Is your home’s energy meter spying on you?

Personal Freedoms

Is your home’s energy meter spying on you?


Utility companies across the country are have been steadily launching initiatives to install smart meters at customers homes, but many have protested, saying that it infringes on their privacy rights and may even cause health issues.Toby Talbot/AP

Utility companies across the U.S. are installing smart meters in customers’ homes, touting the technology’s energy-saving ways, but opponents argue that the meters are opening a Pandora’s box of privacy concerns.

The smart energy meters read electric or gas usage, and enable a power company to collect detailed usage data on a particular home or building. But the readings also gather personal information that some critics argue is too intrusive.


The information gathered from smart meters includes unencrypted data that can, among other details, reveal when a homeowner is away from their residence for long periods of time. The electric wattage readings can even decipher what type of activities a customer is engaged in, such as watching TV, using a computer or even how long someone spends cooking.

“It’s in the nature of technology to be neutral in the benefits and the risks; it’s how the info is used,” Allen Gilbert, executive director of the Vermont branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, tells “Look at smartphones. No one can argue the benefits of having one. But on the other hand, it’s the best tracking device.”

The Vermont ACLU has, in the past few years, participated in the privacy debate over smart energy meters. The group says that one major issue with data collected from the meters is the same with cellphone data. The agency has filed lawsuits against law enforcement agencies in the state over cellphone data being harvested through secret inquests and used to track an individual’s whereabouts.

The group has suggested a proposal to the state government so the same won’t happen with smart-meter data.

“We have put up quite a strong argument for user utility data,” Gilbert said. “This is why we presented a proposition in which we said that police departments should not get customer information from a utility.

“Instead, any subpoena should be issued directly to the customer.”

The U.S. Department of Energy has even admitted that privacy and data access is a concern as far back as 2010 in a report on the smart meter technology.

“Advances in Smart Grid technology could significantly increase the amount of potentially available information about personal energy consumption,” reads a statement from the report, titled “Data Access and Privacy Issues Related to Smart Grid Technologies.”

The report states, “Such information could reveal personal details about the lives of consumers, such as their daily schedules (including times when they are at or away from home or asleep), whether their homes are equipped with alarm systems, whether they own expensive electronic equipment such as plasma TVs, and whether they use certain types of medical equipment.”

The report recommended that states should consider a condition in which customers can authorize third parties access and that there should be a prohibition on disclosure of customer data to said third parties.

Ohio residents are dealing with the third-party collection issue, as police agencies work to obtain utility data to determine if suspects have been growing marijuana in their homes.

In 2011, the Columbus Dispatch reported that at an average of 60 subpoenas are filed each month statewide by law-enforcement agencies seeking energy-use records from various utility companies.

“We’re obligated when we get these requests,” a spokesperson for American Electric Power said to the newspaper at the time. “There’s not an option to say no.”

The subpoenas allow investigators access to utility records for a particular house they are investigating, as well as for a few other homes on the block in an attempt to determine if there is a “grow house,”  which is likely to use three to five times more power than anyone else when harvesting marijuana.

In Philadelphia, customers of PECO have complained and opted out of having the smart meters installed because of its two-way communication capabilities.

Last year, California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) was required after an investigation to pay $390,000 to the state’s General Fund after it was discovered that they were spying on anti-smart meter activist groups.

“Imagine if AT&T set out to install FCC-regulated cell network repeaters on everyone’s rooftops — all homes in the US — without permission or compensation.  That they just went out and did it, in the interest of improving their network coverage, and improving their for-profit bottom line,” Josh del Sol, a researcher and director of a documentary titled “Take Back Your Power,” said to “Pretty ridiculous, right? This is theft, and if they were a government agency it would be an obvious violation of the latter part of the Fifth Amendment in addition to the Fourth.”

“How, pray tell, are utilities able to get away with what amounts to the exact same thing,” he added. “They [power utilities] would say that ‘they have easement,’ but does this easement include the right to broadcast an FCC-regulated microwave transmitter on your home, taking your private property to do so, for their benefit, and without your consent?”

Despite the ongoing chorus against smart meters and the possibility for intrusion, some experts say that it is nothing but mass hysteria.

“Privacy zealots obsess over something that wouldn’t concern a rational person,” Roger Pilon, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies, said to “It’s the kind of mass hysteria we’ve seen in other eras for other issues.”

“The NSA has better things to do than monitor our A/C use.”



UK smart meter activists facing same propaganda/lies utilities are using around the world

Smart Meters – Commons Select Committee Meeting (Clip 1 of 6)

Published on May 3, 2013

This video series shows the Commons Select Committee enquiry into the UK Smart Meter roll-out held on Tuesday 23rd April 2013. Witnesses appearing to give evidence to the Committee in the first session include Dr Elizabeth Evans and Mike Mitcham from Stop Smart Meters! (UK), alongside Dr Jill Meara, representing Public Health England, and Dr John Swanson, from the Biological Effects Policy Advisory Group for the Institute of Engineering and Technology.

The representatives from Stop Smart Meters! (UK) share their concerns about adverse health effects from wireless smart meters due to the pulsed microwave radiation that is emitted 24/7 by these meters, up to 190,000 pulses a day – acute effects (insomnia, headaches, nausea, anxiety and depression, fatigue and memory/concentration problems) and chronic effects (including increased risk of cancer, infertility, dementia, immune system dysfunction, damage to fetuses); environmental damage from wireless smart meters – RF radiation affecting bees, plants, trees, birds etc and the inherent energy-inefficiency of wireless technology: cybersecurity problems – leaving homes and communities vulnerable to hacking of their smart meters; privacy issues – concerning the masses of real-time data on energy usage collected by the utility company which gives a detailed picture of family life inside a home with a smart meter, who will have access to that data, and how that data will be used; and the specter of higher bills resulting from smart meters – as has been the experience in Canada where 80% of Smart Meter users complain of higher bills within a year of installation, often more that 50% higher.

Stop Smart Meters! (UK)

Survey: Americans strained by housing costs- Is this a model for Agenda 21?

June 9, 2014 Affordable Housing No Comments

Survey: Americans strained by housing costs

Lisa Prevost – June 9, 2014 

aptsSix in 10 Americans believe the government ought to be doing more to generate affordable housing, both for rent and purchase.

So finds an eye-opening new survey conducted for the MacArthur Foundation. The survey of 1,355 adults reveals considerable stress throughout the country over the cost of housing, even though the housing crisis brought on by the market collapse is supposed to be “over.”

More than half of the respondents said they’d picked up a second job, put off saving or made some other sacrifice in the past three years in order to cover their rent or mortgage. And many see a broader problem with housing affordability in their own communities. Nearly 60 percent of respondents said it is either very or somewhat challenging for families with average incomes to find decent affordable housing in their community. Seventy-five percent said it is equally tough for young people just getting started.

These rather gloomy findings match the mood of Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey for May. In this monthly survey of 1000 Americans, 57 percent of respondents said they think the economy is still headed in the wrong direction. And those who said their household finance situation is better than a year ago dropped off to 21 percent.

The MacArthur survey’s findings are also broken out geographically. Housing strain is felt most acutely in the high-priced Northeast and West Coast, which isn’t surprising. But not far behind those locales are people who live in small and/or rural communities. Nearly 60 percent of folks living in small-town America said it is either very or somewhat challenging to find affordable housing there.

Solid majorities think the government ought to be investing in programs supporting homeownership or new rental housing. (I can’t help but notice that the survey team did not use the term “affordable housing” in asking about government policy.) Here, from the MacArthur report, is how people responded on that issue:

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EMF Resolution – requesting your support in British Columbia

EMF Resolution – requesting your support
Hello Fellow Citizens:
As citizens of British Columbia, Canada, we have created a British Columbia Resolution on the Proliferation of Electromagnetic Radiation and we are requesting your support. The resolution is at the address below.

The purpose of the resolution is to encourage our Provincial Health Officer to take action to implement the precautionary principle to protect our citizens and children from the hazards of electromagnetic radiation from cell towers, wifi’s, and other wireless devices…rather than continuing the current course of willful blindness to harmful effects. It will ultimately be delivered to the British Columbia Provincial Health Office. 
We are seeking the signatures of medical and other health professionals as well as all concerned citizens. Beneath the signature panel there is space to add comments… your comments are especially useful to us and welcomed. 
We request your consideration towards signing our resolution. If you know of others that may be interested in supporting this initiative, we would appreciate you forwarding this email to them. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.
 Ron Gordon
Vancouver BC Canada