It’s important to know the facts, potential risks of smart meters
May 10, 2016
In her April 24 Viewpoint, Maui Electric Co. President Sharon Suzuki sang the praises of smart-grid technology, which includes blanketing the islands with smart meters. The plan, proposed by parent company Hawaiian Electric Industries, is now before the Public Utilities Commission.
No public testimony will be allowed in that process, so it’s important to know the facts about smart meters. They pose a threat to your safety, privacy, freedom, health and your wallet.
1. Your bill will go up. Hawaiian Electric’s $340 million smart-meter project will be ratepayer funded. Plus, where smart meters have been deployed elsewhere, energy bills have consistently increased, sometimes drastically. Price increases will be steeper when Time-of-Use pricing goes into effect. We will be charged more for electricity when we need it most.
2. Smart meters violate privacy. “With smart meters, police will have access to data that might be used to track residents’ daily lives and routines inside their homes, including their eating, sleeping and showering habits, what appliances they use, and when and whether they prefer the television to the treadmill, among a host of other details,” according to a U.S. Congressional Research Report. Also, the Hawaii Civil Liberties Union has expressed concerns about Fourth Amendment rights violations posed by smart meters.
3. Expect your detailed energy-use information, as described above, to be sold to third-party vendors to market products or track your activities. This is already being done in some Mainland jurisdictions and generates a substantial new revenue stream for the utility.
4. Smart meters do not help the environment or save energy. In fact, smart meters and mesh-grid systems take more energy because they require a multitude of additional wireless transmitters that use additional energy. If any energy savings is to be had, it requires you to take time out of your busy day to log-on to a website, study the charts and graphs available, and change your lifestyle inside your home to use energy more efficiently or buy expensive energy-efficient appliances.
5. There have been thousands of fires worldwide related to smart meters. Faulty installations, old wiring and impact vulnerabilities have been cited. Massive and expensive smart-meter installations have at times been halted because of documented fires. Most smart meters are not UL approved.
6. Smart meters are a health hazard. There are over 6,000 studies showing biological effects from the same form of radiation that smart meters emit. The World Health Organization has categorized such EMFs as a Class 2B possible carcinogen, the same class as DDT, chloroform and car exhaust.
7. Smart meters have been shown to emit between 5,000 to 190,000 pulses/day. These pulses occur randomly every few seconds throughout the day and night. There is evidence this unpredictable pulsation makes smart meters more toxic than cellphones or Wi-Fi, which are likely toxic themselves but emit more steady signals. It’s like the difference between white noise versus erratic loud blasts.
8. Smart meters have not been proven to be safe. Despite what the HEI website says, no one can make this claim. Although the meters meet FCC guidelines, such guidelines were established decades ago, before the proliferation of wireless devices, and the guidelines were not designed to protect us from long-term exposure to nonthermal levels of microwave radiation emitted by smart meters. People are becoming ill and authorities are speaking out, but there is a lag in policy change (think tobacco industry).
9. Smart meters make Hawaii’s electrical grid vulnerable to cyberattack. Cybercrime is on the rise and “secure” systems, from corporations to governments and the U.S. military, get hacked into frequently. Making Hawaii’s grid wireless threatens energy security, as one rogue individual could take down the entire power grid.
10. No one is required to accept a smart meter. MECO’s plan allows for an opt-out and they will charge for it, a $15.30 monthly fee. Some people are calling this extortion. And if you don’t opt-out in advance you will have to pay $49.52 to get the smart meter removed.
For sample opt-out letters and more information, please visit www.keepyourpower.org and sign our petition to stop smart meters in Hawaii until they are proven safe and secure.
* Debra Greene, Ph.D., energy health and environment consultant, is the Founder of KeepYourPower.org, a Maui-based educational service that provides consumer information about smart meters and smart-grid technologies.