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.

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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

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