Report on Smart Meter Problems

Updated May 1, 2017

The report “Analysis: Smart Meter and Smart Grid Problems – Legislative Proposal” is available free to the public for downloading and printing. 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.

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Newsweek: “Radiation from cell phones, WiFi are hurting the birds and the bees; 5G may make it worse”; “Technology is quite literally destroying nature”

From Newsweek

May 19, 2018
By Dave Covey

Technology is quite literally destroying nature, with a new report further confirming that electromagnetic radiation from power lines and cell towers can disorientate birds and insects and destroy plant health. The paper warns that as nations switch to 5G this threat could increase.

In the new analysis, EKLIPSE, an EU-funded review body dedicated to policy that may impact biodiversity and the ecosystem, looked over 97 studies on how electromagnetic radiation may affect the environment. It concluded this radiation could indeed pose a potential risk to bird and insect orientation and plant health, The Telegraph reported.

This is not a new finding, as studies dating back for years have come to the same conclusion. In fact, one study from 2010 even suggested that this electromagnetic radiation may be playing a role in the decline of certain animal and insect populations. The radio waves can disrupt the magnetic “compass” that many migrating birds and insects use. The creatures may become disorientated, AFP reported.

The electromagnetic radiation also interrupted the orientation of insects, spiders and mammals, and may even disrupt plant metabolism, The Telegraph reported.

As a result of this most recent finding, the UK charity Buglife urged that plans to install 5G transmitters may have “serious impacts” on the environment, The Telegraph reported. For this reason, it suggests these transmitters not be placed on LED street lamps, which would attract insects and increase their exposure.

5G is a fifth generation wireless technology that transmits data at high speeds. It is used by phone towers to make phone calls, text messages and to browse the internet.

In addition, the charity called for further studying of this threat.

“We apply limits to all types of pollution to protect the habitability of our environment, but as yet, even in Europe, the safe limits of electromagnetic radiation have not been determined, let alone applied,” said Matt Shardlow, CEO of Buglife, The Telegraph reported.

In the United States, AT&T plans to be the first to have 5G available, and will launch the network in 12 cities by the end of the year, PC Mag reported.

Photo: 5G may interfere with bird navigation. Migratory birds fly in France
Francois Nasimbeni/AFB/Getting

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Ultrasonic commands can trigger Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant — how safe is “smart”? (VIDEO)

From ZeroHedge

May 16, 2018

Over the last two years, academic researchers have identified various methods that they can transmit hidden commands that are undetectable by the human ear to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Assistant.

According to a new report from The New York Times, scientific researchers have been able “to secretly activate the artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, making them dial phone numbers or open websites.” This could, perhaps, allow cybercriminals to unlock smart-home doors, control a Tesla car via the App, access users’ online bank accounts, load malicious browser-based cryptocurrency mining websites, and or access all sort of personal information.

In 2017, Statista projected around 223 million people in the U.S. would be using a smartphone device, which accounts for roughly 84 percent of all mobile users. Of these 223 million smartphones users, around 108 million Americans are using the Android Operating System, and some 90 million are using Apple’s iOS (operating system). A new Gallup poll showed that 22 percent of Americans are actively using Amazon Echo or Google Assistant in their homes.

With much of the country using artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, a new research document published from the University of California, Berkeley indicates inaudible commands could be embedded “directly into recordings of music or spoken text,” said The New York Times.

For instance, a millennial could be listening to their favorite song: ‘The Middle’ by Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey. Embedded into the audio file could have several inaudible commands triggering Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa to complete a task that the user did not instruct — such as, buying merchandise from the music performer on Amazon.

“We wanted to see if we could make it even more stealthy,” said Nicholas Carlini, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in computer security at U.C. Berkeley and one of the paper’s authors.

At the moment, Carlini said this is only an academic experiment, as it is only a matter of time before cybercriminals figure out this technology.

“My assumption is that the malicious people already employ people to do what I do,” he added.

The New York Times said Amazon “does not disclose specific security measure” to thwart a device from an ultrasonic attack, but the company has taken precautionary measures to protect users from unauthorized human use. Google told The New York Times that security development is ongoing and has developed features to mitigate undetectable audio commands.

Both companies’ [Amazon and Google] assistants employ voice recognition technology to prevent devices from acting on certain commands unless they recognize the user’s voice.

Apple said its smart speaker, HomePod, is designed to prevent commands from doing things like unlocking doors, and it noted that iPhones and iPads must be unlocked before Siri will act on commands that access sensitive data or open apps and websites, among other measures.

Yet many people leave their smartphones unlocked, and, at least for now, voice recognition systems are notoriously easy to fool.

There is already a history of smart devices being exploited for commercial gains through spoken commands,” said The New York Times.

Last year, there were several examples of companies and even cartoons taking advantage of weaknesses in voice recognition systems, including Burger King’s Google Home commercial to South Park‘s episode with Alexa.

While there are currently no American laws against broadcasting subliminal or ultrasonic messages to humans, let alone artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) warns against the practice, calling it a “counter to the public interest,” and the Television Code of the National Association of Broadcasters bans “transmitting messages below the threshold of normal awareness.” However, The New York Times points out that “neither says anything about subliminal stimuli for smart devices.”

Recently, the ultrasonic attack technology showed up in the hands of the Chinese. Researchers at Princeton University and China’s Zhejiang University conducted several experiments showing that inaudible commands can, in fact, trigger voice-recognition systems in an iPhone.

“The technique, which the Chinese researchers called DolphinAttack, can instruct smart devices to visit malicious websites, initiate phone calls, take a picture or send text messages. While DolphinAttack has its limitations — the transmitter must be close to the receiving device — experts warned that more powerful ultrasonic systems were possible,” said The New York Times.

DolphinAttack could inject covert voice commands at 7 state-of-the-art speech recognition systems (e.g., Siri, Alexa) to activate always-on system and achieve various attacks, which include activating Siri to initiate a FaceTime call on iPhone, activating Google Now to switch the phone to the airplane mode, and even manipulating the navigation system in an Audi automobile. (Source: guoming zhang)

DolphinAttack Demonstration Video 

While the number of smart devices in consumers’ pockets and at their homes is on the rise, it is only a matter of time before the technology falls into the wrong hands, and unleashed against them. Imagine, cybercriminals accessing your Audi or Tesla via ultrasonic attacks against voice recognition technology on a smart device. Maybe these so-called smart devices are not smart after all, as the dangers of these devices are starting to be realized. Millennials will soon be panicking.

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Tennessee: Utility company says it doesn’t track how many Smart Meters are billing incorrectly

Note: Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW)

From WMC Action News 5, Memphis

April 27, 2018



MLGW said it doesn’t know how many smart meters are providing faulty information about your utility usage.

Earlier this month, WMC uncovered two instances of faulty gas meters under-reporting usage to MLGW.

Customers were hit with bills of a $1,000 or more to cover the difference.

WMC submitted an open records request asking MLGW how many other times this has happened in the last year.

On Friday, we were told that information is not available because it’s not tracked.

Copyright 2018 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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Washington UTC: Utilities must offer an opt-out to residential customers

It is the commission’s responsibility to ensure regulated companies provide safe and reliable service to customers at reasonable rates”

On April 10, 2018, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission issued a formal policy statement that residential customers must be offered an opt-out option. However, the UTC is not  allowing commercial customers to opt-out.

Discussed in the statement was an “opt-in” policy versus and “opt-out” policy, but the UTC stated that it gave weight to utility companies and the “benefits” of AMI in its decision to go with an opt-out. The statement hints that the opt-out may be a temporary measure.

The UTC views the customer wishing to opt-out as the cost causer, in line with utility company views, though it does offer a less harsh approach to assessing fees than some other states. However, it does not offer any alternative to those who are disabled by electromagnetic sensitivities or to those who want to retain their analog meters due to the health hazards of Smart Meters. There is only one blanket policy, and there is no “choice” for the disabled or for those wanting to protect their health, safety, or privacy.

Utilities have to come back to the UTC with their individual AMI project proposals and the tariff for an opt-out program. However, the UTC does allow utilities to seek exemption from any requirement in their policy statement including, presumably, the opt-out itself.

Note: The UTC promotes remote service disconnection by calling it “instant service reconnection“. There is quite a bit of “spin” language in the statement.

Proceeding U-180117

Policy and Interpretive Statement on Customer Choice for Advanced Meter Installation

Press release:
UTC: Utilities must offer customers an opt-out from advanced meter installation

Media Contact: (360) 664-1116 or
Docket Number: U-180117

UTC: Utilities must offer customers an opt-out from advanced meter installation
Advanced meter technologies are part of grid modernization efforts

OLYMPIA, Wash. – State regulators today issued a formal policy statement guiding Washington’s investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities in the rollout of advanced metering technologies, or “smart meters,” for residential customers.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission determined companies will need to offer residential customers the ability to opt out of advanced meter installation to address customer concerns over the implementation of advanced meter technology.

The commission also stated its preference that companies allow opt-out customers to retain their existing meters, rather than requiring an immediate switch from analog to digital, non-communicative meters.

As the implementation of advanced meter technologies progresses in Washington, the commission will develop explicit requirements for protecting consumer information as well as necessary rule changes for company operations in upcoming workshops and rulemakings. This process will continue through 2018.

Recent federal legislation has supported the development of a modernized smart grid and has encouraged states and utilities to prepare for future energy demands. Advanced meters gather customer usage data through two-way communication between the meter and a utility and are critical to smart grid investment.

Advanced meters may provide automated customer outage detection, energy consumption alerts, and instant service reconnection, but advanced meter technology has sparked public concern over safety, privacy, cyber security, and customer billing.

In its policy statement the commission expresses its preference that companies minimize opt-out charges to remove any disincentive for customers to select their preferred meter option. 

The UTC policy statement also encourages utilities to develop billing practices that take into account low-income customer impacts among other customer concerns.

All opt-out programs must be approved by the commission prior to a utility installing any advanced meters in its Washington service territory.

In the policy statement, the commission also encourages utilities to communicate to customers the benefits of various opt-out meter options, such as replacing an analog meter with a non-communicating digital meter, to allow customers to choose the best option for their needs.

The policy statement is the result of several months of investigation by the UTC. The process began in February, when commission staff began accepting comments regarding customer choice for meter installation. Over the course of the investigation, the commission conducted a public workshop on customer choice policies for deployment of advanced meter technologies and took comments from the utilities and other stakeholders.

The UTC regulates the private, investor-owned electric utilities in Washington. It is the commission’s responsibility to ensure regulated companies provide safe and reliable service to customers at reasonable rates, while allowing them the opportunity to earn a fair profit.


UTC press release:

UTC statement:

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Breaking: New Mexico rejects PNM Smart Meter proposal — “it does not promote the public interest”

April 11, 2018

“The  plan presented in the Application does not provide a net public benefit and it does not promote the public interest.”
— New Mexico Public Regulation Commission,
April 11, 2018

Recommended Decision 3-19-18
Final Decision, 4-11-18

Case No. 15-00312-UT

Today, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission denied Public Service Company of New Mexico’s  (PNM) application in install Smart Meters. In doing so, it adopted the Hearing Examiner’s Recommended Decision in its entirety.

From Hearing Examiner recommendations – Summary, p. 71-74

“The primary purpose of PNM’s project is cost savings. PNM’s proposal focuses on the elimination of 125 meter reading jobs, faster disconnections of late- and non-paying customers, and increased revenues by preventing tampering and diversion of service.

PNM designed its project without public input and without examining alternatives. Not surprisingly, all of the eight non-PNM parties oppose PNM’s requests.

PNM also emphasizes that the project is discretionary. PNM states that the project is not needed to provide adequate service or to comply with any Commission rules or other regulatory requirements. As a result, PNM will proceed with the project only if the Commission approves it on PNM’s terms in their entirety and without modification.

PNM cites no statute as direct authority for the approvals it requests and cites no direct authority for the standards the Commission should apply to its requests. PNM argues that the approval should be issued on the basis of its claim that the project’s benefits will exceed its costs over the 20 year estimated life of the meters.

The non-PNM parties in this case include advocates of residential, industrial, municipal, environmental, health and public interests. They include the AG, the City of Albuquerque, CCAE, CFRE, NMIEC, NMUS, WRA and Staff. All question the legal authority for PNM’s requests for approval of the project outside a CCN proceeding and for approval of advance ratemaking treatment. Most support the benefits that can potentially be achieved with smart meters, but they complain about the narrow focus of PNM’s plan, its cost, its unfair balancing of investor and ratepayer interests, and its inflexibility in addressing the concerns of PNM’s customers. They ask that PNN come back with a better plan, after obtaining input from the public.

The primary justification PNM offers for the project is the net savings it says the project would produce for ratepayers. PNM acknowledges that the immediate impact would be rate increases. But it says that, over the 20 year expected life of the AMI meters, it would eventually produce savings.

The non-PNM parties disagree with PNM’s savings estimates. They agree that the immediate impact would be rate increases, but they say the lifetime savings would not occur.

They recommend rejection, because they do not see any benefits sufficient to compensate for the rate increases. The non-PNM parties show that the immediate result of PNM’s $121.5 million plan would be rate increases (at least $5.9 million per year after the meters have been installed), that PNM’s projections of long-term savings are uncertain and that PNM ratepayers would likely pay more over 20 years with AMI meters than the existing non-AMI meters.

The terms of PNM’s plan include full cost recovery of the $95 .1 million cost of the new AMI meters, $24.9 million for PNM’s existing non-AMI meters that will be replaced and will no longer be serving customers, and $1.5 million in PNM’s customer education costs. In addition, while ratepayers would be paying more, PNM’s shareholders would earn a $42.8 million pre-tax return on the new AMI meters, a $11.0 million pre-tax return on the non-AMI meters that will be replaced, and a $183,000 pre-tax return on PNM’s customer education costs.

The Hearing Examiner agrees with the non-PNM parties that the plan does not fairly  balance the interests of investors and ratepayers. Ratepayers should not bear 100% of the risk that PNM’s savings predictions will occur, while shareholders earn an additional return on the new investment and continue to earn a return on the replaced investment. In addition, the prudence of the $95 .1 million capital cost of the project is questionable, given the $6.2 million cost increase resulting from PNM’s re-bidding of the installation portion of the project. PNM re bid the installation work because the contractor it initially selected violated New Mexico’s contractor license requirements.

Further, PNM’s proposed $42.72 per month opt-out fee is too high. Several of the non PNM parties have raised concerns about the health impacts, safety, and security of the AMI meters. While PNM contests the validity of the concerns and PNM’s plan allows customers who have such concerns to choose not to receive an AMI meter, the magnitude of the monthly opt-out fee is too high to provide customers with a meaningful choice.

As a discretionary project, the timing is also not good. PNM hopes to achieve its predicted savings largely by laying off 125 employees who perform meter reading and related functions. In addition, PNM ratepayers have experienced a recent series of rate increases — an increase in October 2017 and an increase effective in February of this year. Further rate increases also appear to be on the horizon as PNM seeks unrecovered costs of coal plants that it plans to retire and new generating resources to replace them.

To be clear, the Hearing Examiner is not recommending that PNM be prohibited from adopting an AMI project. The recommendation is that PNM’s AMI project not be approved at this time in its current form. PNM should engage in the planning process it told the Commission in 2012 was necessary for a project of such a scope. The planning process should examine reasonable alternatives and solicit public input to develop a plan that fairly addresses the needs of its customers and its service territory.”

Reasons for recommendations include:

  • No net public benefit, no evaluation of alternatives and the public interest
  • PNM’s unlicensed contractor and PNM’s repeated inability to accurately specify the qualifications required for a contractor
  • The uncertainty of savings for ratepayers: imminent rate increases, the risk that lifetime costs will exceed savings
  • Disproportionate benefits for investors: elimination of financial risks for investors, immediate increase in investor earnings, PNM’s requests that the Commission find the AMI capital costs and expenses are reasonable and prudent, full recovery of undepreciated costs and customer education costs as regulatory assets
  • Discretionary project — insufficient demonstration of need and no plans to use AMI for energy efficiency
  • Opt-out fees do not provide meaningful opportunity to opt-out: unreasonableness of fees , health concerns, safety concerns
  • Job losses
  • Recent and future rate increases


p. 81 PNM’s 2012 report on advanced metering recognized the need for public input and a detailed implementation plan before coming to the Commission for approval of a project. PNM has not adopted that approach here.

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California: Alameda resident arrested for blocking installation of Smart Meters

See also Press release.

From the  Alameda Sun

Smart Meter Activist Arrested for Blockage

April 3, 2018
by  Ekene Ikeme

Alameda police officers arrested an Alameda resident after he allegedly tried blocking the installation of Alameda Municipal Power’s (AMP) new smart meters at an apartment building Thursday, March 29.

Alameda resident Christopher Rabe was arrested at 10:30 a.m., according to Alameda Police Department (APD) reports. The incident took place at the apartment building on the 2200 block of Pacific Avenue where Rabe, 39, is a tenant. 

[Editor: According to the press release from Stop Smart Meters, there is a bank of 13 electric meters on his children’s bedroom wall. AMP was attempting to install Smart Meters there. During his detention, AMP installed 5 Smart Meters on their wall.]

Workers from Professional Meters, Inc., which AMP hired to conduct the smart electric meter installations, were attempting to install AMP’s new meters at the apartment building. At the residence the workers noticed Rabe was blocking the grid where the meters would be installed. He had also wrapped a chain around his meter. 

Even though Rabe opted out of the program, restricting access to the electric meter is against the law. Per the terms of AMP’s Rules & Regulations, customers may not obstruct access to metering equipment and the utility has the right to remove any obstructions. Rabe was taken to an Oakland jail and released after posting bond.

[Editor: Mr. Rabe was held for 10 hours.]

The workers were to install five meters at the building, four to residences and one for a commercial meter for the common areas in the building. Some of the other residents chose to opt out of the new smart meter program and continue with their old meters. 

Rabe has been in an ongoing battle with AMP over its new smart meters (“New Smart Meters Raise Radiation Concerns,” Nov. 23, 2017). He believes the radio-frequency (RF) levels of the new meters are higher than AMP suggests. He expressed his concerns to AMP in a letter he sent them last year. He also posted a video to Youtube where he used his own RF meter to monitor RF wave transmissions from several smart meters around Alameda last year. In the videos, Rabe stands in front of a smart meter and analyzes how many times his RF meter picks up pulsed microbursts of RF radiation. In the video Rabe believes one smart meter transmits more than 9,000 times per day. 

However, according to AMP’s website, the smart meters, which are manufactured by Landis & Gyr, a worldwide smart meter and smart grid manufacturing company, emit about 83 seconds of RF frequency waves per day. This comes from 270 maintenance and 1,440 sync transmissions per day.

[Editor: PG&E uses Landis & Gyr Smart Meters. In a statement filed with the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E stated these meters transmit pulses  over 14,000 (mean average) to 190,000 times every day — p. 3-5 and footnote #4.] 

Calls to the Alameda County District Attorney’s office to determine what charges Rabe will face were not returned as of Tuesday.

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Press release: 

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Democracy Now interview on Nation investigation 4/5/18, Part 2: How Big Wireless war-gamed the science on risks, while making customers addicted to their phones (VIDEO)

“…they were told 20 years ago that this could cause cancer in kids, and they kept doing it. Think about that. Think about that.”
— Mark Hertsgaard

From Democracy Now

April 5, 2018
Video at above link.

Guests:  Mark Hertsgaard, Environment correspondent and investigative editor for The Nation
Article: “How Big Wireless Made Us Think That Cell Phones Are Safe”

We continue our conversation with Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation’s environment correspondent and investigative editor, who co-authored a major new exposé, “How Big Wireless Made Us Think That Cell Phones Are Safe.” He discusses how wireless companies “war-gamed the science” by funding friendly studies and attacking critical ones; the potential dangers of the pending expansion of 5G with the “internet of things”; the role of the telecommunications industry officials turned federal regulators; and how companies deliberately addicted customers to this technology through the addition of social media.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!The War and Peace Report, with this web exclusive. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to Part 2 of our look at a new investigation by The Nation headlined “How Big Wireless Made Us Think That Cell Phones Are Safe.” It reveals how cellphones were first marketed to U.S. consumers in the 1980s without any government safety testing. Then, a decade later, one of the industry’s own hand-picked researchers, George Carlo, reportedly told top company officials, including leaders of Apple, AT&T and Motorola, that some industry-commissioned studies raised serious questions about cellphone safety. On October 7th, 1999, Carlo sent letters to industry CEOs urging them to give consumers, quote, “the information they need to make an informed judgment about how much of this unknown risk they wish to assume.” Instead, the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association reportedly tried to discredit Carlo’s findings, and had him physically removed from its premises during its annual conference in February 2000.

AMY GOODMAN: The Nation investigation notes Carlo’s story “evokes eerie parallels with two of the most notorious cases of corporate deception on record: the campaigns by the tobacco and fossil-fuel industries to obscure the dangers of smoking and climate change, respectively.”

For more, we continue with our interview with one of the authors of the new investigation, Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation’s environment correspondent and investigative editor.

So, Mark Hertsgaard, if you could reiterate, at this point, in 2018, as you evaluate the science or talk to the scientists who are evaluating it, what do you think is of most concern about cellphones? And then talk about ways to mitigate your—the effects of cellphones.

MARK HERTSGAARD: Sure. I want to emphasize I’m not a scientist. I’m a journalist and an author. But we talked to a lot of scientists. And our story does not say whether cellphones are safe or not. We looked at the industry disinformation and propaganda campaign that for the past 25 years has been convincing the public that these cellphones are safe.

And the way they’ve done that is to war-game the science, as they put it in an internal memo from Motorola. They’ve funded their friendly scientists. They’ve attacked critical science, independent science. They’ve put their own people onto advisory boards. All that said, that’s resulted in, I think, the message coming across from the mainstream media, frankly, that cellphones are safe enough, shall we say?

However, that point of view took a major hit just last week, the night before we released our story. There was a peer review by independent scientists of the biggest study that the United States government has had to date on cellphone radiation. This was a study by the U.S. National Toxicology Program, that’s part of the National Institutes of Health. The study was commissioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And it released some preliminary findings in February, and then those findings were peer-reviewed by independent scientists last week. And those independent scientists finally concluded that there was, quote, “clear evidence,” unquote, “clear evidence” that cellphone radiation can cause cancers.

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