“Smart” ocean — the impacts of technology on marine life

First see

From Stop 5G International

The technology revolution has now expanded to the ocean in the form of the Internet of Underwater Things (IoUT), aka a Smart Ocean. Plans are underway for the ocean to become an integral part of a worldwide network of “smart” interconnected infrastructure and objects that will complement satellites in the skies, and 4G/5G cell towers and satellite dishes on land. Money is being poured into research and development of new applications and infrastructure to enable seamless connectivity throughout the ocean, Earth, and heavens.

Commercial interests and the armed forces view an internet-connected ocean as essential for their operations. But the impacts on marine life are not being considered. In addition to the noise, pollution, and debris from an ocean bustling with anthropogenic activities, the Internet of Underwater Things will rely primarily on sonar which for decades has been known to adversely impact whales and other marine animals. Recently, scientists have discovered the vital role whales play in ocean ecology and how they help mitigate climate change.

Data Transmission Technology and Possible Applications

Whereas wireless data transmission on land and in space relies primarily on radio waves (RF/Microwave radiation) and laser, these are less suited for underwater applications. In the ocean, sonar is most often used for carrying data.

The Internet of Underwater Things will consist of underwater sensors that communicate with one another and with relay stations on the surface of the water. These stations will in turn communicate with satellites and/or ground-based 4G/5G infrastructure on land.

This vast ocean-based network will be integrated into Systems Warfare (1)— 21st century warfare that weaves together the different branches of the military into one coordinated AI web of destruction.  The “smart ocean” will include autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), robots, submarines, underwater drones, torpedoes, bombs and anti-torpedo defense systems.

The IoUT will also play an integral role in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) “arms race” we are currently witnessing play out in the US, China, and other nations.

In what’s known as Dual Use Technology, the Internet of Underwater Things will also be used by the private sector for its purposes: mining for minerals on the ocean floor, seismic drilling, monitoring oil and gas pipelines, global trade, surveying shipwrecks, and scientific research.

Effects of Sonar on Marine Wildlife

As mentioned earlier, the IoUT will operate primarily through sonar waves which are ideally suited for underwater propagation. (Optical communications are being developed for shorter more data intensive communications.)

Due to the unique ability of sound to travel underwater, through millennia marine animals have evolved to rely on sound to navigate, communicate, find mates, forage, avoid predators, and defend territories. See, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_mammals_and_sonar

In much the same way that extremely bright beams of light shined directly into our eyes would hamper our ability to function optimally, or at all, so too sonar waves and anthropogenic noise interfere with whales and other marine mammals’ ability to tend to their needs. High intensity sonar, around 240 decibels, used by the US navy, can cause deafness, bleeding in the brain, stranding, and death in whales. Their experience of high intensity sonar at 240 decibels would be much like our experience of a rocket at takeoff… for extended periods of time.

Disoriented from the unrelenting sound that can permeate the ocean for hundreds of miles (and in the case of low frequency sonar, thousands of miles), in a desperate effort to escape the sound, whales fling themselves onto the shore and die. Lower intensity sonar, though somewhat less harmful, can temporarily and cumulatively impact whales’ ability to communicate, forage, navigate, find mates, and avoid predators.

Effects of a “Smart” Ocean on Climate

Nature has had millions of years to perfect her whale-based carbon sink technology. All we need to do is let the whales live.  Michael Jasny of the Natural Resources Defense Council U.S. Militarism, Space Tech, and the Climate Crisis at COP26 People’s Summit

Whales play a key role in the exquisitely designed eco system that supports all life on Earth. Recently, scientists discovered that excrement from whales, known as “fecal plumes”, create the ideal nutrients and conditions for phytoplankton. These microscopic creatures produce 50-85% of the oxygen on Earth and serve as the “lungs” of the planet.

Both phytoplankton and whales help sequester large quantities of carbon, each in their own way. During their lifetime, whales absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Upon death, they fall to the bottom of the ocean where the carbon gets buried in the soil and will remain for centuries. Due to a whale’s size and lifespan, a single whale absorbs large amounts of carbon. According to Nature’s Solution to Climate Change [www.imf[dot]org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2019/12/natures-solution-to-climate-change-chami.htm], a great whale sequesters on the average, 33 tons of CO2, while a tree absorbs roughly 40 pounds yearly. Phytoplankton sequester carbon through photosynthesis.

The Military and Our Ocean

“The military base is being replaced by what has been called a ‘high speed, kill web.’ It uses information as a primary weapon of war. It will enable Empire to rain down terror on any spot of the earth: a swarm of drones, hypersonic missiles, submarine torpedoes, bombers; and all with the ease of calling an Uber.” Koohan Paik-Mander U.S. Militarism, Space Tech, and the Climate Crisis at COP26 People’s Summit

“The submarine threat is growing in the seas of the world, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, from the Indian Ocean to the South Pacific. Renewed activity by the Chinese, Russian or American navies, increasing naval defence budgets, construction of submarines of all sizes (mini-submarines, coastal, conventional or nuclear-powered submarines) to create or expand existing fleets: the result is hundreds of submarines traversing the world’s seas at all times, keeping States on the alert to preserve their sovereignty and interests. And underwater weapons are a key element of their naval strategies.” [naval-group[dot]com/en/underwater-weapons-40]

The Internet of Underwater Things will be integrated into the armed forces around the world in what is known as Systems Warfare (1). This 21st century brand of warfare weaves together the different branches of the military into one giant coordinated AI-controlled web of destruction. Systems Warfare is increasingly controlled by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and works by using the massive amount of data generated from the Internet of Things on land, in the ocean, in the air, and in space. This data, coupled with the IoUT infrastructure will aid in manning submarines, controlling torpedoes for both offense and defense, and in the detection of stealth underwater vehicles and drones, and Supercarriers, aka the “Menace of the Sea  (For more, please see the newest generation of US Supercarriers, aka the “Menace of the Sea”). Data and AI will also assist in executing coordinated attacks from multiple branches of the military simultaneously.  (See AEGIS, “Rocket science at sea.”)

With the speed at which technology is evolving, new weapons and systems are manufactured and tested each year. These military exercises, or wargames, involve practicing bombing ships, firing missiles through the ocean, and testing new offense and defense weapon systems. As Koohan Paik-Mander so poignantly explains: “We essentially have nonstop war now taking place in our oceans, and we have for a decade, even with no war officially being waged. But war is being waged…That is a war on all the living spirits that populate the undersea community and enable our oceans to support life on Earth: the whales, dolphins, turtles, crabs, sea horses, jellyfish, algae seaweed, eels, plankton, manta rays and coral.”

The armed forces have repeatedly been exempted from accountability and pledges in worldwide climate negotiations. Most recently, this petition, spear-headed by World Beyond War and the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmamentaddresses this “oversight”.

Is the Trade-Off Worth It?

Are the downsides of an internet-connected ocean a necessary trade-off for gaining military and commercial advantage? Do we really need more oil to fuel more war? Are more lethal weapons of war, data gleaned from connecting everything to the internet, extraction of “riches” buried deep within the ocean worth the suffering and possible extinction of whales and perhaps myriad other marine life forms so necessary to our eco-system?  Is it wise to continue to compete as we unconsciously escort ourselves and all of life toward techno-ecocide?

Perhaps human nature hasn’t really changed that much over the millennia. It’s possible that violence and competition have for many long centuries driven human activity. Or perhaps these have escalated in the last few decades. Either way, what is clear is that the increased magnitude of harm that this mindset engenders now, is threatening the survival of all living beings on the planet.

Earth can no longer sustain our violent, competitive, extractive way of life. We must open to a shift of consciousness if we are to survive. Perhaps it is time we pivot from an ocean of technology to an ocean of consciousness focused on embracing our interdependence on one another and to all living beings in this intricate and awe-filled sacred Web of Life.

https://stop5ginternational.org/smart-ocean-impacts-of-technology-on-marine-life/

(1) cnas(dot)org/publications/commentary/a-joint-warfighting-concept-for-systems-warfare

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Stop Smart Meters: PG&E’s “Fire Lies” (VIDEO)

From 2013 CPUC Santa Rosa Smart Meter Forum

From Stop Smart Meters
http://www.stopsmartmeters.org

PG&E claims that there have been no smart meter fires whatsoever. The people whose houses have burned down and who have lost loved ones because of smart metering safety lapses beg to differ.

https://stopsmartmeters.org/2021/12/15/pges-fire-lies-and-were-still-paying-to-avoid-these-meters-this-is-the-definition-of-extortion/

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California Gov. Newsom faces recall election Tuesday; Sacramento journalists expose California fires, PG&E, Gavin Newsom, and CPUC in series “Fire-Power-Money”

From ABC10 KXTV Sacramento

Fire-Power-Money www.firepowermoney.com

https://www.abc10.com/article/news/local/abc10-originals/fire-power-money-california-wildfires-investigation-pge/103-c273fb35-1c43-4d9a-9bdc-3d7971e5540b

For nearly three years, ABC10’s Fire – Power – Money team has been at the forefront covering California’s wildfire crisis, the danger of PG&E’s power lines, and how the company avoids accountability. 

Now, ABC10’s award-winning investigative series reveals how California’s state government, under Governor Gavin Newsom, responded to PG&E’s deadly crimes by giving the company rewards and protection.

Season 1 Episodes

CONTROLLING OUR WILDFIRES: How to control California fires–scientists explain.
(Premiered Jul 10, 2019 as “Fire”)

https://youtu.be/_Tog0s8qnSc

PG&E, FIRE AND POLITICS: California power company influences politics despite causing fires. (Premiered Jul 10, 2019 as “Power”)

CALIFORNIA’S BURNING CRISIS: How California fires are going to cost us all. (Premiered Jul 10, 2019 as “Money”)

https://youtu.be/9UO23zwV3Ic

Season 2 Special

The season two FIRE – POWER – MONEY special combines the major findings of ABC10’s award-winning investigation into the connection between wildfires, PG&E, and its influence on state politics as California’s wildfires continue to worsen. 

California wildfires: How PG&E continues to avoid accountability (Premiered Dec 23, 2020)

Season 2 Episodes

IT WAS A CRIME: California’s largest power company guilty of deadly crime. (Premiered Oct 29, 2020)

https://youtu.be/J4fMEqaay84

RELATED: Former Cal Fire chief believes PG&E-caused fires will kill more people

CRIMINAL THINKING: Why does PG&E keep causing deaths? Experts explain. (Premiered Nov 12, 2020)

RELATED: PG&E ‘continues to engage in criminal thinking,’ says former regulator

KILLER CORPORATION: Inside PG&E’s criminal investigation. (Premiered Nov 19, 2020)

RELATED: State officials harmed PG&E Camp Fire criminal investigation, Butte County prosecutors say

WHISTLEBLOWER: California whistleblower says PG&E free of consequences. (Premiered Dec 3, 2020) [Interviews former CPUC Executive Director Alice Stebbins]

RELATED: ‘I don’t think we held PG&E accountable,’ says state whistleblower

BLOOD MONEY: California politicians and campaigns got $2.1 million from bankrupt, guilty PG&E. (Premiered Mar 2, 2021)

RELATED: ‘Blood money’ | California politicians and campaigns received $2.1 million from bankrupt, guilty PG&E

RUN TO FAILURE: Investigation shows PG&E knew old power line parts had ‘severe wear.'(Premiered Feb 16, 2021)

https://youtu.be/bdxEYb6IQFM

RELATED: ABC10 Investigation: PG&E knew old power line parts had ‘severe wear’ months before deadly Camp Fire

JUNK SCIENCE: PG&E made shutoff decisions based on ‘junk science.'(Premiered Feb 2, 2021)

https://youtu.be/6Fx3uK1Y4E8

RELATED: Investigation: PG&E made shutoff decisions on ‘junk science’ | ABC10 Originals

PG&E: Politics and crime: ABC10’s investigation found California politicians kept taking money from PG&E after the company pleaded guilty to 84 felony manslaughters. (Premiered April 26, 2021)

https://youtu.be/oeDLDD0z0hM

Season 3

‘MORE THAN A BAILOUT’: Documents reveal how Gov. Gavin Newsom protected PG&E and helped the power company avoid accountability. (Premiered August 10, 2021)

“THE FRENCH LAUNDRY CONNECTION’:  Gov. Newsom brokered a bankruptcy plan that prioritized PG&E, French Laundry friend’s clients over PG&E fire victims.  (Premiered August 11, 2021)

https://youtu.be/W44JkLoiPKs

‘THE PG&E POLICE: INVESTIGATION: Governor Gavin Newsom’s office ‘micromanaged’ PG&E’s independent state regulators (Premiered August 12, 2021)

https://youtu.be/wRK5SbHXWwk

RELATED: Investment bankers charged California taxpayers $180,000 in travel while crafting PG&E bailout | Fire – Power – Money

RELATED: ABC10 sues to release messages between Newsom staff and PG&E regulators

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Maryland utility commission rejects Pepco’s Smart LED Streetlight and Smart Sensor proposals

Monday, June 28, the Maryland Public Service Commission rejected a multi-million dollar proposal by the Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco) to install ‘smart’ LED lights in streetlights and wireless ‘smart’ nodes/sensors to expand their wireless AMI network.

Order No. 89868
Excerpts (emphasis added)


Ordered:


(5) That Pepco’s proposed Smart LED Street Lighting Initiative Program is rejected in this case, without prejudice to re-filing the proposal as an EmPOWER Maryland Program, as discussed in this Order“…


#122…The fact that these customers cannot opt-out of the streetlight conversion to avoid the rate increase, which could be up to 117% for some customers, goes against the stated purpose of EmPOWER Maryland funds, which should be used to incentivize customers to take action and engage in energy efficiency improvements when they otherwise would not have done so. The voluntary aspect of EmPOWER is key because the cost of an approved EmPOWER program is shared by all customers within the class.

123. As this proceeding has demonstrated, not all affected municipal customers are
friendly towards this Initiative.[249] In fact, several municipal participants that have
submitted either evidence or comment on the subject take issue with one or more
elements of the Initiative as designed. The Commission finds there are shared themes
among the opponents of the Initiative. First, the Initiative lacks customer approval or sufficient customer choice. For example, the Initiative, as submitted, is not flexible
enough to accommodate customer options with regard to LED streetlight style, color,
temperature, and wattage. Second, the Initiative falls short in customer engagement.
Third, the direct benefit of the smart nodes to customers remains unclear. For example,
questions raised by Kensington concerning the value of the smart node to the Town, how
cost savings from the nodes will be passed on to ratepayers, and whether benefits of the
nodes outweigh their associated costs raise valid topics for discussion.

124. Given the concerns raised by the Parties, the Commission cannot approve the Smart LED Streetlight Initiative as part of this MRP. Pepco’s costs for the Initiative are not insignificant, and the “zero cost to customer” impact is necessarily tied to securing
EmPOWER Maryland funding for those customers who will experience cost increases.
As discussed, the proposal, as filed, runs counter to the spirit and intent of the
EmPOWER program. This is not to say, however, that the general idea of the Initiative
to convert company-owned streetlights to LEDs could not be submitted as a standalone
EmPOWER Maryland proposal. Should Pepco choose to do so, the Company should
take the following into consideration: (1) make the program voluntary to incentivize
customer action; (2) apply the incentive in a way that helps remove barriers to
participation (e.g., rebates that reduce CIAC payments or price differentials in lamp
styles); (3) proactively engage interested customers as part of program design; and (4)
include smart nodes as an optional technology


125. For the above reasons, the Commission rejects the Smart LED Streetlight Initiative, as submitted here as a component of the MRP, without prejudice to Pepco to modify and refile as an EmPOWER Maryland proposal for the Commission’s consideration in Case No. 9648.[250]

126. Since the Commission does not approve Pepco’s Smart LED Streetlight Initiative
and pilot program in this case, the proposed tariff changes associated with the initiative,
recommended by Staff, also are not approved. Tariff changes will be addressed if and
when Pepco brings these proposals to an EmPOWER Maryland proceeding. The
municipalities have provided numerous concerns and recommendations regarding
Pepco’s proposed revised tariff, and the Commission therefore directs Pepco to continue
discussions with the municipalities regarding customer choice, purchase of the LED
streetlights, and tariff changes if it pursues an EmPOWER filing.

127. Regarding the Smart Sensor Pilot, the Commission finds that Pepco has not
demonstrated a sufficient nexus between the stated purpose of the Pilot and the
Company’s own electric distribution operations to justify approval in this case.

Throughout this proceeding, several parties raised credible concerns regarding the Pilot,
including its cost, the specific benefits to customers, its relevance to Pepco’s distribution
function, and the lack of sufficient details to assess its cost-effectiveness. Indeed, none of
the other parties openly support the Smart Sensor Pilot. Even Prince George’s, which
does not oppose the Pilot, questions the program’s cost and recommends conditions if the
Commission decides to approve the program. Although Pepco points us to several community-related functions and potential customer benefits that may be captured through smart sensor technology, such as gunshot detection, air quality and traffic monitoring, we find the connection between these “features” and the Company’s core operations tenuous at best. We agree with Staff, OPC, and Kensington that costs of this Pilot should not be recovered through rate base. Accordingly, the Commission denies the Smart Sensor Pilot Program for the MRP.

– – –

[249] While Pepco contends that a number of localities have expressed excitement and enthusiasm about the value of the Initiative to their residents and businesses, it is unclear the extent to which this level of support is tied to the promise of using EmPOWER Maryland funds to ensure cost neutrality.

[250] The Company can also elect to proceed with the initiative as a traditional infrastructure replacement or improvement program at its own expense and seek cost recovery in a future rate case if it believes it can justify the cost.”

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Impartiality versus 2020 Health Council of the Netherlands evaluation of 5G and cancer risks; expert urges 5G moratorium and considerable reduction of existing RF radiation

Dr. Lennart Hardell is a well-known scientist and researcher on cancer who has for years spoken out on the health impacts of wireless. In this paper he critiques ICNIRP, the standard setting body that virtually every country in the world relies on when setting exposure guidelines for wireless radiation/5G in their country. (Note: There are dozens of excellent critiques of ICNIRP’s “science”, members, ties to industry, etc.)

He draws attention to ICNIRP’s members who belong to many expert panels and set the RF recommendations/guidelines based on the theory that no harm occurs unless there are thermal effects, aka heating, and he takes the Netherlands Health Council to task for failing in its responsibility to protect the public by relying on ICNIRP. He gives many examples of studies ignored or misrepresented by ICNIRP.

ICNIRP = International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection
WHO = World Health Organization
SSM = Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten (Swedish Radiation Safety Authority)
SCENIHR = Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risk.

– – – – –

World Journal of Clinical Oncology
June 24, 2021

Health Council of the Netherlands and evaluation of the fifth generation, 5G, for wireless communication and cancer risks

Opinion Review
By Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD, Professor (retired), The Environment and Cancer Research Foundation, Studievägen 35, Örebro SE-702 17, Sweden


From Discussion:

In order to achieve sustainable development, policies must be based on the precautionary principle. No doubt there are threats of serious or irreversible damage by exposure to RF radiation, not the least the increased risk for glioblastoma with short survival for those affected[47]. Lack of full scientific certainty, as proposed by certain public health organizations, should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation. Thus, a moratorium on the deployment of 5G
and considerable reduction of RF radiation from existing systems is urgently needed.
In short, “The precautionary principle provides justification for public policy actions in
situations of scientific complexity, uncertainty and ignorance, where there may be a
need to act in order to avoid, or reduce, potentially serious or irreversible threats to
health or the environment, using appropriate strengths of scientific evidence, and
taking into account the likely pros and cons of proportionate actions and inactions”

In contrast to that as a general rule, ICNIRP, WHO, SSM, and SCENIHR have for
many years dismissed available studies showing harmful effects from nonthermal RF
radiation exposure and have based their conclusions mainly on studies showing no
effects. Thereby results showing health hazards are criticized or not even cited in
contrast to studies showing no risks that are accepted as evidence of no risk in spite of
severe methodological problems. Many of the statements by these agencies are
misleading and not correct. They are easily rebutted by reading the relevant publications. In fact, an Italian court ruling linked mobile phone use to tumors already in 2012, Also, later court rulings in Italy have come to the same conclusion.

These ICNIRP cartel dominated expert groups consequently reach similar
conclusions that there are no health effects below ICNIRP guidelines. Scientists with
opinions that there is increasing evidence of health risks below the ICNIRP guidelines,
e.g., as expressed in the EMF Scientists Appeal, are not invited to expert groups at the
WHO, the EU (SCENIHR), the SSM, or ICNIRP. Table 1 clearly illustrates that few
persons constitute different groups aimed at preventing hazards and risks to the
health and the environment. The ICNIRP view is thereby influencing these expert
reports, which also formed the basis for this Health Council report in the Netherlands.

For implementation of 5G, regardless of frequency, ethics in medicine should be
applied. In medicine the patient must be informed about the risks but also benefits in
experimental studies and give written consent for the participation. That should also
apply to the deployment of 5G. However, it has not been done so far. The participation
is forced upon everybody, which is of course unacceptable from a human rights perspective
.

Conclusion

In conclusion regarding cancer, current scientific evidence clearly demonstrates an
increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma for use of mobile and/or cordless
phones. In this review other tumor types and health endpoints are not discussed. The
increased risk for brain and head tumors is based on human cancer epidemiology
studies and is supported by similar tumor types found in animal studies. In fact, these
animal studies confirmed the earlier results in case-control studies on increased tumor
Hardell L. Comments on 5G and cancer risk for use of wireless phones (both mobile and cordless phones). Mechanistic aspects on carcinogenesis come from laboratory findings on, e.g., the increase of reactive oxygen species[5] and DNA damage[4].


The current evaluation by the Health Council of the Netherlands is based on a WHO
draft and SSM report. It also recommends using ICNIRP guidelines, considered to be
insufficient to protect against health hazards, such as cancer, by the majority of the
scientists in this field (https://www.emfscientist.org). The report does not represent a
thorough, balanced, objective, and up-to-date evaluation of cancer risks and other
hazardous effects from RF radiation. It is also strikingly contradictory as it concludes that serious health effects such as cancer and birth defects are “possible.” Yet it has no objection to the roll-out of 5G and recommends that later studies are performed to study health outcomes such as cancer and birth defects. Thus, no lessons are learned from existing observations on increased cancer risks[49].


The conclusion by the Commission that there is no reason to stop the use of lower
frequencies for 5G up to 3.5 GHz because of no “proven adverse health effects,”
merely reflects the biased conclusions by ICNIRP dominated groups. Thus that
conclusion must be dismissed, and new guidelines for previous and new frequencies must be established considering the new technology, the different propagation pattern for 5G, and increased RF radiation.


A moratorium is urgently required on the implementation of 5G for wireless
communication[13]. Ultimately, wired solutions are preferred
.

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Breaking: Maine legislature passes bill to purchase Central Maine Power and create publicly owned electric utility

Maine residents rallied at the capitol in Augusta June 30 to urge lawmakers to pass L.D. 1708. The bill passed both houses of the legislature, and now goes to Gov. Janet Mills’ desk. The legislation replaces Central Maine Power with a publicly-owned utility.

Gov. Mills has 10 business days after legislature approval to act. If she allows those 10 days to pass without her signature or a veto, the bill becomes law.

Our Power

Our Power Maine’s June 30 press release –

https://ourpowermaine.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/our-power-press-release-final-6-30-21.pdf

Breaking News: Pine Tree Power Bill – L.D. 1708 – passes House and Senate, On to the Governor’s Desk

Today, after a brief recess, the Legislature has voted in favor of L.D. 1708 “An Act to Create the Pine Tree Power Company,” casting a bipartisan 77-68 vote in the House to attach an amendment to the bill that they supported two weeks ago. And the Senate voted 18-15 to support the new package. The bill now heads to Governor Janet Mills’ desk.

If Governor Mills signs the bill or allows 10 days to pass without either her signature or a veto, the bill will become law. This would put the question of consumer ownership of Maine’s grid on the ballot in November 2021.

Stephanie Clifford, campaign manager for Our Power, a coalition of Maine ratepayers, businesses, energy experts, conservationists, and dozens of grassroots organizations said, “Thank you legislators for voting in favor of L.D. 1708. We hope Governor Mills will do the right thing and send the bill to Maine voters so that this November we all have the opportunity to choose to put our energy future into Maine’s hands.”

“PIne Tree Power Company will be a consumer-owned electric utility that will lower costs, increase reliability and provide local control for Maine’s electric grid.”

Clifford continued saying, “L.D. 1708 passed despite intense lobbying by Maine’s investor-owned utilities, CMP and Versant. But a strong grassroots coalition of Maine people prevailed. This is a clear signal: Mainers are sick of dealing with the failures of investor-owned CMP and Versant, and we want to control our electricity future.”

An amendment introduced today revised the bill to require the Pine Tree Power Company to pay property taxes directly to Maine municipalities, while maintaining its nonprofit status. This replaced previous bill language requiring payments in lieu of taxes.

Representative Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham), sponsor of L.D. 1708, said “This amendment spoke directly to Governor Mills’ top two concerns, and concerns voiced by some municipal leaders. We are pleased that the revised language won back the support needed to send this to Governor Mills, and hope to win her support for our effort as well.”

Clifford said, “If Governor Mills chooses to veto the bill against the will of Maine voters and legislators, we will continue our campaign through a citizens’ initiative. The Governor’s choice is not whether or not Maine voters will have a say on this, it is when we will all have a say.”

Petition gathering on such a citizen-initiated referendum would begin this summer and would likely put the question on the ballot in November 2022, the same day that Mills and all legislators are up for re-election.

June 28 News Advisory

https://ourpowermaine.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/our-power-press-release-6-28-21.pdf

Maine ratepayers, business leaders, energy experts, conservationists, and others committed to putting the Pine Tree State’s energy future in the hands of Mainers will rally urging legislators to pass LD 1708.

“Maine needs and deserves a consumer-owned utility that will be 100% focused on Mainers not of distant investors,” said campaign manager Stephanie Clifford. “This will save Maine billions of dollars and provide us with the better service Maine deserves too.”

Maine Investor-Owned Utility News round up:

1. Sound familiar? CMP ranks last in another customer survey of US utilities

I imagine you have already seen the 2020 JD Power surveys of residential and business customers, that rank CMP and Versant at the bottom. In fact, CMP has ranked at the bottom for three years running. Here’s yet another one:

“For this survey. Escalent polled 76,656 residential electric, natural gas and combination utility customers of the 140 largest U.S. utility companies, based on residential customer counts.

“According to the firm, the resulting Brand Trust Index scores represent consumer ratings across six factors: customer focus, community support, communications effectiveness, reliable quality, environmental dedication and company reputation. “CMP, the state’s largest electricity provider with 646,000 customers, received the lowest score among the electric utilities, and among all the utilities, period…

2. This sounds familiar too, like CMP’s playbook. Iberdrola Chairman Galan Named as Suspect in Criminal Probe (CMP is owned by Iberdrola)

“Iberdrola SA Chairman Ignacio Galan is being investigated by Spanish authorities for his alleged role in a corporate spying case….According to the court documents, Iberdrola’s security head at the time hired the firm led by the former police officer to gather intelligence and help “overcome obstacles” to gain the necessary permits.”


As you may recall here in Maine in 2020, “Clean Energy Matters, a political action committee funded by CMP, said it hired the private investigator” to track opponents of the company’s proposed transmission corridor.

CMP private investigator tailed anti-corridor petitioners

https://www.pressherald(dot)com/2020/03/05/central-maine-power-pac-admits-it-hired-private-investigator-to-keep-tabs-on-anti-corridor-petitioners/

More: Opponents of a controversial transmission line are condemning a Central Maine Power political action committee for hiring a private investigator to monitor their efforts to scuttle the project via ballot initiative.

3. And, CMP and Versant have each filed for 25% price hikes!

Perhaps you know that Versant, Maine’s most expensive mainland utility, now seeks a 25.4% rate hike. Did you know that CMP also announced a 25% rate hike as of August? (Maine PUC Docket 2021-00036 page 106)

Our Power is a group of Maine ratepayers, business leaders, energy experts, conservationists, and others committed to putting the Pine Tree State’s energy future in the hands of Mainers

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Dennis Kucinich announces release of new book on fight against a utility monopoly

The Division of Light and Power is the thoroughly documented true story of one courageous American mayor, who fought, and beat a utility monopoly in an epic battle which involved corporate espionage and sabotage, bank co-conspirators, extortion, political corruption, organized crime, mob-directed assassination attempts, congressional investigations, and media cover-ups.

From Dennis Kucinich

With utilities in California, Texas, Illinois, and Ohio pushing consumers to the brink, The Division of Light and Power, the story of the fight to save a publically owned utility in Cleveland, achieves a new importance.

I spent the better part of the last 40 years working on the writing and documentation. During the 16 years I served in Congress, I set it aside to focus on trying to stop America’s illegal wars. Then, once I left Congress, slowly but surely, through one draft after another, I was finally able to complete the work.

I hope you will find the time to read the book and consider its implications.

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Order online from Independent bookstores such as

Powell’s Books https://www.powells.com/
Bookshop Santa Cruz https://www.bookshopsantacruz.com

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Maine: Judge to hear Smart Meter disability discrimination case; denies CMP motion to dismiss

Press Release

Press Contact: William Most (504) 509-5023 / williammost(at)gmail.com

Portland, ME, April 1, 2021 –On July 7, 2020 Bowdoinham resident Ed Friedman filed a disability/discrimination lawsuit against Central Maine Power (CMP) in Portland’s U.S. District Court. The suit, brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehab Act) alleges smart meter opt out fees are discriminatory to those disabled customers whose condition may be exacerbated by emitted radiation from the meters. Friedman has lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma, an incurable form of cancer. CMP filed a Motion to Dismiss on several grounds. On Wednesday March 31, Judge Jon Levy issued a ruling denying CMP’s Motion on all counts. This allows the case to proceed and CMP has until April 14 to submit their answer to the original complaint.

While most people are familiar with the ADA, the FHA specifically protects against discrimination in the provision of housing services and the Rehab Act prohibits discrimination by recipients of federal funding. CMP received $96 million in stimulus funding from the Department of Energy for their smart meter project.

For Friedman, opting out of the smart meter program is not a choice. His doctor recommends he not be exposed to any excess radiation in his home. According to Friedman’s oncologist, exposure to even lowlevel radiation from the meters may exacerbate “fatigue, cognitive difficulty, memory issues and multiple cancer types.”

CMP made three claims supporting their position the lawsuit should be dismissed: 1) that Friedman did not sufficiently allege the opt-out fee is discriminatory, 2) Friedman was precluded from relitigating the PUC’s 2016 determination that smart meters are “safe” and 3) that Friedman’s disparate impact Fair Housing Act claim must fail because the opt-out fee is a valid and generally applicable policy that the PUC requires CMP to implement.

Judge Levy noting the similarity in discrimination language between the ADA, FHA and Rehab Act, wrote: “If Friedman’s factual allegations are true—as I must assume on a motion to dismiss—then CMP’s refusal to waive the opt-out fee may constitute discrimination under all three statutes.”

In 2016 Friedman asked CMP to waive its’ opt out fees as their reasonable accommodation of his disability. CMP declined, writing there was “no basis for compromise.” When he refused to pay for the same access to safe electricity his neighbors without disabilities received without any surcharge, CMP disconnected his power and he has been without utility service since.

Levy responded to this stating: “Friedman alleges that without an analog meter, he cannot have the same “full and equal enjoyment”, 42 U.S.C.A. §12182(a), of CMP’s services made available to persons who do not have his medical condition because if he uses a smart meter, he pays the standard rate but bears a unique risk to his health. However, if he uses an analog meter, he has the same physical experience and peace of mind as a person without his disability, but with an added fee. Under this view, it is the plausible risk to Friedman’s health, not a probable physical toll, that makes a fee waiver “necessary” to afford him equal access to CMP’s services.”

CMP argued the opt-out fee is not discriminatory because they charge the same amount to everyone. But Friedman’s lawsuit responds that “this is no excuse at all. Suppose a store has both stairs and a wheelchair ramp, and it charges everyone a ‘stairs opt-out fee’ to use the ramp . . .the store is illegally discriminating against wheelchair users who, by virtue of their disability, require a ramp in order to access the store. This is true even if the store charges everyone the fee to use the ramp.”

“If CMP is going to do business in Maine, they need to follow the laws of the land – including those protecting their disabled ratepayers” said Friedman. “We are very happy with this well-reasoned decision and look forward to moving forward on this crucial matter” he added.

Mr. Friedman is represented by the Law Offices of Bruce M. Merrill and Most & Associates

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PG&E refunds Smart Meter “opt-out” fees to EMF-disabled customer

April 22, 2021

On April 16, Pacific Gas and Electric refunded Smart Meter “opt-out” fees paid by the family of Nina Beety who is disabled by electromagnetic sensitivity. Beety requested disabled accommodation from PG&E to have analog electromechanical meters on her family’s home when the company initiated its wireless Smart Meter roll-out in her community. She explained that EMF-emitting devices cause her disabling health effects. PG&E ignored Beety’s requests for disabled accommodation, and refused to allow residential customers to have analog, non-digital meters without paying a so-called “opt-out” fee. The family was forced to pay $415. in fees to avoid Smart Meters on their home.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits surcharge fees for disabled people.

When PG&E filed for bankruptcy in 2019, Beety’s family then filed a proof of claim with the Bankruptcy Court for the “opt-out” fees they paid, stating the claim basis as “Smart Meter opt-out fees that were unlawful surcharges against a disabled person (ADA Title II Technical Assistance Manual, II-1.3000 Relationship to title III)”

PG&E objected to this claim, and on February 25, 2021, asked the court to expunge it. “The simpler Customer Bar Date Notice made clear that Customers were not required to file Proofs of Claim for ordinary and customary refunds, overpayments, billing credits, deposits, or similar billing items. The Customer No Liability / Passthrough Claims listed on Exhibit 1 arise from either (1) Customer Security Deposits or (2) Claims that arise from Customer Billing Disputes…Accordingly, for the reasons set forth herein, the Customer No Liability / Passthrough Claims should be expunged because, in accordance with the Bar Date Order, they will be resolved in the ordinary course.”

On March 24, 2021, Beety submitted this timely Response to the Bankruptcy Court:

Our claim is not an “ordinary and customary” customer billing item. We have a special type of billing claim dispute that rises on the fact that I am disabled, and unlawful charges were placed on the household account that interfered with my disabled accommodation. Those unlawful charges were surcharges that are not allowed under the ADA/ADAA and FHAA.

This is a meritorious disabled rights claim that was never resolved. It should be resolved by a full and complete refund.

Closing my claim would be yet another burden, abrogating my civil rights.

Please ensure that my rights are protected.

Faced with a federal judge who had read Beety’s response, PG&E withdrew its objection to the family’s claim to the Bankruptcy Court and did not further contest it (recorded in Judge Dennis Montali’s ruling, April 5, 2021).

On April 20, Beety’s family received a full refund check from PG&E for the $415. surcharge fee, plus $24.17 interest which they had not requested. It is noteworthy that this refund was not a percentage of claim or pennies on the dollar which bankruptcy claims often receive, but a complete refund with interest.

It took facing a bankruptcy judge in court for PG&E to quit fighting and refund fees that were unlawful surcharges under the ADA and that discriminate against disabled people.

Beety said, “With this action, PG&E and other utilities must now halt their practice of charging unlawful “opt-out” surcharge fees to customers disabled by electromagnetic sensitivity or who have other EMF-sensitive medical conditions, and the companies must refund all unlawful surcharge fees already paid by these disabled customers. Utilities must allow the simple, readily achievable, and reasonable disabled accommodation of analog, electromechanical, non-digital utility meters for all disabled persons who require them.”

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Maine PUC rescinds analog meter opt-out for CMP customers

15 June 2021
Hallowell, Maine

MPUC Commissioners Continue in Callous Disregard for Ratepayers

This morning during Maine PUC deliberations beginning at 10 am, in less than 8 minutes the three commissioners rescinded a hard-fought electromechanical opt out from smart meters in place since 2011. The commissioner’s approved CMP’s request to replace aging electromechanical or analog meters with solid state digital meters the company admitted are smart meters minus the radio transmitters. These meters do have the capacity to accept radio and other modules. Citing an erroneous fact sheet from Central Hudson utility in NY state which conflates local magnetic fields from analog meters with RF emissions from digital meters, Commissioner Bartlett stated analog and “solid state” meters were equivalent in their safety and so recommended CMP’s request be approved. The two other commissioners concurred.

Their decision ignores the science, ignored testimony pointing out problems with the Central Hudson report which CMP had cited and ignores the Commission’s earlier findings in their original opt out Order which stated:

We disagree with CMP’s argument that a smart meter opt-out program should not include an option for an electro-mechanical meter. In our view, providing two opt-out options will not be overly confusing to customers and, based on the smart meter complaints and customer letters, the vast majority of customers that have concerns regarding smart meters desire to maintain an existing meter. It would be of little purpose to provide an opt-out alternative in response to customer concerns when that alternative is not acceptable to most of the customers as a means to address those concerns.11

11 We expect CMP to take reasonable actions to maintain the equipment and resources necessary to support both opt-out options

The commissioners did not hold CMP accountable for ignoring the opt out condition that they maintain enough analog meters for any opt out customer and they ignored ample testimony presented on readily available certified refurbished electromechanical meters that could be used here as they are by many other utilities. Testimony in this docket was overwhelmingly against CMP’s proposal. Unaddressed was the timing of meter replacement-only when and if analogs fail or as a methodical universal replacement of analogs and how opt out fees would be affected as currently they are two-tiered with more expensive fees for the analog than smart or solid state meter without transmitter. There are new PUC commissioners since 2011 but staff and the agencies regulatory capture by CMP remain the same. A formal complaint to the commission is under consideration.

mpuc-cms.maine.gov/CQM.Public.WebUI/Common/CaseMaster.aspx?CaseNumber=2019-00044 — Docket link

mpuc-cms.maine.gov/CQM.Public.WebUI/MatterManagement/MatterFilingItem.aspx?FilingSeq=110963&CaseNumber=2019-00044 — Corrected Final Order

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