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RFK Jr. supported building national ‘smart grid’ that can remotely shut off personal appliances

Independent president candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has backed constructing a national “smart grid” allowing utility companies to remotely control Americans’ personal devices — even shutting off hot water if they deem it necessary.

In a 2011 video reviewed by The Post, the environmental lawyer and noted vaccine skeptic argued that the $250 billion grid would eliminate peak demand periods and insisted that consumers would “not care” about their devices being rendered inoperable for 15 minutes at a time.

The smart grid would “allow the utilities to send the signals through the line to turn off the hundred water boilers in a million homes for 15 minutes in order to avoid the peak demand that is the most expensive part of our electrical system,” Kennedy, now 70, said in remarks at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club of California.

“If you eliminate a peak, you have enough natural gas in our country to power the entire US passenger car fleet,” he went on, adding that “the grid could send a signal to turn off all the electric toothbrush rechargers, to turn off your swimming pool recirculator, all of these things.

“You don’t care if someone turns them off for 15 minutes,” said Kennedy. “It can go into your car and borrow the stored electricity in your car, in your battery.”

The presidential contender also argued the grid could let consumers who produce too much energy in their home “sell the surplus” and make “market rates.”

“We need to create a marketplace that does what a market is supposed to do, which is to reward efficiency, to reward good behavior… and to punish bad behavior, which is inefficiency and waste,” Kennedy said. “Right now, we have a marketplace that is governed by rules that were written by the incumbents — coal, oil and nuke — to reward the dirtiest, filthiest, most poisonous, most destructive, most vindictive fuels from hell.”

Kennedy, who is listed as a director of the California-based BetterGrids Foundation, has also written on the issue, arguing smart grids would allow consumers to better utilize wind and solar energy, while heling them with energy costs.

“Smart grid technology allows energy consumers to actively participate in energy markets by deploying homemade distributed power (such as wind and solar) into the American marketplace and by exercisingdemand response options to control their own energy costs—for example, by scheduling dishwasher and laundry activities during off-peak hours,” Kennedy wrote in a 2011 article for Public Utilities Fortnightly.

“We need to have a smart grid so when you plug in more than six Prius cars you don’t black out the neighborhood,” the son of the late attorney general and Senator from New York Robert F. Kennedy said at the Globe 2014 Conference in Vancouver, Canada.

Despite Kennedy’s utopian language, energy experts who spoke to The Post warned a national grid could be susceptible to both cyberattacks from bad actors and vulnerable to US government overreach into people’s privacy.

“This is pretty radical and pretty unique,” said Jason Isaac, the founder and CEO of the American Energy Institute. “It’s the last thing that the people that run these grids want to do, is have one big grid.”

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, the director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Energy, Climate and Environment, said a grid remotely controlled by utility companies would be a short step to federal control of when people can use their devices.

“This is pretty radical and pretty unique,” said Jason Isaac, the founder and CEO of the American Energy Institute. “It’s the last thing that the people that run these grids want to do, is have one big grid.”

“Is this something that Americans want? Do they want to give the government power to suck energy from their car, to turn off their water heaters, to turn off their electrical devices? I would argue the American people do not want this, this is not a popular platform,” she said said. “It’s a vast invasion of privacy.”

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s environmental policy has consistently been out of touch with Americans throughout his career,” said American Conservation Coalition Action CEO Danielle Butcher Franz. “A proposal for a nationalized grid, which would only create more government red tape, lacks the innovative thinking we need to address our energy and climate challenges. His long-held aversion to nuclear energy, alone, shows that RFK Jr.’s environmentalism is ideological, not practical.”

More than a decade after Kennedy’s remarks, smart grid technology has not taken hold in the US, but states like California are discussing proposals to link electric vehicles to their central grid.

Smart power grids are also mentioned in the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-backed Green New Deal, which Kennedy has called an “important” and “good” proposal.

The technology is already present in the UK, where millions of residents have “smart meters” installed in their homes as the country hopes to reach a net-zero target in 2050.

In South Africa, the government-controlled grid has led to hours of electricity blackouts, causing strain on businesses.

Kennedy’s campaign did not respond to an inquiry from The Post on whether the presidential candidate still supports smart grid technology shutting off devices.

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