Book Review – Off The Grid

Joanna Schroeder

“Where is the debate about the smart grid? Are we just going to believe what GE and EEI tell us? Who can actually prove that the smart grid is going to be all that smart, or that it is even going to work?”And who has thought through all the implications?” These are a few of the questions that author Nick Rosen asks in “Off The Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America.”

This is definitely a set of questions that aren’t often asked in context with the smart grid. More often, there is a disagreement of who is going to pay for the smart grid or whether the smart grid will save consumers money or cost consumers money. However, Rosen has a definite opinion of the smart grid. He writes that privacy will be at risk (utilities will literally be able to ‘see’ into your house with the new technologies) but he also writes that utilities will make billions more in profits with this move.

Rosen explains that based on the track record of utilities, “…the smart grid is not in the country’s best interest nor are they concerned with Secretary Chu’s carbon-reduction targest when they enthuse about rolling out the smart grid. They are concerned with market dominance and profits.”

He continues by anticipating that smart technologies will eliminate the need for meter readers and many call centers, thus reducing the number of jobs in the space while making even more profits (most people estimate that utilities will pass along the costs of developing the smart grid to consumers in the form of higher energy costs).

I must say that while I do not disagree with Rosen as a whole, he does fall into a growing number of Americans who want less government and more individual control. Many of these people who are “anti-government” already live off the grid; however, it is unfair to say that all people who live off the grid are those who are hiding for some reason or other. Many people are looking for ways to become “energy independent” to save money, to have a back-up in case of a major electricity shortage or outage, or to just get-away from technology in general for a while.

For those people who are curious about what living off the grid would be like, or learning how to go “Off The Grid,” this is a very interesting book to read. It is also educational for those who are not convinced that the smart grid is all that smart.

book reviews, Electricity, Smart Grid