Who's pulling the strings?
Are Smart Meters a good choice for Hamilton?
Back in December 2012, I led a campaign to stop the city of Hamilton from installing smart meters in their new water system. In 2013 I had called Ameren UE and asked what their intentions were about installing smart meters. At that time, not giving me a direct answer, they informed me that they had not yet made any changes in their metering system. That was over four years ago; let’s take a look at things now.
As far as I know, Ameren Missouri has installed smart meters throughout the town of Hamilton. I happen to have one. They came to my residence without my knowledge, gave me no option, and installed their meter during a time when I was away at work.
In 2012 the Hamilton city council, those still present in office, accused me of trying to incite trouble by trying to warn residents about their plans to install these meters. At that time the city presented a paper from SmartGrid Consumer Collaborative focused on “Myths vs. Facts: The Truth about Smart Meters.” My opinion on this is that you should consider the source. The membership of this organization is comprised solely of utilities, technology companies, and nonprofit affiliates. (i) The Obama Administration included money for utilities to install smart meters as part of a $3.4 billion injection of federal stimulus spending to modernize the nation’s power grid. (ii) So, the source of their information has a stake in the promotion of smart meters. I’ll go over these so-called myths and show they are not myths after all.
Myth 1: Smart meters are less accurate than analog meters. According to the UKs The Daily Telegraph, a university in the Netherlands conducted a study that showed five out of nine smart meters tested gave readings that were too high. Five different brands were tested. The study claimed, "the greatest inaccuracies were seen when dimmers combined with energy saving light bulbs and LED bulbs were connected to the system." These energy saving products changed the shape of electric currents and distorted the meter readings. (iii)
Myth 2: Smart meters are a health threat because they communicate using wireless signals. SmartGrid stated that the RF emitted by smart meters is below levels produced by other common household devices like cell phones, baby monitors, satellite TVs and microwaves. The truth really is that smart meter radiation exposure is up to 160 times more than cell phones. Daniel Hirsch, California radiation expert and UCSD instructor, criticizes the industry-influenced CCST report that incorrectly minimized smart meter risks, based on the widely, distributed industry-generated Tell Associates report. CCST is a partner with US DOE (US Dept. of Energy), funder and promoter of smart meters. In the following analysis, Hirsch informs us that one smart meter can provide up to the full body radiation exposure of 160 cell phones. This completely debunks the Tell Associates report, which was paid for by Pacific Gas & Electric. (iv) View one woman’s horror story of her health issues as a result of a smart meter cell box that she was unaware of on a pole near her home at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-HrE1KwwiQ. I spotted one of these in Hamilton on NW Railroad (see pic). Just as we’re learning that cell phones cause brain tumors, why are we installing the same technology on everyone’s homes, often with no right to opt out? Thousands of people have complained of tinnitus, headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, heart arrhythmia, and other symptoms after a ‘smart’ meter was installed.
Myth 3: Smart meters will not keep my data secure. Hackers are a security threat. A series of hacks perpetrated against so-called “smart meter” installations over the past several years may have cost a single U.S. electric utility hundreds of millions of dollars annually, the FBI said in a cyber intelligence bulletin obtained by KrebsOnSecurity. The law enforcement agency said this is the first known report of criminals compromising the hi-tech meters, and that it expects this type of fraud to spread across the country as more utilities deploy smart grid technology. (v) A Texas college even hacked a drone in front of homeland security. Seems anything can be hacked, that is, except an analog meter that costs $50, not $500.
Myth 4: Smart meters are hazardous, increasing the risk of fire and explosion. Dozens of smart meters exploded and caught fire after an electrical surge cut power to about 5,800 homes near Stockton CA. CBS News reported, “A power surge left thousands without power for most of the day in Stockton after smart meters on their homes exploded on Monday.” “Neighbors in the South Stockton area described it as a large pop, a bomb going off, and strong enough to shake a house.” (vi) This does not happen with analog meters. It seems smart meters do not have surge arrestors. (vii)
Myth 5: Smart Meters are an invasion of privacy. Privacy and smart meters do not mix. Trillions of dollars are at stake and the utility companies know this. This is one of the main reasons why these “smart” meters and appliances are being pushed forward. Data storage centers will store, track and sell your information that they receive from these meters, along with chips in your credit cards and every other item consumers use to purchase goods. Smart-grid technology includes a variety of initiatives, from advanced meters that allow two-way communication between utilities, customers and -- eventually -- household appliances, to substation and power line devices that automatically isolate transmission faults and increase power flow.
Myth 6: Smart meters do not provide any consumer benefits. If you can afford thousands of dollars on alternative energy sources to use along with the service Ameren provides, then you could save some money on your utility bill, but most residents cannot afford that option. Is being exposed to radio frequency radiation (RFR) worth any benefits the utilities offer?
The real truth is that smart meters are pretty dumb.
To date, 49 California municipalities, including 10 counties, have criminalized the installation of, banned or taken out resolutions against smart meters, with more each week. These responsive city councils and county supervisors had very good reasons for their decisions.
First and foremost, forcing an unsuspecting population to receive unhealthful exposures has been called irresponsible and deplorable. There are no current, relevant public safety standards for pulsed RF involving chronic exposure of the public, nor of sensitive populations, nor of people with metal and medical implants that can be affected both by localized heating and by electromagnetic interference (EMI) for medical wireless implanted devices.
Smart water meters are no different than smart electric meters. The AMR-type water meters (e.g. Neptune’s) pulse RF every 14 seconds–that’s 5,700+ pulses a day. The utility-employed reader drives around once a month with a device that receives ONE of the pulses. The other 170,000+ that go off all month long do nothing but saturate the home with radio-frequency. (viii)
How could the City of Hamilton seriously consider purchasing highly expensive smart meters which the city cannot afford? These meters are said to last only between 5-15 years max. Some people are still using their old analog meters from decades ago. Why not just replace them with a newer, longer lasting, efficient analog model?
Or perhaps, with all the money the city will save from a majority of voters willing to foot the bill to resurface their streets, they will have the money it requires to purchase them at our expense.