There are a variety of reactions as millions of Americans say farewell to their old-fashioned electricity meters. Actually, there are two of them. There is a lot of misunderstanding and resentment among customers about modern meter technology, as well as a lot of confusion and fury among customers who have seen their bills rise after their smart meters were placed.
Another group of people who are dissatisfied is on the horizon. The new digital hardware will not be welcomed by those who have been cheating their utility and stealing their electricity by hacking traditional electric meters.
It’s been suggested that the installation of 30 million smart meters by Italian utility Enel S.p.A. was done primarily to combat power theft, rather than to progress the smart grid. The official motive is strong because Enel saves roughly 500 million Euros every year thanks to automatic features produced by the meters. Even so, the fact that the rumor exists tells something. Power theft is blamed for long-term power disruptions in Indian cities.
While the United States does not have the same widespread electricity theft problems as other countries such as Mexico, Brazil, or India, it nevertheless costs the country $6 billion each year.
So, if you’re a creative, skillful (but not tech-savvy) thief, time is running out to try to take something that isn’t yours for free.
Putting a magnet on each side of the meter to slow it down has been a tried and effective method of tampering with it throughout the years. There are numerous examples on the internet, including a step-by-step video.
If you’re a criminal with a dangerous streak, you’ve probably noticed folks who steal power from transformers directly. Beware: the news is full with stories about people who have died in the pursuit of free power, as well as people who have lived only to be prosecuted. One local Fox station virtually delivers a do-it-yourself, as one man did with jumper cables, while reporting on a power theft tale.
People have stolen power in a variety of ways, ranging from putting sand in the meters to slowing down the wheel to turning the entire meter upside down. Knowing when the meter reader will arrive to turn it right side up is the key.
Another common solution is to drill a hole in the bottom of the meter and insert a pin to completely stop the wheel. “We did this for over a year till we got caught, then it was the Spanish Inquisition and cost a fortune in penalties, etc,” one “anonymous coward” wrote on a web forum. I’ve learned my lesson.
While improved meters would likely dissuade some anonymous cowards from fiddling with their meters in exchange for a few months of lower energy bills, a smart grid will not solve the bigger issue of power theft; rather, it will shift who is prepared to do the hacking.
“It’s similar to getting a new computer or security system,” Lowell Rust, head of product marketing at Itron, an electrical metering company, said. “People that earn a career from penetration will have to stay on top of things.”
However, similar to computer and security systems, it is more likely that the technology’s creators will have to stay one step ahead of hackers in order to truly stop energy theft.
Is it possible to use a magnet to slow down an electric meter?
Ruth Mathieu-gas Alce’s supply was cut off 14 months ago after PGW personnel spotted a suspicious device on her gas meter at her Lawncrest house.
The power converter, according to PGW, interfered with the meter by releasing a magnetic force, causing it to substantially underreport gasoline usage.
Mathieu-Alce declared her innocence and complained to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
The PUC affirmed an administrative law judge’s decision that PGW had failed to prove that the power adaptor was the cause of her meter’s slowness on Thursday. The company was ordered to restore her service.
In his conclusion, Administrative Law Judge Christopher P. Pell stated, “There is insufficient evidence in the record to indicate that she tampered with her meter.”
In an interview, Mathieu-Alce, who moved from Haiti more than three decades ago, stated that her family had no intention of stealing electricity service. She stated, “We are Christians.” “We wouldn’t do stuff like that, like cheating or lying.”
Customers who fiddle with their meters, an unlawful practice that energy firms warn can result in fires, explosions, and electrocutions, are a constant battleground for utilities.
Internet videos show how to use a magnet to slow down a meter’s unrelenting march. According to tamperers, strategically positioned magnets can slow the spinning metal wheel in old-style analog meters that gauges usage. Experts claim that magnets have no effect on new digital smart meters.
Magnets are not taken lightly by utilities, as Texas plumber James Hutcheson discovered in 2014.
After his utility, Oncor, fined him $340 for installing an O-shaped magnet on his digital meter, Hutcheson, who lives in a Dallas suburb, uploaded a YouTube diatribe.
When contacted this week, Hutcheson stated that he paid the fine to have his service restored, but claimed he only used the magnet to sort through scrap iron and not to steal power. His YouTube video received 2.5 million views, netting him a lot more money than the utility fine.
PGW was battled in court, not online, by Mathieu-Alce, who lives in the 5100 block of Mebus Street. She presented her case before the PUC last year without the assistance of an attorney.
Jean Daniel Alce, her husband, testified that he installed the “Precision Regulated DC Power Supply” box on the gas meter to improve his TV signal. He denied that the device featured a magnet and that it would have affected the readings on the gas meter.
The power adapter was seized by PGW, but it was not produced during the hearing. It was not checked for magnetism, according to the witnesses.
A magnet, according to PGW spokesman Barry O’Sullivan, would disrupt the amount of energy used recorded on the electronic wireless transmitter on top of each meter, which delivers data to the billing system. However, the gas meter would continue to accurately measure use.
The Mathieu-Alce household used approximately 5,000 hundred cubic feet more than it was invoiced for, according to the meter data. PGW said that some winter bills were close to nil.
PGW must restore Mathieu-service Alce’s and cannot charge her a restoration fee, according to the PUC’s order, but it says nothing about the arrearage.
“We’ll issue her a makeup bill,” O’Sullivan said Friday, “and we’ll work with her as best we can to have the arrears paid while she continues to enjoy the benefits of natural gas at the property.”
What is the effect of a magnet on an electric meter?
Through the meter’s lid, such a magnet can effectively disrupt its operation. When a recipient places a neodymium magnet near an inductive watt-hour meter, the meter runs slower than it should, making it impossible to accurately record electrical energy use.
What is the best way to tamper with an electric meter?
Since Thomas Edison constructed the world’s first electricity generating plant in London in 1882, electricity theft or tampering with the electricity meter has been a problem. Meter tampering is defined as any act that causes the meter to run slower or not at all, and it is essentially theft of electricity from the power company. Turning the watthour meter upside down (prior to digitization, this would cause the meter to turn backwards), replacing the meter with items such as copper wires or knives, or drilling a hole in the meter and inserting something to stop the disc at night and removing the object in the morning so that no one would suspect electricity theft are just some of the ways to tamper with an electricity meter. Electricity theft can take extreme forms, such as destroying the meter or replacing your meter with someone else’s. Fortunately, the Electricity Act of 2003 was passed to combat widespread electricity theft.
Is it possible to get around the electricity meter?
If the person has totally circumvented their meter, they will not be charged for any electricity usage. Once the meter has been tampered with, the person and others around them are at risk of a variety of dangers, some of which can result in serious injury or, in the worst-case scenario, death.
Is it possible for smart meters to detect electricity theft?
Energy theft detection algorithms that rely on statistical data-driven methods to identify typical customer behavior are built on the foundation of smart meter energy usage profiling. These approaches can be used to detect irregular energy usage, i.e., to pinpoint the exact location of energy theft.
Is it possible to hack a smart meter?
Myth 1: Smart meters track my movements and can be hacked. The Smart Meter Wide Area Network, which is exclusive for smart meters, connects your smart meter and IHD in a private, closed system. This uses radio waves in the same manner that other wireless systems, such as automobile remote keys or televisions, do.
Is it possible to save money by using a capacitor?
The right answer is that capacitors and power factor correction devices cannot be used to minimize our electricity bill. This answer is correct only for home or household use, although industrial use of capacitors or power factor correction equipment can cut electricity bills.
Is it possible for a magnet to slow down a water meter?
Despite flowing water, a neodymium magnet affects the magnetic clutch of a dry dial water meter, forcing it to completely stop measuring (Figure 3).
Is it feasible to generate free energy using magnets?
Free energy isn’t found in magnets. They have their own internal energy. As the magnetism fades, it can be eliminated. There is an electric field vector surrounding the magnet due to the magnetic field, but eddy currents waste the electric potential.
Is it possible to save electricity with a magnet?
Researchers have developed a novel system called the “Magnetic Energy Recovery Switch” that controls electrical flow for lighting, resulting in a highly efficient platform that could usher in a new era of energy conservation.