Troubling Questions – Huge rollout of smart meters causes concern

Due to grassroots political pressure, Public Service Company has backed down from forcing its electricity customers from having their meters replaced with controversial smart meters.

To counter the protest, PSO is seeking permission from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to fine residential customers an up-front fee of $183.00 and $28.00 a month from now on if they refuse to have smart meters installed in their homes.

More than 700 customers in and around Tulsa have already refused the smart meters due to health concerns over increasd radiation, privacy concerns about the expanded information transmitted and safety concerns about the function of the smart meters.

Joe Esposito of Owasso, an outspoken critic of smart meters, said the health concerns about radiation will skyrocket even for customers who opt out because of the sheer numbers of smart meters installed at the homes of their neighbors.

The local chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons objects to the new opt-out fee. The state director said there should be no new PSO fees.

The Public Utility Division of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission promotes the conversion to smart meters. On its website, it states, “SMART Meters allow customers to access information about their own usage in 15 minute intervals. This information will empower customers to choose small changes in usage that can result in big savings.  SMART Meters also assist in statewide energy efficiency programs, as discussed in the Oklahoma First Energy Plan. Remote meter reading and connections services will also lower operating costs.”

In a question-and-answer section, the Corporation Commission states that smart meters don’t relay any “personal information” – including account number, address and other personal information. The commission staff also claims that customers are safe from “electronic attacks.” It states, “Security is of concern to the Commission when considering smart meter projects. To date, the programs approved have been subject to extensive third party testing.”

In California, after series of electrical blackouts, the placement of smart meters was pushed so electric companies could track high users. Now, with California in a five-year drought, smart water meters are being used to “spy” on customers who use high amounts of water. This practice has drawn criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission staff admits that while smart meters only transmit total power consumed (every 15 minutes) now, “advanced smart meter  systems that track ‘per appliance’ usage will be available in the future…”

A state-financed 2013 study of smart meters in Vermont by Richard Tell Associates, Inc., concludes that radiation fields produced by smart meters are within Federal Communication Commission standards and they are the same as or less than microwave ovens, wireless routers, mobile phones, air traffic control and weather radar.

In 2013, PSO said it would spend $130 million to begin full deployment of smart meters across its 30,000 square-mile service territory.  PSO’s goal is to replace more than 520,000 existing electric meters with new AMI meters by the fourth quarter of 2016.

According to PSO’s website and “documented research,” smart meters are not dangerous because they “well below the limits set by the Federal Communications Commission and well below emissions produced by other common household devices like cell phones, microwaves and baby monitors.

PSO claims that it would take exposure to their smart meters for “10,000 years” to equal the amount of radiation exposure from one cell phone for one year.

PSO claims that the information collected by the sophisticated smart meters is the same as that collected by analog meters that have been in use for decades. The website states, “Digital meters measure only how much energy you use and when you use it, not what is using it.”

On June 29, the website still indicated that accepting a PSO smart meter is mandatory. The website states, “Can a customer opt out of the program if the new meter is not wanted? No, in order to reap the full benefits of AMI (smart meters) from an operational and cost standpoint, AMI needs to be fully deployed throughout the project area. In turn, our operational structure is changing to support the new technology and work practices.” The website also states that customers will “not be charged for installation” yet there is no mention of the $3.11 monthly surcharge to every customer to pay for the cost of the smart meters.

Here are some reactions to the placement of smart meters in America and other countries.

  • Dr. David Adams, PhD, wrote in The Union newspaper in Nevada County, California, that the fact is that there are many, many thousands (one estimate is more than 20,000) of peer-reviewed, published scientific studies going back to the 1970s that mostly demonstrate a wide range of neurological and physiological damage from prolonged exposure to the kind of low-frequency radiation generated by smart meters (especially the non-industry-funded studies).

    The problems include  altered brainwave and metabolic activity, racing heart rate (tachycardia), damage to cellular membranes in the body (leading to cell deaths), and causing red blood cells to leak hemoglobin, which can lead to heart disease or kidney stones.

    These slower-acting effects include fatigue, headaches and migraine, nosebleeds, difficulty concentrating, dizziness/nausea/vertigo, visual and auditory distortion, anxiety, depression, memory loss, attention deficit, skin rash, hyperactivity, night sweats, and insomnia. Children are more susceptible to all these effects than adults.

    “One final usually unmentioned aspect I could mention is the role of the U.S. military,” Adams wrote. “Going back to the 1970s there are more than 8,300 relevant scientific studies just by the military, which hopes to (and by some accounts already has) weaponize this spectrum of radiation.”

  • The Villa Stephanie spa resort in Baden-Baden (southwestern Germany) has a light switch in its rooms that activates a copper grid in the walls that blocks all wireless Internet signals. About half of the guests there have opted to throw the switch and kill the Internet.
  • Dr. Malcolm Paterson, PhD, a molecular oncologist in Okanagan Falls in Canada, wrote in the Penticton Western News, “There is another aspect of wireless smart meters that also poses grave concerns: their massive rollout, along with the unchecked proliferation of telecommunication towers and WiMAX services, has produced unprecedented levels of radiofrequency (RF) radiation in urban areas. Many biomedical scientists regard smart meter grid technology as risky and would vigorously challenge any utility’s claim that RF radiation from smart meters is far less harmful than that from cellphones and other wireless devices. Signals of this general type have been found to cause serious biological effects including DNA damage, depressed levels of sleep-regulating melatonin, altered heart rates, opiate-dopamine neurotransmitter disruptions and leakage of the protective blood-brain barrier.

    “RF radiation, regardless of the wireless source, has been implicated in an alarming array of adverse health effects. These include: Alzheimer’s disorder; memory and attention deficits; male infertility, immune dysfunction; impaired learning in children; sleep disturbances and a negative impact on general well-being.”

  • Members of Safe Tech For Schools Maryland met with Montgomery County Maryland Staff about the health risks of wireless radiation on May 5.

    Parents shared a report from the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health report that concluded that long-term exposure to radiofrequency radiation from wi-fi equipment “…may lead to adverse effects such as neurodegenerative diseases…” The report urged more studies.

  • On May 7, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published a report that warned “…microwave levels allowed in Canadian classrooms, residences and workplaces are, ‘a disaster to public health.’”

    An  oncologist interviewed by Canada’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health said that Canada’s safety guidelines for wireless radiation need to be “urgently revised” due to the obvious risk of cancer.

  • The U.S. Government is working on a federal cell tower system all over the nation. It’s part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.
  • Technology is advancing to the point that cell towers could be obsolete.

    Steve Papa, founder of Parallel Wireless, in an interview with CNBC, said mobile phones could become part of the transmission network. A $300 chip could power an entire tower.

    There are experiments with technology that allows smartphones to communicate with other mobile devices up to a range of 500 yards.

  • Dr. Stephen Sinatra, an “integrative” cardiologist, says that wireless technologies are “the greatest threat to health in this millennium.”

    He means cell phones, microwave ovens, baby crib monitors and Bluetooth devices and others. He notes that the biggest danger being posed by the wireless technology is the near-constant damage done to cell membranes’ receptor sites, which help keep cells healthy and functioning.

    When microwaves and other electronic signals begin to permeate cell membranes, receptor sites begin to shut down, he said, allowing the cells to age prematurely, leading to more sickness.

  • A Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that key issues remain regarding Consumers Energy Company being able to charge customers a fee for refusing to allow installation of smart meters on their homes.  The court ordered that the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) “conduct a contested case hearing on this significant issue.”

    The court was sympathetic to arguments from customers that the PSC’s approval of tariffs requiring customers who refuse smart meters to pay a one-time charge of either $69.39 or $123.91 and a monthly charge of $9.72 “was unjust, unreasonable and unsupported by evidence in the record.”

    The question is whether the tariff constitutes something a tax, a sanction or penalty imposed upon customers who choose to opt out of the AMI program. The court opinion makes it look punitive.

  • The California Medical Association in 2014 passed a resolution calling for the re-evaluation of microwave safety standards associated with wireless communication devices.

    Introduced by Dr. Cindy Lee Russell and Dr. Ken Yew, the resolution states that there are more than 6 billion active cell phones worldwide and wireless communication networks – including cell phones, cell towers, wireless routers for home use, medical devices and utility smart meters – and their use is rapidly expanding.

    More people in the United States have cell phones than toilets. Exposure to low-intensity microwave adversely affects rat brain cells and DNA.

    The association wants more effort to protect people from exposure to wireless devices.

  • Jennifer Harper of the Washington Times reported on April 15 that a “new medical study reveals that the tiniest Americans are tapping on smartphones and tablets even before they learn to walk or talk, and by 1 year of age, one in seven toddlers is using devices for at least an hour a day. The research found that even a third of the babies under a year could scroll down the screen, while a fourth managed to actually call someone.”

    Some babies as young as 6 months are using these devices and by age 1, 14 percent are using them up to an hour a day.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the use of entertainment media such as televisions, computers, smartphones and tablets by children under age 2.

  • The (Fort Wayne, Indiana) Journal Gazette reported on April 23 that Skyway Towers LLC has sued Zanesville because it refused to allow a new cellphone tower near a town park.

    The property is zoned residential. The county commission gave the tower a recommendation but then the town said no, partly because the property is next to a children’s play area, a batting cage and agricultural property. A petition among citizens was strongly against the tower.

  • The Arizona Corporation Commission rescinded a decision to let the Arizona Public Service Co., the local power company, charge a large fee for customers to opt out of having their analog meters replaced by smart meter.

    That fee was a one-time $50 charge but $5 a month to prevent installation of a smart meter. The Arizona Republic reported that 20,000 customers had refused to change their old meters.

  • Plumas County Superior Court Judge Janet Hilde ordered a utility cooperative in Quincy, California, to cancel its opt-out and monthly fee and to allow customers to read and report the meters themselves.