Marin County Bans "Smart Grid": Will The EV Market Suffer?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
marin county bans smart grid will the ev market suffer

As one of California’s leading bastions of privileged liberalism ( 2009 per-capita income: $91,483) , Marin County is probably one of the top counties worldwide in terms of EV market potential. But apparently the local government isn’t ready to tap its unique combination of money and idealism to become a leading market for electric cars. Even as Californian EV activists are being forced to install second power meters to separate EV charging from home electricity use in order to take advantage of lower electricity rates for EV charging, the NYT reports that Marin County has banned the use of “smart meters” which would allow more widespread EV adoption.

Smart meters, which communicate electricity use wirelessly to the power company would allow EV charging to be easily separated from home use, but they also raise a number of issues that Marin County simply doesn’t want to have to deal with. Privacy, health risks from electromagnetic frequency radiation, and radio communication interruptions are all cited in the Marin County ordinance [ PDF here] which bans installation of the smart meters in unincorporated areas of the county. The upside for EV enthusiasts is that this affects on 70k of the county’s 260k residents… but again, knowing Marin County, the county’s numerous rural mansions are probably a huge part of its potential base of EV support. And the towns of Fairfax and Watsonville have already banned smart readers, as has Santa Cruz County, another prime EV market. Time to start rethinking those running costs?

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7 of 22 comments
  • PeteMoran PeteMoran on Jan 07, 2011

    Dumb-ass Luddites can be rich/poor, progressive/conservative. It's not a major surprise.

  • Luke Procter Luke Procter on Jan 08, 2011

    Ontario's had smart meters now for several years. Nothing negative has happened, except the hydro bills have gone down... ooooh, scary....

  • Thornmark Thornmark on Jan 08, 2011

    Unions have tried to stop virtually every privately funded large scale solar project in CA by filing "environmental" objections until the companies give in to unionization. Then the "environmental" concerns go away. Here's one NYTimes story: Here's more:

  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on Jan 08, 2011

    If we adopt smart grids, it will be used an excuse to block the building of generating capacity of any type. If the wind mills don't produce electricity, so what? We will just use the smart grid technology to go around your house and turn off your HVAC, your television, and your lights, in order to spare the grid which no longer carries enough power because they have decreed my reliance on solar power (I live in a town with 72 clear days a year) and wind (class 1 wind around here). Second, the smart grid is a new avenue for government intrusion into our lives. Members of "minority" groups will claim that any action to cut power to their neighborhoods is racism. Power cuts to the districts that vote the right way will be rarer than hen's teeth. Don't bother to buy a new refrigerator if you live in a district that votes the wrong way. Non-union factories won't get electricity, but Government Motors will have all they need. But wait, there is more. Too fat? No electricity for your kitchen. Want to stay up late. Sorry, lights are out at 10 p.m. in this town. I will support smart grids, after Washington is run by honest politicians.

    • See 2 previous
    • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Jan 14, 2011

      Nah - I spent three years in southern Italy with unreliable power and water. The power flickered all the time. Some days it would be off all day. This wasn't common but it happened. We never knew why b/c we didn't know where to ask why the power was off. In the summer it was explained to me that some farmers would choose to water their fields so much with stolen water that there was no water pressure or in some cases no water at all for the neighborhoods. I lived about 30 miles north of Naples. The locals adapted. The gov't was broken so they weren't enforcing what they were supposed to - like searching out the farmers stealing water. Folks built houses with water cisterns and pumps. When I turned on my faucet if I heard the pump come on then I knew the neighborhood water was off. When the neighborhood water came back on the cistern would automatically refill. When we had no neighborhood water we would skip laundry (take it to the coin wash near work), and take very short showers. Plenty of water to cook with, wash dishes, and flush toilets for days. That was twenty years ago. If this were to happen here we'd put in a cistern here too. If the power was irregular then we'd be looking at solar plus batteries. At least enough to run our entertainment, lights and the things like the vacuum. As for the fridge - if things was that uncertain we'd have a 3-way fridge - something that runs on DC, AC and propane. There are several to choose form. Lehman's sells stuff like this. I want to always have electricity and water but if things in my state takes a weird turn for the worse we'll adapt. If these kinds of problems are long term then we elect people who can fix them. If they can't - resources are that slim for some reason - then we quit spending money on stuff and we spend more money on living. I half expect this to happen in my lifetime as our consumption patterns outrun our resources to the point where we simply can't afford alot of resources or we run out of stuff we currently take for granted. One thing is for sure - I don't want to live in a ruined world just to have cheap stuff. We've already seen plenty of mtn top removals just to get coal cheap. I'd rather adapt to expensive electricity than look out across a ruined region.