The Climate! Let’s Do EVs! & Smart Meters! But Don’t Look Behind the Curtain!

By Patricia Burke

“There are times when this house feels like it is hooked up to a high powered electric fence.” “And so does my brain, especially in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping.”

In August and early September, 2020, Massachusetts utility regulators solicited comments regarding charging ratepayers for a pilot program – to offer rate incentives for electric vehicle users to charge EVs at off-peak times.

Although the term “smart meters” is being avoided in Massachusetts, the Dept. of Public Utilities also requested comments about replacing electric meters with next-generation “AMF” (“advanced metering functionality”), to support time-of-use billing for all customers.

Other states including New Jersey are currently considering AMI smart meters.[1] One benefit of smart meters is supposed to be faster outage response, although when Maine’s smart grid was taken out by an Oct 2017 windstorm,[2] the solution was simple and low tech: it took muscle and chainsaws. Over time, the industry shifted its stance from “reliability” to “resiliency,” sidestepping the recognition that outage notification is available from the grid itself, and that storm restoration depends on trees, trucks, and training, as it always has.

Smart meters are also supposed help to integrate renewables, including solar, into the grid. But that has not gone particularly well in the U.S., at all, for example, for the solar industry.[3] Massachusetts case in point: “Eversource Demand Charges for Solar.” [4] On the National Grid side of the equation: “Studies Delay Solar Development in Both R.I. and Mass,” [5] and, NGrid’s lobbying to oppose renewables. [6]

The “Commission on the Future of Transportation in the Commonwealth” suggests that EVs will charge during off-peak hours and deliver energy to the grid during peak hours, a plan also promoted by the Department of Energy Resources and others, despite indications that it is not realistic. [7] As one commenter noted, “the covid toilet paper debacle should give us an idea about whether EV users will want to power the grid, or their homes, when electricity is scarce, especially given the unresolved, unacknowledged issue of EV battery degradation.”

Smart meters are also supposed to “give consumers more control over their electric usage” (as if their appliances have a mind of their own?). In truth, the smart meter paradigm was launched alongside the NSA and FISA initiatives that enabled warrantless surveillance, and “broad, intrusive spying without oversight,” on American citizens not suspected of any crimes. The NSA domestic spying program has now been ruled illegal, [8] but smart meter data is supposed to be supportive of energy efficiency, including collecting data when homes and businesses are empty or only occupied by sleeping residents. Smart meter research in the UK has determined no benefit to consumer.[9]

Do electricity customers want to buy and sell electricity, and/or pay for the extensive expensive infrastructure for those who want to, or pay for infrastructure that gives the utility intimate details about private home activity, while compromising security, health and the environment?

And, as Katie Singer, author of Electronic Silent Spring notes, “Are Electric Vehicles Really Better For The Planet?” [10] EV pilot proponents are ignoring the fact that EV subsidies primarily benefit high-income customers.[11] And surveillance-based smart meters are part of the burgeoning “Internet of Things” electrical-pollution and energy consumption footprint, whereby devices will be continuously, needlessly, wirelessly communicating with each other, creating a tsunami of data that will be transmitted, collected, analyzed, and stored in air-conditioned data centers.

The utility industry and their partners are promoting equal access to time of-use-billing as a “right,” and an economic justice issue, as well as an urgently-needed initiative to address climate change, while overlooking environmental damage, human rights issues outsourced to impoverished nations, and also denying reports of illnesses associated with polluted power quality and radio frequency exposure.

Among those supporting time-of-use-billing-as-sustainability in Massachusetts are the Conservation Law Foundation, Acadia Center, Sierra Club, the Dept. of Energy Resources, Cape Light Compact, and industry vendors. The incredulous stance that time-varying rates are a rights issue ignores the reality that low- and middle-income ratepayers often do not own swimming pools, EVs, and central air conditioning, and are often not in a position to shed load, for example for those working third shifts. Many low-income tenants may not have access to appliances other than a refrigerator and cellphone charger.

Helen Walker, who has been working diligently with colleagues to pass a bill in the MA Legislature [12] to allow customers to choose the type of utility meter they desire, with no additional discriminatory fee for a non-transmitting analogue, noted,

With COVID huge numbers of people are now working from home. They are shocked to discover what it costs to air condition their homes during the daytime now that they have to be at home.[13] Working people are suddenly discovering what stay-at-home caregivers, unemployed persons, disabled persons and elderly persons already know: everyone who is at home during the daytime will be severely disadvantaged by TVR (time varying rates) that penalize daytime electricity use. If a significant portion of the population working at home will be the reality of the future, TVR needs to be reconsidered at the most basic level.

Those living in more densely populated areas including cities will be exposed to increased radiation from banks of meters, as well as other sources of RF, while high-income homes in the Commonwealth often house the meter on a dedicated pole at the street, not near celltower infrastructure.

In Europe, Green Party candidates are opposing the massive energy and resource consumption and health and environmental risks of new telecommunications infrastructure. In the United States, environmental advocacy groups incredulously continue to side with the industry against citizens in the name of climate action, and against the science demonstrating adverse environmental impacts, for example, for insects, birds, foliage and tree cover.

Regarding climate justice, fueling the demand for all things wireless is overlooked planetary exploitation and massive human rights violations of both conflict mining and e-waste.

Significant safety science and research was introduced into the MA DPU docket by Kirstin Beatty of Last Tree Laws, CeCe Doucette of Massachusetts for Safe Technology, Nina Beatty of Smart Meter Harm, with economic analysis by Einar Olsen.

There is currently a petition online calling for the halt of MA smart meter deployment which, to date, has 2034 signatures.[14] There is second petition online calling for the passage of bill S.1988, which would allow all MA residents the right to opt out of smart meters. This petition currently has 1219 signatures.

MACI, the Massachusetts Association for the Chemically Injured, provided a review of efforts in MA to advocate for safe technology, raising the issue of accommodation.

Our organization is opposed to the establishment of any policy that the D.P.U. is proposing that would require “all new service meters to be capable of providing advanced metering functionality when installed to replace an existing meter that reaches the end of its useful life or otherwise needs to be replaced.” The Department, now under a different Administration, does not indicate in the docket that it is open to exploring and revising the previous Administration’s departments reliance on the basic technology platform for grid modernization being that of “wireless” technology in its advanced metering functionality and deployment of utility meters. An extensive amount of public comment was given responding to dockets under the Grid Modernization of 12-76, some six years ago. Also, the issue of a cost./tariff to a consumer who requests a non-radiating utility meter as raised in Docket 13-83 is questionable and unresolved for it discriminates against those who need to protect their health and are entitled to protections under the ADA. The Opt-Out Tariff that the Department raised in its D.P.U. 12-76B Order to the utility companies to address raises again the issue of discrimination to a segment of the population most in need of non-radiating utility meters.

Jean Lemieux of MACI, and environmental medicine expert Dr. Lisa Nagy participated in the ‘Health Hearing’ held by the MA DPU in 2014, where tobacco scientist Peter Valberg provided expert testimony for the industry. Patricia Burke continues to raise corruption concerns about Valberg’s work with the DPU, and about the Worcester National Grid smart meter pilot results reported by Navigant, noting that decision makers in MA, including the Legislature, deserve an independent investigation and audit of the Worcester results, and that the public trust has been violated. There have been no reparations for Worcester residents adversely impacted by the pilot, including those who lost property value due to the installation of nuisance infrastructure.

There are many reasons to reject adoption of wireless utility meters, from property values to protection of pollinators. Over 100 public comments were submitted to the MA Dept. of Public Utilities opposing an EV-time of use pilot program, and/or opposing the roll-out of wireless smart utility meters and infrastructure.[15, 16]

Some points raised by the public in docket MA DPU 20-69:

  1. Against the backdrop of financial insecurity associated with the COVID crisis, and ratepayers struggling to pay bills for basic necessities, surcharging customers for a pilot that offers a pricing differential to the highest income customers (EV owners) is an inhumane initiative.
  2. The COVID crisis has highlighted society’s responsibility to protect health-vulnerable individuals. The installation of smart meters discriminates against a portion of the population.
  3. In a November 18, 2013 filing with the FCC, and in 2020, the cities of Boston and Philadelphia in their joint submission accused the FCC and Federal health agencies of negligence for failing to investigate whether electrosensitive persons are harmed by non-ionizing radiation.
  4. FCC, IEEE, and ICNIRP guidelines are facing increasing international scrutiny. A submission to FCC 12-39 by Lloyd Morgan addresses many of the conflicts of interest of organizations frequently cited in denial of EMR biological activity. For emphasis, many of these organizations have the same members. As an update, the Microwave News article, “The Lies Must Stop Disband ICNIRP.”
  5. See the 1,879 Comments filed with the FCC recently for Docket 19-226 Targeted Changes to the Commission’s Rules Regarding Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields
  6. The FCC thermal standard is also averaged – over 30 minutes – meaning that longer exposure, simultaneous exposure from other devices, and the millisecond bursts, to name a few, are not covered. The BioInitiative Report: A Rationale for a Biologically-Based Public Exposure Standard for Electromagnetic Radiation (BR) was published in 2007 and covered 2,000 peer reviewed studies. The 2012 edition includes 2007 material and covers 1800 subsequent studies. The Abstract of this study gives an overview of disruptive effects of polarization, having nothing to do with producing heat: Polarization: A Key Difference between Man-made and Natural Electromagnetic Fields, in regard to Biological Activity. All stated concerns, though valid in their own right, are overshadowed by, and have no practical significance due to, a single overriding factor: The terminally pathological threat of digital, pulsed (modulated/data carrying), polarized microwave radiation at the foundation of wireless telecom/WiFi systems, including smart/AMI electric (and other utility) meters.
  7. In 2014, the MA DPU published a smart meter order 12-76-B that made the unprecedented claim that “exposure guidelines are adequate to protect against both thermal and non-thermal impacts of radio frequency exposure.” The circumstances surrounding how that gross misrepresentation was incorporated in the MA DPU order, which can be referenced in other proceedings, have not been investigated.
  8. According to a survey by independent health experts, smart meters were the single most common “trigger” for people newly developing intolerance to non-ionizing radiation (i.e., for developing “electrosensitivity”).
  9. Early-warning letter by medical professor emeritus Dr, David Carpenter, co-signed by over fifty distinguished colleagues [17] as well as the peer reviewed work of Professor M L Pall and Dr. Dimitris Panagopoulos explaining how such electromagnetic radiation can drive hidden diseases over time.
  10. The evidence is quite clear and overwhelming as to the neurotoxic and carcinogenic aspects of microwave technology. As a practicing chiropractic physician with 42 years of experience I encounter RF’s negative effects daily on my patient population of all ages. These waves down-regulate the command control center (the circadian clock function) in our brains at the highest point where stress and environmental adaptation take place. The net negative effect is that microwaves turn a coherent brain stress response into one of chaos, promoting all disease, pain, and suffering – Dr. William Maykel.
  11. The independent science on the health effects of wireless radiation, particularly from cell towers, cell phones, Wi-Fi, and especially the latest fifth generation (5G) wireless technology, demonstrates that low-level microwave signals cause harmful metabolic imbalances in all biological organisms. Last year, the U.S. National Toxicology Program’s 10-year cell phone study concluded that there is “clear evidence” that cell phone signals cause cancerous heart tumors, DNA damage in the brain, and brain cancer. Dr. Neil Cherry of New Zealand studied the long-term health effects of living in the vicinity of a radio tower in San Francisco. His study concluded that cancer rates in children are up to 10 times higher for those living in closest proximity to the tower. These are just a few of the thousands of scientific findings that have been published over the decades in the technical and/or medical literature
  12. There is evidence that the utility industry and regulatory insiders know: RF’s are making us sick. In a memo dated September 3, 2010, Michael Peevey, then Chairman of the California Public Utilities Commission, wrote these chilling words to Pacific Gas & Electric’s president Brian Cherry: “The press coverage was very good and helps PG&E big time, overall, as well as other companies, etc. One thought for the company: If it were my decision I would let anyone who wants to keep their old meter keep it, if they claim they suffer from EMF and/or related electronic-related illnesses and they can produce a doctor’s letter saying so (or expressing concern about the likelihood of suffering same). I would institute such a policy quietly and solely on an individual basis. There really are people who feel pain, etc., related to EMF, etc., and rather than having them becoming hysterical, etc., I would quietly leave them alone. Kick it around.”
  13. Many individuals who suffer from chemical sensitivities are concomitantly vulnerable to the effects of EMFs and radio frequency RFR. The combination of sensitivities is quite disabling and puts their ability to work or live in their residences at greater risk and significantly affects their quality of life.
  14. Opting out of a meter at no cost must also be accompanied by expert shielding of the premises to accommodate health vulnerable ratepayers. The cost of necessary accommodation must be factored into any financial forecasts for benefits of wireless meters and infrastructure.
  15. Due to the corruption of both the implementation and the results reporting for the Worcester National Grid smart meter pilot, any conclusions promoted by the MA DPU, the utilities, and partner industries should be subjected to third party independent investigation, rather than partnership with an industry front group and colluding interests.
  16. National Grid is based in the United Kingdom. The results of the National Grid smart meter pilot program conducted in the United States were reported in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, indicating that the Worcester smart meter pilot had a 98% retention rate and that customers saved over $1M. It appears that the reports of customer acceptance and cost and energy savings are fraudulent, misleading decision-makers and investors internationally.
  17. National Grid submitted the results of the Worcester smart meter pilot to regulators in New York State when National Grid was advocating for a smart meter pilot program in Clifton Park, New York. They were also submitted to RI regulators.
  18. Smart Meters are sloppily engineered. An intelligent Smart Meter would NOT radiate dwelling occupants, 100’s of thousands of times per day, with intense pulses of health-compromising RF/Wireless energy. A truly “Smart Smart Meter” would be fitted with a clean, pure sine-wave power supply, that would not add a hidden burden of noisy power-frequency harmonics, nor impose an additional fire risk from cheap, sloppy onboard junk electronics and arcing connectors. An “Ingenious” Smart Meter would have a sine-wave quality power supply (if any), and would not be wireless at all. Instead, needed infrastructure would be built, on top of a world-class, secure & durable fiber-optic backbone, that is, if any of this technology was really necessary to begin with.
  19. Once a digital electric meter is in place, dirty electricity will be present on the wiring (easily detected using an AM radio) and, at a lower level, throughout the home. Even with the main breaker off, dirty electricity will still enter through the neutral wire which is never disconnected. A good article on dirty electricity, titled “Is Dirty Electricity Making You Sick?” was published by Prevention Magazine [18]:
  20. The policy paper, “Re-Inventing Wires: The Future of Landlines and Networks,” details why the U.S. and our communities should instead invest in hard-wired telecommunications infrastructure to the premises to support economic growth, bridge the digital divide and diminish risks to security, privacy, public health and the environment
  21. Advanced metering would cost Massachusetts ratepayers repeatedly through rate increases and overbilling, increase fire and electrical risks at their homes and businesses, compromise power quality and the electric grid and connected nuclear power plants, and pose hazards to public health and the environment. As California initiated so-called Public Safety Power Shutoffs, I warned that these endanger anyone who has AMI/AMR/digital meters, because when powerlines are re-energized, this causes a surge. All American digital meters are vulnerable to surges due to inadequate surge protection and no direct connection to ground. New small cell towers also pose a public safety hazard, in part because they generally have AMI meters installed on the utility poles, and this is a fire hazard due to the advanced metering’s susceptibility to malfunction, explode, and catch fire.
  22. With the trend toward all things wireless (IoT – Internet of Things), is forecasted to produce massive energy shortages in the near future: See: “Tsunami of Data”, The Guardian and “Smart Meters, The Opposite of Green”, Common Ground Magazine
  23. Smart meters offer no customer benefits, and cause continuing customer rate hikes; Repeated cost benefit analyses by credible institutions show that customers have only been paying for increased utility company profits, while receiving no benefits in return; No Faster Outage Reporting or Service Restoration from AMI; Little or No Energy Usage Savings; No Cost Benefit to Customers; Shorter Lifespan; Security Obsolescence Acceleration; The State of California did an annual cost benefit analysis and found no cost benefit from their huge statewide AMI installation
  24. Concern about climate change is sourced from concern about health and the environment; therefore, any action taken to address climate concerns should be carefully vetted and monitored for health and environmental damage. As noted in the article, “What is environmental racism and why should we care about it,” the clean energy movement is rife with unresolved issues ranging from conflict minerals to e-waste. “…examples include the mass shipment of spent American batteries to Mexico, where illegal waste dumps from plants operated by American, European and Japanese companies have resulted in soaring rates of anencephaly (when babies are born without brains). Environmental racism is part of the broader picture of systemic racism, which must be fought to bring about a fairer society.” Clean energy policy should not advance on the basis of racism and exploitation of poorer nations.
  25. The EV revolution will take batteries, but are they ethical? The EV revolution has been racking up a whole supply chain of trouble around the globe related to an onslaught of often-contentious new mines opening to meet surging battery-metal demand, not to mention the coming tide of e-waste from old batteries.[19]

See more: https://www.activistpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/DPUtestimonies.pdf

“The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities should reject advanced metering for Massachusetts’ ratepayers for new and existing meters and for EV customers, based on the substantial evidence that this is an unsound and unsafe investment.

 

Here is a picture before the sound walls went in.

Due to improper engineering,the Tory Fort/Cook’s pond substation was in violation of sound ordinances, necessitating the installation of industrial-scale sound barriers in the bucolic residential neighborhood. It is unclear whether ratepayers were charged for the additional cost of the remediation.

The neighbors described it as lipstick on a pig.

Sources:

1 https://www.njspotlight.com/2020/08/smart-meters-ami-electric-utilities-nj-power-grid-advanced-metering-infrastructure/

2 When power went out to some half a million Mainers after the October windstorm, another system went down too — Central Maine Power’s $200 million smart-grid communications network that, among other things, was supposed to improve outage communications and storm recovery.

Carroll says that as utility poles went down in the storm, it wasn’t just power lines that got taken out — so did radio transmitters for the wireless smart-grid “mesh” that were installed at the top of the poles. Meters themselves lost power, and over time battery backup power for some components was drained.

By Tuesday the network’s performance was down by more than half.

https://www.mainepublic.org/post/october-windstorm-took-down-cmp-s-200-million-smart-meter-network

3 https://www.renewableenergyworld.com/2016/02/23/notes-from-the-solar-underground-the-us-utility-war-against-net-metering/#gref

4 “It’s hard to know where to start explaining this nightmare combination of higher electricity costs for all consumers, increased revenue for Eversource, and penalties for people installing solar. Let me begin with the impact on Eversource customers looking to shift their electricity budgets into solar. If that’s you, prepare to be shocked. And mad.”

https://newenglandcleanenergy.com/energymiser/2018/04/10/solar-nightmare-eversource-introducing-new-charges/

5 Solar and wind power are challenging the electric grid to adapt to distributed generation. (ISO New England)

In meetings this summer, National Grid and ISO New England, the operator of the regional electric grid, told renewable-energy developers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island that the application review for connecting to the grid would be extended while studies of regional power transmission systems are conducted.

https://www.ecori.org/renewable-energy/2019/8/12/e5ez4gnlp96ol5la861cgo2berq22r

6 https://www.energyandpolicy.org/national-grid-lobbied-against-massachusetts-bills-to-expand-renewable-energy/

7 According to the July 2020 UK article, “Mass EV charging: is a can of worms hiding under the bonnet? The Government’s push to electrify road transport and domestic heating could place major cost burdens on consumers, says a new report,” https://www.transportxtra.com/publications/local-transport-today/news/66262/mass-ev-charging-is-a-can-of-worms-hiding-under-the-bonnet-

8 “Judge Rules NSA Domestic Spying Exposed By Edward Snowden Was Illegal”

https://www.activistpost.com/2020/09/historic-judge-rules-nsa-domestic-spying-exposed-by-edward-snowden-was-illegal.html

9 https://phpionline.co.uk/news/smart-meters-no-benefit-many-owners/

10 https://ryanmunsey.com/katie-singer-are-electric-vehicles-really-better-for-planet-earth/

11 https://www.pacificresearch.org/government-electric-car-subsidies-are-costly-subsidies-for-the-rich-finds-new-study/

12 https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/SD77

Gives the public the right to choose non-radiation emitting utility meters. Introduced by Thomas P. Conroy in the 188th session, Rep. Stephen DiNatale in the 189th and Senator Michael Moore in the 190th as S. 1864.
2/2020: Reported out favorably; 4/2020 assigned to Senate Ways & Means Committee.

7/2020: Sen. Moore attached it as Amendment #43 to Senator Rodrigues’ Economic Development bill S.2842. This was rejected, but the bill is still alive.

13 Marketplace radio did a segment on this Sept. 7 https://www.marketplace.org/2020/09/07/remote-workers-pay-cooling-bills-or-sweat-out-summer-heat-at-home/

14 https://www.change.org/p/halt-massachusetts-smart-meter-program

15 https://www.activistpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/DPUtestimonies.pdf

16 To view MA DPU 20-69 Public Comments

go to https://eeaonline.eea.state.ma.us/DPU/Fileroom/dockets/bynumber

and enter 20-69 in the search box on the left to view, entries are posted with most recent at the top

17 https://maisonsaine.ca/actualites/smart-meters-correcting-the-gross-misinformation.html

18 https://www.prevention.com/life/a20460660/electromagnetic-fields-and-your-health/

19 https://www.corporateknights.com/channels/transportation/ev-revolution-needsbatteries-ethical-15795118/

Patricia Burke works with activists across the country and internationally calling for new biologically-based microwave radio frequency exposure limits. .

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