Customer’s lawsuit challenges SMUD’s smart meter program

THE SACRAMENTO BEE

Customer’s lawsuit challenges SMUD’s smart meter program

By Mark Glover

February 4, 2016 11:10 AM

A persistent critic of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s smart meter program has filed suit against the utility, seeking to recoup charges he paid for switching from a smart electric meter to an analog meter.

While SMUD customer and Elk Grove resident Mark Graham’s suit filed last month in Sacramento County Superior Court involves a fairly small amount of money – less than $500 –he says he’s hopeful of proving that SMUD’s smart meter program was not properly approved, and inform SMUD customers that they have the option to replace smart meters with analog meters.

“I shouldn’t have to pay for something that wasn’t even properly approved in the first place,” Graham said in a phone interview.

SMUD vehemently disagrees and has told Graham so at board meetings and via email in a dispute stretching back several years. Graham plans to present the 296-page lawsuit to SMUD board members at Thursday night’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Laura Lewis, general counsel for SMUD, confirmed on Monday this week that the utility had not yet received the lawsuit.

Under its smart grid program, SMUD completed replacement of more than 600,000 old analog meters in its territory in 2012. The project was funded with millions in federal stimulus money. Unlike the old, odometer-like metal meters, smart meters use wireless technology to transmit customers’ energy use information to the utility’s offices. That eliminates the need for monthly visits by meter readers, saving on SMUD labor costs.

SMUD also touts smart meters as the state-of-the-art industry standard, enabling customers to keep closer watch on power usage and plan for more efficient power use.

Graham, however, has repeatedly expressed his concern about radiation related to smart meters. He cites international scientists’ concerns about possible health impacts and their calls for strengthening wireless radiation exposure limits.

Graham chose to switch from a smart meter to an analog electric meter in late 2013. He says SMUD charged him $127 to make the change and has since charged him $14 a month for a meter reader to see the analog readout. Graham figures he’s out more than $400. His lawsuit asks for damages and injunctive relief.

The lawsuit contends that SMUD management implemented a massive meter-replacement program that was not in line with a board resolution authorizing smart meters for customers who specifically requested a time-based rate. Graham claims that many SMUD customers had no say in the change and don’t know to this day that they can opt for an analog meter.

SMUD general counsel Lewis disagrees, saying the board approved the extensive smart meter program and “the board was very specific in its authority and communicating this.” She cited multiple sources of documentation and board resolutions.

Lewis also stressed that SMUD does have “an opt-out policy” and defended the monthly $14-a-month charge to read an analog meter:

“It’s not appropriate for other customers who pay their fair share for an industry standard meter” to also help subsidize the cost of meter reading, Lewis said.

As for allegations that smart meters present a public health concern, Lewis said: “There’s been no scientific or medical evidence” of that.

 

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Science for Sale by David Lewis: recommended reading

Science for Sale by David Lewis: recommended reading

Following a similar vein as the last blog message,”Report from the Science and Wireless 2015 event in Australia” the 2014 book, Science For Sale by David Lewis PhD is relevant reading. The sub title is:

How the US government uses powerful corporations and leading universities to support government policies, silence top scientists, jeopardize our health, and protect corporate profits.

However the title would be just as accurate if it alternatively read: ‘How powerful US corporations use the government’, etc – considering the “revolving door” between corporate America and the government where govt. agencies are effectively given over to corporate control in exchange for large election donations. If it was in a 3rd World country it would be condemned as outright corruption. In the USA however, its just accepted as business as usual.

In 2015, former president, Jimmy Carter expressed concerns over widespread corporate influence over the American government, which he saw as an Oligarchy. To quote:

Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members. So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over. … The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody’s who’s already in Congress has a lot more to sell to an avid contributor than somebody who’s just a challenger.

So, now to Science For Sale:

From the fly leaf:

When Speaker Newt Gingrich greeted Dr. David Lewis in his office overlooking the National Mall, he looked at Dr. Lewis and said: “You know you’re going to be fired for this, don’t you?” “I know,” Dr. Lewis replied, “I just hope to stay out of prison.” Gingrich had just read Dr. Lewis’s commentary in Nature, titled “EPA Science: Casualty of Election Politics.” Three years later, and thirty years after Dr. Lewis began working at EPA, he was back in Washington to receive a Science Achievement Award from Administrator Carol Browner for his second article in Nature. By then, EPA had transferred Dr. Lewis to the University of Georgia to await termination—the Agency’s only scientist to ever be lead author on papers published in Nature and Lancet.

The government hires scientists to support its policies; industry hires them to support its business; and universities hire them to bring in grants that are handed out to support government policies and industry practices. Organizations dealing with scientific integrity are designed only to weed out those who commit fraud behind the backs of the institutions where they work. The greatest threat of all is the purposeful corruption of the scientific enterprise by the institutions themselves. The science they create is often only an illusion, designed to deceive; and the scientists they destroy to protect that illusion are often our best. This book is about both, beginning with Dr. Lewis’s experience, and ending with the story of Dr. Andrew Wakefield.

Review by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.:

“David Lewis has been a beacon of integrity against the apocalyptical forces of ignorance and greed endeavoring to divert science from the noble pursuit of truth and pervert it into a tool that supports the most destructive policies of industry and government.”

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Study Uncovers How Electromagnetic Fields Amplify Pain in Amputees

Dr. Mario Romero-Ortega

Dr. Mario Romero-Ortega

For years, retired Maj. David Underwood has noticed that whenever he drove under power lines and around other electromagnetic fields, he would feel a buzz in what remained of his arm. When traveling by car through Texas’ open spaces, the buzz often became more powerful.

“When roaming on a cellphone in the car kicked in, the pain almost felt like having my arm blown off again,” said Underwood, an Iraq War veteran who was injured by an improvised explosive device (IED). His injuries have resulted in 35 surgeries and the amputation of his left arm. Shrapnel from the IED also tore part of his leg and left him with more than 100 smaller wounds. “I didn’t notice the power lines, cellphones on roam or other electromagnetic fields until I first felt them in my arm.”

Until a recent study led by researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas was published online last month in PLOS ONE, there was no scientific evidence to back up the anecdotal stories of people, such as Underwood, who reported aberrant sensations and neuropathic pain around cellphone towers and other technology that produce radio-frequency electromagnetic fields.

“Our study provides evidence, for the first time, that subjects exposed to cellphone towers at low, regular levels can actually perceive pain,” said Dr. Mario Romero-Ortega, senior author of the study and an associate professor of bioengineering in the University’s Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. “Our study also points to a specific nerve pathway that may contribute to our main finding.”

Most of the research into the possible effects of cellphone towers on humans has been conducted on individuals with no diagnosed, pre-existing conditions. This is one of the first studies to look at the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in a nerve-injury model, said Romero-Ortega, who researches nerve regeneration and builds neural interfaces — technology that connects bionic or robotic devices to the peripheral nerve. There are nearly 2 million amputees in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and many suffer from chronic pain.

Major David Underwood

Retired Maj. David Underwood

After interacting with Underwood, Romero-Ortega decided to study the phenomena that Underwood described.

The team hypothesized that the formation of neuromas — inflamed peripheral nerve bundles that often form due to injury — created an environment that may be sensitive to EMF-tissue interactions. To test this, the team randomly assigned 20 rats into two groups — one receiving a nerve injury that simulated amputation, and the other group receiving a sham treatment. Researchers then exposed the subjects to a radiofrequency electromagnetic antenna for 10 minutes, once per week for eight weeks. The antenna delivered a power density equal to that measured at 39 meters from a local cellphone tower — a power density that a person might encounter outside of occupational settings.

Researchers found that by the fourth week, 88 percent of subjects in the nerve-injured group demonstrated a behavioral pain response, while only one subject in the sham group exhibited pain at a single time point, and that was during the first week. After growth of neuroma and resection — the typical treatment in humans with neuromas who are experiencing pain — the pain responses persisted.

“Many believe that a neuroma has to be present in order to evoke pain. Our model found that electromagnetic fields evoked pain that is perceived before neuroma formation; subjects felt pain almost immediately,” Romero-Ortega said. “My hope is that this study will highlight the importance of developing clinical options to prevent neuromas, instead of the current partially effective surgery alternatives for neuroma resection to treat pain.”

Researchers also performed experiments at the cellular level to explain the behavioral response. That led researchers to explore the protein TRPV4, which is known to be a factor in heat sensitivity and the development of allodynia, which some subjects displayed.

“It is highly likely that TRPV4 is a mediator in the pain response for these subjects,” Romero-Ortega said. “Our calcium imaging experiments were a good indicator that TRPV4 is worth further exploration.”

Our study provides evidence, for the first time, that subjects exposed to cellphone towers at low, regular levels can actually perceive pain. Our study also points to a specific nerve pathway that may contribute to our main finding.

Dr. Mario Romero-Ortega,
associate professor
of bioengineering

Romero-Ortega said since the research produced pain responses similar to those in anecdotal reports and a specific human case, the results “are very likely” generalizable to humans.

“There are commercially available products to block radio frequency electromagnetic energy. There are people who live in caves because they report to be hypersensitive to radiomagnetism, yet the rest of the world uses cellphones and does not have a problem. The polarization may allow people to disregard the complaints of the few as psychosomatic,” he said. “In our study, the subjects with nerve injury were not capable of complex psychosomatic behavior. Their pain was a direct response to man-made radiofrequency electromagnetic energy.”

At one point in the study, members of the research group showed Underwood video of subjects in the experiment and their response to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields.

“It was exactly the same type of movements I would have around cellphones on roam, power lines and other electromagnetic fields,” said Underwood, who has served on congressional medical committees and been exposed to some of the best doctors in the world. “It is pretty amazing that a few short conversations with this team led to validation of what I, and many others, experience.”

Researchers said that the next step is to develop devices that block neuropathic pain from radiofrequency electromagnetic energy.

Dr. Bryan Black, a research associate in the Department of Bioengineering in the Jonsson School; Dr. Rafael Granja-Vazquez, a postdoctoral fellow at UT Dallas; Dr. Benjamin Johnston of Brown University; and Dr. Erick Jones Sr., a professor of industrial, manufacturing and systems engineering at UT Arlington, also contributed to the work.

Media Contact: LaKisha Ladson, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4183, lakisha.ladson@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu.

http://www.utdallas.edu/news/2016/2/3-31891_Study-Uncovers-How-Electromagnetic-Fields-Amplify-_story-wide.html?WT.mc_id=NewsHomePage