Smart meters are not just measuring usage at time of day and allowing remote reading. That is just the first layer of their capabilities.
A smart meter on a home is essentially a router for every electrical device in the home that supports the network communication. It will forward instructions from the smart grid to the appliances. It will also forward the usages from the appliances back to the utility. Also the smart meter data can be used to identify what is running at any given time even if the devices aren't capable of communication based on things like the load profile and back EMF. It requires understanding what those profiles are, but it should be relatively easy to classify a furnace or a dishwasher or other major appliances generically.
Don't look at what the utilities put out. It's intentionally misleading. Read the press releases, brochures, and technical information on the smart meters, smart appliances, and smart grid. It is there where these capabilities are described.
If they were just load and time they would be very simple devices and of no particular interest beyond their broadcasting.
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