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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Microwave frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) produce widespread neuropsychiatric effects including depression

Neurological, psychiatric, and specifically cognitive impacts are commonly reported by the public after exposure to wireless microwave technology, including Smart Meters. These include

Insomnia, headaches and migraines, tinnitus, heart rhythm disturbances, seizures, dizziness, blackouts, memory loss, concentration difficulties, mood disorders including depression, agitation, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, blood pressure changes, pain, hormonal changes, and skin tingling.

Dr. Martin Pall, in his review of literature published in the Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy this month, concludes

Non-thermal microwave/lower frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) act via voltage-gated calcium channel (VGCC) activation.”

Why is that important?

First, non-thermal effects have been at the heart of the health debate waged by the telecom and utility industry, the military, and federal agencies like the FCC, against the public. FCC exposure guidelines are based solely on thermal effects.

Second, this shows another mechanism by which these widespread harmful impacts are occurring in the body, further debunking the industry et al statements of “no known mechanism”.

Given the preponderance of evidence of harm, and this mechanism by which harm is occurring, by what right do utility companies, regulatory commissions, and governments subject the public and the environment to this level of wide-spread damage?

The abstract and a chart from the study are below.

J Chem Neuroanat. 2015 Aug 20. pii: S0891-0618(15)00059-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jchemneu.2015.08.001. [Epub ahead of print]

Pall ML1.

Author information

  • 1Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences, Washington State University, 638 NE 41(st) Ave., Portland, OR 97232-3312, USA. Electronic address:


Non-thermal microwave/lower frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) act via voltage-gated calcium channel (VGCC) activation. Calcium channel blockers block EMF effects and several types of additional evidence confirm this mechanism. Low intensity microwave EMFs have been proposed to produce neuropsychiatric effects, sometimes called microwave syndrome, and the focus of this review is whether these are indeed well documented and consistent with the known mechanism(s) of action of such EMFs.

VGCCs occur in very high densities throughout the nervous system and have near universal roles in release of neurotransmitters and neuroendocrine hormones. Soviet and Western literature shows that much of the impact of non-thermal microwave exposures in experimental animals occurs in the brain and peripheral nervous system, such that nervous system histology and function show diverse and substantial changes. These may be generated through roles of VGCC activation, producing excessive neurotransmitter/neuroendocrine release as well as oxidative/nitrosative stress and other responses. Excessive VGCC activity has been shown from genetic polymorphism studies to have roles in producing neuropsychiatric changes in humans.

Two U.S. government reports from the 1970’s-80’s provide evidence for many neuropsychiatric effects of non-thermal microwave EMFs, based on occupational exposure studies. 18 more recent epidemiological studies, provide substantial evidence that microwave EMFs from cell/mobile phone base stations, excessive cell/mobile phone usage and from wireless smart meters can each produce similar patterns of neuropsychiatric effects, with several of these studies showing clear dose-response relationships. Lesser evidence from 6 additional studies suggests that short wave, radio station, occupational and digital TV antenna exposures may produce similar neuropsychiatric effects.

Among the more commonly reported changes are sleep disturbance/insomnia, headache, depression/depressive symptoms, fatigue/tiredness,dysesthesia, concentration/attention dysfunction, memory changes, dizziness, irritability, loss of appetite/body weight, restlessness/anxiety, nausea, skin burning/tingling/dermographism and EEG changes.

In summary, then, the mechanism of action of microwave EMFs, the role of the VGCCs in the brain, the impact of non-thermal EMFs on the brain, extensive epidemiological studies performed over the past 50 years, and five criteria testing for causality, all collectively show that various non-thermal microwave EMF exposures produce diverse neuropsychiatric effects. (alternate link)

Table 4. Commonly Reported Neuropsychiatric Symptoms following Microwave EMF Exposure

Symptom(s) Numbers of studies reporting
Sleep disturbance/insomnia 17
Headache 14
Fatigue/tiredness 11
Depression/depressive symptoms 10
Dysesthesia (vision/hearing/olfactory dysfunction) 10
Concentration/attention/cognitive dysfunction 10
Dizziness/vertigo 9
Memory changes 8
Restlessness/tension/anxiety/stress/agitation/feeling of discomfort 8
Irritablity 7
Loss of appetite/body weight 6
Skin tingling/burning/inflammation/dermographism 6
Nausea 5

Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.

Reprinted under Fair Use Rules.

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BC Hydro security officials on Smart Meter vulnerabilities: “The consequences of deploying bad stuff [Smart Meters] are dire.”

Another exceptional article and video from Smart Grid Awareness

By K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

This past week there was a meeting of BlackHat USA 2015 in Las Vegas, where InfoSec professionals met.  As part of a blog article written about this meeting, there was the following updated entry by Steve Ragan who attended the meeting:

Smart Meter Threat Vectors“I had an interesting discussion after getting my badge at DEF CON this afternoon about smart grids.

A friend of mine reminded me of a talk given during BSides Las Vegas last year about securing smart meter infrastructure.  The focus of the talk was BC Hydro, the electric utility in British Columbia, and their move to smart meter adoption, as well as the security risks associated with this upgrade.

Smart meters and ICS [Industrial Control System] security issues are a serious topic in many parts of InfoSec due to their reach into a person’s home and life.  It’s a talk worth watching,…”

Upon reading the above updated blog entry, SkyVision Solutions reviewed the video files for the BSides meeting from last year and discovered presentation materials and statements by presenters that were almost surreal in nature on the subject of smart meter vulnerabilities for what were called physical, cyber, and social threat vectors.

For complete article and video:

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‘Dragnet’ data collection by Smart Meters and an ‘infrastructure of surveillance’

Stunning testimony and short 7-minute video. Very important quote from Smart Meter manufacturer Siemens.

From Smart Grid Awareness
By K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

In what was likely a little publicized workshop conducted in November 2013 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on privacy and security issues concerning the Internet of Things (IoT), I found some invaluable insight offered in the FTC video archives on the subject of smart meters.

Complete article and video:

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Mass response to price signals via Smart Meters can cause mass blackouts

From PV Magazine
Smart meters can jeopardize grid reliability
By:  Mirco Sieg/Shamsiah Ali-Oettinger
July 27, 2015

Electricity consumers who respond to fluctuating price signals by means of smart meters can in turn cause mass blackouts. The researchers at the University of Bremen warn of the possibility of a “collective avalanche mechanism“.

Since the beginning of 2010, newly built or completely renovated buildings in Germany have to be fixed with smart meters. This is to allow electricity consumers to “switch on or off” in accordance with current generation capacity and electricity prices. The idea is to help households and business entities save energy costs. The University of Bremen, however, seems to have found a glitch in this idea.

The researchers at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of Bremen have simulated what can potentially happen when smart meters on a massive scale react collectively to electricity price signals. The result: the smart meters end up providing a new artificial electricity market, which can cause the electricity supply to crash. This in turn endangers the security of supply.

The good old example of washing machines was put forth as an example by the researchers. When households program their washing machines to turn on when the smart meter shows a cheaper electricity price, then this so-called “collective avalanche mechanism” can occur. This can cause an extreme burden on the grid. Blackouts as a result of the unexpected overload have not been ruled out.

Utilities should be warned

Prof. Dr. Stefan Bornholdt of the university asserted that the standard theory of demand and supply becomes nullified when a massive number of consumers respond to a cheaper price. “Of course everyone wants to do their laundry when the price is at its lowest,” he added.

From the point of view of the researchers, the mass implementation of smart meters is a “quick solution that has not been thought out thoroughly until the end”. Utilities need to be warned of this. “In the university’s computer simulations, different variables were fed in according to how real people would logically react in given situations,” Bornholdt added. The individual consumer does not know how his behavior, when exponentiated, in given situations can affect the electricity supply. “Unfortunately, the utilities do not know this yet either,” the professor added.

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Are insurance companies avoiding the Smart Meter problem?

By Norman Lambe, LA Home and Business Insurance Examiner
July 26, 2015

A dangerous precedent is being followed in the insurance industry concerning the investigation of smart meter fires. When a fire associated with the malfunctioning of a smart meter is reported to the insurance company, the Claims Adjuster will inspect the damage, and attempt to determine what caused the fire. The Adjuster will then continue the program of the evaluation of the loss and payment of the claim.

While the steps outlined take place, the insurance company is also interested in determining the cause of the fire, and if it is due to someone’s negligence or manufacturer’s defect. The insurance company will begin subrogation efforts to recover the insured’s deductible, as well as the amount the company paid for the repair.

Part of the problem I face as a Claims Adjuster and other Adjusters are dealing with, is that when the fire department receives the notice of a fire, one of their first duties is to notify the local public utilities to shut off the utilities, preventing the further spread of the fire. When the local electrical utility arrives and determines that a smart meter is the issue, they have been removing the meter, and preventing the inspection of the meter by the experts the insurance company will hire to determine who is responsible for the fire.

This is a serious situation, as the utility company, upon removal of the meter is tampering with what is evidence concerning the cause of the fire and can be held criminally responsible. Most utility companies will respond to us requesting our information concerning the cost of repair. When that information is provided, the utility company will normally pay the requested amount, less an allowance for depreciation of the structure and personal property if required.

As an example of this situation of the removal of the meter(s) from the fire scene the following is taken directly from the San Diego Fire Departments Incident report regarding a fire at a small shopping center:

On February 26, 2014 a fire broke out at Friars Village, which is a shopping mall located at 10450 Friars Road in the beautiful town of San Diego, California. Information concerning this fire is contained in the San Diego Fire Department’s Incident Report Number FS14023257.

Two important entries on the report provide for us an independent account of what took place at the Friars Village Shopping Mall. The first at 18:21:42, is stated, “10 minutes into incident 2 electric boxes on fire”; the second entry occurred at 19:42:09, “2 San Diego Gas and Electric Meters are on fire.” As of this day, the meters mentioned in the report have not been made available for examination.

In June of 2015, two black outs occurred in busy Las Vegas Nevada restaurants, believed to be caused by smart meter failures. Nevada Energy has removed the meters and as of this day the meters have still not been examined, although the claims are in the process of loss evaluation and will be paid by the insurance company. However, the real issue as to why all the meters are failing is not being dealt with.

I will be exploring the meter problem further, along with the impact it has on your policy both Homeowner and Commercial.

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Michigan: Governor appoints utility lobbyist to state utility regulation agency

Black is white. Up is down. “Public service” is now defined as serving the corporate sector while in a government position, and taxpayers (the public) pays the salary.

How many Smart Meter and energy complaints made it through Chief of Staff Saari to his bosses, Cotter and Bolger?

How many industry officials work as District Directors and Chiefs of Staff for governors and elected officials?

“Government affairs offices” — the actual title of these corporate departments — is very accurate.

From Detroit News

Political insider: New gig for ex-lobbyist Norm Saari
July 23, 2015

Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday appointed former Consumers Energy lobbyist Norm Saari to the Michigan Public Service Commission, the state’s utility regulation agency.

For the past two years, Saari has been chief of staff to Republican House Speaker Kevin Cotter and former Speaker Jase Bolger. He succeeded Suzanne Miller-Allen as Bolger’s chief of staff (and once worked for Miller-Allen’s husband, former state Sen. Jason Allen).

Saari spent most of his career though working in the Lansing and Washington government affairs offices of Jackson-based Consumers Energy.

“Norm has had a distinguished career in the utility industry as well as in public service, and he brings decades of experience to the Michigan Public Service Commission,” Snyder said in a statement.

Saari replaces retiring commissioner Greg White on the three-person panel. Pending approval by the state Senate, Saari’s six-year term will expire in July 2021.

Moments after the governor’s office announced Saari’s appointment mid-day Wednesday, Cotter’s office announced that House general counsel Brock Swartzle will be promoted to chief of staff.

Contributors: Chad Livengood and Melissa Nann Burke

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Letter to BC Energy Minister on Smart Meter fire hazard evidence

From the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters in British Columbia

“We want this program ended, and we want our money back.”
— Press Release, June 25, 2015

Subject: Smart meter safety risk

June 25, 2015
Hon. Bill Bennett
Minister of Energy and Mines
Room 301
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4

Dear Mr. Bennett:

In 2012 Armen Kassabian, Ontario Fire Marshal, wrote a report that expressed serious concerns about the safety of smart meters, regardless of the brand.  They fail.  They melt.  They burn.

Mr. Bennett, for the last 2 years I have been tracking smart meter failures in British Columbia, and have provided you with evidence showing that there is justification for major concern. Just like the Sensus smart meters in Saskatchewan, the Itron meters in BC have overheated, melted and burned. More failures have occurred in BC than in Saskatchewan, yet you and BC Hydro have taken no steps to ensure the public’s safety. In fact, you and BC Hydro have denied that these meters have failed or put lives at risk.

There is now evidence that you cannot – must not – ignore.

With this letter I have provided a printed copy of a recent lawsuit in Texas that contains testimony given under oath by journeyman linesmen who have worked for utilities for many years. They state that ITRON Openway meters used by Centerpoint Energy in Houston, the very same model being used by BC Hydro and Fortis BC, have failed in large numbers. This document also is available at

Of particular note:

1)            Those testifying had confirmed fires and failures with other linesmen and trouble-shooters prior to making the statements. Pg. 25

2)            The linesmen reported that the utility had “two pallets of burned up (Itron) meters”.  Pg. 8

3)            The linesmen reported problems with “meters’ communication with the remote site control and many issues with meters melting and burning up.”  Pg. 8

4)            Linesmen determined that “part of the problem was a loose connection between the meter and the meter base because the smart meters had thinner “blades” than the previous analog meters” (emphasis added)     Pg. 8 This gap could cause arcing leading to fires.

5)            Concerns were raised about the ITRON smart meters “creating arc flashes, which could burn the customers’ wiring and create ‘hazardous conditions.’ …These hazardous conditions include potentially causing arc flashes, which could result in anything from minor to third degree burns to technicians who remove the meters.”  Pg. 8

6)            An experienced trouble-shooter for a utility reported that he had “responded to more fire calls once the smart meters were deployed and these often involved heating problems at the meter base.”  Pg. 13

7)            “ Reed’s testimony concerned products used by Respondent. Landis + Gyr is the manufacturer of the AMS meter used by Respondent and Itron is the manufacturer of the meters used by CenterPoint Energy in Houston.”  Pg. 25

The model used in Houston is the ITRON C2SOD, Openway Centron II the same model used by BC Hydro and Fortis BC.

8)            At Oncor and Centerpoint there was a consistent corporate message that utility employees are to tell customers that any problem, whether it’s damaged appliances or a fire, was due to the meter base which is owned by the client, not the smart meter.  Pg. 10. This is the same message that, according to Hydro insiders, BC Hydro has given to its employees.


Mr. Bennett, I could provide you with many statistics and data that I have gathered over the last 2 years that would help explain why the meters are a fire hazard, but I believe that is unnecessary. I have provided you with most of them already.   Instead, I will summarize what I have found in addition to the details provided above:

1)            Electronic digital and smart meters — which are combustible and vulnerable to heat — should have reliable means for immediately disconnecting them from the grid in the entirely foreseeable event of circuit failure (lithium-metal batteries, diodes, electrolytic capacitors, transistors, etc.). Such reliable means are apparently not provided. With an effectively unlimited current supply from the grid this lack of protection creates a significant fire risk when the meter is combustible as is the ITRON smart meter.

2)            I’ve been told by knowledgeable people that the remote disconnect switch apparently is unreliable and poorly designed, having been implicated in fires across North American. To function it relies on other components of the meter that, in all likelihood, would be compromised in the event of overheating or other failures. Arcing, arc flash, and heating from the disconnect switch are also serious hazards that derive from the unprotected grid connection.

3)            The meter installation process was questionable, given the lack of qualifications of the personnel recruited to carry out the installations. Use of inadequately qualified installation personnel significantly increases the risk of: (a) failure to observe existing meter base/wiring problems; and (b)  damaging the base during exchange; both of these can lead to “hot sockets” with the attendant risk of fire.

4)            The meter bases into which these meters are being placed were designed, tested, and CSA approved to hold an electro-mechanical analog meter which is not combustible. . Our multiple requests for proof of certification of the meter base in conjunction with a combustible electronic meter, either digital or smart meter, have been ignored. It is a highly questionable practice, probably illegal, to install electronic meters on a base designed and  CSA tested/approved only  for electro- mechanical analogue meters.

5)            In BC the BC Safety Standards Act exempts BC Hydro and Fortis BC from having their equipment certified by CSA and smart meters have been determined to be utility equipment.  The exemption is conditional under section 21-4 which states that utility equipment must be certified safe by a professional electrical engineer licensed in BC.  BC Hydro stated it does not have this certification.

6)            According to the Fire Commissioner’s Office, BC Hydro is allowed to remove and has removed smart meters from scenes of fires before the fire inspection has been completed “since it is their meter.” This runs counter to the BC Fire Safety Act.

7)            BC Hydro has reported that no smart meter has been inspected in its laboratory, Power Tech, after it has failed. Instead all failed meters are returned immediately to Itron for replacement. I have been told in response to a Freedom of Information request that BC Hydro is doing no investigation to determine the reason for the failure.

8)            There appears to be no agency that is tracking incidents involving smart meters.

The BC Utility Commission, according to the BC Utilities Commission Act, has responsibility to ensure BC Hydro’s products and practices will not endanger the public. With regard to the smart meter program, the BCUC informs me this responsibility has been overruled by the Clean Energy Act and Direction 4 because it has been told it cannot interfere in the smart meter program in any way, even with regard to public safety.

The BC Safety Authority, which normally ensures that electrical devices are safe and that any unsafe devices are reported, advised me that they have been told that they have no authority regarding the smart meter program.

9)            Fire reports have indicated the cause of some fires to be due to failed electrical distribution equipment. Len Garis, in the report commissioned by BC Hydro, stated that reference to electrical distribution equipment usually refers to meters.

10)          Budgets to fire departments have been reduced to the point where departments do not have the resources to determine causes of all fires. Many fires are not reported even after 2 years. In addition, one fire chief told me that they were told to rule out arson, and not bother going further. As a result in many cases, the fire’s cause is given as “undetermined.”  Of the fires for which I’ve requested reports from the Fire Commissioner, 50% have no determined cause!

11)          Because of the lack of resources, investigations are carried out by people with limited electrical fire forensics ability, and, therefore, it is possible that many fires that might be associated with smart meters are going undetected. As a result, it is possible that many problems are going undetected and unremedied, jeopardizing the property and lives of British Columbians.

12)          Regulations in Quebec require that Hydro-Quebec ensures that smart meters are not within 3 meters of a propane tank. If the tank or meter cannot be removed, then the remote disconnect switch, which has been found to have been involved in fires in Saskatchewan, must be disabled. It seems prudent that similar precautionary measures should be taken regarding proximity of smart meters to any flammable materials. I wrote to you, Mr. Bennett, and BC Hydro authorities on June 4 asking what precautionary steps BC Hydro would be taking, and to date I received no response.

Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 7, grants Canadian citizens the right to refuse actions by the government that the citizens believe to be harmful.

Further, “the Federal Court of Appeal has opened the door to lawsuits against government regulators for negligent administration of their regulatory schemes and created the possibility of suing a regulator for damages under public law if the regulator violates a clear duty to act or exercises its public power in an “irrational” or “clearly wrong” manner.” /

Based upon the information I’ve provided to you, I believe it is safe to say that this smart meter program has major problems that cannot be ignored any longer. You, Mr. Bennett, as Minister of Energy, are responsible for allowing this program to continue.  With receipt of this package of material, which I am sending via registered mail, you cannot say you didn’t know that these smart meters are fire hazards.

I am sure that your concern for the safety and welfare of your constituents is paramount. Based upon the information I’ve presented, this concern is best addressed by halting the program and removing the smart meters, pending an investigation.

Should you wish further information about anything that I’ve said, please ask.

Sharon Noble

This will be sent to  All MLAs

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