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

Introduction
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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Industry scientist paid $14,681 for testimony on Smart Meters

Dr. Leeka Kheifets, lately of UCLA, but also connected to the utility industry’s Electric Power Research Institute and the World Health Organization conflict-of-interest filled EMF Project, has frequently appeared for PG&E, APS, and other utility companies to vouch for Smart Meter and wireless safety.

What does an industry “expert” like Leeka Kheifets get paid for her testimony?

Arizona Public Service, an investor-owned utility company, used Kheifets in 2011 for a Smart Meter workshop on radio frequency “concerns”. In its current rate case, APS was asked what she was paid for that one-day appearance.

APS refused to say, but was ordered by the Administrative Law Judge to answer. This is what APS finally said:

APS retained Dr. Kheifets to present on behalf of the Company at the Commission’s September 8, 2011 workshop regarding radio frequency concerns for a total remuneration of $14,681.14.

That’s quite profitable.

Is that a conflict of interest? Yes, it is.

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Bioinitiative website provides searchable research database

From the CTIA (formerly known as the Cellular Telephone Industry Association) website:

From time to time, some researchers report that a study shows a possible connection between radio frequency fields and a health problem. These reports are sometimes the subject of dramatic stories in the broadcast media and sensational material on some websites. Of course, responsible expert authorities do not base their conclusions on just the latest study — they evaluate all of the relevant studies.

From Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE)
February 15, 2017

A Case Study: Tapping the Bioinitiative Website

Bioinitiative logo

By Cindy Sage, MA
Owner of Sage Associates, Full Member of the Bioelectromagnetics Society, Co-author of the Bioinitiative Report and CHE Partner

This post will introduce our readers to the BioInitiative website, which makes publications on electromagnetic fields (EMF) and radiofrequency radiation (RF) on health topics accessible. The information is set up to allow users to integrate the EMF and RF information on health into their own practices. I hope other CHE groups will begin to consider how EMF and RF studies, along with other important environmental contaminants, can shape our views on the etiologies of breast cancer, brain cancers, heart disease, neurological diseases, cognitive and neurodevelopmental problems like autism and ADHD, and the fundamental mechanisms involved.

The Bioinitiative provides broad information the science and public health consequences of EMF and wireless technologies. This website offers an opportunity for CHE members to access many hundreds of scientific abstracts on EMF and RF. The Research Summaries can be downloaded and word-searched by topic or keyword (“hippocampus”, for example). The ability to quickly access scientific publications reporting effects (or no effects) is a vital part of research and education. This collection offers rapid access to decision-makers and the public on the state of the evidence for EMF and RF effects on human health. It can help researchers identify common pathways, mechanisms and biomarkers that may overlap with chemical and ionizing radiation, and studies of various disease endpoints (cancers, neurological diseases, neurodevelopmental problems and more).

A CHE ScienceServ that I follow recently included a post regarding a new study of hippocampal activation, increased amyloid accumulation and cognitive decline.1 I was able to search the Bioinitiative website for studies on effects of radiofrequency and microwave radiation on the hippocampus and found 44 studies reporting effects on the hippocampus from exposure to radiofrequency radiation, primarily in the cell phone and Wi-Fi frequency ranges. RF/microwave exposures are clearly biologically active in the hippocampus at exposure levels below current safety limits. Such exposures are reported to cause changes in development, structure and function of the hippocampus.

The studies I located provide readers a sense of the scope of information available on the Bioinitiative website:

  • Lai et al, 1991: An increase in receptor concentration occurred in the hippocampus of rats subjected to ten 45-min sessions of microwave exposure, whereas a decrease in concentration was observed in the frontal cortex and hippocampus of rats exposed to ten 20-min sessions.2
  • Lai et al, 1992: The data showed that all three subtypes of opioid receptors are involved in the microwave-induced decrease in cholinergic activity in the hippocampus.3
  • Grigor’ev et al, 1995: The reaction of hippocampus was displayed as amplification of theta-range in spectrum within of normal functioning.4
  • Lai et al, 1996: These data indicate that mu-opioid receptors in the septum mediate a microwave-induced decrease in cholinergic activity in the hippocampus and support our hypothesis that microwaves at a whole body SAR of 0.6 W/kg can activate endogenous opioids in the brain.5
  • Pu et al, 1997: Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the brain and the amounts of succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) in the hypothalamus and hippocampus were reduced significantly in the group irradiated at 3000-MHz microwave 1 h daily for 7 days as compared to the control.6
  • Ding et al, 1998: Decrease of nitric oxide synthase expression in hippocampus relates to the obstruction of learning and memory of the rat after exposure to electromagnetic pulse.7
  • Wu et al, 1999: Electromagnetic pulse exposure results in changes of the content of neurotransmitters in different cerebral areas of rats, lowering their ability of learning.8
  • Cobb et al, 2000: The medial-to-lateral length of the hippocampus was significantly longer in the ultra-wideband electromagnetic fields -exposed pups than in the sham-exposed animals.9
  • Tattersall et al, 2001: Low-intensity RF fields can modulate the excitability of hippocampal tissue in vitro in the absence of gross thermal effects.10
  • Testylier et al, 2002: Neurochemical modification of the hippocampal cholinergic system can be observed during and after an exposure for 1 h during the day to a 2.45 GHz continuous wave radiofrequency field (RF).11
  • Salford et al, 2003: We found highly significant (p<0.002) evidence for neuronal damage in the cortex, hippocampus, and basal ganglia in the brains of rats exposed for 2 hr to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) mobile phone electromagnetic fields of different strengths.12
  • Paulraj & Behari, 2004: A significant decrease in the calcium-dependent protein kinase C (PKC) enzyme level was observed in the modulated radio frequency (RF) radiation exposed group as compared to the sham exposed group.13
  • Koylu et al, 2006: The levels of lipid peroxidation in the brain cortex and hippocampus increased in the microwave-exposed (MW) group compared with the control group, although the levels in the hippocampus were decreased by MW+melatonin administration.14
  • Lopez-Martin et al, 2006: When rats transformed into an experimental model of seizure-proneness by acute subconvulsive doses of picrotoxin were exposed to 2 h GSM-modulated 900 MHz radiation at an intensity similar to that emitted by mobile phones, they suffered seizures and the levels of the neuronal activity marker c-Fos in neocortex, paleocortex, hippocampus and thalamus increased markedly.15
  • Paulraj & Behari, 2006: Our study reveals a statistically significant decrease in protein kinase C activity in hippocampus in the group exposed to 2.45 GHz radiation for 2 h/day for a period of 35 days as compared to the remaining portion of the whole brain and the control group.16
  • Zhao et al, 2006: Map2 was statistically significantly up-regulated after neurons were exposed to the RF EMF.17
  • Ammari et al, 2008: Our results indicated that chronic exposure to GSM 900 MHz microwaves may induce persistent astroglia activation in the rat brain (sign of a potential gliosis).18
  • Nittby et al, 2008: Gene ontology analysis (using the gene ontology categories biological processes, molecular functions, and cell components) of the differentially expressed genes of the exposed animals versus the control group revealed the following highly significant altered gene categories in both cortex and hippocampus: extracellular region, signal transducer activity, intrinsic to membrane, and integral to membrane.19
  • Odaci et al, 2008: Prenatal EMF exposure caused a decrease in the number of granule cells in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus rat brain.20
  • Bas et al, 2009: Postnatal EMF exposure caused a significant decrease of the hippocampal pyramidal cell number in the cornu ammonis (CA) of the EMF group. Additionally, cell loss can be seen in the CA region of EMF group even at qualitative observation.21
  • Daniels et al, 2009: We found no significant differences in the spatial memory test, and morphological assessment of the brain also yielded non-significant differences between the groups. However, in some exposed animals there were decreased locomotor activity, increased grooming and a tendency of increased basal corticosterone levels.22
  • Kesari & Behari, 2009: With chronic exposure to these radiations, PKC decreased significantly in whole brain and hippocampus and DNA double-strand break (head and tail length, intensity and tail migration) and showed a significant decrease in glutathione peroxidase and superoxides dismutase activity in brain cells, whereas catalase activity shows significant increase in the exposed group of brain samples as compared with control.23
  • Li et al, 2009: Microwave radiation can increase the expression of AQP4 in rat hippocampus.24
  • Ammari et al, 2010: Sub-chronic exposures to a 900 MHz EMF signal for two months could adversely affect rat brain, including the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus (sign of a potential gliosis).25
  • Maskey et al, 2010: Exposure for 1 month produced almost complete loss of hippocampal pyramidal cells in the CA1 area.26
  • Narayanan et al, 2010: Mobile phone RF-EMR exposure significantly altered the passive avoidance behaviour and hippocampal morphology in rats.27
  • Carballo-Quintás et al, 2011: Ninety minutes after radiation high levels of c-fos expression were recorded in the neocortex and paleocortex along with low hippocampus activation in picrotoxin treated animals. Most brain areas, except the limbic cortical region, showed important increases in neuronal activation 24 h after picrotoxin and radiation.28
  • Dragicevic et al 2011: These results collectively suggest that brain mitochondrial enhancement may be a primary mechanism through which EMF treatment provides cognitive benefit to both transgenic and non-transgenic mice.29
  • Fragopoulou et al, 2012: Comparative proteomics analysis revealed that long-term irradiation from two EMF sources—a typical mobile phone and a wireless DECT base (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications/Telephone)—altered significantly (p<0.05) the expression of 143 proteins in total (as low as 0.003-fold downregulation up to 114-fold overexpression).30
  • Lu et al, 2012: Our results indicate that glucose administration attenuates the spatial memory deficits induced by chronic low-power-density microwave (MW) exposure, and reduced hippocampal glucose uptake may be associated with cognitive impairment caused by MW exposure.31
  • Yang et al, 2012: Exposure to electromagnetic fields elicits a stress response in the rat hippocampus.32

For full list:  https://www.healthandenvironment.org/engage/blog/a-case-study-tapping-the-bioinitiative-website

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Ohio smart water meter coverup: 72,000 billing complaints, “skyrocketing bills” for Cleveland Water customers; critical meter installation error or other problems?

Excellent investigative report from News 5 Cleveland by Ron Regan
February 15, 2017

Excerpts:

Cleveland Water uses Elster meters.

Incorrect meter programming leads to billing error, but water officials failed to inform customers with skyrocketing bills

A Cleveland water customer will high bills discovered the programming error. “The water department assured him there was no problem, never mentioned possible programming errors,  and threatened him with disconnection.”

In its report, “Factors for Water Billing Accuracy“, Itron warns that “many errors can occur during installation that can cause an inaccurate meter read”.

“Cleveland Division of Water has repaired or replaced at least 3,469 “smart meters” over the last four years since the program began…Additional records show more than 72,000 water customer billing complaints for the same time period.”

 

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Disabled veteran disputes bill increase, smart meter reading

On the newscast. the reporters say that they’ve been hearing from other people about high bills, and they give information on the two upcoming Michigan legislature hearings on the Smart Meter bill.

From ABC 12, Michigan

VIDEO on website

By Elisse Ramey |

GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJRT) – (2/17/17) – A disabled veteran is locked in a dispute over his utility bill – and fears he could ultimately lose his house. We’ve been hearing people talk about fluctuations in their bills since smart meters have been installed.

Edward Vernier and his wife, Tammy, say their energy bills aren’t t adding up.

“Me being a hundred percent disabled vet, living on a fixed income, they’re just starving us to death. There’s no way we could be using that much energy,” he said.

He says their bill is on average $270.00. On a budget plan, they pay about $150.00 a month, but now he says their bill is around $470.00.

Energy Insights provided by the company show their usage to be highest from 12-am to 12-noon when they are sleep or not using appliances. Even more to the point — the couple spends 3 weeks out of the month away from their Grand Blanc Township home during camping season.

A technician visited the house Tuesday to, and said the couple is being energy efficient. The only answer Edward has for the increase is the installation of a smart meter. He says that was told to him by a Consumers Energy employee.

“She says that the newer meters are catching up from appliances that weren’t recording properly.”

Consumers Energy says Edward’s meter is showing an accurate reading. They say Edward has been enrolled in a shutoff protection plan for over a year, and his bill increased in November to address a past-due balance. He owes a few thousand dollars, and now this vet is running out of options. He’s already taken out a VA loan to help with the mortgage.

“It’s going to drive us out of our house, you know, with the amount of money that we’re spending. That’s killing us on the mortgage payment,” he said.

Edward says the technician told him he wasn’t the only one with a smart meter who has experienced an increase in usage and cost, but he was told the increase he’s experienced is the highest.

The company says Edward may qualify for the CARE program which is supposed to help customers with past due bills. They reached out to him after we called, but he hasn’t officially been enrolled, yet.

http://www.abc12.com/content/news/Disabled-veteran-disputes-bill-increase-smart-meter-reading-414130523.html

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Michigan: Bipartisan support for legislation; HB 4220 bans opt-out fees; utilities would be forced to remove unwanted Smart Meters

House Bill #4220
https://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2017-2018/billintroduced/House/pdf/2017-HIB-4220.pdf

From WZZM ABC 13

by April Stevens
February 17, 2017

LANSING, MICH. – Michigan homeowners may be able to reject ‘smart meters’ at no charge under a bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland.

The bill will be the subject of a public hearing this Tuesday in the House Energy Policy Committee, which Glenn chairs, and again on March 7.

“Republicans and Democrats alike agree it’s all about individual freedom of choice and homeowners’ private property rights,” Glenn said. Among the 17 co-sponsors are four Democrats, including Rep. Rose Mary Robinson of Detroit.

“Homeowners should have the ultimate authority to decide what technology is installed in their homes – not utilities whose government-protected monopoly prevents homeowners from choosing a competing electricity provider,” Glenn continued.

The bill would support Attorney General Bill Schuette’s court brief stating utility officials have no authority to charge fees to customers who wish to opt out of advanced metering technology such as the smart meters. The fees were allowed by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Consumers Energy and DTE Energy charge residents nearly $70 initially and nearly $10 a month afterwards to opt out of programs involving advanced electricity meters installed outside of residential homes. The new meters are replacing older analog models.

Some reject the new technology, with reasons varying from cost to privacy concerns to property rights. Other concerns included the potential to track energy usage patterns to determine when homes are empty or how many people live at a particular address through data transmitted by smart meters.

“It’s a cyber-security concern,” Glenn said. “We live in a wired world. We need to safeguard homeowners’ privacy and private property rights so people have the option to limit these intrusions and threats to exposure of their private information.”

Glenn’s bill would ban utilities from charging homeowners fees if they don’t want smart meters as well as allowing customers to keep the older meters to self-read and report their energy usage to utilities on their own. That would reduce the need for utilities to send meter readers to homes or charge for those services.

Under the bill, customers who keep their old meters but decide not to self-read could be charged a monthly fee of no more than $5 and utilities would be forced to remove the technology from any home in which it has already been installed against the homeowner’s wishes.

“Homeowners didn’t have a say in this smart meter program, and under utility officials’ government-granted monopoly, homeowners aren’t free to shop around for a competing electricity provider that doesn’t require smart meters,” Glenn said.

“We hope to correct that situation and provide freedom of choice through this bipartisan legislation.”

April Stevens is a multi-platform producer at WZZM 13. Have a news tip? Email news@wzzm13.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.

(© 2017 WZZM)

http://www.wzzm13.com/money/consumer/rep-glenn-homeowners-could-reject-smart-meters-at-no-charge/409317178

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Maine: Bill eliminating opt-out fees gets state hearing February 14

Maine Legislature
February 14, 2017
Hearing:  Energy, Utilities, & Technology Committee
1 PM EST

Hearing on SP 75 / LD 229 (introduced by Maine Senator Dave Miramant)

Audio Broadcast Page: http://legislature.maine.gov/committee/#Audio/211

SP 75/LD 229

An Act To Prohibit an Electric Utility from Charging a Customer for Using an Electromechanical Meter

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 1. 35-A MRSA §3104, sub-§2, as enacted by PL 2003, c. 412, §1, is amended to read:

  1. Requirement.  Except as provided in this section, an investor-owned transmission and distribution utility shall adopt and ordinarily follow as a general operating policy a schedule of reading customer meters on a monthly basis. Any investor-owned transmission and distribution utility that plans to adopt a different policy, such as bimonthly meter readings or meter readings in accordance with subsection 3, must receive prior approval of the commission.

Sec. 2.  35-A MRSA §3104, sub-§3  is enacted to read:

  1. 3 Meter reading and billing option. An investor-owned transmission and distribution utility may, with the prior approval of the commission, adopt in accordance with this subsection a meter reading and billing policy for customers using electromechanical meters, as defined in section 3106, that involves reading customer meters as infrequently as once every 12 months. The policy may not involve reading meters less frequently than once every 12 months. The policy may include a monthly billing method that bases charges on an average of the customer’s previous actual electricity consumption over a period of up to 18 months. The policy may provide for meter readings by a customer between readings by the utility if the utility provides guidance to the customer on how to read a meter and a method that does not impose a cost on the customer for the customer to provide the readings to the utility. The policy must establish a process by which the utility provides a refund to a customer if a billing based on average usage results in an overpayment by a customer and an appropriate rebilling of a customer if such a billing results in an underpayment by the customer. The commission may adopt routine technical rules as defined in Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A to implement this subsection.

Sec. 3.  35-A MRSA §3106  is enacted to read:

  • 3106. Smart meter opt-out fees and charges prohibited
  1. 1 As used in this section, the following terms have the following meanings.
  1. A“Electromechanical meter” means a meter used to measure electricity consumption that is not a wireless smart meter.
  1. B“Wireless smart meter” means an electronic metering device to measure electricity consumption that reports that consumption by wireless, radio frequency communication.
  1. 2 A transmission and distribution utility may not charge a customer a fee, monthly charge or higher rate for declining the installation of a wireless smart meter or for the removal of a wireless smart meter. A transmission and distribution utility may not charge a customer for costs associated with that customer’s choosing an electromechanical meter.

All costs incurred by a transmission and distribution utility as a result of a customer’s choosing an electromechanical meter are just and reasonable for rate-making purposes.

SUMMARY

This bill prohibits a transmission and distribution utility from charging a customer a fee, monthly charge or higher rate for declining the installation of a wireless smart meter or for the removal of a wireless smart meter. A transmission and distribution utility is prohibited from including any costs associated with a customer’s choosing an electromechanical meter in rates charged to that customer.

With approval by the Public Utilities Commission, an investor-owned transmission and distribution utility may decrease the number of times an electromechanical meter is read for a customer that declines the installation of a wireless smart meter but may not read the meter less frequently than once every 12 months and may establish a rate collection method that is based upon the average electricity consumption of the customer. If a transmission and distribution utility prefers a more frequent electromechanical meter reading, the utility may establish a method for a customer to provide the utility with a more frequent electromechanical meter reading, as long as the method does not impose a cost on the customer. This bill requires the utility to establish a process by which the utility provides a refund to a customer if a billing based on average usage results in an overpayment by a customer and an appropriate rebilling of a customer if such a billing results in an underpayment by the customer.

http://legislature.maine.gov/legis/bills/getPDF.asp?paper=SP0075&item=1&snum=128

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Are ‘smart’ meters dangerous? Pennsylvania man wins round in fight with electric company

From Penn Live

By Matt Miller
February 10, 2017

At least for now, a Philadelphia man has won a round in his fight with the electric company.

It came this week when a Commonwealth Court panel ordered the Public Utility Commission to give Antonio Romeo a chance to prove his claim that a “smart” electric meter PECO wants to install at his home isn’t safe.

This is something of a David and Goliath story, since Romeo doesn’t even have a lawyer.

Romeo began loading his slingshot by refusing to allow PECO workers onto his property to install a smart meter required as part of a state program to reduce energy consumption. He claims such meters are dangerous because they can catch fire.

PECO fought back and won rulings from an administrative law judge and the PUC requiring Romeo to give in. Then came the Commonwealth Court opinion by Judge P. Kevin Brobson.

Brobson agreed with the PUC in tossing out Romeo’s claim that federal law allows him to fend off PECO’s meter installation.

However, Brobson concluded that the PUC dismissed Romeo’s safety argument a bit too quickly. The commission rejected Romeo’s contention about meter fires on grounds that he didn’t personally provide any proof to back it up.

Romeo did provide links to two news articles about the supposed safety issue, the state judge noted. Brobson ordered the PUC to hold another hearing focusing just on the danger claim to give Romeo the opportunity to substantiate his concerns.

http://www.pennlive.com/news/2017/02/are_smart_meters_dangerous_man.html

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