Smart grid is a major initiative of the Obama administration. The definition of smart grid is a network that can monitor and integrate the actions of all users connected to it. The official government website, www.smartgrid.gov, says that the purpose of it is to “modernize the nation’s electrical infrastructure,” as well as “to close lingering informational gaps” around the country. The federal government has already dedicated $4.5 billion to the development of smart grid nationwide as part of the Recovery Act, and recently added another $3.5 billion. Most of the funds are given out as grants by the Department of Energy. Vermont received $69 million, which was the largest grant given to any single state.
Vermont is poised to become the first state to be 100% smart grid because of our unique utilities structure. We are the only state in the nation which has only one statewide transmissions company, VELCO. Having to deal with a single company makes it easier to construct the backbones of the system. Hence it is VELCO that is handling the construction of wireless infrastructure for smart grid. While the federal government doesn’t require that smart grid be wireless, the decision in Vermont was made to go with wireless technology. The “historic opportunity” of being the first state to do this (PSB Commissioner David O’Brien) is something that Vermont’s government and utilities value very highly. The prestige of being the first has driven the decision-makers to take a lighting-fast route to smart grid implementation, without inviting any public participation along the way and conducting proper discussion of all the pros and cons.
Most Vermonters are only beginning to become aware that wireless smart meters are coming to them. It is critical to become educated on what the repercussions of that development will be for our homes, public places and businesses. There are extremely serious concerns regarding the adverse health effects of microwave radiation, the invasion of privacy and possible compromise of security, as well as questions as to how “green” this technology really is. Since it’s not too late to undo what may very well become one of the biggest mistakes of our times, we are petitioning to Governor Shumlin for a statewide moratorium on deployment of wireless smart meters so that proper discussions can be held. Vermonters are a free and sovereign people and we deserve to decide what, if any, technologies are brought to our properties and our towns.