Is Smart Grid Energy Technology Too Smart?

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," February 4, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: Hey, will you take a trip to crazy town with me for a second? Because I think we have a lot of spooky stuff going on in the world, and a lot of spooky stuff and big decisions that need to be made now, but nobody is really actually telling you the dark side of, "Hey, let's take care of the children."

Wait a minute, won't I be a slave to the government if I have universal healthcare? Let's talk about the other sides of things. We see the happy — did you see the commercial on the smart grid during the Super Bowl? I was eating my weight in chicken wings when this came on.



NARRATOR: Smart grid technology from G.E. will make the way we distribute electricity more efficient simply by making it more intelligent.



BECK: If the scarecrow only had a brain, I wouldn't have to think because the grid is smart, brought to you by your good friends at G.E.

OK. Here's the thing. Smart grid is actually really good. It is something that we need. We have real serious problems with our energy grid here.

However, I just want you to understand the dark side of the energy grid in case — and this I know would never happen — in case government ever got out of control. It doesn't just pump energy into your house, it takes critical information out of your house.

And then we brought Philip Bane in to explain some of this.

Hi, Philip. How are you are, sir?


Video: Watch Glenn's interview with Phillip Bane

BECK: Sure. Now, I want to make this very clear. I'm not saying that Obama or the Democrats or the Republicans or anybody are going to take this technology and use it this way. However, you know, there are people talking about having a global financial system through the U.N. and it's not just crazy people. It's Angela Merkel, it's Sarkozy, it's Tony Blair, that is talking about a financial global system. Who knows what could happen?

Tell me about the good things we know on the smart grid. It will monitor, let's say — well, do we have the little graph of my house? We'll take it piece by piece here, Philip. Do we have that?

OK. There's me. Wow, that doesn't even look like me. OK. There's — yes, it does, big huge fat head. Here's me at the house.

What is it going to do when we go inside, Philip? Tell me about the smart grid. What does it do let's say, there I am adjusting my thermostat.

BANE: Glenn, the idea behind the smart grid is basically two-way communications. Just like you're talking about pumping energy into the house, you're also talking about sucking information out. There is really no difference between — there will be no difference between your house and a computer. Everything that could happen with your computer in terms of, you know, signing in to Amazon and registering until you get all those great benefits, will happen with your house.

Now, you know, you can choose to look at that negatively, as a problem, or you can possibly look at that as a positive.

BECK: When I have the government being the one that's the other side of it. For instance, let's look at thermostat. You adjust the thermostat. In California, the people rejected that the government should have control of your thermostat.

The government won't have control of your thermostat. You can turn the thermostat up if you'd like if it should be at 72 degrees or 68 degrees. If you'd like it at 74 degrees, that's fine. It's 8 cents a kilowatt at the right temperature that the government sets. But wouldn't they also have the ability to, as soon as you move it up a degree, charge you for more per kilowatt — to discourage use?

BANE: The idea behind — Glenn, you're right. The idea behind the smart grid would be to, taking into account the pricing of electricity at different times in the day to give you control about when you use it. So, you know, you're looking at a thermostat, but what you'd really be looking at is an LED screen on the wall or on your refrigerator or on your computer that would tell you when was the best time to run your washer/dryer, when was the right time to turn down your refrigerator. I mean, basically .

BECK: But do they — but do they penalize you if you say, "You know what, I want to use it a different time"? Do you see the possibility of the future with a government gone bad, where they say we're taking care of healthcare? "Glenn, you've had too much ice cream," and I go to the refrigerator and I can't have more ice cream because I'm a big fat fatty?

BANE: But, Glenn, that's not a smart grid. That's, you know, the governor of New York, the city of New York, who are doing those things right now.


BECK: Right.

BANE: So, I mean, that's not the smart grid.

BECK: But this — this will enable them to come in my house telling me that I can't sit on my marshmallow couch, you know, eat there, I'm just eating my couch. You know, outside, you know, at a public park is one thing, but coming into my house and telling me what I can and can't do is a whole different level of control. Yes, no?

BANE: You know, I — look, your concerns are legitimate, Glenn. I mean, but what I would suggest is that there is really no difference on your house's use of electricity and our current situation with automobiles. I mean, imagine driving your automobile without a dashboard, that's basically what you're doing today with your house. And if you want energy independence you got to give ...

BECK: No, my dashboard does not communicate with the federal government who wants to limit something that I do. Look, if I want to drive an SUV and I want to have — I want to have a big gas guzzler, I can do it now. But what this will do is say, "Oh, you're going to have the SUV, OK, well, gas for you is $10 a gallon." What?

BANE: But that's exactly what people choose, that's the choices they make today.



BANE: I mean, look what happened with SUVs for instance.

BECK: I'm not paying $8 a gallon for gas. I'm just using for.

BANE: No, but you may some day. And imagine, though, that your electricity rates go up, two, three or four times in the next five years. That's what you're facing.

BECK: Well ...

BANE: So, if you don't have the — go ahead.

BECK: No, go ahead. Go ahead.

BANE: So, I mean — so, Glenn, it really is. Have you ever driven a Prius where you can look and see on the dashboard what's happening and it affects your usage of gasoline?

BECK: Yes.

BANE: Have you driven a Prius?

BECK: Sure.

BANE: OK. It's exactly — it's exactly the same idea, Glenn. The idea is to give you when you're walk in to your home and your family the ability to control your usage.


BANE: Now, what's going to happen is, and you're absolutely right that you could end up paying more, but that's going to be a choice that you make. That's like in Las Vegas ...

BECK: Right.

BANE: ... where somebody chooses to have green grass and, you know, the rich people get away with using as much water as they want, but the rest of us don't.

BECK: OK. Well, that's cool. Phillip, I appreciate you actually gaming this out with me just a little bit. I just — I guess I just don't trust governments very much, especially global ones.

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