Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Will Your Smart Meter Make You Less Smart?

By Peter Bowditch

The introduction of smart electricity meters has led to some silly public misconceptions.

Peter Bowditch is a former President of Australian Skeptics Inc. (www.skeptics.com.au).

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The idea of smart meters seems like a good one, as monitoring energy use at frequent intervals can smooth consumption, thereby reducing the need for generating capacity and reducing consumer costs by educating them about patterns of use and misuse.

But nothing seems to happen in our society without objections, and these have been coming from several directions. I’ll apply a skeptical magnifying glass to a few of these.

Political

The roll-out of smart meters is costing a lot of money and is not happening as quickly as predicted. It seems inevitable in any democracy that when the government changes from one political party to another the incoming politicians find that some huge project started by the previous government is a useless waste of money on which too much has been spent so far and which is running behind schedule. The standard examples in Australia are integrated, multi-modal public transport ticketing systems.

Sometimes the projects are abandoned, but the usual practice is to blame the predecessors and then apply the Concorde Fallacy – that the money spent so far would be wasted if the project was stopped now. (The name is derived from the decision to continue development of the Concorde aeroplane even after it had become obvious that it could never be commercially viable without huge and continuing government subsidies.)

The...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.