Smart meters: who said what?!

Holiday pop quiz no one can fail

Phil Carson | Nov 22, 2011


Our pre-holiday column will be a quiz to see if you can match the individual or organization listed here with the statements below. Because it is a self-administered test, success or failure means you're free to reward or punish yourself according to your score. Me? I'm taking a few days off.

The answers are:

a) Senator Mark Udall, D-Colo.'s Senate Bill 1029
b) Klaus Bender, director of standards and engineering, Utilities Telecom Council
c) Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention
d) Liz Barris, founder, The People's Initiative, American Association for Smart Meter Safety
e) Signed email to Intelligent Utility Daily (name withheld)
f) Signed email to  Intelligent Utility Daily (name withheld)

No. 1

"The Electric Consumer Right to Know Act or e-KNOW Act [would] grant an electric consumer the right to access the consumer's retail electric energy information in an electronic form, free of charge, in conformity with nationally recognized open standards ... in a manner that is timely and convenient and that provides adequate protections for the security of the information and the privacy of the electric consumer ... including the consumer's electric energy consumption over a defined time period and the prices or rates applied to the consumer's electricity usage for such time period. [This bill] prohibits such access from interfering with or compromising the integrity, security or privacy of the operations of  a utility and the electric consumer ..."

No. 2

"The smart grid will rely on the use of radio frequencies to provide wireless connectivity to the various components of the new electric distribution system. Wireless communications technology has become ubiquitous in our lives, enabling mobile connectivity with cell phones, wireless internet services and home area networking with Wi-Fi technology and even cooking our food with microwave ovens. Yet there are unsubstantiated concerns that the smart meters being installed around the country and the world will cause ill health effects to members of the household where the meters are installed ... The facts about the impact of radio frequency energy on the body show that the devices utilities seek to install pose no threat of harm to humans. We show that the type of radio energy used and emitted by smart meters, cell phone, wireless routers and microwave ovens can only damage the body at extremely high levels. While research continues into long term effects, there has been no conclusive evidence that low-level RF energy has a long term negative impact."

No. 3

"Our review of national and international government or government-affiliated assessments indicate a broad consensus that studies to date give no consistent or convincing evidence of a causal relation between RF exposure in the range of frequencies and power used by smart meters and adverse health effects. We found little information in these assessments that spoke directly about the safety of RF exposure from smart meters. There is, however, much discussion about the safety of mobile phones. Mobile phone use represents an RF exposure qualitatively similar to smart meters in range of frequency, but because the power is higher and typical use results in exposure closer to the body, the resulting exposure to RF appears to be quantitatively much greater than that from smart meters. Thus, it appears to us that the lack of any consistent and convincing evidence of a causal relation between RF exposure from mobile phones and adverse health effects would indicate even less concern for potential health effects from use of smart meters."

No. 4

"Those back lashing against smart meters are in favor of 'green' and saving energy. We just don't think that trade off should be any ... serious illnesses. Cancer in particular is not 'green,' cancer is 'black' and therefore, we do not consider the way the current smart meter or smart grid functions to be green. We also do not believe people should be made to pay a fee to keep cancer out of their lives. This smacks of extortion to us. If smart meters or smart grid can be made in a way that is does not create dirty electricity through the switching power supply mode, does not create any of the above listed illnesses and does not invade our privacy, then I would actually be in FAVOR of it. We just feel that NONE of these extremely basic human life situations were ever accounted for when thinking up the smart grid and smart meters." 

No. 5

"Before the digital electric meter was put on my home, I had used a cell phone, we had Wi-Fi and cordless phones. Since a DUMeter [was installed], I can't use any of this equipment. I now use my computer on a wired router. The exposure to the pulsing radiation from the DUMeter left me sensitized to wireless signals and some electrical equipment. It almost ruined my whole life but instead of focusing on me, I decided to focus on trying to stop this disaster from spreading. I mainly focus on DUMeters because they might be the technology that is throwing some people over the electronic edge. I don't know if eventually a cell phone or Wi-Fi  would have injured me. I do know that the pulsing radiation from a DUMeter did injure me." 

No. 6

"It is one thing to live in a world with a few radio and TV stations putting out radiation. It is quite another to have radiation pulsing everywhere! Before 'smart' meters I knew nothing about wireless, and I had no reactions to the people around me using wireless. Then a radiation meter was put on my house and I became ill. I had to literally flee from my house to save my life.
"I am [now] in an area without smart meters, but due to the injury I am now Wi-Fi sensitive. Anyone passing by with a cell phone causes me great pain. YOU are being affected too. Yes, you can't feel it yet because you haven't received a dose high enough to put you into the electrosensitive category. The people first affected are women, small children and the elderly. But I am also seeing healthy young men being taken out by smart meters.
"Are you prepared for a future where most of the population is disabled? What the energy companies are insisting to be a savings will cost everyone in the future. Look into the real facts, the ones provided by non-industry people and you will be horrified.

"Count yourself lucky that you are not sick so far. But your DNA is breaking as a result of this radiation and there is a high chance of cancer in your future. Spend your time around lots of 'smart' meters as I accidentally did. All it takes is the right dose, and you will be joining me and the others made homeless by this horrible phenomena."


No. 1 - a
No. 2 - b
No. 3 - c
No. 4 - d
No. 5 - e
No. 6 - f

The quiz' final question carries a $1 trillion prize, payable in 2020, when we know the answer: What will the power industry do, in the face of the juxtapositions between No. 1-3 and 4-6, in order to move ahead with grid modernization?

Phil Carson
Intelligent Utility Daily





Related Topics


Consumer Education

We were living in PG&E's service territory when their AMI rollout started, though we moved before the meter on our home was changed out.  Being an industry nerd, I read the bill inserts each month.  Liking little or nothing on TV, I might have missed anythying on the television news.  I tended to listen to a local news radio station on those occasions when I drove somewhere.

As far as I can tell, PG&E and the CPUC did almost nothing to prepare the public for Smart Meters.  There was plenty of public discussion at 505 Van Ness that was well attended by other industry nerds.  No community workshops, nothing outside an occasional paragraph in a bill insert, very little in the newspapers.  And, of course, PG&E dragged its feet on the subject of making data from the meters available over the Internet - an exchange between then CEC Commissioner Jeff Byron and then PG&E employee Andrew Tang still stands out in my mind.

I'd be interested in other thoughts on this topic but my sense is that publicly-owned utilities probably did a pretty good job of educating their customers, while the investor-owned utilities have not done as well.  That's probably why the IOUs are making headlines while the publics are not.

Jack Ellis, Tahoe City, CA

Here's what they're up against


You cite rational factors in a specific situation. Consider the larger picture.

By dedicating a few columns to describing some of the anti-meter sentiment, I have begun receiving many thanks from folks who don't seem to understand that I'm skewering their arguments. Or, perhaps, they believe that any publicity is good.

This morning I received a missive with the following:

"I have posted a FOIA Declassified Military document which shows the weaponization of the technology used in the smart meter - EMF/RF, designed as crowd control by the military, guess we are the crowd.. The booklet, "Just Say No to Big Brothers Smart Meters" is excellent and information tying in UN Agenda 21 to the GRID.... Other LINKS on the site Technocracy, etc.  We are speaking out on the ICLEI and World Bank connection with PG&E and the UN, unimaginable intentions which I presume you know about. Also, we have been raising awareness on the "Death Dumps", government aerial spraying program."

Now, consider the following passage from the World Health Organization (oft-cited by meter opponents to bolster their screeds) on EMF sufferers:

"Physicians' treatment of electro-hypersensitivity affected individuals should focus on the health symptoms and the clinical picture, and not on the person's perceived need for reducing or eliminating EMF in the workplace or home.

"This requires a medical evaluation to identify and treat any specific conditions that may be responsible for the symptoms, and

"A psychological evaluation to identify alternative psychiatric/psychological conditions that may be responsible for the symptoms."

Regards, Phil Carson



I'll be the first to admit that being rational is a character flaw I can't fix.  I also can't help it that I have "the knack", which means I'm condemned to be an engineer.

I'm not sure how you convince people who are incapable of being rational.  About the only way we can deal with them in a civil society is by allowing them to speak their piece, which is their right under our system of laws.  When someone says they're suffering from the effects of the electromagnetic radiation that emanates from cell phones and other similar devices, there's a high probability that the cause lies elsewhere.  And so the response needs to be, have you seen a physician about this problem?  If not, you need to do so right away because you may be suffering from a medical condition that requires urgent attention.  If so, then please provide us with a physician's statement that supports your claim.

If countless studies have been unable to find a problem, then I think it's time to shift the burden of proof away from those who manufacture and sell the devices in question in compliance with government regulations, to those who claim they're harmed while offering little or no proof.

Those are my rational responses.  I have some others, but they probably aren't fit for public consumption.

Jack Ellis, Tahoe City, CA