For those who are wondering what a smart meter is and why people are not happy about them, we’ve put together a summary to help quickly understand the main issues surrounding them.
What is a “smart meter”? Look at the photos at the top of this website. The meter on the left is an “old” analog meter used for measuring electricity usage. The meter on the right is a “smart meter”. It has a digital read-out and sends out wireless signals so that two-way communication with the utility can take place.
“Smart meter” is the commonly used term for the digital, wireless meter, but they are also called “advanced meters”. The bigger system is called a “smart grid” or “advanced metering system”. These digital meters are being used to measure electricity, water, & gas usage. The biggest use across the country, & probably the globe, is for electricity.
Anytime a business offers, or in this case forces, a product to the masses, they must find ways to make people believe they are getting benefits from that product. Some of the claims made by utility companies:
1) This meter will constantly monitor your electricity/water/gas usage and allow the customer to see what they are using to help them use less.
2) The constant monitoring of usage will allow an electric utility to charge customers according to when they use electricity–higher rates during peak times (during the day) & lower rates at off-peak times (at night), thus allowing the customer the opportunity to save money.
3) The utility will be able to monitor & pinpoint leaks (water) and outages (electricity) more quickly and efficiently.
Utilities are forcing everyone to have these meters, providing no way to opt-out for any reason. If you express that don’t want one, the utilities ignore you. If they need to, they sneak on your property while you aren’t home.
The problems with smart meters are too numerous to list here, and it seems more are being discovered on a regular basis. This is just a highlight of the biggest issues.
Smart meters operate wirelessly. They pulse radio frequencies every 1-5 seconds, 24/7. They can’t be turned off. High doses of the radiation get into buildings, homes, and travel through the air. Even if you don’t have one on your house, your neighbors’ meters will still come into your house.
Across the country, people who were already electro-sensitive to radiation from wireless devices like cell phones, wi-fi routers, and cell phone towers are getting sicker once the smart meters are installed on their homes. Symptoms include ringing in the ears (tinnitus), sleep disruption, headaches, fatigue, nausea, heart palpitations, & flu-like symptoms. Even people who have never before experienced sensitivity to wireless radiation are suddenly experiencing the above symptoms after having a smart meter installed.
There are numerous studies that link higher incidences of cancer and leukemia to exposure to radiation, such as that from cell phone towers.
The favorite response from utilities is that they meet FCC standards. It has been shown repeatedly that these standards are set at unsafe levels, and are for a different kind of radiation than that emitted from smart meters. The FCC standards are for thermal radiation (that which causes heating), not non-thermal radiation (which does not cause heating and is the kind emitted from smart meters) which still have very negative effects on the health of people, animals, and plants.
Electrical usage is measured at least every 15 minutes and is wirelessly sent to a remote (far away) location. It’s extremely easy for anyone to tell when you wake up in the mornings, when you are at work, when you get home, how often you wake up in the middle of the night, and when you are on vacation. In Texas, a website called SmartMeterTexas.com allows you to login and see your usage data. But it’s extremely easy for anyone to set up or log into that account. There is also no indication that the data is encrypted while it’s being transmitted.
Utilities have bragged publicly that they can disconnect anyone’s electricity remotely without having to send anyone out in person. They have also bragged that they can and will remotely turn off individual appliances in your house if they choose. With this much power in one central location, and no protections or security, it would be enormously easy for a hacker, or the government, or the utility, etc. to do whatever they want to to the whole grid or just a few people. Imagine the power that gives government to retaliate against anyone who speaks out against them.
Many, many people all over the country have seen their bills skyrocket, sometimes doubling or tripling. They are told that their usage has just gone up. They are given no relief by the Public Utilities Commission (the agency that is supposed to regulate utilities). If they don’t pay the bills, they get disconnected.
In California, a group of Stanford students saw their electric bill increase enormously after a smart meter was installed–even for a period when nobody was home and the breakers were turned off. The electric company said there was nothing wrong. After installing their own measuring device, the students found that the meter was overcharging them 2.5 times.
Then there is the “peak pricing” mentioned above. Utilities are bragging that they will be increasing prices when demand is highest (punishing people for using their electricity during the day) and having lower prices when demand is low. So if you don’t have the money to afford the luxury of doing your laundry during the day, you’re going to have to stay up at night to do it.
In Arlington, Texas, there were 2 house fires in 2 days caused by smart meter installations. One of those reports details the Oncor (electric company) representative trying to provide excuses and blame the homeowners because their homes are old. The fire department told them to disconnect power before installing the meters to prevent more fires, but Oncor continued on without disconnecting power first.
There have also been multiple reports of people coming home and finding their already-installed smart meters smoking.
In San Bruno, California, in September 2010, an explosion that leveled an entire neighborhood and killed 8 people, was blamed on a natural gas leak. But there is speculation that a spark from a smart meter (the whole neighborhood was fully installed) ignited the leaked gas. Officials have publicly said they will not even investigate the possibility.
One of the biggest benefits utilities get from installing smart meters is they get to fire all their meter readers. The other big benefit is the increased profits from the “peak pricing” plan mentioned above.
Other tidbits of information:
–Rush Limbaugh doesn’t like smart meters because he doesn’t want his activities tracked. A group of Democrats has opposed smart meters for the same reason. There are many other groups and individuals from all different labels–conservative, liberal, environmentalists, libertarians, tea party, etc. that are coming together to try to stop smart meters. As seen above, there is something for everyone to hate in these meters.
–No one has yet found a smart meter that is UL tested for safety. There is no indication that any other safety laboratory has tested the meters, either. While there are no blanket laws that require electrical products to be safety tested, local and state building codes and laws can have requirements for safety testing.
–With the government’s help, utilities and manufacturers of the meters are keeping critical details of the software and hardware secret so no one can tell exactly what these meters are capable of doing or monitoring. It is suspected that they can identify not just that you turned an appliance on, but what kind of appliance–hair dryer, washing machine, dishwasher, etc.