Report on Smart Meter Problems

The December 2012 report “Analysis: Smart Meter and Smart Grid Problems – Legislative Proposal” is available to the public. This 173-page report by activist Nina Beety has extensive referenced information about many of the problems and risks of the Smart Meter program, with information from state, national, and international resources. 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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U.S. National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners gave presentation on Smart Meter problems in 2011. Why aren’t they telling Americans?

Utility commissioners in the United States belong to NARUC — the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

CPUC Chairman Michael Peevey sits on the board as well as commissioners in other states who have been Smart Meter cheerleaders. State utility commissions have told the public they didn’t know of any problems with Smart Meters.

They have been lying.

Diane Ramthun, a staff attorney with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, went to Asia in 2011  as a representative of NARUC to speak at a conference in Tbilisi, Georgia. Her presentation  “Regulatory Aspects of Smart Metering: United States Experience on Smart Meters” covered many Smart Meter problems. She had already traveled to Sarajevo in 2010 representing the Wisconsin PSC to present on Smart Meters, covering some of the same issues.

Here is her presentation in Georgia, February 14, 2011 on behalf of NARUC.
Regulatory Aspects of Smart Metering: United States Experience

Here is the September 2010 presentation in Sarajevo on behalf of the Wisconsin PSC.
Regulatory Aspects of Smart Metering:US Practice

Bottom line:

  • NARUC has known, at least since early 2011, that Smart Meters pose a wide array of problems. This is very, very serious in view of the continued refusal by both public utilities and these regulatory commissions to address or admit to these issues, and the continuing disinformation by both. This raises several legal issues, including fraud.
  • While the Wisconsin PSC was playing dumb, refusing to grant even an opt-out to its residents, and allowing utilities to disconnect residents for Smart Meter refusal[i], a prominent staff member was lecturing people overseas on the problems with Smart Meters — not once but twice.

From Stop Smart Meters Wisconsin:

If you ask to opt out of a WI smart meter, the utilities and the PSC will say no and hand you the following propaganda.

Compare the propaganda to this industry document written by a Wisconsin PSC lawyer.

The 2011 paper clearly reveals how utility regulators have known about many smart meter risks, which they call “consumer protection” regulatory issues. Yet, there was never a public disclosure or discussion of these and other risks prior to roll-outs.

PSC and PUC commissioners are authorizing ratepayer money to educate other countries about Smart Meter problems. They aren’t 1) telling the public in their own state and country what they know, 2) responding to public complaints when these problems surface, or 3) halting the roll-out.

Who do they work for? Not the public.

Below are excerpts from Diane Ramthun’s presentation:

“Regulatory Aspects of Smart Metering: United States Experience” by Diane Ramthun

I. Cost/Benefit:

Do the high costs of smart meter deployments outweigh the benefits to consumers, particularly during the current recession?

  • In 2010, Public Service Commissions in Michigan, Hawaii, and Indiana required large smart meter projects to be scaled down in their respective states.
  • The Maryland Public Service Commission in 2010 initially rejected a large project because of the high costs it imposed on ratepayers during the current recession.

II. Consumer Protection Issues:

While smart meters can provide a variety of cost-saving, operational and technological benefits for utilities, consumers may not experience the same level of benefits.

The Smart Meter program is being sold to the public as benefitting consumers.

  • Consumers may be reluctant to adopt the new, smart meter related technologies such as the home area networks (HAN), necessary in order for consumers to take advantage of the functionalities of smart grid, but they are expensive and require an education to use.
  • Low income, elderly and disabled consumers may not have the means or ability to purchase the related home area network technology to enable them access to their usage data, and to use time of day rates.
  • Mandatory dynamic rate designs may be disadvantageous to those consumers who cannot shift usage to off-peak times, particularly the elderly and disabled, because they may experience higher energy bills.
  • Remote disconnection functionalities of smart meters may allow utilities to more quickly shut off power to consumers with small unpaid bills than would otherwise occur with traditional meters.

IV. Early Obsolescence of Recently-Installed Smart Meters:

Rapidly evolving smart meter technology, particularly the communications function, can render expensive smart meters obsolete within a few years, unlike traditional meters which are very long lasting. Who pays for this early obsolescence-utilities or ratepayers?

  • In California, thousands of smart meters became obsolete as technology changed before the meters were fully depreciated. The California Public Service Commission granted the utility funding to upgrade the obsolete smart meters.

V. Accuracy and Reliability of Smart Meters:

Consumers have complained that their energy bills increased as a result of inaccurate smart meters.

  • In 2010, the Public Utility Commission of Texas ordered an independent study of the accuracy of recently-installed smart meters in response to consumer complaints. The study found that the smart meters gave more accurate readings than the traditional meters they replaced (99.96% of the meters were accurate compared to 96% of traditional meters).

This report was by Navigant Consulting, which was involved in the Los Angeles King-Harbor scandal and was audited over overbilling and incomplete work for the NY Port Authority. This is not an independent firm. It is involved in AMI and “successful smart grid deployments” and cites “our deep industry experience”. Navigant presented at an Itron conference, one of the meter vendors in Texas. Was there an investigation by the PUCT of the Navigant report, or like California, did the Texas Commission refuse to do so?

  • In 2010, an independent study required by the California Public Service Commission similarly found that smart meters were generally accurate and that higher energy bills were due to other factors.

This was the Structure Group report, which I have written about here. It was not independent, and there were serious questions about the report from within the California PUC itself.

VI. Consumer Privacy, Safety and Security:

Certain risks exist for consumers who have smart meters and home area networks at their homes.

  • Smart meters can allow persons outside a home to determine if it is occupied, creating security risks.
  • Smart meters and HAN can allow persons outside a home to acquire personal information, such as what appliances and medications are inside the home.
  • Data about personal energy usage can be sold to third parties to create detailed portraits of the habits, lifestyle, and purchases of the consumer.

VII. Inter-operability and cyber security risks:

Large-scale deployments of smart meters are occurring before inter-operability and cyber-security risks have been addressed by government and the industry. These risks have the potential to become major problems affecting all aspects of the smart grid.

Finally, Ms. Ramthun made these statements:

  • California has experienced strong consumer opposition to various aspects of smart meter deployments ranging from costs and accuracy of meters to health concerns.

Very true

  • Wisconsin utilities are currently rolling out smart meter projects throughout the state with consumer acceptance of the meters. Varying state experiences may reflect differences in how deployments are conducted with respect to use of pilot projects, pre-deployment educational programs for consumers, and socio-economic conditions in respective states.

Fact: Wisconsin residents have been stonewalled by their PSC. Residents have opposed Smart Meters, but the PSC, Ms. Ramthun’s former employer, tells residents, as they did to me, that the PSC doesn’t tell utilities which meters to use and doesn’t have anything to do with opt-outs. The utilities are allowed to decide about opt-outs, and they have said, no. Wisconsin customers are left with no options and an unresponsive PUC.


Regulatory Aspects of Smart Metering: United States Experience
Presented by: Diane Ramthun
On behalf of National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners
Joint Licensing/Competition Committee and
Tariff/Pricing Committee Meeting
Tbilisi, Georgia
February 14, 2011

Regulatory Aspects of Smart Metering: US Practice
Presented by: Diane Ramthun
Office of General Counsel
Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
September, 2010




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Ireland €1billion smart meter project in jeopardy; net loss of €54 – €140 million predicted

Notice in the article below –
1st paragraph: “savings, if any, would be minimal”
2nd paragraph: “results were ‘marginally negative'”

Then, finally, the real data
3rd paragraph: “net loss of 54 million in the most likely scenario”
4th paragraph: “losses as high as 140 million”

Also, “no upfront costs to consumers to have Smart Meters fitted” but “it was anticipated that the cost would be incorporated in distribution charges set by electricity and gas suppliers”. Consumers will be paying for a program that provides no net benefit and many liabilities when cheap or free energy conservation measures and incentives could be implemented.

Estimated annual savings to customers of only 34.72 for gas and electric, but what will be the taxes to cover the losses and program expenses? Is that after rate increases to cover the Smart Meters? And what will be the financial costs of lawsuits passed on to the public?

This is the latest study. An earlier study was “largely positive.” Reality is setting in. The expenses will only increase, not decrease. What will the next study show?

The Sunday Times
by Seán McCárthaigh

IRELAND – THE future of a €1bn project to install electricity and gas smart meters in all homes and most businesses by 2020 could be in doubt after a recent cost-benefit analysis indicated savings, if any, would be minimal.

The report commissioned by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) — which is overseeing the planned rollout of the National Smart Metering Programme to more than 2m households — said the results were “marginally negative”.

It estimated that the project would result in the net loss of €54m in the most likely scenario. However, consultancy firm PwC, which carried out the analysis, said its findings should be interpreted as “broadly neutral” given the overall scale of the project and the significant uncertainty about many of the main cost assumptions.

But the latest results will come as a disappointment to the CER as a similar earlier study was largely positive about the combined benefit of smart meters for electricity and gas over a 20-year period. The updated review suggests the cost of the project could outweigh any benefit in all but the most optimistic scenario. The net losses could even be as high as €140m, according to the report.

The figures will also cause some unease for the government which has faced a barrage of criticism over the cost and implementation of the programme for water meters and which will be anxious to avoid a similar controversy in future.

Although there will be no upfront costs for consumers to have smart meters fitted in their homes, a CER spokesman said it was anticipated that the cost would be incorporated in distribution charges set by electricity and gas suppliers.

The energy regulator claims smart meters will result in cheaper energy bills for electricity and gas, more information on energy consumption and greater customer choice as well as reducing Ireland’s CO2 emissions and creating greater efficiencies for utility companies. The programme is designed to reduce electricity and gas consumption during the peak period of 5pm-7pm by encouraging consumers to avail of lower tariffs at other periods.

The recent cost-benefit analysis estimated the average residential household would achieve savings of €16.20 on their annual electricity bill and €18.52 on their gas bill. The CER stated further savings would be derived from electricity and gas suppliers not having to visit homes to read meters which should also be passed on to consumers.

The national rollout of smart meters had been originally scheduled to begin in 2015 but is unlikely to commence before 2018.

It is estimated it will be 2021 before all homes are fitted with smart meters.

A CER spokesman said the programme would proceed to its third stage which would involve a further cost-benefit analysis scheduled for autumn 2016 before any final decision is made with regard to smart metering.

A spokesman for the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources said it was not in a position to comment on the latest figures for the smart metering project.

A spokesman for ESB Networks also declined to comment.

Source article:

Used under Fair Use Rules.

Related stories:
Illinois Attorney General: Smart Meters are “an experiment too expensive for consumers”

California government report on SCE Smart Meter program: Rising costs eliminate consumer savings

States ask: Will Smart Meters save money or reduce CO2?

“No rational basis” for Smart Meters, says Massachusetts utility company

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Take Back Your Power — upcoming screenings

29 Oct - Launceston, Tasmania - flyer
07 Nov - Grass Valley, CA - flyer
22 Nov - Seattle, WA - flyer

see all screening details
host a community screening
host a theatrical event via Tugg
request a TV broadcast

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Overpowered: The Dangers of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMF) and What You Can Do about It

Book by Martin Blank, PhD, Special Lecturer at Columbia University, Associate Professor at Columbia University 1968-2011

From Seven Stories Press:

Keys, wallet, cell phone…ready to go! Cell phones have become ubiquitous fixtures of 21st century life–suctioned to our ears and stuck in our pockets. Yet, we’ve all heard whispers that these essential little devices give you brain cancer. Could it be true? In 2011, the World Health Organization shocked the international community by confirming that the radiation from cell phones is a possible carcinogen to humans. Many of us are left wondering, as Maureen Dowd asked in the New York Times, are cells the new cigarettes?

Dr. Martin Blank notes that while the presumption of innocence is invaluable to the system of justice, it does not make sense as a public health standard. Overpowered brings readers, in accessible and fascinating prose, through the science, indicating biological effects resulting from low, non-thermal levels of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation (levels considered safe by regulatory agencies). Radiation that comes not only from cell phones, but many other devices we use in our homes and offices every day.

It is generally accepted that there should be a limit on exposure of the public to EMF. However, industry pushes the envelope. Dr. Blank advises applying the precautionary principle when it comes to demonstrably hazardous EMF–and teaches us how we can take steps in our daily lives to reduce exposures. In this incredibly timely book, he arms us with the information we need to keep ourselves and our families safe.


“The extremely well documented Overpowered reads like an environmental thriller! Dr. Blank does a superb job of explaining the biological effects of cellphones and all things wireless on cell physiology and how to protect ourselves and, most importantly, our children. The sections on electricity, wildlife, and  the ‘business’ of science all demonstrate the dark side of technology–an inconvenient truth we must consider.”–Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of Zapped

“Martin Blank deals with a difficult subject in a scientifically accurate but easily readable fashion. He covers everything from powerlines, to cell phones, to light bulbs, to conflicts of interest, with humor and passion. In this great scientist, we have an unlikely activist and truth teller.”–David O. Carpenter, M.D., Director, Institute for Health and the Environment, University at Albany

Overpowered arrives at a critical moment. We are awash in an invisible, highly damaging pollutant of our own choosing, based on presumptions of safety that should never have been made. Now world-renowned researcher Martin Blank pulls back the curtain on industry lies and government regulatory failures about the health and environmental damage of unchecked electromagnetic fields and wireless technologies. In this easily accessible ‘good-read,’ he shines blazing light on one of the most significant public health concerns today. This book is a must for anyone concerned with protecting their well-being, that of loved ones, and other species. Dr. Blank makes clear that continuing this ever-increasing ambient EMF/RF has dire consequences. From the personal, the political, and the planetary, you will never see things the same way again.”–B. Blake Levitt, former New York Times contributor, Author of Electromagnetic Fields, A Consumer’s Guide to the Issues and How to Protect Ourselves and editor of Cell Towers, Wireless Convenience? Or Environmental Hazard?

Available from Seven Stories Press

ISBN: 9781609805098
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 271
Pub Date: March 10, 2014

About Martin Blank
MARTIN BLANK, Ph.D. is an expert on the health-related effects of electromagnetic fields and has been studying the subject for over thirty years. He earned his first PhD from Columbia University in physical chemistry and his second from the University of Cambridge in colloid science. From 1968 to 2011, he taught as an associate professor at Columbia University, where he now acts as a special lecturer. Dr. Blank has served as an invited expert regarding EMF safety for Canadian Parliament, for the House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy (HNRE) in Vermont, and for Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court.

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Canada: Is accelerated corrosion, electron-stripping due to wireless radiation a co-factor in devastating Calgary fire?

Dr. Andrew Michrowski is president of the Planetary Association for Clean Energy, Inc., based in Ottawa, Canada

Posted by Take Back Your Power

Downtown Calgary fire: Is accelerated corrosion, electron-stripping from wireless tech to blame?
15 October 2014
by Dr. Andrew Michrowski PhD | reprinted with permission

Editor’s Note: The below letter was sent to a prominent member of the Alberta provincial government (name currently withheld at request of author), addressing a very possible but overlooked cause to the recent major electrical fire and outage in Calgary, AB, Canada.  Research is linked below the letter.  -TBYP

Dear madame,

It may be worthwhile to have it checked whether a co-factor in this tragic underground facilities fire was accelerated corrosion associated with the electron stripping from the variety of infrastructure networks involved, mostly in the wireless technology frequency and higher range spectra, including the opto-electronics involving SMART meter data, computerized data, telecommunications, etc.

We have studied the question since 1995 while conducting the multi-year national electromagnetic fields in housing for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (including co-work with Edmonton Power, Manitoba Hydro and BC Hydro). We also noted adverse advanced corrosion in underground infrastructure during a legal case in the Eastern Townships, and for many years now along major streets in downtown Ottawa, which have required complete overhauls in the tens of millions of dollars of re-furbishing and fixing in over ten office, hotel and condominium buildings associated with facilities similar to the case in Calgary this Thanksgiving weekend. Note that a recent report by the Ontario Fire Marshall has indicated certain technical issue aspects associated with wireless frequency technology (such as SMART meters) that may apply to Calgary.

What we could offer, as an independent collaborative of advanced scientific thinking – if accelerated corrosion is indeed a factor – is not only some suggestions for shielding, but also for proofing the infrastructure through novel protocols against repeats, some of which have been developed in Alberta, but which may require further research and testing for their applicability for Calgary-type situations.

We are copying various Alberta associates, et alia, who might be able to be helpful in this regard. We are apprehensive that this incident may be precursor to others worldwide, in view of widespread popularity of wireless technology and the insatiable demand for more and more data capture and monitoring.

Attached are some documents associated with the issue of inquiry.  Note that to identify of accelerated corrosion co-factor, investigators should be able to ascertain (even with microscopy) that it occurs faster than normal oxidation, such as rust, and provide the usual chemical layer of protection, that there are many punctures, the coloring differs, that there is abnormal shrinkage – from the electron stripping – at surfaces.  The proofing would stop the puncturing associated with electron stripping from emissions in the higher frequencies including opto-electronic fixtures.

Yours sincerely, Andrew Michrowski PhD

Relevant research:
Ontario Association of Home Inspectors 2014 Presentation (PDF)
Characteristics of Powerfrequency Currents in Water Mains – Canada (PDF)

Andrew Michrowski, Ph.D.
The Planetary Association for Clean Energy, Inc.
La Société planétaire pour l’assainissement de l’énergie, inc
100 Bronson Avenue / Suite 1001
(613) 236-6265 fax: (613) 235-5876


The Planetary Association for Clean Energy, Incorporated (PACE) was founded in June 1975 in Ottawa, Canada, under the guidance of the Hon. Senator Chesley W. Carter, then Chair-person of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Health, Welfare and Science as well as member of the Senate Special Committee on Science Policy. With the Hon. Carter, a number of scientists undertook to make use of this Association to develop an international interdisciplinary network of advanced scientific thinking individuals and organizations. Together, these were to promote and steward “clean energy systems” for eventual implementation on a planetary-wide scale.

PACE is in special consultation status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC)

News coverage of fire:


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Angry Colorado residents demand answers from utility company

The “AMR” meters (“turtles”) mentioned in the story are actually power-line carrier Smart Meters (PLC). There is very little difference between PLC and wireless Smart Meters. Instead of the signal being sent wirelessly, it travels along the electrical lines at least part of the way to the utility company. These meters create “dirty” electricity — transients — by design.

“Dirty” electricity is a health hazard. In addition to traveling to the utility company, these signals also radiate from utility lines and travel along household wiring and along water pipes. These PLC Smart Meters may also have the switching mode power supply problem, creating even more dirty power, also traveling on electrical lines and on pipes. They are very harmful, with many of the other  problems, including privacy loss and surveillance issues. They will also have an antenna for transmitting to the Home Area Network inside a house.

From Pagosa Springs Daily News:

LPEA Under Fire for ‘Smart Meter’ Policies
Diana Luppi | 10/21/14

All hell broke loose at a La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) meeting held on October 8 in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

Approximately 60 residents from Pagosa Springs and neighboring Durango, Colorado, gathered to discuss LPEA’s threat of an opt-out fee of $50 for its co-op members who declined the installation of AMI meters, commonly referred to as “smart meters.” The following day, October 9, a meeting was held in Durango, Colorado, attended by approximately 70 residents of both communities.

Michael Dreyspring, CEO of LPEA, presided over both meetings. Very few Board members or staff were present at either meeting. At the Pagosa meeting, Mr. Dreyspring was in command for no more than two minutes and 40 seconds before the miffed residents of Pagosa Springs went volcanic and LPEA lost any semblance of control. As their pedantic power point presentation went up in flames, so did an outspoken and furious crowd.

Though the Durango meeting was slightly more subdued than the Pagosa Springs’ meeting, members they were also extremely angry and ended up walking out after about an hour of voicing their opinions because they realized that even though the purported purpose of the meeting was to gather information for LPEA staff and board members to discuss in determining a possible opt-out fee, no official recording of everyone’s comments was being made. And, as attendees at the Durango meeting attested, only cursory, sporadic notes were taken by a member of the LPEA staff.

Numerous co-op members concluded that the meeting was a sham.

Cat calls and fireworks omitted, the following issues were presented to the LPEA representatives brave enough to show up for the meetings in both towns:

The Energy and Commerce Policy Act of 2005 in part states, “The customer is to be offered a “smart meter” not extorted when refusing one or have their utilities shut off when refusing one.” There was no informed consent on the part of co-op members to allow these meters to be installed. Co-op members never opted-in… so why did they have to opt-out?

Many only realized the installation was taking place because they happened to be at home or arrived during the deployment process. Some signed an opt-out form refusing the meter and LPEA installed it anyway. Installers arrived in neighborhoods like a military stealth operation using personal vehicles and installing meters on members’ properties only if nobody was home. If “smart meters” are the best thing since sliced bread, why did LPEA feel compelled to both sneak around and lie? Continue reading

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CNN exposed high water bills from Smart Meters…in 2011

CNN: City’s Faulty Water Meters Make Monthly Water Bills Skyrocket

Question: Why, three years later, are water Smart Meters still being installed and utilities still lying about the high bills?

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