The promise of a smarter grid

- There is $4.5 billion in the stimulus package to modernize the nation's electricity system. The whole idea is to monitor where and when electricity is used and to direct it to where and when it is needed.

It is thought this will help utilities to adjust their rates to immediate supply and demand for power. It would supposedly allow consumers to adjust their consumption to the times when they can get the best rates. It's hoped this system will reduce waste and promote energy efficiency and conservation.

But the same technology that makes this possible also will make the nation's electrical grid vulnerable to computer criminals and foreign enemies who might want to hack into our power grid and shut it down in a moment of crisis.

"With a smart grid, anybody with an eBay account and $80 can go and buy a smart meter, reverse-engineer it, and figure out how to attack the grid," Josh Pennell, president and CEO of IOActive, a technology research firm in Seattle, testified before the Department of Homeland Security. Imagine what a foreign power could do.

There's another concern, and it's seen in the words of Carol Browner, former EPA director now serving as a senior Obama adviser for energy and climate change. In a recent interview with U.S. News & World Report, Browner said that with the smart grid, "Eventually, we can get to a system when an electric company will be able to hold back some of the power so that maybe your air conditioner won't operate at its peak."

Browner, as we have pointed out, once belonged to an explicitly socialist organization, a Group called the Commission for a Sustainable World Society that is a formal part of the Socialist International. This is climate control on steroids.

Monitoring electricity usage for efficiency is one thing. But having the electric company at the behest of the government reaching into our homes for the purposes of controlling the temperature we set is another. It's as bad as the idea Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood had for putting GPS tracking devices in our cars to tax us by the mile.

But it's not like we weren't warned. "We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," President Obama said during the campaign.

So crank up the air conditioning this summer while you can. If the plan for a smart grid goes through, freedom will be lost by degrees.


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