
- Smart Meters will cost us more via rate hikes and via time-of-use tiered pricing
- Smart Meters are neither necessary nor sufficient in order to save money
- Low-income and stay-at-home workers will be hit the hardest
Also noteworthy: “Questions remain about how utility companies would recover these costs, and how much they might add to consumers’ electric bills”. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that we, the ratepayers, will be paying for this costly roll out in the form of tax dollars and higher electricity bills. Even more disturbing, if studies show that they are indeed unsafe (see the ever growing health and safety complaints mounting as a result of already installed Smart Meters), we (the ratepayers) will also be footing the bill to have them removed through tax dollars and rate increases.
In the appendix, Mr. Walters raises many valid concerns and recommendations for utilities and policy makers that most consumers would consider reasonable, required, and the responsibility of our utilities and policy makers. In essence, he calls for our policy makers to order analysis that show consumer savings and allay consumer concerns surrounding the impact of Smart Meters. Despite our efforts, we are unable to locate any analysis that shows clear benefit to the ratepayer.
Note: Smart Meters are actually AMI devices. Some utilities refer to AMI electricity metering devices as Smart Meters, SmartMeters, AMI, etc. In our area, utilities refer to these AMI devices as Smart Meters, so it might help to exchange the term “AMI” for “Smart Meters” when reading this paper.