pathology_doc: (controversy)
On a mountain halfway between Reno and Rome
There sits a machine in a plexiglas dome
Which listens and looks into everyone's home...


So went the tale in Dr Seuss' "Sleep Book", but at least his machine was limited in its output - every time someone went to sleep, it would drop a ball into a cup to be counted by a human.

Now we have the Smart Meter, which will sit in your power-box and enable the energy companies to control how much power you get:

VICTORIANS hit with soaring electricity bills could have their power rationed under a smart meter plan.

Some companies want to "choke" or restrict amounts delivered to homes to help families cope with costs.

Victorians' electricity bills have surged in the past two years, racing ahead of inflation.


Meanwhile, NOT ONE BIT of 24/7 baseload power has been introduced into the grid. Just what are these people paying for?

New meters that are being rolled out to every household and small business can ration power to control debt for individual customers.

Or to make life uncomfortable for one's critics. Especially if the Labor government is re-elected and introduces a global internet filter. Don't like what someone's saying online? Brown out their power, wreck their laptop, diminish their ability to cook and clean and wash...

An Essential Services Commission review reveals retailers are expected to push for contracts that can cap consumption as a "credit management tool" once all the meters are in place.

Consumer Action Law Centre energy spokeswoman Janine Rayner said the development was "dangerous territory with all sorts of social, health and safety implications" that should be outlawed. "The electricity market is complex, and consumers don't understand how much power they are using and the different energy loads for different appliances," she said.


Damn right. The potential for abuse is incredible.

Limiting kilowatts used or getting consumers to agree to a maximum dollar use could cause a spike in unintended cut-offs, curbs on heating and cooking, and appliance damage, she warned.

ESC spokesman Gavin Clancy confirmed a recent draft ruling had paved the way for "supply capacity control" products to be used with consent. But for customers in a hardship program, such restrictions could not be offered until at least December 31, 2013.


This Labor policy of offering something that doesn't start until beyond the next election is a fairly common one. It means you have to keep voting them in if you want them to perform action X. Sort of like a battered-wife situation, really.

Smart meter specialist Silver Spring Networks has told the ESC that choking power "will be of considerable advantage" to customers in financial difficulties.

"They will be able to choose to reduce their consumption as a credit management tool," a submission summary notes.

"This would allow, for example, sufficient power to be provided at a premises to run a few lights and the fridge only ... either as an alternative to disconnection or as an additional step prior to disconnection."


Pity if grandma is visiting and has a portable oxygen generator or CPAP machine... or is high-quad and on a ventilator... or needs a powered wheelchair recharged.

The ESC said: "Low-income customers may benefit from these products, but the commission is concerned that there is insufficient detail of how these products may be offered to customers ... "

A decision is due next month.

The meters are being installed over three years.


Hopefully by then the Victorian State Labor Government will be history, and so will this insane plan. I wouldn't mind a "prepaid" system (like the old gasmeters), so long as control on the device was local only, but the thought that someone could reach out from a control centre somewhere and cut my power when I might need it for a life-and-death situation is damn scary. What's more, I can easily see the Federal Labor Party adopting this.

Whatever you do, don't vote Labor and don't vote Greens. If you do, this is the nightmare you're voting for.

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March 2015

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