Report on Smart Meter Problems

Updated January 19, 2016

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

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

Table of Contents

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

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An electrical engineer’s testimony on Smart Meters

From Stop Smart Meters Michigan


By William Bathgate, Electrical Engineer
October 12th, 2016
Revised October 13th, 2016

Editor’s Note: In the following article, originally written as a public comment to the Michigan Public Service Commission, Mr. Bathgate considers safety issues with the new electric meters as related to our current discussion of a proposed rule change concerning emergency shutoffs for “hazardous conditions.” Revisions to this article are indicated in blue [at SSMM] and consist mainly in the addition of a section dealing with the lack of lightning arrestors in the AMI meters.

Case No. U-18120
Proposed Rule 460.137 — 37(1)(a) & 37(1)(i)

 A utility may shut off or deny service to a customer “without notice, if a condition on the customer’s premises is determined by the utility or a governmental agency to be hazardous.”

I hold an electrical engineering and mechanical engineering degree and previously was employed through late 2015 for 8 years at the Emerson Electric Company. While at Emerson Electric I was the Senior Program Manager for Power Distribution Systems and in charge of an RF and IP based digitally controlled high power AC power switching system product line in use in over 100 countries and I was also directly responsible for product certifications such as UL, CE and many other countries electrical certification bodies. I am very familiar with the electrical and electronic design of the AMI meters in use because I was responsible for very similar products with over 1 Million units installed across the world.

I have just reviewed the transcripts of the hearing held in Lansing on this subject and came to realize there were many comments regarding the issues identified from the effects of both the RF emitting AMI meter and the non RF emitting AMI Opt-Out Meter. I have personally tested the RF emissions from the AMI meter and measured that the meter does not send data just a few times a day as the utilities publish. It actually sends an RF pulse about every 4-5 seconds constantly and a longer duration RF emission after midnight running about 3-5 minutes. There is no need for the AMI meter to send a pulse every 4-5 seconds all day just to synchronize and time stamp the clock inside the meter, the meter only needs to send data once a day for 3-5 minutes. All these pulse transmissions the AMI meter is doing is a complete waste of energy and because it is a short but frequently pulsing signal that is not needed to measure power consumption, it is creating needless health effects and is impacting consumers as evidenced in the testimony. Some consumers have been affected to the point of near death experiences. The Mesh Network design is saturating the environment with RF transmissions mostly for the purpose of the network synchronization not the consumption measurement of power. I could not think of a worse network design for a power measurement device.

After reading the transcripts of the hearing I noticed quite a few comments from people affected to a terrible effect by the RF based AMI meter, and interestingly also the RF turned off Opt-Out Meter. It begs the question why do people also seem affected by the Opt-Out meter? Well I went out and purchased an ITRON

Open Way meter identical to the meter being deployed by DTE. I took the unit apart to examine the circuit design of the three boards inside the meter. Generally the boards seem well made with several important elements lacking or missing.

The switching mode power supply circuit is lacking effective Ground References, Lightning Protection and “Common Mode” EMI filters. The circuit boards are lacking a direct local connection to a Zero voltage potential ground at the meter to sink (ground) the current and voltage oscillations of the circuit boards.

Ground References:

Depending on the soil conditions and a solid or not solid low impedance connection ground point or surface, the ground plane reference (called a rotating return) of the circuit boards may be floating over a Zero voltage potential condition. This will create Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI) via oscillation of the ground reference return paths. The use of no direct ground reference as in use today is a poor electrical practice with the AMI meter given all the environmental variables leads to a floating ground potential that could cause strong voltage and current ground potentials varying from zero to a worse case of 240 AC volts (due to a direct short). If there was a direct short of the feed wire because of a voltage surge on the input power from a power surge or lightning strike at the pole or where the two feed lines cross each other from a downed tree limb I would fully expect the circuit boards to likely explode or melt.

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Opposition to ComEd/Exelon plan: Chicago officials say changes would hurt low-income customers

From Crain’s Chicago Business

Run your dishwasher at the wrong time, watch your electric bill soar?
By Steve Daniels
October 12, 2016

Six South and West Side aldermen, along with Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, are pressing state lawmakers to reject a Commonwealth Edison proposal to radically overhaul how electricity rates are set, saying the changes would hurt low-income residents struggling to pay their bills.

A letter delivered earlier this week to House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and the Republican leaders of both chambers takes aim at ComEd’s push to charge residents not for how much electricity they use in a given month, but for how much they consume at the highest-demand times of day.

Read the letter at the bottom of this story.

ComEd says these “demand charges” will give households a better incentive to use power efficiently. The current system, in place for a century, is designed for a time when the utility wanted customers to consume more, ComEd says.

But the coalition opposing the changes says in its letter that demand charges—Illinois would be the first state to adopt them if ComEd is successful—would confuse customers and lead to higher electricity rates for many who can’t afford it.

“Turning on your dryer, toaster or microwave at the wrong time will significantly increase your bill,” the letter stated. “Demand charges are hard to understand and hard to control. They will make it impossible for consumers to control their electricity bills.”

Among the letter signers: Aldermen Proco Joe Moreno, 1st; Howard Brookins, 21st; Ricardo Munoz, 22nd; Michael Scott Jr., 24th; Jason Ervin, 28th; and Emma Mitts, 37th. Garcia also signed. Nonprofits on the letter include the West Side NAACP, AARP Illinois and the Illinois Public Interest Research Group.


Opposition from minority members of the City Council is a potential problem for ComEd, which traditionally relies heavily on Black Caucus support when it asks for help from Springfield—a not-infrequent occurrence.

ComEd and parent Exelon are hoping for passage next month of wide-ranging energy legislation that would include ComEd’s new delivery-rate system, as well as subsidies for two Exelon-owned nuclear plants that it otherwise will close, and a host of environmental provisions.

That measure has been the subject of behind-the-scenes talks between the power industry, consumer groups, environmental groups and renewable-energy developers. A compromise bill hasn’t yet surfaced.

“The burden will be even greater if you live paycheck to paycheck or on a fixed income,” the letter said. “A single hour’s careless electricity use can cause an unexpected bill spike that puts energy or other essential expenditures out of reach.”

In an interview, ComEd Senior Vice President Val Jensen said the utility is negotiating with consumer groups and others on changes that should prevent many consumers from seeing unanticipated monthly spikes in their electric bills. As proposed, the measure would set delivery charges based on a household’s usage during the highest-demand day of the previous month. ComEd has agreed to set rates based on a household’s average usage during the highest-demand hours of business days over the previous month, he said.

The new system should result in lower rates for nearly 80 percent of low-income customers in ComEd’s territory, even if they do nothing at all, Jensen said. That, of course, leaves more than 20 percent who would see higher rates—not a small percentage.


And therein lies the political problem. Such a dramatic change by definition creates winners and losers, and lawmakers (along with the utility) will be the ones whom the losers blame for their higher bills.

Chicagoans in particular already are experiencing substantially higher property taxes and will see higher water charges due to the need to shore up woefully underfunded government pension plans.

“This is especially coming at a very volatile and sensitive time for consumers,” Garcia said in an interview.

He wondered why ComEd didn’t propose this first to the Illinois Commerce Commission, which regulates utilities. The ICC typically would approve a pilot program before plunging into something so significant. That’s what the agency did when ComEd wanted to install smart meters throughout its service territory. The Legislature eventually endorsed the more audacious plan and the annual rate hikes that made it possible.

“Rolling something like this out . . . is a pretty drastic measure to undertake without first at least piloting the concept,” said Garcia, who’s become a high-profile representative of progressive interests since his unsuccessful but highly competitive run against incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel last spring.

ComEd’s Jensen agreed this is a significant change and the present system is working OK for now. “This isn’t an emergency, I will admit,” he said.

But he responded that electricity rate regulation hasn’t changed fundamentally in a century. “Typically, things that are over 100 years old we declare historical landmarks or we decide there’s a better way to do things,” he said.

ComEd won’t make more money from this change, he said. It just will allocate the costs of upgrading and maintaining the local power grid more fairly.

The costs of maintaining the system are mainly due to ensuring ComEd can meet peak demand. So it’s only fair that people pay based on how much they’re taxing the system during those high-demand times.

In addition, under the current structure, consumers who can’t afford or don’t want to install solar panels on their roofs will have to pay higher rates to make up for those who do, as solar power takes greater hold in the area, Jensen said.


So how can consumers keep their bills low if their rates aren’t set based on how much juice they consume in a month?

They must take greater care to use fewer appliances and devices that run on electricity when the weather is really hot or really cold during the day, he said. For example, it would be wise not to wash clothes or run dishwashers or leave lights on while air conditioners are running in the middle of the day.

Or “the solution might be, maybe don’t crank the AC quite as high,” Jensen said.

He emphasized that ComEd’s legislation makes $1 billion available for programs that benefit low-income households, including $50 million in direct assistance to consumers struggling to pay their bills.

From ComEd’s perspective, Jensen said, the change will result in cheaper bills for more than half of its residential customers. And the other 40 percent can change their behavior to reduce their costs.

“We need to do a much better job of communicating the message,” he said.

Demand Charge Letter 10.11.16

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Alarming discovery: “nerve block” frequencies emitted by Smart Meter (Landis & Gyr) – VIDEO

Information & Perspective by Warren Woodward
Sedona, Arizona
October 8, 2016

Everyone knows that wireless “smart” meters communicate via microwaves. What was unknown until now is that additional frequencies are transmitted in the 2 to 50 kilohertz range. Numerous studies have shown repeatedly that those very same frequencies disrupt the human nervous system. Indeed, “nerve block” is the phrase used in the studies to describe what occurs.

The studies are not controversial. In others words, there are no studies that show otherwise. Nerve block induced by frequencies in the 2 to 50 kilohertz range is an established fact. The studies that show this nerve block are all from reputable sources including the epitome of “establishment” science when it comes to electricity, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

So the demonstration you will see in the video is groundbreaking, or more accurately, “smart” meter breaking.

Unless they cease, desist, and bring down the wireless “smart” grid at once, “smart” meter manufacturers and the utilities that use them are going to be facing massive liability and personal injury lawsuits because, unlike the microwave radiation that anti-“smart” meter advocates have been calling attention to for years, there is no scientific dispute regarding the biological effects of 2 to 50 kilohertz frequencies.

Additionally, state utility regulators and public health departments will need to actually do their jobs which always used to include protecting the public and promoting public health and safety.

Lastly, the U.S. Department of Energy will have to bring an immediate halt to the promotion and subsidization of the wireless “smart” grid.

Every day of delay will bring greater liability for the aforementioned corporations and agencies and the individuals involved. It’s one thing to act in ignorance, quite another not to act once knowledge is received.

To everyone reading, send this video to your utilities, your state utility regulators, your state health departments, and to hungry lawyers everywhere.$=relatedarticles&logdbfrom=pmc   — list of studies — list of studies

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High water bills in Georgia halt installation of malfunctioning Sensus ‘smart’ water meters

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

DeKalb halts installation of so-called “smart” water meters
By Mark Niesse – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
October 11, 2016

So-called “smart” water meters are malfunctioning across DeKalb County, leading to the high utility bills that prompted a heated town hall meeting last week and an emotional protest Tuesday.

The problem? These water meters can break when rainwater or other moisture gets in.

The DeKalb Commission voted 5-0 on Tuesday to suspend installation of the meters, made by Sensus, as the county reviews whether to fix the meters it has or contract with a different manufacturer. The commission also granted the county’s finance director greater flexibility to reduce inexplicably high water bills.

Before Tuesday’s meeting, several residents demanded a resolution, holding signs saying “Water rip-off” and “$3,500 water bill? Shame.”

“It’s their fault and their incompetence,” said Anita Connor, whose water bill for her condo jumped by about $100 per month. “This is taking food out of people’s mouths, literally. This is sending people to the food bank.”

The county is in the middle of replacing 190,000 old water meters at a cost of roughly $30 million. The new water meters are supposed to more accurately measure water usage and wirelessly transmit data hourly.

But smart meters manufactured before July 2014 can malfunction when water touches sensitive equipment, resulting in erratic readings. Of 70,000 smart meters installed, about 43,000 of them were made before July 2014, and 2,200 have already been replaced.

Whether it’s a reading high or low, what we know is that it’s not reading accurately,” said Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May. “I’m frustrated without end at this. I’m ticked off at our leadership in both water billing and watershed. I’m frustrated with the equipment we’re using, and I’ve been really challenged with our customer service as well.”

Wet meters aren’t the only reason bills are skyrocketing.

The meters may not be connected, calibrated or read correctly, said DeKalb Commissioner Nancy Jester. Further, the computerized water billing system itself can introduce mistakes.

“We have to get all our problems solved before we install new meters,” Jester said. “There are human errors, and errors where the meters themselves might be the problem. I’ve even seen meters running backward.

Commissioner Larry Johnson, who introduced the measure suspending installation of new meters, said residents lack faith that their bills are correct.

“They don’t have a high level of confidence in the accuracy of the new meters. I share their concerns,” he said.

When meters malfunction, the county and the public aren’t being charged to replace them, May said.

The county government has created a team to work with upset customers who are fighting their bills, and May declared a moratorium on water disconnectionsfor nonpayment of bills while residents are in the dispute process.

In addition, the county is starting an outside review process for residents who, after trying to work through their issues with the county, still believe their water charges aren’t accurate. The details of that system may be announced as soon as next week.

Hope Lusignan, who held a sign saying “Lee May pay my water bill,” said her bill was about $40 monthly for two people in her house, but then in rose to $194.

“This seems like extortion,” she said. “There are people receiving bills of $1,000, $1,500 or $3,500.”

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Thyroid cancer has tripled in three decades

From Penn State Health

October 5, 2016

Newswise — The incidence of thyroid cancer has tripled in the past three decades, yet the reason for this is not clear. Dr. David Goldenberg, chief of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, notes the diagnostic tools are better, but he can’t get behind recent talk of overdiagnosis as the sole cause for the increase.

The press that has been given to this is an oversimplification,” Goldenberg said. “What we should be concentrating on is not only why we are discovering more of it, but also which of these newly discovered thyroid cancers are the ones that will kill someone.”

More physical examinations, ultrasounds and CT scans mean that small nodules are easier to find, but Goldenberg said if over diagnosis were the sole issue, the rise would only be in smaller thyroid cancers.

“While there certainly has been a rise in smaller cancers, there has also been a rise in the incidence of larger tumors, which doesn’t support the theory,” he said.

Thyroid cancer develops when malignant cells form in the tissues of the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck. The thyroid makes hormones that regulate metabolism and control things such as heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature.

Although it can be difficult to screen for thyroid cancer, symptoms can include a lump or swelling in your neck, pain in your neck going up to the ears, hoarseness that won’t go away or trouble swallowing.

Thyroid cancer occurs about three times more often in women than men, but Goldenberg said the jury is still out on whether reproductive hormones play a significant role in that. Risk factors for the disease include family history, being a woman, a low-iodine diet and exposure to ionizing radiation. Some theories include obesity as a possible risk factor, as well.

Dr. Brian Saunders, an endocrine surgeon at Hershey Medical Center, said the radiation of concern is either medicinal, such as external beam radiation used to treat adult or childhood cancers, or industrial, such as the type released during a nuclear accident, rather than routine dental and chest X-rays.

[There has been some research on impacts to the thyroid from cellphone radiation, including cancer. The rise of cellphone and wireless tech use, often at the head, has occurred at the same time as this thyroid cancer increase.]

…“Survival rates for thyroid cancer are very good,” he said….

The Medical Minute is a weekly health news feature produced by Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Articles feature the expertise of faculty physicians and staff, and are designed to offer timely, relevant health information of interest to a broad audience.

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New Hampshire energy cooperative says all Elster Smart Meters purchased are defective

The Cooperative claims that the meters are accurate, however. 

From the Laconia Daily Sun

New ‘Smart’ Electric Meters Not So Smart
By Bea Lewis, for the Laconia Daily Sun
October 4, 2016

NHEC sues device manufacturer

PLYMOUTH – The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative claims the 83,000 “smart” meters it bought as part of a multi-million-dollar system upgrade are defective, and have flooded their dispatch center with erroneous electronic messages reporting power outages.

The complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Concord, names as plaintiffs Elster Solutions LLC, the North Carolina-based manufacturer of the allegedly flawed Type RS2 digital meters, as well as Honeywell International Inc., headquartered in New Jersey, who acquired Elster in a $5.1 billion deal announced in July 2015.

Prior to its sale, Elster claimed between 2001 and 2011 to have deployed more than 200 million metering devices worldwide, making it one of the largest electricity gas and water measurement and control providers.

The meters at issue in the suit, were purchased as part of a $35 million Advanced Metering Infrastructure project the member-owned and controlled electric distribution utility undertook to provide better service. The intent was twofold, to bolster operational efficiency and to improve outage reporting and management.

The nonprofit rural electric cooperative picked the Elster platform because it is capable of providing advanced services in the future, including allowing the NHEC and its members the ability to manage their energy usage during peak pricing periods by alerting consumers to the costliest hours of the day to use electricity.

The suit claims Elster continued to supply the NHEC with defective meters even after discovering the problem, and may even have been aware that a defect existed at the time it signed the contract with the state’s second largest utility, headquartered in Plymouth.

Attorneys Edward M. Kaplan and Derek D. Lick of Sulloway & Hollis PLLC of Concord, assert that NHEC was “compelled” to file suit, because Elster sold them meters known to contain a manufacturing defect, making them prone to failure, undermining the reliability and core functionality of the Cooperative’s entire smart grid system.

“We are aware of a complaint by the New Hampshire Electrical Cooperative, and while as a matter of policy Honeywell does not discuss pending litigation, we stand behind the quality of our products, and the service and support we offer our customers. Elster was acquired by Honeywell in January of this year,” said Bruce Anderson Director of Public Relations for Honeywell.

The NHEC notified the state’s Public Utilities Commission that it was launching litigation against the meter maker on Wednesday, the same day the suit was filed, said Amanda Noonan, Director of Consumer Services and External Affairs for the PUC. As a rural electric cooperative, Noonan said, the NHEC is subject to different types of regulation and that they didn’t need PUC approval for meters they plan to install. The PUC does however review capital investments made by the NHEC to assure that they are prudent, she said.

The suit asserts that the meters that work in conjunction with a new communication “backbone” including a microwave and fiber optic network connecting 20 tower sites, are an integral component of the Smart Grid Project.

Unlike traditional meters that must be individually read manually by a NHEC employee physically going to a property, the smart meters, relay encrypted power consumption statistics wirelessly several times a day. When working properly, the meters are also designed to send a “last gasp” signal reporting a loss of power, allowing the NHEC to promptly send a repair crew to the precise affected area.

According to the NHEC, the defect does not affect meter accuracy.

“NHEC has always had internal procedures/processes to test and assure that each meter is properly reading/counting kilowatt hour useage – regardless of the type of meter used,” said company spokesman Seth Wheeler. “These best-practice procedures remain in place today. If, for any reason, a meter fails to report its usage, NHEC has internal prodecures to get the usage data or use a process to estimate the bill based on hourly data previously reported.”

NHEC signed a contract with Elster in February 2011 to provide the meters and software necessary for their integration into the overall electrical system. According to the suit, the NHEC relied on representations by Elster that its meters had a failure rate of 3/10ths of one percent or less. Based on that representation the NHEC believed that only 250 of the meters would be expected to fail over the 20-year period the manufactured cited as the expected lifespan of its product.

The NHEC began replacing its old meters with those made by Elster in June 2011, with the manufacturer supplying about 5,000 a month to allow for rolling installations throughout the 115 towns and cities that the cooperative serves.

In March 2012, after NHEC had installed about 50,000 of the new meters, Elster issued a formal bulletin announcing that a manufacturing defect had been identified in the main circuit board on the type of meters NHEC had purchased. The bulletin detailed that the defect manifested itself in three different ways, including that the “meter indicated that there is a power outage when one is not present and stops communicating,” or the is data stops being added and shows zero consumption.

Elster initially told NHEC that 54,000 of the 83,000 meters it had bought were affected by manufacturer defects. The suit says Elster later advised the NHEC that the problems were traced to a too small computer chip that was replaced with a larger one during the manufacturing process, and that it cured the defect. All 83,000 of the meters bought by NHEC contained the defective small chip, the suit charges.

The NHEC is making claims for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, unjust enrichment, fraudulent misrepresentation/concealment, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of the N.H. Consumer Protection Act.

Shortly after the contract was signed, Mark Munday, president and CEO of Elster, said the company had successfully deployed Smart Grid projects of different sizes across varied terrains, helping utilities around the world improve both energy delivery and customer service and was bringing “this depth of experience” to the NHEC project.

“NHEC understands the importance of ensuring its Smart Grid deployment is done right the first time and that members are engaged in its many benefits,” Munday said in a press release posted on his company’s web site dated Feb. 24, 2011.

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