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The Smart-Meter Racket


Saturday, December 15, 2012
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Smart meter “opt-out cost” is a term that, to anyone of moderate intelligence, is an absurdity as well as an insult to customers who, by law, have no choice in being subjugated to the service-provider floating this nonsense.

1. There is no cost to maintain the services using existing equipment that analog-meter users have had for decades. Those costs have already been accounted for in the electric rates that they pay. Updated recording, accounting, and account management is not required, nor is there any new equipment required to continue using the analog meter service.

2. All costs associated with smart meters are due to smart-meter installation, not opt-out customers. This new regime has costs for:

a. The smart meters themselves.

b. The new wireless infrastructure to transmit smart meter readings to a central location.

c. The development of new software for billing and account management.

d. The development of new software for customer “smart monitoring” of their electricity usage.

e. The on-going expense of never-ending development of online security for users accounts, new wireless networks, and smart meters themselves (all of which have been shown to be vulnerable to hacking).

The smart meter opt-out fees are in essence a Mafia style extortion/protection racket sanctioned by the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC). It is clear that consumers have been alerted to the dangers and ill-health effects associated with smart meters for years. Experiences and studies from Europe, Australia, and other locales in North America have shown that the utility companies regularly misstate the amount of radiation given off by the meters, the transmitters used in the meter data-collection networks, and the amount of time the meters spend transmitting data. These misstatements of quantitative measurable phenomena are not merely by a few percent but buy many orders of magnitude. The actual values often exceed the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) published safety levels for electromagnetic radiation exposure. (Reference Santa Barbara-based Sage Associates’ “Assessment of Radio frequency Microwave Radiation Emissions from Smart Meters” report at http://sagereports.com/smart-meter-rf/ for but one of many indictments of smart meter safety.)

Yet, in spite of the demonstrably dubious safety of smart meters, the CPUC has conspired with Southern California Edison (SCE) to tell households like mine who have already suffered a more than 80% cancer rate among its occupants, none of whom share a blood line, that we have to “pay or else” in order to keep additional carcinogenic factors – smart meters – out of our homes. How is this any different than paying protection to the mob so your legs don’t get broken just for the “privilege” of living in a mobbed-up neighborhood?

For years there have existed systems that homeowners could install themselves to monitor their energy usage in real-time, and even maintain their data online, if they so chose, using existing networks with no increase in EMR exposure. But the user, not her next door neighbor who was not “benefiting” from this hardware, software, and service upgrade, was the one who paid for it. Such a “free market” model should apply here. If a user wants to “opt-in” to the new hardware, software, services etc. of a smart meter, then that opting-in user should bear the cost – not we who want no change to our service as it has existed for decades! And certainly, we should not be forced to accept or pay a penalty for an “upgrade” in service that has not been proven safe due to a waiver of environmental, health, and security-study analysis the CPUC granted when bending over backward to do SCE’s bidding in this matter.

The fact that the CPUC approved Smart Meter installation without safety and security studies lead many to believe that the CPUC is no longer functioning as a guardian of citizens subjected to state-mandated monopolies for area utility services. When the CPUC then mandated to push the costs of upgrading onto those who clearly did not want it, and who would not in a free market model choose to upgrade, it was further proof that the CPUC is a utility-company advocate and consumer adversary. Even considering a further near 300% increase in “opt-out cost” recovery fees speaks to this perversion of the CPUC’s consumer-protection responsibility.

The fact that the CPUC, regardless of the amount and strength of consumer objection, will likely grant this increased level of punitive extortion against those who simply want to protect their own health is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the CPUC is a utility advocate rather than a consumer protection regulatory agency, and one more example of “the best government corporate money can buy.”

Comments

Independent Discussion Guidelines

You lose any rational argument when you bring up potential safety hazards; the sky is not falling despite the warnings of the lunatic fringe.
WHAT IS LEGITIMATE about this issue is the mandatory replacement of meters with an ongoing fee if you want to opt out. My meter was original to the house which was constructed in the late 20's; unusual because this house has never had a major remodel; despite working perfectly for 80 years I got "upgraded" to a new plastic model because I refused to be extorted. It's interesting to me that the same nitwits that push the left leaning energy agenda and C.A.R.B. are apparently the majority in the tin foil hat group of anti smart meter lobbyists.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
December 15, 2012 at 5:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Not that I'm any big fan of smart meters, why is it more dangerous to put a smart meter to your head than it is a cell phone? Not that you'll likely put a smart meter to your head anyway.

That complaint holds as much water as those well-heeled Montecito residents that don't want cell phone towers in their neighborhood because of the same imaginary radiation hazards.

It's just the NIMBY syndrome brought home again.

Botany (anonymous profile)
December 15, 2012 at 6:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Some have agendas, coporations are people my friends. New deal is dead, long live the coporate-tocracy!

spacey (anonymous profile)
December 15, 2012 at 12:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree with the above opinion article. Smart meters are a menace and a scam, and should be banned, not just opted out of. Smart meters emit RF radiation equivalent to that of 160 cell phones, as they are on all the time (despite what utilities claim). They are making many people sick and a serious health risk for all. Smart meters are intrusive, tracking and recording your movements inside your home - and selling the data to multiple third parties, even making it available to law enforcement without a court order. People opt out of smart meters for many reasons. No opt-out should cost money, it should be no-cost (free) as in Vermont, statewide. No one should have to pay to ensure health or avoid risk, no one should have to pay to have privacy in their own home. Smart meters with the radio off still emit RF radiation, according to the California utilities in court-ordered documents. The opt-out should be to electromechanical analog meters only (called "legacy" meters by the industry, the traditional type of meter we had before smart meters). Those and only those do not emit RF radiation. Meters can be right by one's bed, or by children, or pregnant women. To be forced to be exposed to RF radiation a known toxin and danger, is unacceptable.

If you would like to submit written comments about smart meter opt-out fees and smart meters, please contact:
Public Advisor
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102-3298
Or via e-mail to Public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov
Telephone: (415) 703-2074 or toll-free: 1-866-849-8390
Teletype (TTY): (415) 703-5282 or toll-free TTY: 1-866-836-7825

www.electrosmogprevention.org

No2SmartMeters (anonymous profile)
December 15, 2012 at 12:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm just guessing here, but one thing the CPUC might have been considering when they deliberated opt-out fees could be the following ...

If you consider that smart-meters use Zigbee mesh networking to communicate data to the" central office", there is a motivation to have as many smart meters out there as possible, or at least a minimum number required to allow the network to operate. This is because Zigbee-based smart meters talk to their neighbors to get data sent. If there are no neighbors close enough to the low-powered Zigbee transmitter in your meter, it won't be able to communicate to the office.

Another benefit of having "lots" of smart meters out there is that they will all, on average, be closer to one another. That means each Zigbee transmitter can operate with lower radio power output ... something those concerned with potential health risks might appreciate.

So from an operational viewpoint, it clearly is best if there are lots of smart meters out there.

If the number of opt-outs were large enough, that would impact smart meter users negatively because their transmitters would need to use higher output levels to reach more distant neighbors. Or Edison would need to build more intermediate aggregation/forwarding towers (a cost and land-use issue).

Anyways, I suspect these issues may have partly motivated the opt-out fee deliberations by the CPUC.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 15, 2012 at 1:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Italian jumps to conclusions so often as to seriously damage his credibility.
I attended public meetings sponsored by Consumers Power Alliance to learn more about the issue. The vast majority of speakers and attendees voiced opinions that would align with Libertarian or conservative ideology. One of the official presenters even went so far as to blame Obama for smart meters.
Keep slinging the poop ,Italian. The rest of us need a good laugh now and then.

geeber (anonymous profile)
December 15, 2012 at 1:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

An example to clarify the concept of a Zigbee mesh network:

Let's say a football player wants to lateral the ball from one side of the field to the other sideline. One way to do this is to toss the ball all the way to the other side of the field in one throw. You'd have to throw/lateral the ball pretty hard to do that (lots of power).

An alternative is to have a bunch of players lined up from one sideline to the other. To do the lateral, each player laterals to the next-closest player until the ball gets to the other sideline. It takes more time, but each player doesn't need much power. This is like a bucket brigade and how Zigbee mesh radios communicate.

Because a neighbor's data may pass through your meter (we engineers call this a "store and forward" method) there could be security issues. For the moment, I would guess it's not a big deal because the data is encrypted and the cheap microcontrollers in smart meters are very dumb.

Disclaimer: I have never designed a Zigbee product. Only read some white papers, etc.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 15, 2012 at 1:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

geebs is makng less sense that usual-opinions at a public forum have nothing to do with science and there is no science behind any claim of a health hazard. I just like my old meter and was going to have to pay $75 up front and $10 per month to leave my old working unit in the house.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
December 15, 2012 at 2:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Not one of these statements made by "No2SmartMeters" is true:

"Smart meters emit RF radiation equivalent to that of 160 cell phones, as they are on all the time (despite what utilities claim). They are making many people sick and a serious health risk for all. Smart meters are intrusive, tracking and recording your movements inside your home - and selling the data to multiple third parties, even making it available to law enforcement without a court order...."

With all the info readily available on the WWW, this is an especially ballsy list of loopy claims. Or else just the credulous ramblings of a loopy Luddite.

- - -

As to my main man "italiansurg's" shakey link of the anti-Smart Meter crowd to the Left, here's some links I left early last year when this backlash first popped up on this website:
http://www.independent.com/polls/2011...

:: "They [right wing astro-turfers and sock-puppets] jumped on it early and often:

- http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/31/sci...

- http://www.santabarbarateaparty.com/1...

- http://www.nhteapartycoalition.org/te...

- http://www.teapartyreview.com/santa-b...

- http://themaineteaparty.com/group/cum...

- http://teapartyorg.ning.com/profiles/...

- http://rohnertpark.patch.com/articles...

- http://myteapartychronicle.blogspot.c...

- http://www.clevelandbanner.com/view/f...

- http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/...

- http://www.switched.com/2011/02/01/sm...

P.S. I certainly recognize the anti-science wing of the Left -- those comfortable accepting ideas on faith and Woo -- and realize they are also full of it. But the Tea-Party Right were absolute trail-blazers in this sorry flee from reason and evidence.

binky (anonymous profile)
December 15, 2012 at 5:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Italian's own words - " the same nitwits that push the left leaning energy agenda and C.A.R.B. are apparently the majority in the tin foil hat group of anti smart meter lobbyists".
After having attended local presentations by the Consumers Power Alliance , I can assure you that a majority of the anti Smart Meter organizers and speakers were Libertarian or conservative types.
Just pointing out another of Italians oft occurring foot in mouth comments.

geeber (anonymous profile)
December 16, 2012 at 4:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine, Santa Cruz Public Health Dept, and nearly 60 experts who produced INDEPENDENT peer-reviewed research on RF radiation have all decried smart meters as a menace to health. The World Health Organization very recently issued a warning about RF radiation and cancer. Further, the health impacts are not dose-related, according to independent scientists. As one of the many injured by this technology, I can attest to the reality of the injuries. To read all of the above and more, go to Smart Meter Health Alerts http://www.electrosmogprevention.org/.... Sounds like some commentators are speaking without doing their homework, throwing mud either out of ignorance or are part of the industry trying desperately to wiggle out of the liability angle. The strong science (over 20,000 studies) is partially referenced in 5,000 studies on www.smartmeterdangers.org. Where is the proof that these are safe, naysayers? It doesn't exist, health wasn't considered by the CPUC nor were environmental impacts. That is on the record. I am a Party to the CPUC proceedings on smart meters. Don't imagine for one second that anyone cared about our health. They ignored the science and went for the money. Hard to believe? I think not.

No2SmartMeters (anonymous profile)
December 16, 2012 at 10:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"The World Health Organization very recently issued a warning about RF radiation and cancer."
-- No2SmartMeters

Using that statement to claim smart meters are a public health risk is highly irresponsible.

WHO has classified RF from cell phones (not smart meters) as *possibly* related to a type of brain cancer among the heaviest of cell phone users. Cell phones are now on the same list as coffee:

http://www.realclearscience.com/2011/...

To see what WHO means when they say "possibly" (Group 2b assessment) here is their press release on cell phones:

http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr...

Now compare what WHO has to say about cell phones vs. smart meters (latter use the Zigbee WIFI radio protocol so fall under WHO's category of "base stations and WIFI"):

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsh...
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsh...

WHO's conclusion:

"From all evidence accumulated so far, no adverse short- or long-term health effects have been shown to occur from the RF signals produced by base stations. Since wireless networks produce generally lower RF signals than base stations, no adverse health effects are expected from exposure to them."

And if that isn't enough to help you sleep at night,

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 16, 2012 at 1:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Want to know how biased some of these anti-smart-meter websites are?

Here's what Real Clear Science said:

http://www.realclearscience.com/2011/...

"A respected international panel of scientists says cellphones are possible cancer-causing agents, putting them in the same category as the pesticide DDT, gasoline engine exhaust and coffee."

Now the same subject, here's what Smart Meter Dangers said:

http://www.smartmeterdangers.org/inde...

"The type of radiation emitted by both cell phones and smart meters has been linked to cancer by the World Health Organization (WHO), reversing its previous stance. Radiofrequency (rf) radiation has been placed in the same category of carcinogens as lead, DDT, engine exhaust, pesticides, and chloroform."

Notice how the whacko's left out coffee? Also notice how they managed to make you think the WHO classification was related to smart meters when in fact it was limited only to cell phones.

Don't let these zealots fool you ... not all RF is the same. AM/FM radio, WIFI (which includes smart meters), cell phones, microwave ovens, etc. all emit RF in different ways that make a difference when assessing health risk.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 16, 2012 at 2:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

After initially opting out , when the final decision had to be made , I decided not to pay SCE's non-negotiable tarriff of $120 / yr to keep my old meter.
While choosing to reman on the sidelines of the safety debate , there is one strange fact that all of us should ponder. Smart Meters are being installed on our houses despite the lack of UL certification of the devices. By law , UL stamps are required on all electrical components installed in buildings. Why is it that Smart Meters are somehow exempt?
If a fire originates in my main panel , is my homeowners insurance coverage void due to SCE's installation of a non-certified device ?

geeber (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2012 at 4:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

That's interesting, geeber. I did a little searching and found this:

http://smartmetermatrix.org/node/39

" ... UL safety testing and approval process is applicable only to “consumer” products ..."

"The smart meter is considered a “utility product,” sold only to utility companies, so is not required to have testing done by the Underwriters Laboratories.

The meter is owned by the utility company, while consumers own and are responsible for the meter boxes, and consumers are legally responsible for any and all damage that results from fire, short-circuit, and power surges. This seems to be the case in all states participating in the smart grid program."

I can't vouch for the above website, but its something to consider.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2012 at 1:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

In addition to consumer products, Underwriter's Labs (UL) does test and list industrial equipment, as does Factory Mutual (FM). And UL has a page dedicated to smart meters, see:

http://www.ul.com/global/eng/pages/of...

However, I haven't yet found a specific applicable standard. And I looked at a local 'smart meter' and saw no listing or approval marks.

hodgmo (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2012 at 3:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Mine doesn't have any test lab labels either. It's made by Landis+Gyr and Itron.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2012 at 4:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

My meter is smarter than your's.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2012 at 4:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The meter I looked at is a Centron II made by Itron. According to its data sheet it meets ANSI C.12.1-2008 and other standards…

https://www.itron.com/na/productsAndS...

The scope of ANSI C.12.1-2008 is available at:

http://www.nema.org/Standards/Complim...

A seemingly objective overview of safety requirements is in:

http://www.eei.org/ourissues/electric...,

which includes this list:

“The safety aspects of the installation conform to:
 The National Electric Safety Code (NESC) for utility wiring
 The National Electric Code (NEC) for home wiring
 ASNI C12.1 – Code for Electricity Metering
 Local building codes”

The NESC is a voluntary code maintained by IEEE – I don’t know if this is enforced in CA. The NEC is a National Fire Protection Association document (NFPA 70) that is an integral part of approvals for electrical installations in buildings.

Finally, the Euro-view of smart grids, of which smart meters are a part, is described in length here:

http://www.ecn.nl/docs/library/report...

hodgmo (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2012 at 4:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

My new meter is dumb. I would have been dumber to keep the old one and pay the extortion.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
December 19, 2012 at 7:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Did the previous posters read the certification specs for the various organizations cited - ANSI, UL,NESC, NEC, IEEE (I'm a member) to see if their specs include EMI or RF emissions from devices? I haven't, but I'm curious, since the PR for smart meters states that they're irrevelant.
I haven't seen any comments on the electricity used to run the meter, either, a little over 2 KWh/month that we're billed for, and I don't know know how much dumb meters use. (power use is printed on the meter).
It's ANSI - American National Standards Institute, not ASNI, hodgmo.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
December 21, 2012 at 9 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If you think you can trust Edison you have not seen "Erin Brockovich" yet.

Rinconer (anonymous profile)
December 23, 2012 at 5:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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