Smart meters: a danger or a modern convenience?

Smart meters: a danger or a modern convenience?

Smart meters have been the subject of much lively debate in Siskiyou County over the past couple months, with smart meter installations having begun in Mount Shasta in late July.

Smart meters have been the subject of much lively debate in Siskiyou County over the past couple months, with smart meter installations having begun in Mount Shasta in late July. While the California Public Utilities Commission and Pacific Power maintain that smart meters are safe and will provide numerous benefits for customers, many groups and individuals in the area have decried those assurances and claimed that smart meters may cause innumerable ills, from fires to adverse biological effects.

As smart meters also began to be installed in Oregon at the start of 2018, many Oregon and California residents who are opposed to smart meters have banded together to protest their installation. This was evidenced in Yreka on Sept. 15, when citizens from Siskiyou County and Oregon stood outside the Pacific Power office with picket signs.

One such group of smart meter opponents represented at the protest – “Freedom to Say No to Smart Meters,” based in Jackson County, Oregon – disseminates a handout entitled, “The Facts About Smart Meters.” In it, the group claims that the reason Pacific Power is installing smart meters is “to make more money.”

The handout states, “Like any business, Pacific Power has one fundamental goal: Increasing its profit margin.”

According to Pacific Power, though, the utility has a host of reasons to install smart meters that appear to have more to do with efficiency than lining its executives’ pockets. Cory Estlund, manager of field support for Pacific Power, said that with the installation of smart meters, the company will be able to determine the size and scope of power outages much sooner than was possible with analog meters.

With analog meters, when a customer’s power is shut off, a utility worker must be sent out to restore power. Smart meters, however, will allow service to be restored remotely – without the additional charge to the customer that comes from having to send a utility worker.

Pacific Power representatives also said that smart meters will improve accuracy both in measuring consumers’ electricity use and in billing. Monte Mendenhall, regional business manager for Pacific Power in northern California, noted that there is a certain risk for human error when utility workers read analog meters, which won’t be a factor with smart meters.

The new meters will also increase safety for utility workers, as they won’t have to read meters in poor weather – something that applies to areas like Mount Shasta in particular, where snow can create dangerous driving conditions and sometimes make meters inaccessible.

And we’ve all heard people complain about high electric bills or a sudden spike in their electricity costs that they can’t explain. With analog meters, Estlund said, when a customer calls about a sudden increase in their electric bill, the utility only knows how much electricity that consumer used in a 30 day period. Smart meters, though, can measure electricity use at up to fifteen minute intervals, so a utility worker will be able to tell the customer, “Something happened during this day, during this hour,” giving the customer a much better idea of what may have caused a spike.

Many smart meter opponents claim that Radio Frequency emissions from meters can lead to health problems. Freedom to Say No to Smart Meters states in its handout, “Because the [Federal Communications Commission] set their ‘safe’ exposure limit so high, the highest in the world, even 1.6% exceeds or greatly exceeds the safe RF exposure limits set for civilian populations by many other countries, including China, Russia, Italy, France, Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, Belgium, and Austria.”

That statement is misleading, however, as numerous countries set the same limit for long term exposure to RF energy as the U.S. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection set the same limit as the FCC, according to a study provided by the World Health Organization. Limits are also set specifically for extended periods of exposure.

Pacific Power states on its website, “In fact, the radio frequency from smart meters is so low that you could stand directly in front of a smart meter for a year and still have less radio frequency exposure than you’d get from a single 15-minute cell phone call.”

Freedom to Say No to Smart Meters claims, “Since the RF power unit of a Smart Meter has twice the wattage of a cell phone, when it does transmit, it sends out a far more powerful signal than a cell phone does.” However, Pacific Power cites that a smart meter transmitting power of 1 watt “will produce a signal intensity of less than 0.5 [watts per square meter], at a distance of 0.5 meters.” According to a study on cell phone radiation available on Stanford University’s website, the peak total radiated power of a standard cell phone is 2 watts for phones operating at 900 MHz; Pacific Power’s smart meters operate at a comparable 902-928 MHz. Pacific Power also specifies, “This exposure is one-tenth or less of the most widely adopted international (ICNIRP) and U.S. (FCC) exposure limits.”

Estlund stated that a typical smart meter will transmit a signal an average of 45 seconds per day. Some high duty meters may transmit up to 4 percent of the day, which equates to just under an hour.

Residents can opt out of having a smart meter installed for a $20 per month fee, or $16 per month if they income qualify. This is based on the cost to send a utility worker out to read the analog meter. While Pacific Power will not allow all non-residential customers to opt out of smart meter installation, they do make an exception, stating, “We are persuaded that it is reasonable to allow PacifiCorp to offer the Smart Meter opt-out option to non-residential customers who have both residential and non-residential accounts associated with meters on a single premise or on directly adjacent premises.”

PacifiCorp, the parent company of Pacific Power, reports, “PacifiCorp believes that the majority, if not the entirety of the remaining non-residential customers, will welcome Smart Meters because of their potential to permit more efficient management of energy costs through real-time feedback and the ability to measure the effectiveness of alternative energy saving measures.”

Pacific Power also reported that 95 percent of smart meters will last over 15 years. And as for the cost of the electricity it takes to operate the smart meter – which many opponents say they will be saddled with – Mendenhall said that cost falls on the utility company’s side.

Finally, Mendenhall provided some information on the basic difference between how a smart meter operates, versus how an analog meter operates. “An analog meter operates by continuously measuring the instantaneous voltage (volts) and current (amperes) to measure energy as kilowatt-hours. The electromechanical induction meter operates through electromagnetic induction by counting the revolutions of a non-magnetic, electrically conductive, metal disc which is made to rotate at a speed proportional to the power passing through the meter. The number of revolutions is thus proportional to the energy usage.” A smart meter, on the other hand, is a solid state unit – a semiconductor electronic device with no moving parts – which measures energy based on the same premise as an analog, or electromechanical meter. It is simply not a mechanical process.

While smart meter technology has been available for about ten years, Mendenhall explained that Pacific Power waited to install the meters in order to let the technology mature and to let its price come down. Opponents have also alleged that smart meters can cause fires. Estlund said that while some generation one smart meters had design flaws, Pacific Power specifically did not choose the vendor that offered those faulty meters. Over 250,000 smart meters have been installed in California thus far, Mendenhall and Estlund said, none of which have been responsible for starting a fire.

Technology carries silent dangers

Technology carries silent dangers

We are currently facing increasing silent dangers in the area of wireless technology. Technology is speedily advancing with promises of more conveniences, high speed and efficiency. But wait a minute! Things that may look wondrous can have some serious consequences. Just how much are we as citizens willing to accept without considering health and other personal repercussions?

Wireless technology is quickly becoming ubiquitous. From cell phones, cordless phones, wireless internet, gaming consoles and microwaves, we are bombarded with electromagnetic radiation frequencies (EMFs). And now coming attached to your home, if not already, will be Smart Meters unless you notify your electric company that you want to opt out.

The NC Utilities Commission has not yet made final decisions with respect to opt-out policies. In addition to the invasion of privacy because they collect and transmit all kinds of data, there is a risk of this data being hacked. Also, there are serious health risks that have been reported by thousands of people where they have been deployed because of the high levels of electromagnetic radiation emitted.

I urge you to do your own research and would recommend looking for research that has been conducted independent of the power companies. Facebook has a site called Stop Smart Meters NC which gives research and information about what is happening with Smart Meters in North Carolina.

As scary as Smart Meters are, the proposed 5G cell towers are probably the most dangerous and intrusive of all. The 5G is radio wave technology on steroids. Nationwide, communities are being told by wireless companies that they have to build “small cell” wireless facilities in neighborhoods on streetlights and utility poles near homes, schools, churches, etc. in order to offer the 5G technology. In order to work properly the small cell wireless facilities must be placed approximately every 500 feet.

At the local, state, and federal level, new legislation and new zoning have plans to streamline the installation of these 5G “small cell” antennas in public rights-of-way. The 2017 5G Scientific Appeal (signed by more than 200 scientists and doctors from 35 countries) “recommend a moratorium on the roll-out of the fifth generation, 5G, for telecommunication until potential hazards for human health and the environment have been fully investigated by scientists independent from industry..RF_EMF has been proven to be harmful for humans and the environment.” (

Much of what I have researched reveals that 5G will have significant health risks, especially brain cancer. The following can occur with 5G: may be built directly in front of our homes, schools, and churches, community authority may be overruled, decreased property values, cumulative daily radiation exposure, will be added to our current technology, and the power on these towers could be turned up even higher than the proposed levels, if gotten into the wrong hands.

There are many sites on Facebook where concerned citizens share information and worldwide research on 5G. Citizens must speak up to voice our concerns.

Catherine Sewell


How Can You Protect Yourself from Electromagnetic Radiation?

How Can You Protect Yourself from Electromagnetic Radiation?

Research has shown that electromagnetic radiation can pose various health risks, such as an increased risk of cancermiscarriage and depression. And we’re surrounded by electromagnetic radiation on a daily basis.

Electromagnetic radiation refers to energy produced from a source, such as light from the sun, microwaves from an oven, or your cell phone’s signal.

You’re likely exposed to some form of electromagnetic radiation almost constantly, but you can still do a lot to protect yourself from any potentially negative effects. Let’s take a closer look at this issue.


Electromagnetic radiation is a type of energy that travels and spreads out as it moves. It’s composed of a stream of particles called photons that move in wave-like patterns at the speed of light. Each photon has a certain amount of energy, but no physical mass.

The photons of radio waves are fairly low-energy and move in long wavelengths, which puts them at the low end of the electromagnetic spectrum. As you move up the spectrum, microwaves have more energy, then visible and ultraviolet light from the sun, and x-rays and gamma rays have the highest amounts of energy.

Electromagnetic radiation is classified into two different types:

  • Ionizing radiation – includes mid- to high-frequency types of radiation, such as ultraviolet radiation, x-rays and gamma rays. Ionizing radiation has enough energy that it can remove electrons from atoms and molecules of air, water and living tissue as it passes through them.
  • Non-ionizing radiation – includes low- to mid-frequency types of radiation, such as radio waves, microwaves and cell phone signals. These are not able to remove electrons from atoms or molecules, but they are strong enough to heat up substancesand are proven to have a biological effect on human cells.

Electromagnetic Spectrum Items

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It’s well-established that prolonged exposure to ionizing electromagnetic radiation can cause cellular changes that can lead to health risks such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, radiation sickness and genetic damage.

Because non-ionizing radiation is weaker than ionizing radiation, its effects tend to take place over longer periods. But it can still be just as damaging after many years of exposure.

large volume of research over the past three decades has linked non-ionizing radiation to an increased risk of developing certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, immune system dysfunction and free radical damage to DNA.

Even the World Health Organization has stated that technology that emits low-level electromagnetic fields (EMFs), such as cell phones, “is too recent to rule out possible long-term effects”.

In their publication Establishing a Dialogue on Risks from Electromagnetic Fields, the WHO goes on to say that, “Given the widespread use of technology, the degree of scientific uncertainly, and the levels of public apprehension, rigorous scientific studies [of EMFs] and clear communication with the public are needed.”


1. Keep Your Distance

Electromagnetic radiation is strongest at its source. For example, cell phones, microwave ovens, baby monitors, smart meters and Wi-Fi modems all actively create and emit electromagnetic radiation. So, the farther away you are from these active sources, the less radiation you’ll receive.

Try some of these suggestions for keeping your electronic devices at a distance:

  • Hold your cell phone or cordless phone away from your head when talking. Most cell phone manuals state that you should keep your phone at least 15 millimeters (5/8 inch) away from your head when using it. Also, use speakerphone or text when you can.
  • Avoid putting your laptop on your lap. Try to use a secondary keyboard and mouse to give yourself some distance.
  • Keep your modem away from your living spaces. When possible, have your modem installed in the least-travelled corner of your home.
  • Stand back from your microwave when it’s operating. Some microwaves can leak a small amount of radiation when they’re on, so it’s best to give them some space until your food is done.

2. Get Wired

Wireless signals provide a constant source of electromagnetic radiation, so try using wired devices as much as possible. Yes, using wires is annoying. But if you’re on your devices for many hours a day, it will significantly cut down your exposure to electromagnetic fields.

Try using a wired headset when talking on your cell phone, using an ethernet cable for your computer, or wired headphones for your MP3 player.

3. Watch Your Time

More time spent around electronic equipment will mean more exposure to electromagnetic radiation. Working around electronics is hard to avoid, but consider some unplugged activities in your free time.

Instead of watching a video on your computer or television, try going for a walk or getting together with friends instead. Chances are you’ll have more fun than watching that video anyway.

4. Unplug

Even when you’re not using many electronic devices, they’re still producing electromagnetic radiation. Wi-Fi modems emit signals continuously, and even computers will still have a weak electromagnetic field around them when they’re in “sleep” mode.

Get in the habit of turning your modem off at night when possible. Also try having as many of your electronic devices on power bars that you can switch off when they’re not in use. This will also help you conserve energy and save money on your power bills.

5. Remove Electronics from Your Bedroom

You spend a lot of time in your bedroom, so keeping it as clear as possible from electronics will greatly reduce your exposure. Electromagnetic radiation is also shown to disrupt melatonin and sleep, which makes it especially important to keep it out of your sleeping space.

Remove any unnecessary wireless devices, unplug any screens for the night and above all, don’t take your cell phone to bed with you.

6. Stay Healthy

It’s known that electromagnetic radiation causes oxidative stress on your cells and increases free radical concentrations in your body. Under normal circumstances, your body should be able to repair this damage.

But, if your health is compromised, your body won’t be able to deal with the effects of prolonged electromagnetic radiation exposure. Over time, this oxidative stress can take a toll on your health.

Maintaining your health and eating a diet rich in antioxidants and nutrients will support your body and naturally protect against any potential damage from electromagnetic radiation. Try including these antioxidant rich foods in your diet or spending more time in nature to naturally boost your health.

Electromagnetic Protection

Related on Care2


4 How Big Wireless Convinced Us Cell Phones and Wi-Fi are Safe

4 How Big Wireless Convinced Us Cell Phones and Wi-Fi are Safe


A Kaiser Permanente study (published December 2017 in Scientific Reports) conducted controlled research testing on hundreds of pregnant women in the San Francisco Bay area and found that those who had been exposed to magnetic field (MF) non-ionizing radiation associated with cell phones and wireless devices had 2.72 times more risk of miscarriage than those with lower MF exposure. Furthermore, the study reported that the association was “much stronger” when MF was measured “on a typical day of participants’ pregnancies.” According to lead investigator De-Kun Li, the possible effects of MF exposure have been controversial because, “from a public health point of view, everybody is exposed. If there is any health effect, the potential impact is huge.” [For previous Project Censored coverage of this topic, see Julian Klein and Casey Lewis, with Kenn Burrows and Peter Phillips, “Accumulating Evidence of Ongoing Wireless Technology Health Hazards,” in Censored 2015: Inspiring We the People.]

A March 2018 investigation for the Nation by Mark Hertsgaard and Mark Dowie showed how the scope of this public health issue has been inadequately reported by the press and underappreciated by the public. Hertsgaard and Dowie reported that the telecom industry has employed public relations tactics, first pioneered by Big Tobacco in the 1960s and developed by fossil-fuel companies in the 1980s, to influence both the public’s understanding of wireless technologies and regulatory debates. 

The wireless industry has “war-gamed” science by playing offense as well as defense, actively sponsoring studies that result in published findings supportive of the industry while aiming to discredit competing research that raises questions about the safety of cellular devices and other wireless technologies. [On “war-gaming,” see, for example, a 1994 Motorola memo, now published online.] When studies have linked wireless radiation to cancer or genetic damage, industry spokespeople have pointed out that the findings are disputed by other researchers. This strategy has proven effective, Hertsgaard and Dowie reported, because “the apparent lack of certainty helps to reassure customers, even as it fends off government regulations and lawsuits that might pinch profits.” As Hertsgaard and Dowie concluded, 

Lack of definitive proof that a technology is harmful does not mean the technology is safe, yet the wireless industry has succeeded in selling this logical fallacy to the world . . . The upshot is that, over the past 30 years, billions of people around the world have been subjected to a massive public-health experiment: Use a cell phone today, find out later if it causes cancer or genetic damage. Meanwhile, the wireless industry has obstructed a full and fair understanding of the current science, aided by government agencies that have prioritized commercial interests over human health and news organizations that have failed to inform the public about what the scientific community really thinks. In other words, this public-health experiment has been conducted without the informed consent of its subjects, even as the industry keeps its thumb on the scale.

The stakes of this public-health experiment continue to rise with the increasing prevalence of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies as well as the development of the “Internet of Things” and anticipated 5G wireless networks.

Multiple studies, including one published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in October 2017, have correlated long-term exposure to cell phone radiation with the risk for glioma (a type of brain tumor), meningioma, DNA damage, and other health risks. In May 2017, the California Department of Public Health released safety guidelines in response to possible health impacts from cell phone radiation. Yet this information was withheld from the public for seven years, and only released after litigation. The American Academy of Pediatrics has clear recommendations to reduce children’s exposure to cell phone radiation—yet pregnant women continue to use wireless devices on their abdomens and children are given cell phones as toys.

The wireless industry claims to be in compliance with health and safety regulations and opposes mandatory disclaimers about keeping phones at a safe distance. Yet they also oppose updating cell phone radiation testing methods in ways that would accurately represent real-life use. 

As the Environmental Health Trust and Marc Arazi have reported, recent scientific research and court rulings from France underscore these concerns about wireless technology radiation. Under court order, the National Frequency Agency of France (ANFR) recently disclosed that nine out of ten cell phones exceed government radiation safety limits when tested in the way they are actually used, next to the human body. As the Environmental Health Trust reported, French activists coined the term “PhoneGate” because of parallels to the 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal (referred to informally as “Dieselgate”) in which Volkswagen cars “passed” diesel emission tests in the lab, but actually had higher emissions when driven on real roads. In the same way, cell phones “passed” laboratory radiation tests when the “specific absorption rate” (SAR), which indicates how much radiation the body absorbs, was measured at a distance of 15 mm (slightly more than half an inch). However, the way people actually carry and use cell phones (for example, tucked into a jeans pocket or bra, or held in contact with the ear) results in higher levels of absorbed radiation than those found in lab tests.

The French data was also corroborated by a 2017 independent investigation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) which tested cell phones and found SAR values that surpassed US and Canadian allowable standards when the phones were tested in body contact positions. These findings were replicated by the US Federal Communications Commission, which concluded that radiation levels reach as high as 300 percent of the limit for safe exposure.

As reported by Environmental Health Trust (EHT), French law ensures that SAR levels are identified prominently on cell phone packaging and that cell phone sales are banned for young children. In 2016, new French policies stated, “ALL wireless devices, including tablets, cordless phones, remote controlled toys, wireless toys, baby monitors and surveillance bracelets, should be subjected to the same regulatory obligations as cell phones.” EHT also reported that, according to Le Monde, France would attempt to ban cell phones from schools, colleges, and playgrounds as of 2017.

Although local media might announce the findings of a few selected studies, as the San Francisco Chronicle did when the Kaiser Permanente study was published, the norm for corporate media is to report the telecom industry line—that is, that evidence linking Wi-Fi and cell phone radiation to health issues, including cancer and other medical problems, is either inconclusive or disputed. Such was the case, for example, when the Wall Street Journal published an article in February 2018 titled “Why the Largest Study Ever on Cellphones and Cancer Won’t Settle the Debate.” Similarly, in May 2016 the Washington Post published an article titled “Do Cellphones Cause Cancer? Don’t Believe the Hype.” As Hertsgaard and Dowie’s Nation report suggested, corporate coverage of this sort is partly how the telecom industry remains successful in avoiding the consequences of their actions.

Mark Hertsgaard and Mark Dowie, “How Big Wireless Made Us Think That Cell Phones are Safe: A Special Investigation,” The Nation, March 29, 2018,

“Phonegate: French Government Data Indicates Cell Phones Expose Consumers to Radiation Levels Higher Than Manufacturers Claim,” Environmental Health Trust, June 2, 2017, updated June 2018,

Marc Arazi, “Cell Phone Radiation Scandal: French Government Data Indicates Cell Phones Expose Consumers to Radiation Levels Higher Than Manufacturers Claim,” Dr. Marc Arazi blog, June 3, 2017,

Marc Arazi, “Phonegate: New Legal Proceedings against ANFR and Initial Reaction to the Communiqué of Nicolas Hulot,” Dr. Marc Arazi blog, December 2, 2017,

Student Researchers: John Michael Dulalas, Bethany Surface, and Kamila Janik

 (San Francisco State University) and Shannon Cowley (University of Vermont)

Faculty Evaluators: Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University) and Rob Williams (University of Vermont)




Published on Dec 13, 2018

 The internet of things, or IoT, is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. A key component of this system are smart meters that are connected to smart appliances in houses located in smart cities. In this video Dan Dicks of Press For Truth speaks with Jerry Day from the EMF Help Center about the dangers of smart meters, the internet of things, where this is all heading and most importantly what you as an individual can do to protect yourself and your family moving forward.

Consider the privacy risks of ‘smart’ meters in Iowa

The Gazette

Consider the privacy risks of ‘smart’ meters in Iowa

Researchers warn about the future of the electrical grid

Fri., December 21, 2018


A bank of smart meters, one for each unit, is installed at Monroe Place in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Alliant’s new meters are not as “smart” as some other models. The company says they only transmit total household energy usage and “diagnostic information” not detailed private information, but the systems of the not-too-distant future could monitor individual appliances.

There are many potential benefits to smarter electrical networks. They will negate the need for in-person meter readers and allow suppliers to respond more quickly to outages and demand surges, along with empowering customers to use energy more efficiently. Yet while technology researchers have been writing for more than a decade about potential abuse of energy data, most consumers are unaware of the risks.

In a 2010 paper titled “Private memoirs of a smart meter,” University of Massachusetts researchers said they could discern detailed information from household-level energy data, including the number of occupants at a given time, sleeping patterns, meal routines, and work or school schedules. A team of German scholars reported in 2012 they were able to determine what channel a television was displaying based on a home’s electricity data. They called this an “unprecedented invasions of consumer privacy.”

I’m sure utility companies are following industry standards for cybersecurity, but even the best systems eventually will fail. This year alone, several major high-tech companies have reported significant data breaches.

Most of us will willingly give up some level of privacy if it makes our lives simpler or more productive, but we can’t make an educated decision if we aren’t aware of the risks. That wouldn’t be smart.

Faulty BGE smart meter overcharged Hampden woman $4,700

Faulty BGE smart meter overcharged Hampden woman $4,700

by John Rydell

Monday, December 17th 2018

BALTIMORE (WBFF) – A Baltimore woman says she has been notified by BGE that a faulty smart meter in her home resulted in her being overcharged more than $4,700 over four years.

Elaine Wilson, who lives in Hampden, said she always suspected she was being overcharged for energy, particularly for gas.

But when she contacted BGE to complain, utility officials urged her to have an energy audit conducted on her home which she did.

As a result, Wilson says she spent nearly $3,000 to improve energy efficiency, which included new insulation and new weather-stripping.

Wilson says BGE assured her that “‘you’re going to see a big difference in your utility bills.’ That didn’t happen, not at all.”

She produced a letter from BGE in which company apologized for the over-billing problem.

BALTIMORE (WBFF) – A Baltimore woman says she has been notified by BGE that a faulty smart meter in her home resulted in her being overcharged more than $4,700 over four years.

Elaine Wilson, who lives in Hampden, said she always suspected she was being overcharged for energy, particularly for gas.

But when she contacted BGE to complain, utility officials urged her to have an energy audit conducted on her home which she did.

As a result, Wilson says she spent nearly $3,000 to improve energy efficiency, which included new insulation and new weather-stripping.

Wilson says BGE assured her that “‘you’re going to see a big difference in your utility bills.’ That didn’t happen, not at all.”

She produced a letter from BGE in which company apologized for the over-billing problem.



3 ½ minute activist video

Published on Dec 17, 2018


Published on Dec 17, 2018


New Mexico has rejected smart meters

New Mexico has rejected smart meters

  • Updated 
    • According to the Santa Fe News on April 11, 2018, New Mexico has rejected smart meters. I would advise our Coos County citizens to read the article, it is posted on Google. Their utility commissioners all voted against the deployment and the reasons they stated seem apt. They found few benefits to customers, profits that go to shareholders, with costs that will get passed to users through fees. Not even considering the threats to our privacy because of ability of the computerized meters being remotely programmed to do much more than what Pacific Power is telling us at this point, they make no sense because of short longevity compared to the metal analog meters that last over 40 years. The saving realized by laying off meter readers will be small compared to the installing and maintaining of plastic computerized meters that have a history of catching on fire. If you don’t have a smart meter yet, you can call Pacific Power and opt out of getting one, at least for now.

NYS-NEW YORKSMART METERS New York: Case Number: 14-M-0196

At a session of the Public Service
Commission held in the City of
New York on December 13, 2018
John B. Rhodes, Chair
Gregg C. Sayre
Diane X. Burman
James S. Alesi
CASE 14-M-0196 – Tariff filing by Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation to Establish Fees For Residential Customers Who Choose to Opt Out of Using Automated Meter Reading Devices.
(Issued and Effective December 14, 2018)
On November 17, 2017, Stop Smart Meters NY (SSMNY) filed a Petition for Rehearing of an Order granting, in part, and denying, in part, requests for certain modifications of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation’s (Central Hudson or the Company) opt-out tariffs.1 On November 20, 2017, Stop Smart Meters Woodstock NY (SSMWNY) filed a Petition for Rescission, In Part, And Modification of the Modification Order. By Notice issued December 1, 2017, the Secretary notified parties that the
1 Case 14-M-0196, Central Hudson Opt-Out Tariffs, Order Granting, In Part, And Denying, In Part, Requests for Modifications of Opt-Out Tariff (issued October 20, 2017) (Modification Order).
CASE 14-M-0196
SSMWNY petition would be treated under the Commission’s rules as a Petition for Reconsideration.2
In this Order, the Commission denies, in their entirety, the petitions for rehearing and reconsideration (Petitions) filed by SSMNY and SSMWNY (collectively referred to as “Petitioners”).
On September 8, 2014, the Commission approved tariff amendments filed by Central Hudson establishing fees for residential customers who choose to opt-out of using Automated Meter Reading (AMR) devices.3 The tariffs allow residential customers to opt out of using AMR meters that are equipped with radio frequency (RF) transmitters and pay a monthly fee to reflect the costs of manually reading the meter. These tariffs also authorize the Company to replace the AMR meter with a standard (typically solid-state) non-communicating meter.
On May 29, 2015, and thereafter, various petitions were filed to amend the opt-out tariff (Modification Petitions) by various ratepayers, and others. The Modification Petitions requested that the Commission order Central Hudson to allow customers participating in the opt-out program to retain their installed electromechanical meters, and/or to offer electromechanical meters as a replacement for installed AMR meters. Additionally, these Modification Petitions asked the Commission to order that customers who opt-out will not be subject to the one-time meter change fee or the monthly non-AMR meter reading fee. The Modification Petitions alleged that RF and other
2 Case 14-M-0196, supra., Notice with Respect to Petition Rescission, In Part, And Modification (issued December 1, 2017) (Secretary’s Notice).
3 Case 14-M-0196, supra., Order Approving Proposed Tariff Amendments (issued September 8, 2014) (Opt-Out Order).
CASE 14-M-0196
electromagnetic field (EMF) emissions from AMR meters, as well as the solid state or “digital” meters that would replace them, pose health and safety risks, which the Commission should have considered when establishing opt-out fees. The Modification Petitions further allege that the risks created by these meters can only be alleviated if the Company furnishes an electromechanical or “analog” meter.4
In the Modification Order, the Commission found that available research shows that neither solid-state meters nor the AMR meters they replace pose a credible threat to the health and safety of Central Hudson customers. The Commission further found that electromechanical meter technology is obsolete and currently not in production by any major meter manufacturer, and that offering customers an electromechanical meter as an alternative to an AMR meter is not an effective long-term solution. The Commission therefore declined to order Central Hudson to offer customers an electromechanical meter option.
The Commission also affirmed its conclusion in the Opt-Out Order that reasonable cost-based fees properly balance the concerns of customers who opt-out with other customers’ interests in achieving optimally efficient utility operations. For customers who currently have an AMR meter installed at their premises, payment of a one-time meter change fee to cover the cost of replacing the meter with a non-AMR meter is appropriate; however, the Commission determined that the monthly non-AMR meter reading fees Central Hudson assessed on opt-out customers are not appropriate because the strategy the Company has employed to implement AMR generates little or no labor savings. Central Hudson
4 As in the Modification Order, this Order will use the terms “electromechanical” and “solid-state” when referring to the respective meter types, except when directly quoting a party’s comments that refer to them as “analog” and “digital,” respectively.
CASE 14-M-0196
was directed to, and filed, amended tariffs that withdrew the monthly meter reading fees.
Petition of SSMNY
In its petition, SSMNY contends that the Commission, in its Modification Order, committed errors both of fact and law. SSMNY states that the Commission ignored facts that were presented, including a petition signed by over 1,000 Woodstock residents. Further, SSMNY alleges that the Commission refused to consider certain comments, and claims that Michele Hertz, its principal, was verbally advised on March 24, 2017, that no more comments relating to health would be posted in this proceeding.
SSMNY further states that the Commission erred in making a public policy decision and not reaching a scientific conclusion, and thereby failed to examine scientific evidence, and further failed to investigate health and safety-related complaints. Specifically, SSMNY states that the Modification Order:
• Refers to information and misinformation relating to AMI meters taken from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), an organization funded by the electric utility industry, and government regulators from other states relating to utility meters that are not the same as those being installed by Central Hudson;
• Incorrectly states that electromechanical meters are not available;
• Incorrectly states that electromechanical meters do not comply with ANSI standards;
• Incorrectly states that electromechanical meters are difficult to fix;
• Fails to address the electrical fire hazards of transmitting and non-transmitting solid-state meters;
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• Risks public health by not disclosing that solid-state meters have risks;
• Endangers public health by relying on 30-year-old Federal Communications Commission (or FCC) guidelines as a benchmark for RF radiation safety;
• Falsely suggests that studies show there is no harm from low level (non-thermal, non-ionizing) RF radiation exposure, and dismisses the BioInitiative Report based only on industry opinion and without any scientific analysis;5
• Fails to mention the United States government study released by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) in 2016;
• Fails to address the exposure to RF radiation by New York State residents who live with AMI/AMR meters inside their homes or residents who live near banks of transmitting utility meters in apartment buildings; and,
• Incorrectly concludes that solid-state meters are no different than other electronic devices used inside and outside the home such as electric razors, coffee makers, cameras, and cell phones, all of which have devices that convert AC to DC.
SSMNY asks the Commission to provide all testing that was required or performed on solid-state meters before the meters were approved, including testing for RF radiation emissions exposure, electrical fire safety and meter accuracy. SSMNY also asks that the Commission provide all cost analyses or cost studies relating to the installation of solid-state meters. Finally, SSMNY asks for rehearing of the Modification Order.6
5 David O. Carpenter, MD, and Cindy Sage, MA (eds.), BioInitiative 2012 (December 2012), available at
6 Case 14-M-0196, Petition for Rehearing of Stop Smart Meters NY (filed November 17, 2017).
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Petition of SSMWNY
SSMWNY’s petition claims that the process leading to Commission approval of the Aclara (formerly GE) I-210 meters (among the types of AMR meters used by Central Hudson) was flawed because the Commission took no action to inform the public of the petition, other than publication in the State Register.7 Despite the petitions signed by over 1,000 people, and resolutions filed by two counties and four municipalities, SSMWNY states the Commission improperly approved installation of solid-state meters without the consent of customers.8
SSMWNY also states that the Commission ignored additional articles, independent of the utility industry, that discuss or posit potential impacts that may be associated with solid-state meters. SSMWNY states that solid-state meters produce alleged “dirty electricity,” consisting of high voltage transients, which causes biological harm. SSMWNY cites several studies as supportive of its contention.
SSMWNY further refers to several studies purporting to show that low level EMF also cause adverse biological effects. Another set of studies cited by SSMWNY purports to document an emerging understanding of electro-hypersensitivity syndrome (EHS). SSMWNY states that the Commission erred in ignoring this body of literature. SSMWNY claims that there are no peer-reviewed studies documenting the safety of solid-state meters, and that the utility industry studies should be compared to
7 Case 04-E-1220, General Electric I-210 Electricity Meter, Untitled Order (issued February 14, 2005); Case 07-E-1503, GE I-210+ and I-210+c Electricity Meters, Untitled Order (issued June 26, 2008).
8 The resolutions were filed by Dutchess County, Ulster County, the Town of Woodstock, the Town of Gardiner, the City of Kingston, and the Town of Olive.
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studies funded by the tobacco industry, promoting the safety of tobacco.
SSMWNY also criticizes the Commission’s reliance on three documents to support its conclusion that AMR/AMI meters have no adverse health effects. SSMWNY offers a few articles that critique these documents.
SSMWNY states that the Commission has ignored the findings of the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the classification of RF EMF as a Class 2B possible carcinogen. SSMWNY lists several articles critiquing the findings of several of the smart meter reports cited in the Modification Order, including the California Report, the Michigan Report, the Texas Report, and the Vermont Report.9
SSMWNY states that the Commission ignored the fact that refurbished (SSMWNY prefers the term “remanufactured”) electromechanical meters are available from several vendors, and that such meters can meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) C12 accuracy standards. SSMWNY states that Central Hudson still has approximately 150,000 electromechanical meters in service, and that 13 other states allow electromechanical meters to be used by customers who opt-out of AMR/AMI meters. SSMWNY states that the Commission inappropriately cited to studies from California, Texas and Vermont to support its decision because these states allow electromechanical meters to be used.
9 See, California Council on Science and Technology, “Health Impacts of Radio Frequency from Smart Meters (January 2011) (California Report); Case U-17000, Report to the [Michigan Public Service] Commission (June 29, 2012) (Michigan Report); Public Utility Commission of Texas, “Health and RF EMF from Advanced Meters” (December 2012) (Texas Report); and Vermont Department of Health, “Radio Frequency Radiation and Health: Smart Meters” (February 10, 2012) (Vermont Report) as cited in the Modification Order.
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Further, SSMWNY contends that the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) study cited by Central Hudson purporting to show that electromechanical meters emit more EMF than solid-state meters is flawed because the measurement device used in that study only measures magnetic fields, not EMF. Finally, SSMWNY states that telephone companies and their insurance carriers have taken measures to protect themselves from potential litigation due to the harm caused by wireless devices.
Based on the foregoing, SSMWNY demands that the Commission: (i) rescind the Modification Order and allow refurbished electromechanical meters to be used; (ii) direct Central Hudson to have all electromechanical meters it removes from service refurbished and stored for future use; (iii) allow customers to specify an electromechanical meter when opting out of the AMR meter program.10
In an addendum to its petition, filed on December 4, 2017, SSMWNY states that the Commission erred in approving the Aclara I-210 meter without extending the comment period, after no comments were received, and without consideration of the adverse health effects. SSMWNY states that the Commission committed an error of fact, collaborating with Central Hudson to identify the Aclara I-210 as an encoder/receiver/transmitter (ERT) meter, when it is in fact a “smart” meter.
SSMWNY states that the Commission lacked authority and engaged in “rogue” rulemaking when mandating that only solid-state meters may be used because such meters do not comply with the terms of the Company’s tariff and the Commission’s regulations. Specifically, SSMWNY argues that Central Hudson’s tariff and the Commission’s regulations refer to a “meter,” which does not encompass the transmitting solid-state meters
10 Case 14-M-0196, Petition to Rescind Order of Stop Smart Meters Woodstock NY (filed November 20, 2017) (SSMWNY Petition).
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being installed on customers’ houses. SSMWNY claims that the Commission is negligent in allowing the Company to deliver “dirty electricity” and, further, that compelling customers to accept such meters violates the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. SSMWNY states that the Commission further erred in requiring “conclusive” proof of public harm in order to adopt the Modification Petitions, and inappropriately used the FCC standard in determining whether solid-state meters are safe. In addition, it contends that the studies by the Michigan Public Service Commission, the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the British Columbia Utilities Commission, cited by the Commission in its Modification Order, did not investigate the effects of long term exposure to RF from smart meters. SSMWNY states that it is improper for the Commission to determine the acceptable level of risk from solid-state meters, which should be up to the homeowner or occupant.
SSMWNY alleges that the Commission further failed to note that the various studies it relied on in issuing the Modification Order cite the same reports, all industry-sponsored and written by individuals with questionable credentials to opine on public health matters. SSMWNY argues that it was an error for the Commission to conclude that the WHO classification of Class 2B applies only to cellular phones, and that the Commission further erred in determining that the radiation from smart meters originates outside the home, as the “dirty electricity” is pervasive throughout the home.
SSMWNY states that the Commission committed errors of fact in determining that research has not shown any negative health impacts from low level RF transmissions, and in failing to account for the information contained in the BioInitiative Report and other reports that document such harm. SSMWNY states
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that, to the contrary, there are no studies that document the absence of such harm.
SSMWNY contends that furnishing a solid-state meter to customers who opt-out is not a proper remedy because such meters still produce “dirty electricity.” SSMWNY further states that the Commission erred drastically in concluding that electromechanical meters emit more EMF than solid state meters, because electromechanical meters produce magnetic fields without an electric field, and further that solid state meters produce voltage transients and cannot be turned off like other common household appliances.
SSWMNY also states that the Commission erred in stating that electromechanical meters need repair and replacement, and that the Commission misquotes 16 NYCRR §93.5 because that regulation states that a meter manufacturer may also apply for approval of a new meter type, which SSMWNY states it has arranged. According to SSMWNY, the Commission further erred in stating that customers may not supply their own meter, because SMUD states that it supports an individual’s choice in selecting a meter, and that continuing to supply electromechanical meters is not a viable, long term solution, and is not in the public interest.11
In a letter filed on February 15, 2018, SSMWNY takes issue with the Secretary’s Notice, which stated that the SSMWNY petition “does not state an error of law or fact or new
11 Case 14-M-0196, Addendum to Petition (filed December 4, 2017). Between October 31 and November 14, 2017, prior to filing its petition for reconsideration and addendum, SSMWNY filed over a dozen documents, styled as comments on the Modification Order. These comments generally set forth the same arguments offered in the SSMWNY petition for reconsideration and its addendum, and will not be summarized or discussed here.
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circumstances warranting a rehearing.”12 Specifically, SSMWNY asserts that the Secretary’s Notice did not account for SSMWNY’s addendum to its petition, which purportedly identifies 25 errors of law and fact relating to the Modification Order.
Pursuant to the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA) §202(1), Notices of Proposed Rulemaking were published in the State Register on December 20, 2017 [SAPA Nos. 14-M-0196SP4 and 14-M-0196SP5]. The time for submission of comments pursuant to the Notices expired on February 5, 2018. The comments received are summarized below.
More than 200 comments have been filed in support of the Petitions herein, although several parties posted multiple comments, and some were from individuals who either do not reside in Central Hudson’s service territory or in New York State. Those posted include more than 40 comments containing the statement “I support Stop Smart Meters Woodstock NY’s petition for rescinding the PSC Order in part, and have [sic] a reconsideration of using analog meters as an opt-out choice;”
12 Secretary’s Notice, p. 1. SSMWNY’s initial submissions filed within the 30-day timeframe for serving petitions for rehearing failed to state errors of law or fact or new circumstances warranting rehearing. On November 17, 2017, the Secretary to the Commission granted SSMWNY a two-week extension of time to submit a discretionary “request for reconsideration,” and cautioned SSMWNY that the extension would not toll the statute of limitations, as would a properly filed petition for rehearing. The Secretary did not extend SSMWNY’s time to submit a petition for rehearing. Therefore, the “addendum” filing submitted pursuant to the Secretary’s extension did not convert SSMWNY’s original request for discretionary reconsideration into a properly-filed petition for rehearing.
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and more than 60 with the statement “I support Stop Smart Meters NY’s petition for a rehearing in Case 14-M-0196.”
Comments in support of the petitions were filed by several public officials, although several also expressed appreciation for the Commission’s careful review of the matter. These include comments filed by Michael P. Hein, Ulster County Executive; select members of the Ulster County Legislature; select members of the Dutchess County Legislature; George A. Amedore, Jr., New York State Senator, 46th District; Rich Parete, Supervisor, Town of Marbletown; and Mike Baden, Supervisor, Town of Rochester. Other comments in support of the petitions from public officials outside of Central Hudson’s service territory were filed by James Seward, New York State Senator, 51st District; Andrea Stewart-Cousins, New York State Senator, 35th District, and Senate Democratic Conference Leader; Shelly Mayer, New York State Senator, 37th District; Thomas J. Abinanti, New York State Assemblyman, 92nd District; Nily Rozic, New York State Assemblywoman, 25th District; and Peter Swiderski, Mayor, City of Hastings-on-Hudson.
Pursuant to 16 NYCRR §3.7(b), rehearing may be sought only on the grounds that the Commission committed an error of law or fact or that new circumstances warrant a different determination. Although not specifically addressed in the Commission’s regulations, reconsideration may be granted where the petitioner demonstrates that a modification to the prior order would serve the public interest.
The issues raised by SSMNY and SSMWNY were properly considered and rejected by the Commission in the Modification Order. Petitioners have not demonstrated any error of law or fact or any new circumstances that would warrant rehearing of
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the Modification Order. Moreover, SSMWNY has failed to demonstrate that its proposed modifications are in the public interest such that the Commission should reconsider the Modification Order. Therefore, and for the reasons discussed herein, the Petitions are denied.
As a threshold matter, the Commission maintains that it carefully considered all the evidence previously presented in its Modification Order, including the additional signatures to the original petitions, and the various Town and County resolutions. Each of the more than 30 filings made by the parties was individually summarized and discussed. The Modification Order specifically notes the 125 public comments that were received through October 4, 2017.13 Any contention that the Commission ignored facts or information, or prematurely truncated the comment period, is contrary to the record and is incorrect.
Meter Safety
In the Modification Order, the Commission determined that research has not established any negative health impacts from low level RF transmissions; nor are there any scientific studies supporting a conclusion that RF transmissions from utility meters have negative health impacts. The evidence supporting this determination includes more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific studies, testimony in various proceedings in other jurisdictions offered by internationally renowned experts, and exposure regulations in the United States, and elsewhere. The Commission provided a detailed, thorough discussion of these matters in the Modification Order and will not repeat that discussion at length here.
13 Modification Order, p. 18.
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The crux of the errors of fact alleged in the Petitions is that the Petitioners believe all research conducted by or for the utility industry is biased, and that various regulatory agencies, presumably including the Commission, are “captured” by the entities they regulate. As a result, the Petitioners question the legitimacy of evidence suggesting the safety of solid-state meters as suspect and give it little weight. Conversely, the Petitioners cite at length to a relatively small number of researchers, who posit a potential nexus between low level EMF exposure and health risks.14 For example, in arguing that voltage transients cause biological harm, SSMWNY cites seven studies, all authored or co-authored by two individuals, Sam Milham and Magda Havas.15
There is a significant body of literature addressing power quality issues as they pertain to sensitive electronic equipment (e.g., computers) and very little literature pertaining to alleged health effects. Power quality parameters include continuity of service (i.e., freedom from momentary interruptions), variations in voltage or current (whether transient or otherwise), and the degree of harmonic content (i.e., distortions) in AC waveforms. Power quality issues can have a demonstrable effect on sensitive electronic equipment; however, the concerns raised by SSMWNY relate to “dirty electricity” emanating from solid-state meters as an alleged additional source of low level EMF.
The Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology reviewed the available literature on “dirty electricity” in 2010. Notably, the review centered on the
14 Modification Order, p. 32.
15 SSMWNY Petition, pp. 5-6.
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studies authored by Milham and Havas. The following provides the full abstract from that article:
Environmental exposure to high-frequency voltage transients (HFVT), also termed dirty electricity, has been advocated among electro(hyper)sensitive interest groups as an important biological active component of standard electromagnetic pollution. A literature search was conducted in PubMed, in which only seven articles were identified. Exposure to HFVT was associated with increased cancer risks, while preferential removal of 4–100 kHz HFVT from 50–60 Hz ELF circuits was linked to a variety of improvements in health (plasma glucose levels in diabetic patients, symptoms of multiple sclerosis, asthma and other respiratory illnesses, and insomnia), well-being (tiredness, frustration, general health, irritation, sense of satisfaction, mood), and student behavior. However, all these published studies were subject to significant methodological flaws in the design of the studies, the assessment of exposure, and the statistical analysis, which prevented valid assessment of a causal link between this exposure metric and adverse effects. Environmental exposure to HFVT is an interesting EMF exposure metric, which might explain the spurious results from epidemiological studies using ‘standard’ ELF and RF exposure metrics. However, at present, methodological problems in published studies prohibit the valid assessment of its biological activity.16
Contrary to the Petitioners’ assertions, the Commission in the Modification Order extensively reviewed the WHO literature concerning low level EMF exposure, and the associated matter of EHS. The WHO currently offers the following information on its website:
Conclusions from Scientific Research
In the area of biological effects and medical applications of non-ionizing radiation approximately 25,000 articles have been published over the past 30
16 De Vocht, Frank, BSc, MSc, PhD., “‘Dirty Electricity’: What, Where, And Should We Care?” Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (2010), Vol. 20, pp. 399–405, available at
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years. Despite the feeling of some people that more research needs to be done, scientific knowledge in this area is now more extensive than for most chemicals. Based on a recent in-depth review of the scientific literature, the WHO concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields. However, some gaps in knowledge about biological effects exist and need further research.
Effects on General Health
Some members of the public have attributed a diffuse collection of symptoms to low levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields at home. Reported symptoms include headaches, anxiety, suicide and depression, nausea, fatigue and loss of libido. To date, scientific evidence does not support a link between these symptoms and exposure to electromagnetic fields. At least some of these health problems may be caused by noise or other factors in the environment, or by anxiety related to the presence of new technologies.17
SSMNY states that the Commission improperly discounted the information contained in the BioInitiative Report and failed to mention the United States government study released by the NTP in 2016. The Modification Order noted that the BioInitiative Report has been widely criticized by government research agencies and subject matter experts on the basis that the report recommended safety limits that were not supported by the weight of scientific evidence, included selection bias in several research areas, and lacked objectivity and balance.18 Regarding the NTP study, the NTP 2016 Annual Report states:
In May 2016, NTP released preliminary study findings on cancer and cell phone radiofrequency radiation in rats. Previous human observational studies have found
17 World Health Organization, “Electromagnetic Fields – Summary of Health Effects,” available at
18 Modification Order, p. 32.
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limited evidence for an increased risk of concern from cell phone use. In these new studies, NTP scientists found low incidences of tumors in the brains and hearts of male rats, but not in female rats. Mice studies are ongoing.19
The research overview indicates that, for the studies, rats were exposed to frequencies and modulations used in voice calls and texting. Specifically, the rats were exposed for ten-minute on, ten-minute off increments, totaling just over nine hours a day from before birth through two years of age.
As noted in the Modification Order, cell phone exposure to RF emissions is both higher than and different from exposures from a meter transmitter.20 The exposure from cellular phones near the body and head exceed AMR meter exposures by two to four orders of magnitude. These relative exposure levels establish frames of reference and suggest that, even if there were a credible safety threat related to RF exposure from cellular phones, those concerns would be significantly reduced for RF exposures from AMR meters, and even more so for solid-state devices not equipped with RF transmitters.
It may be that some studies offered by the Petitioners suggest adverse health effects associated with low level exposures to RF/EMF; however, one must use caution when relying solely on the results of individual research studies because conflicts or inconsistencies may exist among the results of individual studies. Moreover, many of the studies suggesting adverse health effects suffer from serious methodological flaws, and the Commission therefore does not credit them.21 In this
19 National Toxicology Program, “Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2016,” (2017), page 6. Available at
20 Modification Order, p. 44.
21 See, e.g., De Vocht, supra, note Error! Bookmark not defined..
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case, the weight of scientific evidence supports the Commission’s conclusions.
Of the three documents SSMWNY alleges the Commission improperly relied upon in reaching its decision, two are not cited in the Modification Order, although that Order cites a different EPRI study, which SSMWNY may discount because the report was sponsored by EPRI.22 The third is an FCC bulletin regarding its RF/EMF exposure guidelines.
Petitioners state that the Commission erred in applying the FCC emissions standard, which they claim is outdated. The Modification Order extensively discussed the FCC standards, and noted that, while the FCC recently invited and received comments regarding whether its RF exposure limits and policies need to be reassessed, no updates or changes to the FCC exposure limits have been made.23 In addition, Petitioners’ main concern regarding the FCC standards is that they do not account for non-thermal effects. As discussed in the Modification Order, however, there is currently insufficient scientific evidence that would support a causal relationship between non-thermal levels of RF exposure and negative health effects. Given this lack of scientific evidence, there is no basis to determine that additional standards should be applied, nor that the absence of standards related to non-thermal effects renders the FCC standards inadequate.
SSMWNY claims that there are no peer-reviewed studies documenting the safety of solid-state meters; however, asking
22 The subject documents are an article in the Utilities Telecom Journal authored by Klaus Bender, PE; and an EPRI Journal article entitled “A Perspective on Radio-Frequency Exposure Associated with Residential Automatic Meter Reading Technology.” Neither document was cited in the Modification Order.
23 Modification Order, p. 21.
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the utility to prove that such meters pose no risk at all under any exposure scenario is not reasonable. That there may be a very small quantum of articles positing a potential risk does not mean that solid-state meters are unsafe, especially given the quality and quantity of peer-reviewed articles pointing to the opposite conclusion. On balance, and in the exercise of our discretion here, the Commission concludes that the material cited by Petitioners in the Petitions does not compel a change in course by the Commission.
It further cannot be concluded that a zero-exposure level is the only reasonable level of risk to allow for a positive safety finding. Man-made forms of RF/EMF are omnipresent in modern society, from older radio/TV transmissions to modern wireless phones and Wi-Fi technologies. It is simply impossible for Central Hudson, or any other utility, to prove with the degree of certainty sought by SSMNY or SSMWNY that low level RF emissions have no potential to cause harm under all circumstances. Such a requirement or standard of proof logically would lead directly to the implication that all RF emitting devices should be banned and would also raise questions about other utility facilities and practices.
SSMWNY states that the Commission erred in finding that electromechanical meters emit more EMF than solid-state meters, because the measurement device used in the cited SMUD study only measures magnetic fields, not EMF.24 Without engaging in a lengthy discussion of the physics of EMF, the Commission notes that electric and magnetic fields have been thought of as two parts of a greater whole, i.e., electromagnetic fields, for more than a century. In addition, while electric and magnetic
24 Sacramento Municipal Utility District, “How Do We Measure Smart Meter Usage” Available at
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field strength can be measured separately, magnetic fields are typically the focus of public health concerns related to EMF. Furthermore, while the SMUD measurements are furnished in milligauss (mG) – a measure of magnetic field strength – there is no reason to believe that measurements taken in millivolts per meter (mV/m) – the measure of electric field strength – would have produced a different result.
Finally, SSMWNY states that that the process leading to Commission approval of the Aclara I-210 meters, among the types of AMR meters used by Central Hudson, was flawed because the Commission took no action to inform the public of the petition, other than publication in the State Register. Among other things, SSMWNY states that the Commission should have extended the comment period and accuses the Commission of “collaborating with Central Hudson by calling the GE-I 210 meters an ERT meter and not a smart meter when in fact it is a smart meter.”25
SAPA defines the obligations and procedures of New York State agencies, including the Commission, in the development of rules and regulations, as well as how such agencies conduct hearings and proceedings. SAPA establishes standards for the conduct of rulemakings and requires the Commission to keep the public informed of rulemaking activities, and to provide an opportunity for public comment and participation in the rulemaking process. These steps are meticulously followed and documented in all Commission proceedings, including the proceedings leading to approval of Central Hudson’s AMR meters.26
25 Case 14-M-0196, supra., Addendum to Petition, p. 1.
26 Cases 04-E-1220 and 07-E-1503, supra..
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The Commission therefore complied fully with all notice requirements under applicable law. Given that no comments were received, there would have been no reason to extend the comment period or hold further proceedings.27 SSMWNY’s objections are without merit.
The Commission has previously defined what it considers to be advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), the precise term for what is generally referred to as “smart” meters.28 AMR meters such as those deployed by Central Hudson are lacking in many essential features of smart meters. The principal characteristic of Central Hudson’s meters that distinguishes them from a standard solid-state meter is the inclusion of an ERT, which is what provides AMR functionality (and emits RF radiation). Regardless of the precise name, we understand that the Petitioners would prefer to be supplied electromechanical meters, and to avoid solid-state meters entirely, not just those, such as AMR or AMI meters, that are equipped with ERTs.
Availability of Electromechanical Meters
Major meter manufacturers have not produced new electromechanical meters for more than two decades. As noted in the Modification Order, utility meters have followed a similar path with other electrically-powered devices, moving from electromechanical technology to solid-state designs. While refurbished electromechanical meters are commercially available,
27 The Commission issues many notices pursuant to SAPA and often no comments are received in response. Extending the comment period or holding further proceedings in such situations would be impractical and unreasonable.
28 Case 09-M-0074, In the Matter of Advanced Metering Infrastructure, Order Adopting Minimum Functional Requirements For Advanced Metering Infrastructure Systems and Initiating an Inquiry Into Benefit-Cost Methodologies (issued February 13, 2009).
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the fact that no new electromechanical meters are being produced necessarily means that refurbished devices will be in ever-dwindling supply, and no New York State utility company has chosen to utilize them. As noted in the Modification Order, the utility is responsible for reading, maintaining, and ensuring the accuracy of the meter. The Commission’s regulations therefore require that utilities (and certain other authorized entities, such as a competitive meter service provider) apply for approval of a particular meter type. SSMWNY is correct that manufacturers may also apply; however, such applications must be accompanied by a statement of a utility confirming that it intends to use the specific meter.29
In deciding whether it is cost-effective to use a given meter type, utilities must ensure that there is a reliable source and supply, not only of the meters themselves, but of the parts and manufacturer support needed to maintain and repair them. The utilities must ensure that their readers are trained to read the meters (and to identify tampering and other meter problems), and that their technicians are trained to repair any identified issues with the meters. If refurbished meters are deployed, and later found to be inaccurate or unreliable, the utility would be held responsible. Given the uncertainties surrounding the use of refurbished meters, Central Hudson and other New York State utilities have, to date, been unwilling to sponsor them and the Commission will not require Central Hudson to do so now.
The Petitions herein fail to demonstrate any errors of fact or law and have not identified any change of circumstances
29 16 NYCRR §93.5.
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warranting a different outcome. Accordingly, the request for rehearing is denied.
In the Modification Order, and again herein, the Commission explicitly considered the evidence concerning the alleged health risks posed by AMR/AMI meters, and the availability of electromechanical meters in New York State. The Commission has reviewed the available studies and finds and determines that the best available scientific evidence – in terms of the quantity and quality of studies, both independently of each other and when considered together – supports a conclusion that the deployment of AMR by Central Hudson, and replacement of AMR meters with solid-state meters for customers who opt out, is consistent with the provision of safe and adequate utility service as that term is used in the Public Service Law. These matters were fully considered by the Commission in rendering the Modification Order decision, and Petitioners have failed to demonstrate that any modification thereto would serve the public interest. Therefore, reconsideration is not warranted in this case.
The Commission orders:
1. The petition for rehearing filed by Stop Smart Meters New York is denied in its entirety.
2. The petition for reconsideration filed by Stop Smart Meters Woodstock New York is denied in its entirety.
3. This proceeding is closed.
By the Commission,