Area homeowners not keen on having a Commonwealth Edison smart meter in their home due to health concerns or any other issue may get longer to keep the power company at bay.
As it is written, Illinois law requires that all homeowners in the ComEd coverage area must have a smart meter one year after the completion of the smart meter installation program, right now slated for December 2018.
A representative of ComEd says that deadline may now be extended.
Speaking at the Darien City Council meeting Monday Michael McMahan, ComEd’s vice president of automatic meter infrastructure implementation, said the company will be filing a petition later this month with the Illinois Commerce Commission, seeking to push back that deadline.
McMahan said smart meters were mandated by the state legislature because they make providing electric service more efficient by eliminating the need for meter readers and giving homeowners the opportunity to monitor their power use.
“This was a state initiative approved by a super majority,” McMahan said.
He noted that only 0.1 percent of the 2.4 million ComEd customers in areas where smart meters have already been installed have opted to delay the installation.
Burr Ridge resident James Holderman has spent 700 hours studying the radio frequency radiation emitted from smart meters. His research and concerns led the Burr Ridge Village Board in June to pass a resolution encouraging ComEd to provide a permanent opt-out option from the smart meter program.
Holderman has argued that since the smart meter legislation was passed in 2011, significant studies, analysis, papers, letters and articles have been published that support the evidence of the health risks posed by exposure to radio frequency radiation.
“Further, it is now clearer than ever that these risks extend well beyond cancer,” Holderman said. “The most troubling aspect of the risk profile coming into scientific focus is the significantly greater risk to the unborn, babies, and children from exposure to radio frequency radiation.”
McMahan countered that the power company’s smart meters are well below Federal Communications Commission guidelines for radio frequency. He said at most a smart meter is sending out five minutes of radio transmissions over an entire day.
“That is significantly less than other devices people use every day, such as cellphones, microwaves and WiFi,” McMahan said.
McMahan did not give any indication what kind of smart meter deadline extension ComEd will be proposing to the Illinois Commerce Commission. He said a lot can change in the 3 ½ years between now and December 2019.
Homeowners who opt to delay the smart meter installation when the meters are installed in their neighborhood must pay a monthly charge of $21.53. That is to recoup some of the $2 billion in savings that ComEd would not receive and additional charges, such as having a person read that meter manually, according to the company representative.
McMahan said that 60 million smart meters have been installed across the country. He said he has heard the health concerns from people and noted that those concerns are the number 1 reason people delay the installation. He said he has reviewed the studies, but sees nothing in any study showing the small amount of radio frequency transmitted by smart meters being a health hazard.
McMahan offered for the company to take radio frequency readings at any smart meter in Darien to show the low levels of radio frequency waves being transmitted, Third Ward Ald. Joseph Kenny said he would welcome readings being done at his residence.
Holderman feels too much scientific data about radio frequency waves is out there to force ComEd customers to install the smart meter in their homes.
“The possibility of cancer, tumors, lower birth weights in offspring and autism or ADHD in children from the radio frequency radiation emitted from smart meters should never be forced upon people by a monopoly or a state, and all the more, when ‘monitor’ and ‘control’ are stated goals,” he said. “The very reasonable request of a permanent ‘opt out’ from smart meters is, in my mind, a litmus test for government-supported corporate tyranny.”