Not Smart Smart Meters
By Patricia Burke of Safe Tech International, Image courtesy Floris Freshman
As new legislative sessions commence across U.S. states, elected officials are in the process of proposing and sponsoring bills.
And like clockwork, in some states, informed consumers will continue to attempt to secure the right to opt out of wireless smart utility meters, again.
In other states, the battle has already been waged.
For environmental justice, human rights, and scientific integrity, even when opt outs have been achieved, it has not gone well.
More to the point, issues around the installation of smart meters never should have been reduced to the question of whether or not or how to accommodate those seeking protection from harm but should have been a catalyst for addressing decades-old unfounded assumptions regarding the safety of wireless applications.
Sick, and Tired
Informed consumers are seeking the right to “opt out”, because new digital meters make them ‘sick and tired.’
Many advocates are also ‘sick and tired’ of the rigged process whereby utilities, state and federal regulators, politicians, so-called ‘clean energy’ groups, and the media continue to promote and/or mandate the meter roll-outs, despite obvious downsides including cost, privacy, planned obsolescence, fire safety, security, pollution of premise power quality, lack of efficacy, and green washing issues, as well as harm to the environment and to the health of a portion of the population.
The FCC; the Fox and the Hen House
Lack of protection for the health-vulnerable regarding RF exposures is not a new issue.
In 2013, the Cities of Boston and Philadelphia submitted testimony to the FCC, stating, “The 1999-2000 judicial challenge to the FCC’s 1996 rules has never reached the issue of “electrosensitivity” as a cognizable disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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But unfortunately, testifying to the FCC, a captured agency, about the regulatory gap at the federal level is like talking to the fox about the hen house.
With the federal government’s failure to regulate the wireless industry, many customers began engaging with state utility commissions, which unfortunately were also drinking the smart meter kool-aide.
California, Texas, and Maine were three states engaged in the opt out battle early on, when decision makers jumped on the smart meter bandwagon early, accepting stimulus funding to replace entire fleets of meters.
The issue of electromagnetic hypersensitivity emerged prominently when health complaints resulted when and where smart meters were installed. Every state that has considered smart meter opt out provisions represents a state where harm has occurred, for example, in Michigan.
The restricted quest for safety in utility metering (rather than addressing RF safety) has played out on a very uneven field. Customers have had to wage battles with individual municipal providers, and/or investor-owned utilities in the same state may have different policies. As electric providers and utility commissions fail to take action to protect consumers, advocates turned to their state legislatures.
It turns out that legislatures are generally aligned with the utilities, and with outdated radio frequency exposure guidelines.
Opt-out provisions, where offered, have often included punitive fees. Rather than providing an analogue, the type of opt-out meter provided (radio off) is not a satisfactory accommodation for those experiencing health harm. Some states and some providers offer no accommodation. And the opt out meter often does not protect the individual from neighboring exposures.
The smart meter issue never should have been reduced to a battle over opts outs, and a paradigm of bullying, abuse of power, and dereliction of duty has been sustained, and enabled on a federal level.
National Council of State Legislatures: “Customer health concerns have been largely debunked” – if one choses to promote outdated, inapplicable theory over emerging evidence of harm
A September 2022 policy paper prepared for the National Council of State Legislatures Modernizing the Electric Grid: State Role and Policy Options implies that the current pathway to grid modernization is inevitable, and negates the validity of health complaints.
“Technological change is outpacing both infrastructure capabilities and policy development while states look for ways to sync policy with a rapidly changing energy market. [ ]
The reversible flows of electricity mean that electricity meters must track flow both to and from the consumer. These devices (smart meters) are considered essential to developing a modern grid because they act as the utility’s eyes and ears—in some cases, offering close to real-time information on grid conditions.
The use of smart meters—part of advanced metering infrastructure—is growing rapidly, in part due to state and local policies. As of 2017, more than 78 million smart meters have been installed, covering more than 60% of U.S. homes. Estimates suggest that number could reach 90 million smart meter installations by 2020.
By enabling two-way communication between the utility and consumer, smart meters provide measurements of grid activity, and their data can improve grid operations, prevent outages and provide customers with energy-management services. These devices, combined with other sensors that are being deployed, can better connect the electric system’s disparate components, allowing for real-time systemwide operational awareness. 
Smart meters can assist customers by providing time-based pricing, control over electricity consumption, high usage alerts and other money-saving services to help manage energy use. Combined with smart devices—like smart thermostats, home energy monitors and smart home sensors—advanced metering greatly increases customer control over energy consumption, as well as energy production if they own distributed generation and energy storage. However, as more customer data comes in, there are privacy concerns that policymakers are having to address.
[ ] not all customers are comfortable with utilities installing these devices and a vocal minority have called for the removal of smart meters. At the heart of their concerns are perceived health effects, though data and personal privacy are also points of contention. Customer health concerns have been largely debunked. For example, the Maine Supreme Court upheld a finding by the Maine Public Utilities Commission that smart meter deployment posed no credible health and safety threat. The court pointed to an extensive technical record supporting the commission’s decision, including more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific studies that determined smart meters were not a health risk.
To facilitate deployment, some states are increasingly considering whether to allow opt-out programs, which allow customers to pay an additional fee in order to have a basic meter. At least nine states have statewide policies allowing customers to opt out, while another 16 states have permitted utilities to implement opt-out programs. At least 14 states have considered opt-out legislation in the past several years. Only New Hampshire has an opt-in policy, which requires utilities to obtain written consent from customers prior to installing smart meters.” – NCSL
The NCSL claim that meters assist customers is questionable, as noted by Utility Dive.
Overwhelming Evidence of RF Induced Biological Effects
Unfortunately for the public, the implication that opposition is based on “perceived” health threats is incorrect.
Significant opposition is based on documented harm and/or the onset of disability.
The implication by the NCSL that there were 100 peer-reviewed studies submitted in Maine indicating that smart meters are not a health risk is based on the assumption that the only mechanism of harm from radio-frequency exposures is thermal.
The evidence Central Maine Power and the Public Utility Commission presented focused on the fact that smart meter emissions were below FCC emission limits so by default, reflective of only thermal harm.
As noted by Ed Friedman, “Almost none of the peer reviewed evidence referred to, referred specifically to smart meters. The Public Utility Commission would not accept into evidence approximately 1,000 largely peer-reviewed papers largely showing adverse biological effects from non-thermal RFR.”
The implication (in actuality false) that there were 100 peer-reviewed studies submitted in Maine indicating that smart meters are not a health risk is based on the assumption that the only mechanism of harm from radio-frequency exposures is thermal.
The industry and regulators continue to utilize a circular argument that because radio frequencies do not cause an increase in temperature, that they are not causing harm. Rather the considering reported harm, they continue to rely on modeling demonstrating no temperature increase.
Meanwhile, a portion of the public is becoming increasing aware that risks including neurological damage and infertility do not involve a diagnosis via a thermometer.
Industry Stance on The Health Debate; It Only Hurts if it Heats
Sky Vision Solutions explains the nature of the industry’s perspective here.
SkyVision Solutions asserts that “there is overwhelming evidence that non-thermal biological effects do occur as a result of exposure to low-level RF radiation emissions. Once one accepts this as scientific fact the legitimate issue at hand is to determine to what extent the observed biological effects pose a serious threat to human health as well as a source of adverse effects for fauna and flora.” “FCC exposure guidelines have no biological relevance to protect humans from low level chronic exposure to RF radiation emitted by devices such as wireless smart meters, Wi-Fi routers, Wi-Fi enabled laptops, etc.”
“Whether or not the FCC (and its associated exposure guidelines) recognizes adverse effects from non-thermal levels of RF radiation, more and more physicians are recognizing that RF emission levels far below FCC exposure guidelines are affecting their patients.”
“It is noteworthy that there appears to be a disparity of opinion between the judgment of certain bureaucratic scientific bodies and promoters of wireless technology as compared to those who practice medicine.”
Resources including “Symptoms Resulting from Exposure to Radiofrequency/Microwave Radiation from Smart Meters,” written by Ronald M Powell, Ph.D. summarizing the results of a health effects survey conducted by Richard H. Conrad, Ph.D.; “Wireless Utility Meter Safety Impacts Survey,” by Ed Halteman, Ph.D., dated September 13, 2011; and “Self-Reporting of Symptom Development from Exposure to Wireless Smart Meters’ Radiofrequency Fields in Victoria,” a case series by Dr. Federica Lamech, MBBS, and described by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) in a document called, “Wireless Smart Meter Case Studies” have been ignored, as are emerging observations of harm related to the deployment of 5G.
The assumption of smart meter safety by the NCSL contrasts with the 2021 court ruling against the FCC, which remains unaddressed. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled (in EHT/CHD et al. v. the FCC) that the 2019 decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to retain its 1996 safety limits for human exposure to wireless radiation was “arbitrary and capricious” and “not evidence based.”
The court ruled that the FCC failed to address impacts of long-term wireless exposure, impacts to children, testimony of people injured by wireless radiation, and impacts to wildlife and the environment. Long term exposures include smart meters, and testimony of harm included smart meter narratives.
In addition, unfortunately for the public, the NCSL historically promoted the opinion of mercenary tobacco scientists.
The NCSL were not the only ones who relied on individuals who defend problem industries who are literally tobacco scientists. Fingerprints of mercenaries from Gradient and Exponent can be found in many state’s smart meter proceedings.
Most decision makers have not responded when informed about compromised ‘experts’ supporting the smart meter narrative, dashing the hopes of citizens who assumed that reasoned integrity would prevail.
Yet as more harm unfolds, more citizens and becoming engaged. In addition, environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have begun to address the wireless narrative.
Green Street News
Green Street News is a newly launched, outstanding weekly news platform “offering in depth reporting, analysis and stories about current environmental health issues.” “Green Street News with Patti & Doug Wood is produced by Grassroots Environmental Education, a non-profit organization with a mission to educate the public about the links between common environmental exposures and human health.” For Green Street News, this includes exposures to man-made, artificial radio frequency radiation.
The Feb. 10 Green Street News Show: Not Smart Smart Meters
“On this edition of Green Street News we welcome our friend and colleague Michele Hertz to talk about the new generation of digital wireless utility meters, how they caused her to become severely ill, and what can be done. Her riveting story is similar to so many we’ve heard over the years. (They discuss “smart” meters at minute 13:20.)
As a result of her the prolonged effects of her microwave injury, and witnessing the harm inflicted on others, Michele helped to found NYSUMA, New York State Safe Utility Meter Association.
“The New York Safe Utility Meter Association, NYSUMA, is dedicated to the continued use of mechanical analog utility meters.
NYSUMA educates the public about the hazards associated with electronic digital utility meters (aka: AMR, ERT, AMI, “smart,” and “opt-out digital”). These meters expose us to fire risks and electromagnetic frequencies at levels known to be carcinogenic. We are also very concerned about the unchecked privacy invasion of digital utility meters and skyrocketing utility rates. As the rights of consumers are not being protected by utilities and the New York Public Service Commission, NYSUMA advocates for the rate payer’s right to choose the safest meter without penalties. NYSUMA also works to raise awareness about the dangers of other wireless radiation technologies, including Wi-Fi, cell phones, 3G, 4G, 5G cell towers and their negative impact on public health and the environment.”
Children’s Health Defense
The Children’s Health Defense’s Suzanne Burdick has also been covering the smart meter issue, independent of the perspective of the NCLS and others aligned with the prevailing smart grid narrative. Recent articles include “Why Smart Meters Are Good for Utility Companies, Bad for Consumers” and Don’t Want a Smart Meter? Take It Up With Your State Lawmakers, Experts Say which includes misreporting by Navigant of smart meter efficacy in a Massachusetts smart meter pilot program.
With many instances of late lessons from early warnings, an inevitable crescendo is approaching regarding RF exposures. Thus far, regarding smart meters, state legislators have sided with the tobacco scientists over the voices of sincere, earnest individuals across many states, including Michele Hertz. This is not ethical or sustainable.