Smart Meters: Hazardous to Home & Health?
by Jill Herring
Follow Jill on Twitter @JillHerring2
Jill wrote about Smart Meters this week, and points out some physical concerns/health hazards about these new Big Brother TechDogs. For me, it's not only the health hazards, it's that these Smart Meters are in violation of the 4th Amendment. SR's can not only monitor how much electricity a house is consuming...it can pinpoint how much TV you're watching and WHAT you're watching. If the Govt. decides you're using "too much" electricity, it can remotely shut off your electricity to "keep you in line" with what they deem to be normal usage. This is why it's so important to get involved in politics at the local level too.
Smart Grid Program approved as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Obama’s Watch) includes and partly funds smart meter installation nationwide on gas, water, and electrical services.
On Wednesday August 16th PECO suspended its 600,000 smart-meter installation program “AMIs” after 15 devices overheated, including one that set fire to a home in Bucks County. The utility, which has installed 186,000 devices since March as part of a $650,000 distribution upgrade, said it has temporarily halted the project to investigate the cause of the malfunctions. While the investigation is still ongoing, it suspects that the devices overheated because of "preexisting" problems with the wiring in houses connected to the meter, not with the smart meter itself. Fires due to AMIs have been reported in other locations such as in Florida, California, British Columbia, and Australia.
Pennsylvania now requires this technology for all large electric utilities. AMIs allow two-way wireless communication with customers, enabling time-of-use pricing next year. In addition, utilities' will be able to detect and manage outages, as well as to turn on/shut off customers remotely.
Caution: The smart meter technology/rollout is still new and issues vary from state to state (including region or county) and finally among the individual utility providers. So when you read about an issue in e.g. California, it might not be true for Pennsylvania. By the same token, an issue in Pittsburgh may not be relevant for e.g. Doylestown.
Pros and Cons
Here are some advertised power utility/energy/pollution benefits of smart meters:
· Eliminating manual meter reading
· Monitoring the electric system more quickly
· Making it possible to use power resources more efficiently
· Providing real-time data useful for balancing electric loads & reducing power outages (blackouts)
· Enabling dynamic pricing (raising or lowering the cost of electricity based on demand)
· Avoiding the capital expense of building new power plants
· Helping optimize income with existing resources
· Preventing the need for new power plants that would produce pollution
· Curbing greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants
· Reducing pollution from vehicles driven by meter readers
Here are some advertised health, privacy concerns for consumers:
· Microwave/Radiowave radiation exposure through transmitting wires
· Use of high frequency communication over power lines
· Reported sicknesses after installation of smart meters
· Studies that show Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) increase the risk of cancerous diseases.
· Possible interference with phone calls, garage doors, security systems, motion detectors, etc.
· Possible interference with functionality of cordless phones & gadgets in the home.
For additional research – although I just scratched the surface, check out a few Website references below. Just beware of environmental extremist Websites e.g. California coalitions, you know, that say everything on the planet is hazardous to your health.