Electrosmog: coming to your utility soon?

Opposition to interval meters offers opportunity

Phil Carson | Oct 11, 2011


Polarization isn't new to our discourse, nor is it likely to vanish soon. But the red herring is alive and well and, frankly, making a whopping comeback.

Among those who called or emailed yesterday was one S. Brinchman, who directed me to the organization she leads, smartmeterdangers.org. Meanwhile, in an anxious voice, Brinchman barraged me for 20 minutes with a litany of maladies being suffered by the citizenry, from grand mal seizures in children to heart attacks in 30-somethings and far worse.

So I assured her I'd check her website and asked for a link to evidence that electromagnetic frequencies were being used as weapons by the police and the military to subdue opponents, as she claimed. (This led me to involuntarily recall that the U.S. government in fact used Barry Manilow records at ear-shattering volumes to flush Col. Manuel Noriega out of hiding in Panama in 1989. So, obviously, you want to maintain an open mind. If our government would do something so cruel and inhuman, what is it not capable of?)

So I dialed up smartmeterdangers.org, which led me to electrosmogprevention.org, which led me to whyfry.org, which led me to citizensforsafetechnology.org, which led me to stopsmartmeters.org, which led me to emfsafetynetwork.org. The Center for Electrosmog Prevention provided links to the "American Coalition Against Smart Meters" and "Southern Californians Against Smart Meters." (I didn't include whyfry.org's link because my computer warned me: "This site may harm your computer.")

Citizens for Safe Technology offers articles that, among many, refer to BC Hydro as "an invasion force taking control over a country which does not belong to them and imposing their desires on the victims of the invasion" while another asks "is Steve  Jobs' death an early predictor of what will happen to millions of intelligent citizens who have become hopelessly hooked on wireless technologies?"

Somewhere, buried in all that, I suspected there might be a reason that utilities may want to engage their customers.

"Edison installed a new smart meter yesterday," a first-person account begins on emfsafetynetwork.org's website. "I did not sleep last night.

"There is something going on in my head and body," the writer continued. "I have ringing in my ears at a very high pitch. Like a dog whistle or crystal in some electronic device whistling. It is creating some sort of electric waves from my ear to my body that is very uncomfortable. It is making me sick."

Under "Tampering Defined," the organization asked an environmental attorney for a professional reading of what acts constitute tampering and whether a homeowner who removes an interval meter and replaces it with an analog meter is guilty of tampering.

"The replacement of a SmartMeter with an analog meter should not constitute illegal tampering unless it is done with the intent to prevent the device from accurately measuring electrical use. Although the disconnection of the SmartMeter prevents it from recording electrical use, if such disconnection is not done with the intent to get lower electrical rates and a working analog meter that accurately records electrical use replaces the SmartMeter, the resident should be clear of any charges of tampering."

There's not much on the Center for Electrosmog Prevention site on cell phones, microwave  ovens, radio towers and the like, but it does offer a video on "The Dark Side of 'Smart' Meters," which explains the many ways that a smart meter can spy on you. How that relates to electrosmog, I'm not sure.

While it's tempting to write off this movement based on its hysterical and hyperbolic tone, its paranoid stance, its outlandish claims, its inconsistencies, its requests for donations, if I had to dispense free advice I'd venture to say that utilities might want to engage their customers.

Call me crazy.

Phil Carson
Intelligent Utility Daily










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You're Not Crazy, But Some Others May Be

I agree with Richard.  Utilities - and their regulators - need to get out in front of this, because the issue isn't electro-smog. 

Politicians and regulators have conditioned a large segment of the public to believe cheap, unlimited electricity is an entitlement.  Smart Meters threaten access to that entitlement.  Some of the folks that object to Smart Meters may have a highly misplaced notion that utilities are collaborating with regulators and politicians to control their lives. 

Of course there are a couple of other lessons here.  First, the same folks are going to raise a fuss over any form of opt-out dynamic pricing.  Second, they're going to raise a fuss over demand response programs that rely on centralized (utility) control over appliances.

Jack Ellis, Tahoe City, CA

Your Not Crazy

There is a growing outcry going on across the country and they are using social media and other internet technologies to spread the word. There are many YouTube videos and blogs as well as reports from different groups citing scientific backgrounds. The meter manufacturers have banded together and formed a new association (http://smmaa.org/) to try and educate the public on smart meter benefits to counter the opposition. They have static reports which I do not think will even be a speed bump in trying to stop the growing public concern.  If it is to be an effective effort then they need deeper pockets and interactive web sites that address each concern raised by the opposition with arguments and truths that the average person can understand. 


My suggestion to utility is to educate your employees as well as your customers on what the opposition is saying and have good talking points to present the truth with accurate facts. I believe one of the best comparison examples that the public will understand is using a cell phone next to one's ear all day as well as the radiation emitted by microwaves in the home.  There is a lot of scientific data available that shows both cell phones and microwaves ovens emit far more radio waves than smart meters do.  Both are widely used by the public and in almost every home.  There are ongoing studies and more being started, but there are no major public protest calling for banning the use of cell phones or microwave ovens.    


Richard G. Pate

Pate & Associates, Principal