Report on Smart Meter Problems

Updated January 19, 2016

The report “Analysis: Smart Meter and Smart Grid Problems – Legislative Proposal” is available free to the public. This 173-page report, released in 2012 by health and environmental advocate Nina Beety, has extensive referenced information on the many problems and risks of the Smart Meter program known at that time, with information from state, national, and international resources. Investigation and admissions by the industry since 2012 continue to substantiate these serious problems, providing a searing indictment on regulatory and legislative officials who have failed to halt Smart Meter deployments. The report serves as a legal document for assessing liability for the extensive harm caused to the public. Supplemental documents can be downloaded here.

Originally written for California legislators, this updated report also provides a legislative and regulatory action plan for halting this program, and suggestions for reforming utility regulation so that the public is protected in the future.

Table of Contents

What is a Smart Meter?
Smart Grid/Smart Meter problems and issues
– Overview
– Overcharging, accuracy, and the Structure Group report
– Reliability
– Privacy invasion
– Fires and electrical problems
– Health problems Continue reading

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California lawmakers propose stripping power from CPUC


A trio of lawmakers proposed the most far-reaching reform of the embattled California Public Utilities Commission to date, rolling out legislation Wednesday that would ask voters to strip the agency’s constitutional authority and allow the Legislature to redistribute its power to other state agencies.

The constitutional amendment, which two-thirds of the Legislature would have to support in order for it to be placed before voters in November, comes as natural gas continues to spew from the Los Angeles County suburb of Porter Ranch.

And, as lead author Assemblyman Mike Gatto said, questions are being raised over whether the CPUC could have prevented the natural gas storage well leak in the first place.

“The people of the state of California are deeply concerned with the CPUC’s failures in recent years — you have people in the Bay Area, justifiably concerned about a pipeline explosion; you have folks in Orange County worried about nuclear waste; Sacramento and the Central Valley is on edge about rail safety, specifically oil trains; and of course Los Angeles is deeply concerned after a gas leak,” said Gatto, D-Los Angeles, chair of the Assembly’s Utilities and Commerce Committee.

“With each of these issues, lawmakers and the media have identified specific failures by the CPUC to do its job properly or, in some cases, ethically,” Gatto added. “With the Porter Ranch gas leak, the CPUC was notified in writing of serious corrosion and the likelihood of a leak as far back as 2014. And as far as we can tell, they did nothing.”

In a statement, the CPUC wrote that “there is still much to do, and we look forward to working with the Legislature on any constructive and helpful reform initiative that is put forward. Only by working together on real changes that have the ability to succeed can we make the CPUC stronger and more efficient, and our relationship with the Legislature more productive.”

The Porter Ranch situation is just the latest in a string of scandals to rock confidence in the CPUC’s regulatory track record and raise questions over whether the agency is too close to the companies it oversees. In September 2010, a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. gas line exploded in a San Bruno neighborhood, killing eight people; there are also ongoing questions over how much ratepayers were stuck with after the San Onofre nuclear power plant was shut down.

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed six bills that would have changed how the commission conducts business. Three bills by now-Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon would have established new oversight measures on the commission.

Another of the vetoed bills, by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would have tightened rules on private communications between utility executives and state regulators. It also would have tightened conflict-of-interest rules and limited the CPUC president’s powers. And two bills from state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, would have set performance criteria for the agency and included commission meetings in transparency laws.

Brown’s office declined to comment.

Lisa Pickoff-White contributed to this report.

Lawmakers Propose Stripping Power From CPUC

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“Science for Sale” by David Lewis

From EMFacts
February 4, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

So, now to Science For Sale:

From the fly leaf:

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

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

Review by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.:

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

Science for Sale by David Lewis: recommended reading

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Texas: Smart Meter backlash, purple posts, and the liability of Public Private Partnerships (P3s)

“Without individual assumption of responsibility, proper function of government at any level cannot be assured.”

From the New American
by Kelly Holt
13 January 2016

When residents of Smithville, Texas, learned the city had contracted for major utility infrastructure changes, including an analog-to-smart meter conversion, no one was prepared for what happened next. At a citizen-led meeting on November 5, the city council endured what some believed was well-deserved backlash for not communicating the decision to the public. Also, many folks claimed concerns over bigger issues associated with Smart Meters, such as potential adverse health and fire hazards, privacy and cybersecurity concerns, and the probability that the city entered into a Public Private Partnership (P3) to fund the project. Weeks later a truce was reached when the council voted to provide an “opt-out” choice (at a cost) for utility customers wishing to retain their analog meters. Once in a while you can fight city hall. Sort of.

After learning that the city council wasn’t offering an opt-out (available in other Texas cities) with the conversion, a few opponents hosted the November meeting with startling results. By simple bulk-mail invitation, residents were encouraged to attend the meeting discussing potentialities of smart electric meters. An unprecedented number showed up to hear two representatives from Ameresco (the contract vendor) and two speakers (in opposition) from other Texas towns debate the apparatuses. But many attendees didn’t wait for the presentations to begin before shouting questions to anyone listening — the highly charged assembly became an unintended forum for residents voicing their anger that such an important, and expensive, decision had been made without any resident input or proper vetting of problems inherent with the devices. The gathering degenerated to a showdown when one council member who was present heatedly defended the council’s decision, but too little, too late — folks were angry.

One resident described the meeting as “almost an insurrection,” after which a woman in the hall secured the moderator’s notes, turned a page over, and started an on-the-spot petition to urge the council’s reconsideration of the entire project. The city quickly responded by hosting three meetings to explain the project, and then to offer a proposal for allowing a customer “opt-out.” In spite of the council’s quick and thorough response, it wasn’t enough to assuage all concerns — many residents began their own research and found that Smart Meters might not be such a smart Idea. In the meantime, some opponents urged the like-minded to pull out the paint — in Texas, believe it or not, a post or boundary marker painted purple is codified as a legitimate and binding “No Trespassing” warning — effectually putting meter installers on notice.

Yet lost in the shuffle was perhaps the most important discussion of all — in spite of council attempts to explain the project’s complicated funding, most folks still don’t understand it. Smithville, like many cities, moved away from traditional bid procedures when considering this new project.

Journalist Alex Newman has done comprehensive research when it comes to Smart Meters, including the funding mechanisms used for most U.S. projects.

Of course, the rollout of the smart meters in the United States, like countless other ongoing controversies, was funded in large part by billions of American taxpayers dollars through the 2009 “stimulus” scheme passed by Democrats in Congress and demanded by Obama. “It will make our grid more secure and more reliable,” Obama claimed at the time in announcing the stimulus-funded “Smart Grid” plot.

Smithville City Manager Robert Tamble recounted expressing incredulity when informed by vendor Ameresco Account Executive George Rash that the Smithville project could be implemented without cost to the city, a “revenue-neutral” project. Through a complex agreement using a Qualified Energy Conservation Bond (QECB) it is, at its source, funded by such stimulus monies as reported by Newman.

A QECB is defined as such: “In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), Congress increased to $3.2 billion the total face amount (‘allocation’) of QECBs that states, territories, large local governments, and tribal governments could issue to finance renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.”

Now you know what happened to the money you lost in 2008. But what does all that mean? P3s, not often identified as such in a contract, have this in common. Government (read taxpayer) funds are used to guarantee profits to a private investor contracted for a public project. Profits are generated at taxpayer expense, but due to the long-term nature of most P3s, it’s difficult to predict all possible contingencies. In the end, a P3 simply privatizes profits and makes the public pick up losses. Witness the granddaddy of all P3s (at the time) when the monstrously unpopular TransTexasCorridor (TTC) was exposed a decade ago. Funded by a P3 involving Cintra (Spain) and Texas Department of Transportation, the scheme put taxpayers on the hook for any toll-derived revenue that failed to materialize. A decade later, the only completed portion of the TTC faced exactly that. Due to a lack of toll road use, projected revenue wasn’t met, Cintra faced bankruptcy, and taxpayers were first up for the loss.

No wonder people struggle with new-fangled funding mechanisms, never mind the ethics involved. Jim Keller, a Smithville property owner and one of the folks leading the opposition, put it this way, “It’s a lot harder to ‘un-buy’ a high-tech solution, than it is for well-meaning leaders to borrow the money and unwittingly commit a boondoggle.”

Indeed. And in Texas, opposition continues. As early as 2012, after Smart Meter projects began rolling out across the state, hundreds of folks showed up at a Public Utilities Commission hearing seeking ways to opt-out of having Smart Meters installed on their homes. And the controversies remain. On November 6, one day after the Smithville citizen meeting, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus charged the Texas Legislature to (among other things):

Examine how the Public Utility Commission of Texas, when applicable, and utility providers, whether vertically integrated, privately owned, or municipally owned, can ensure consumer protection regarding metering devices for water, gas, and electricity service. Review recent examples of inaccurate or confusing billings and offer recommendations on appropriate consumer recourse and appeal.

Left unclear for now is what “ensured consumer protection” and “consumer recourse” will look like, but it’s a start. The issue’s once again on the radar at the state level.

Tamble responded to citizens’ concerns by crafting an opt-out, but said he hadn’t known about the idea until residents made him aware, although in this unorthodox way. He promised the city would do a better job in communicating with the public, but admonished residents to do their parts. In other words, had folks taken a more participatory role in civic affairs, they wouldn’t have been so surprised. Many still grumble that the project is here to stay, but securing the opt-out choice at the last minute was no small feat.

In fact, Tamble’s right. Without individual assumption of responsibility, proper function of government at any level cannot be assured. The take-away should be that with a proper government, and adequate citizen education, government creep and loss of liberty might look a whole lot different.

George Rash of Ameresco was contacted for this article, but hadn’t responded by press time.

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Smart Meter risks in 2016; the global rollout continues

From Alliance for Natural Health
January 6, 2016

As the huge and increasingly expensive smart meter rollout continues in many continents and countries across the world, there is now clear evidence that the ‘benefits’ of the controversial electro-magnetic radiation (EMR) emitting devices for consumers have been vastly overplayed, whilst the risks have been entirely underplayed.

In the UK, a particularly ambitious £1 billion mass rollout of electricity and gas smart meters is planned for 2016 with the installation of 7 million devices. However, it is believed the wider government plans on which the project depends, may spectacularly fail. The plans have to be accepted by industry players as well as the European regulators, and are at the mercy of continually changing specifications for both the hardware and government IT central communications system required for effective operation of the smart meters.

No health impact studies demonstrating safety of these wireless devices were undertaken prior to global rollout, but there have since been limited studies conducted that indicate that EMR exposure from these devices can detrimentally affect health.

Rollout update as 2016 begins

As 2015 drew to a close, news reports indicated that further smart meter rollout was planned in Norway, Holland, France, Denmark, Eastern Europe, the Asia Pacific countries, as well as in the UK. In Gauteng, South Africa, plans are underway to install smart prepaid electricity meters.

Meanwhile, in North America, deployment is now slowing down, whilst concern is most certainly not. In Victoria, Australia, smart meter installation was completed in all homes and businesses by June 2104. The Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) found that, despite a cost of of AU$2.2 billion, “only 80 percent of the benefits predicted originally are currently being realised”, and that there was “a real risk that the expected benefits will not be achieved”.

Not-so-smart UK

The UK government aims to have installed electricity and gas smart meters “in every domestic property in Great Britain by 2020”. The government has said installation is not obligatory, though citizens of other countries will need to check their rights where they live. The UK also plans to ‘force’ two million non-domestic premises to install the devices by then, too, including “small shops, schools and large businesses”. However, the latter organisations “can currently opt out of the scheme if they install lower-spec ‘advanced meters’ by April 2016”.

Yesterday, The Times reported that industry critic Alex Henny has described the project as a ‘ghastly mess’ that would not work and is a waste of money. Despite continuing promised benefits from smart meters, British Gas have reportedly admitted recently that consumer savings amount to a meagre £26 per year. Other energy-saving measures are said to be ‘far more cost effective’.

Of the 1.3 million smart meters already installed in the UK, 1 in 10 will be unable to function correctly until the associated central communications system is up and running later in the year. This is due to the incompatibility between the systems being used by different energy providers. Devices that have been installed in the first wave may need replacing altogether, along with many others which have been stockpiled awaiting installation.

The health risks of smart meters

More serious on the long list of smart meter issues of concern are the associated EMR health risks, which we have consistently highlighted. It was recently reported that the Maine Supreme Court was to “Hear Arguments Over Smart Meter Safety”.

After the completion of smart meter installation in Victoria, Australia in 2014, a case series article was published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, which evaluated information submitted by 92 of the residents, reporting “adverse health effects from wireless smart meters” via “an Australian public Web site using its health and legal registers”. The figure below shows the most common figures reported. Partially on the basis of this information, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) in 2013 “called for a moratorium on the deployment on smart meters in favor of using safer technology”.

smart meters, emr, symptoms
Symptoms developed after exposure to radiofrequency fields generated by wireless smart meters

Smart meters are still being rolled out globally with no safety testing. The late, respected environmental activist, Dr Ilya Sandra Perlingieri, stated back in 2012 that, “We have been given no informed consent to this dangerous but invisible exposure” and nothing much has changed in the last 3 years. No wonder there is growing opposition to global smart meter rollout as more and more people become informed.

What you can do

Get informed and do your research before you agree to having a smart meter in your home. If you’re in the UK, you can still opt out by writing to your energy company.

Look up and make contact with your local group or groups opposed to smart meters, and find out about your rights to refuse or opt out, and the steps you would need to take.

Share information with your neighbours and local community, particularly if you live in terraced, conjoined housing or apartments

Keep up to date with developments, both local and global

Please like and share our posts, to help spread awareness and support the work we do.

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In Great Britain, a warning over a ‘ghastly mess’ in £11bn plan for smart meters — a disaster in the making

From the Times
January 4, 2016
by Robin Pagnamenta, Energy Editor

An £11 billion project to install more than 50 million smart electricity and gas meters in homes is a “ghastly mess” that will not work, according to a leading figure in the energy sector.

Alex Henney has written to Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, warning that the rollout, due to start this year, is a disaster in the making.

Mr Henney, who advised a previous Conservative government on the privatisation of the electricity market and is a former director of London Electricity, said that at best the scheme would be regarded as a waste of money.

For the complete article,

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Certification laboratory says Smart Meter “design flaws…known to cause serious fire hazards”

Here it is, again — proof that the industry has been very concerned about Smart Meter fires, and proof that it has been lying about the hazard.

MET Laboratories is

A leading independent electrical testing & certification lab providing true single-source testing in four world-class laboratories in Maryland, California & Texas, and through wholly-owned China, Taiwan & Korea operations. MET Laboratories offers a unique array of testing services and accreditations, and partners with leading laboratories to offer comprehensive global compliance solutions. For over 50 years, MET has provided leading-edge customers with unparalleled facilities and technical know-how, and real-time online tracking of each project’s progress.

On February 16, 2015, they posted this information to their news blog Compliance Today:

“In the past, design flaws in smart meter units have been known to cause serious fire hazards and spotty performance. This has caused a lot of concern for utilities and manufacturers of smart meters. To prevent problems like this, a new voluntary safety standard – UL 2735 – has been created for electric utility meters…”
New UL 2735 Electric Utility Meter Standard Ensures Safety and Performance

Not only do Smart Meters have “design flaws” that cause “serious fire hazards” but they also provide “spotty performance.” In other words,  they’re dangerous, and they don’t work right.

This declaration from an international electrical testing and certification lab says what knowledgeable members of the public, whistleblowers, and electrical workers unions have been saying for years.

These “design flaws” — crap engineering — have “caused a lot of concern for utilities and manufacturers of smart meters.”

And yet, these companies repeatedly deny any problems with their meters, blaming fires and electrical problems on “hot sockets” and poor installation. Utility companies, meter manufacturers, and smart grid promotional organizations have gone as far as to ridicule and attempt to discredit the public when they have raised this issue.

All the while, these flawed Smart Meters are installed on the walls of millions of homes, schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other buildings across the world.

Another note: Sensus went through UL certification for one of its fire-prone Smart Meter models — and passed.

Here’s a screen shot of this post, captured January 5, 2016

MET Laboratory web page, captured January 5, 2016

MET Laboratory web page, captured January 5, 2016



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More email revelations: JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, BoA, and UBS oppose CPUC reform, want continued “supportive” agency

Reform of utility regulatory agencies is presently impossible. Public outcry is essential, and by and large, the public doesn’t care. Secondly, regulatory commissions in the United States are industry-facing, together with their parent organization the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissions (NARUC). I and others have documented this.

Furthermore, huge multi-national financial institutions, including J.P. Morgan, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, Bank of America, and UBS, oppose reform. They vigorously oppose “interfering” with utility company profits and management. They can and will downgrade stock ratings if PUC reform is pending, despite the liability problems from poorly regulated utility companies.

Emails between PG&E and the California PUC, released by the city of San Bruno’s lawsuit, reveal this, including this report by JP Morgan.

Volumes have been written about J.P. Morgan. In 1915, J.P. Morgan purchased control of the 25 most influential U.S. newspapers. Here is the testimony to the United States Congress in 1917.


“This contract is in existence at the present time, and it accounts for the news columns of the daily press of the country being filled with all sorts of preparedness arguments and misrepresentations as to the present condition of the United States Army and Navy, and the possibility and probability of the United States being attacked by foreign foes.

This policy also included the suppression of everything in opposition to the wishes of the interests served [including steel, munitions, and shipbuilding]. The effectiveness of this scheme has been conclusively demonstrated by the character of the stuff carried in the daily press throughout the country since March, 1915. They have resorted to anything necessary to commercialize public sentiment and sandbag the National Congress into making extravagant and wasteful appropriations for the Army and Navy under false pretense that it was necessary. Their stock argument is that it is ‘patriotism.’ They are playing on every prejudice and passion of the American people.”


UBS was exposed by a whistleblower in 2008 for sheltering the assets of international criminals and tax cheats. The whistleblower went to prison, while Hillary Clinton’s State Department intervened in the prosecution of UBS and to protect the identities of the sheltered individuals. Clinton’s Foundation subsequently received huge donations from UBS.

Looking up any of these financial firms reveals their myriad corruption scandals.

Below are the emails between the CPUC with PG&E, with links to the original documents. More surprises will probably surface. The entire set of emails is here:

View these emails against the backdrop of the San Bruno explosion (September 2010) and the safety issues and corruption exposed.

Key points:

  • Steve Fleishman, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Bank — Viewed Michael Peevey remaining as CPUC President “as key given the consistent influence Peevey has provided the Commission”  
  • Jonathan Arnold, Deutsche Bank – Hoped there’d be “no major change in the regulatory tone and direction”
  • Jim von Riesemann, UBS – “We hope the new CPUC will continue to equitably balance consumer and shareholder interests; we believe Chairman Peevey has done just that and has been a stabilizing balance on the commission.”
  • Lisa Lam, PG&E Investor Relations – A key question from analysts “With three new commissioners, what will be the overall direction of the 5-member Commission; and whether it will be much more consumer oriented to the detriment of investors?”; concerns about “a significant change to the current constructive regulatory environment.”
  • Michael Peevey, PUC Chairman, to Brian Cherry – “As I suggested before, this info should go to the Governor’s office, probably best to Nancy McF [Nancy McFadden, former PG&E executive and chief aide to Governor Jerry Brown]. Jerry has to be made aware that actions have consequences and the economy is best off with a stable utility sector.”
  • Brian Cherry to Michael Peevey, presumably on suggestions for new CPUC commissioners – “Nancy [McFadden?] asks if you have any names you would recommend. You can call her directly if you’d like.”
  • J. P. Morgan report –
    • “[W]e anticipate that more consumer-friendly policies could be detrimental for the California utilities, and could impair their ability to recover the significant capital investments that the utilities are looking to make in the next several years.”
    • “Fear of a more consumer-friendly CPUC may well be realized. It was not clear to us that California Governor Jerry Brown was going to go down the path of appointing a less supportive Commission…”
    • “We caution that [Michael Peevey’s] potential departure from the PUC would create additional turnover and could allow for an even greater shift in California’s overall regulatory framework. This, in our view, would be perceived as a negative by the market. Recall that Peevey has extensive experience in the utility industry, which many observers had perceived as quintessential for his reasonable and even- keeled stewardship of the Commission.”
    • “[W]e had previously assigned premium valuation to PCG shares on supportive regulation in CA.”

The first email says, “You will miss Arnold.” This is probably a reference to former Governor Arnold Swartzenegger. Jerry Brown took office in January 2011.

GRC – General Rate Case – which determines utility rates for consumers.

For not-so-comic relief, in the middle of these emails is an exchange between PUC Executive Director Paul Clanon and PG&E’s Brian Cherry on January 26.

There is one repetition of a report. These are in date order from oldest to most recent.

Continue reading

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