LJWorld.com weblogs Dangerous Ideas

Smart Grid or Slave Grid?


Locally Westar has introduced Smart Grid technologies that are billed as helping individuals track and manage their power usage and also help the power company manage its load. Does this technology, though pose a threat to civil liberties in ways we haven't thought about yet? I don't know... but a cousin in Canada sent this link to me from a Canadian Libertarian think tank...not a site I would normally visit...but it does provide an interesting take on the new smart grid technologies.


For the record, neither my cousin or I use old style incandescent bulbs and personally I like my smart meter. So check the article out. What do you think? Are these fears real or vastly overblown?


Chris Golledge 5 years, 2 months ago

"Are these fears real or vastly overblown? "

I'd guess somewhere in between. Fuzzy, but in this country, there are many things which are legal on your own property, which are not in public. It's a bit of a "home is a castle" thing, but I'm very fuzzy on that. It may be that concept will prevail in determining how much outside influence a utility or government can exert within your home. But, there exist numerous examples where constitutionally guaranteed rights have turned out not to be "rights" after all, and new technology tends to be abused before the laws are settled.

Likewise, I quit buying incandescents, but so far, I have declined the electric utility's offer to let them to shut off my AC during high loads; via their free thermostat "upgrades". I figure I'll do it if everyone else does, but can't see why I should volunteer for that when in all likelihood my neighbor is running a cooling system that is half as efficient as mine and they have not volunteered. I program my thermostat for comfortable sleeping at night, and a bit warm during the day anyway; so, I don't think there would be much to be gained.

I think hourly pricing models would be within the rights of the utility, but control, or even knowledge, of things within my home would not be. I think that would fall under the category of an unwarranted search.

Their reach should go as far as their meter and no more; but if the article is correct, then manufactures are building devices which enable them to extend beyond that, probably because they have not been legally tested yet.

Chris Golledge 5 years, 2 months ago

A brief read on Zigbee mentions that they are designed to allow the owner to access them, and intended for secure networks. A secure network would be mandatory, just like you pretty much have to have a garage door opener that no one else can just walk up and trigger from outside, you would not want your appliances on an open wireless network.

There is some potential there, but I'm beginning to think that the author of that article a) does not have a good grasp on network security technology, and b) has not given the inventors adequate credit for thinking of this.

Huh, I thought of something like a mesh network this when I saw the movie Twister. It would be so much easier to have the little bugs communicate with each other, and you could use signal delays to triangulate their position, than it would be to have GPS on all of them with each one communicating back to some server.

It would be kind of cool to toss a few hundred down an ice sheet moulin as well. You'd loose their signal eventually, but I bet you could 'see' further down than you could otherwise. Or, just toss them out across the surface of a glacier. I think you could get a multi-dimensional flow pattern if you were clever about it.

Looks like I should have patented my idea.

notaubermime 5 years, 1 month ago

This sounded a bit 'black helicopter'ish. I mean, one of the concerns listed was whether the government would know if you paid sales tax when you bought your dishwasher off of a friend. Really?! Do the cops in Canada have nothing better to do?

When it comes to any personal information that a device collects, I like to think of it in terms of Paypal and online payment companies. They should have certain regulations which they follow that limits what the company can do and how they should protect that information.

Other than that, I think that being able to have a grid that reacts intelligently to energy usage is a big advantage over a grid where you are just flying blind. If there were a system that allowed me to adjust my thermostat from my phone if the energy rates increased due to a higher workload, I would be all for that.

Paul Decelles 5 years, 1 month ago

Well I didn't know what to make of it either...but if we, oops or some one, can launch a cyber attack on a foreign power and wreck havoc with devices such as centrifuges then maybe what this article says is not so far fetched.

notaubermime 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't deny that it is possible, I just don't think that it is practical. I'm not really sure the government really cares how many pounds of laundry you do a week and if it did, that it would actually have the money to pay someone to check it. Regulators and inspectors are often understaffed and lacking in funds even when the tasks they do are important.

Now hackers on the other hand, that could be a significant issue.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.