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)


(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


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 ( 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 –

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

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


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.

– – –

Order online from Independent bookstores such as

Powell’s Books
Bookshop Santa Cruz

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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)

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. — Docket link — Corrected Final Order

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World Electrosensitivity / Electromagnetic Sensitivity Day — 16 June, 2021


Thank you to the French organization, Cœurs d’EHS, for once again organizing World Electrosensitivity Day.

This is the 4th Annual Electrosensitivity Day and will be held on 16th June 2021.

Let’s make the invisible visible!

Leaflet to distribute from Electromagnetic Sense Ireland EHS Day 2021

See  for more information, ideas, tips and posters to participate.

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Report on fire and electrical hazards of “Smart” and other digital meters – Part 4

This version can be translated with the translation tool available on this site.

Fire and Electrical Hazards from ‘Smart’, Wireless, PLC, and Digital Utility Meters – Part 4

Nina Beety
July, 2019
PDF of full report

Continued from Part 3…

Inaction from regulatory agencies, exemptions and loopholes

It only took six GE dishwashers to overheat and one dishwasher fire to initiate a total recall. Nothing has happened with Smart Meters.

In California, the 2010 Vacaville death of Larry Nikkel in a Smart Meter fire1 was never publicly investigated by the local district attorney, the CPUC, or other officials. It was swept under the rug until it was uncovered and investigated by consumer advocacy groups in 2013. Likewise, no action was taken following whistleblower Patrick Wrigley’s stunning 2012 CPUC testimony about Smart Meter fires, overbilling, and other problems.

No State or federal action has been taken despite deaths, house fires, extensive damage to personal property, and failure of the meters themselves.

Utility companies appear to be exempt from National Electrical Code rules.

90.2 Scope
(B) Not Covered. This Code does not cover the following:
(5) Installations under the exclusive control of an electric utility where such installations
a. Consist of service drops or service laterals, and associated metering, or
b. Are located in legally established easements or rights-of-way designated by or recognized by public service commissions, utility commissions, or other regulatory agencies having jurisdiction for such installations, or
c. Are on property owned or leased by the electric utility for the purpose of communications, metering, generation, control, transformation, transmission, or distribution of electric energy.2

Are utilities covered under state or local electrical code rules and if so, how are these rules enforced? If not, what rules govern their practices, and who monitors compliance?

Meters have been exempt from UL certification, and the new questionable 2735 certification is voluntary and ineffective. When people file complaints with consumer agencies, they’re generally told Smart Meters are exempt or not under their jurisdiction. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has now said it is willing to take complaints, but time will tell whether it takes action on complaints.

News media censorship and failure to investigate

In-depth news media reporting on fires has been infrequent. The Firebaugh story is a refreshing exception. Actual investigation or follow-up is rare. The utility companies are often given the last word in news coverage, and their explanations are reported as fact. This is public relations, not journalism.

An example is the censorship and slant by the Detroit News in reporting on the Michigan House Energy Committee in 2017.3. It did not report on Fire Chief Duane Roddy’s testimony on the Smart Meter fire at his home. Instead, it wrote about public testimony, describing it as “fears”, “concerns”, “worries”, and “alleged health effects”, and it let utility company DTE have the talking points.

Orlean Koehle’s house survived the Santa Rosa fire but all the homes in her neighborhood burned. She found out her home was the only one with an analog meter; all the neighbors had Smart Meters. She wrote an editorial for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat detailing this, but the newspaper refused to publish it. The Siskiyou Daily News did publish it, but did not archive it on its website.

The California mainstream news generally focused on protests of the Smart Meter program, frequently using words such as “concerns” and “fears”. The news paid little attention to the actual issues raised by the public and experts, or criticized those who raised them without doing any investigation.

Regulatory commission defense of the Smart Meter program

The CPUC and its personnel have blocked investigation into Smart Meter program defects and defended the program, 4 a position duplicated across the country. An example of this happened with the Structure Group report on Smart Meter accuracy. The CPUC’s Office of Ratepayer Advocates attempted its own investigation, but had to abandon it because the CPUC commissioners would not support it.

The California Public Utility Code has a gaping regulatory hole. It does not compel CPUC investigations, no matter how many incidents occur, how many complaints are made, or what the nature of the complaints is. The CPUC “may” take steps when faced with health and safety problems, consumer fraud, and other problems, but those steps are optional, according to Sections 701, 762, and 768. This same problem is likely faced in all other states. In 2012, I outlined needed changes in the code, including thresholds for mandatory investigation of utility problems and timelines for action, and changing the language in the Public Utilities Code from “may” to “shall” on CPUC responsibilities.5

The CPUC refused to initiate investigations on Smart Meter problems despite repeated recommendations by the Office of Ratepayer Advocates (formerly the Division of Ratepayer Advocates) in 2010:

DRA recommends immediate Commission action to address concerns about RF interference and possible adverse impacts on health and safety. Such concerns have been raised in filings by local governments, and consumers, and by numerous individual customers in person at Commission public business meetings. This level of public concern warrants action by the Commission to determine if these concerns are well founded, regardless of CARE’s Application.

1. The Commission has a responsibility to protect public health and safety. Although DRA’s statutory mandate is to try to obtain “the lowest possible rate for service consistent with reliable and safe service levels” (Public Utilities Code § 309.5(a)), and in that role supports the provision of service that is safe and reliable, the Commission has the primary authority and responsibility to protect the health and welfare of California residents by ensuring that public utility service is safe and reliable. See, e.g., Public Utilities Code §§ 45113, 76114, 76215, and 768.166

In the Smart Meter opt-out proceeding (Application No. 11-03-014), Chairman Michael Peevey allowed utility companies and their experts to present evidence, and then improperly closed the proceeding, issuing a decision before the other parties had presented their evidence.7

EMF Safety Network: 8

In the 2014 California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Annual Report to the Governor and the Legislature states, “There was some concern regarding fires in smart meters but this was investigated by CPUC staff in 2013. Staff determined that, of reported fires involving smart meter installation, none were actually caused by the smart meter.” EMF Safety Network sent a records act request for the details of that investigation in 2014, which the CPUC has ignored.

California cities and counties which passed ordinances banning Smart Meters faced bullying by CPUC officials who claimed exclusive jurisdiction over utility companies, despite policing powers granted under state law to cities and counties (recently reaffirmed by the California Supreme Court), and local franchises with PG&E.


The commissioners’ mostly polite questions indicated they have no desire to undermine the statewide changeover to smart meters, which is mandated by a 2008 law. Smart meters have attracted opposition from some customers who worried about health effects of the wireless technology and loss of privacy, concerns that regulators say are overblown.

Robert F. Powelson, the commission chairman, said the meeting was intended only to gather information about the “isolated incidents” involving overheating meters, and public questions were not permitted.

…”This hearing is not a debate about whether or not to meter,” he said. “We are moving forward with metering in Pennsylvania.”

Commissioner James H. Cawley agreed. “We want this done,” he said. “We want it done safely, of course, because the benefits to customers are enormous.”9

The National Association of Regulatory Commissions conferences and meetings set national policy, and the utility industry, industry-affiliated groups, and commissioners lead the sessions. Public stakeholders are not heard or included.

PG&E/CPUC emails released due to San Bruno explosion lawsuits showed the cozy relationship between CPUC commissioners and staff and PG&E, and the joint maneuvers they took on many utility issues, including Smart Meters.

PG&E email July 2, 2010 on a meeting with former CPUC Chair Michael Peevey:

…SmartMeters – Mike [Peevey] grumbled about the CCSF PFM [City and County of San Francisco Petition for Modification] and the folks in Sebastopool [sp] who want to delay SmartMeter implementation. He implied that this wasn’t going to happen, and that by the time the Commission got around to acting on [PUC filings], we [PG&E] would have installed all of our meters…

Miscellaneous – Mike couldn’t hide his disdain for Mark Toney and TuRN. He was particularly incensed, along with Clanon [Paul Clanon, CPUC Executive Director], about TURN’s refusal to modify their website about opposition to SmartMeters. I’m not too concerned about TURN and the GRC [General Rate Case] at this point. I don’t believe we need them as a settlement partner with Peevey as the assigned Commissioner. 10

Florida Public Service Commission Chair Nancy Argenziano upon her retirement:

[M]ost of you will understand the relief I feel at leaving the fetid pit of the PSC. I tell you that in my weirdest nightmare, I would not have expected to come upon the corruption; the bought and sold nature of everything related to the operation of the PSC; the reduction of the office of PSC legal to the office of regulated utilities’ apologist; the subjugation of “the public” to the schemes of the regulated utilities, resulting in a de facto “Regulated Industries Service Commission”; the almost universal expectation that if you audition well, PSC employees and Commissioners will be rewarded with lucrative jobs with the utilities regulated; … I will be pleased to meet with any group which wants to understand the deep, dark, behind the scenes truths of what happens in your state government.11

Unsafe time-of-use rates

Time-of-use rates give cheaper rates at off-peak times — typically at night. They are being phased in to incentivize people to use appliances, such as washers, driers, ovens, and dishwashers, at night or other off-peak times.

UK fire officials condemned TOU rates in 2016, saying they were never consulted about this unsafe plan, appliances should never be run when people are sleeping, and this scheme would result in fires and lost lives.12

TOU rates are a major ‘green’ reason for Smart Meters. Proponents claim this will cut peak time energy use, but this isn’t a safe practice. British Gas said in 2016, “We have no plans to trial or launch any time-of-use tariffs that offer cheaper electricity at night.’13

Utility company lack of transparency and misinformation

Utility companies have blamed customers for most Smart Meter problems, including fires and electrical problems.


But the Florida utility [FPL] assured residents that it was nothing to worry about, smart meters don’t cause fires….however a spokesperson for the utility said they’d responded to 30 complaints related to meter fires and that “you could have wiring issues if you have dimming lights or power issues on one end of your home and not the other.”14


A Peco Energy Co. executive said Thursday the suspension of a ballyhooed smart-meter installation program would likely continue until early October while the utility evaluates what caused 29 of the devices to overheat and catch fire…Peco and representatives of the three biggest smart-meter manufacturers indicated the overheating problems are most likely caused by “external” problems in the panels mounted to walls into which the meter is plugged, not by a defect in the device itself.15


Justin Ozuna with Oncor told News 8 that the company is aware of the fatality and is trying to gather more information, including when the meter was installed and other account history.

He also noted that smart meters operate in the same way as older, analog meters and don’t use any extra energy.16

Charles Phillips saw smoke coming from the transformer in his back yard one morning last November. When he went out to inspect the damage, he says he saw a CenterPoint Energy contractor at his meter box with a fire extinguisher.

“He told me it had caught on fire,” Phillips said. “He had talked to his boss. Evidently, he told him to put it out, which is what he did.”

But that was just the beginning. Inside Phillips’ home, two TVs were fried, his air-conditioner and garage door opener stopped working and all of the wires and cables hooked up to his electronics were melted from the jolt his electronics took when the smart meter on his home sparked a fire.

,,, But both CenterPoint and the subcontractor installing the smart meters across Houston say the damage is not their fault or their responsibility.

“People generally don’t think about that equipment being owned by them, but it’s the same with the water piping inside your home, the gas piping inside your home; it’s customer-owned equipment,” said CenterPoint Energy spokesman Floyd LeBlanc.

… LeBlanc says CenterPoint has had less than 100 reports of electrical fires caused during more than 1 million smart meter installations, but the power company doesn’t like to use the word “fire” to describe the problem.

“When we talk about fires, we’re talking about structures on fire,” said LeBlanc, explaining that there have been no houses that have burned in Houston, only electrical wiring, equipment and appliances.17


Egan and Smith said they take concerns over meter flame outs very seriously and have worked hard to determine the fault of each individual fire reported by the department. In most cases, the cause remains elusive. In others, outside factors played a role, Smith said.

In one case, the fire was helped along by water damage. In another case, the company had the burned out meter X-rayed and found the inside components intact, indicating the fire came from somewhere else. In another case, wind slammed a door shut, likely jiggling lose a connection in the meter and sparking the blaze, Smith said.

Often, the fire is started by arcing within the panel that the meter is plugged into. NV Energy realized this year, Smith said, and replaced many customer panels in order to reduce the probability of a fire.

“There’s many, many situations you have to study,” Smith said. “Each one of these conditions are unique. There’s not a common pattern that we have seen. We have not found an individual meter to be defective in all the meters we have studied this far.”18

Getting accurate information or any information has been difficult.19

From Nevada:

NV Energy had been required to provide semi-annual reports on the meters to the Public Utilities Commission, but stopped filing the reports in June 2012.

Those reports contain somewhat haphazard data on meter malfunctions, using different terminology to describe meters that appear to have been damaged or destroyed by some sort of overheating.

In short, the company reported 45 “burned” or “smoked” meters between Jan. 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012. A total of 3,767 malfunctioning meters that succumbed to a variety of problems.20

Instead utility companies engage in endless public relations campaigns,21 and when they cannot avoid the lawsuits, the settlements are generally sealed and complainants gagged. This lack of accountability keeps secret the extent and severity of fire and electrical problems, adding to the public risk, and it further destroys the credibility of utility companies.

Insurance industry silence

With all the known fires, deaths, injuries, and property damage related to Smart/digital meters, the amount of claims must be staggering. Yet, the insurance industry and its investigators haven’t exposed this issue. Norman Lambe is a rare example. Why?

Former executives from utility companies, Smart Meter manufacturer Siemens, and Smart Grid companies Cisco and Accenture sit on insurance company boards of directors. These include

Liberty Mutual:

  • Tom May, Eversource Energy (formerly Northeast Utiltiies) — retired Chairman, President and CEO
  • Eric Spiegel, Siemens Corporation — retired President and CEO

The Hartford:

  • Michael G. Morris, American Electric Power Company — retired President and CEO, and former Chairman; Northeast Utilities – former Chairman, President, and CEO;
  • Carlos Dominquez, Cisco — 22 years including technology representative for the Chairman and CEO


  • Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, Hawaiian Electric Industries — Director
  • John F. Young, Exelon Corporation — Director; Exelon Power — former President and CEO; Exelon Generating — former President; Exelon Corp. — former Executive VP, Finance and Markets


  • Cheryl W. Grisé, Northeast Utilities — former Executive Vice President

State Farm:

  • Pamela B. Strobel, Exelon Corp.– former Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer

Geico is a Berkshire Hathaway company. BH companies include Berkshire Energy Company.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


The electrician interviewed by the Reno Gazette-Journal said he still has a smart meter on his home.

“But I check it a lot,” he said, noting that if it is hot enough to hurt your hand or the screen goes black help should be sought.

“The lawyers say it’s a real low percentage, but when it’s your house a real big percentage,” he said.

City officials have not recommended that meters be removed. They are waiting for the Public Utilities Commission to decide whether an investigation is warranted. But if you’re worried about your smart meter, here is what you can do:

• If your meter is extremely hot, smoking or you notice signs of arcing, call 911 to have the fire department check it.

• If you are experiencing a problem, but have no immediate fire danger, you can call the Public Utilities Commission consumer line…22

This is the new “smart” reality, but the public has not been informed. People didn’t have to monitor analog meters for overheating.

From the British Columbia Report: BCUC and Smart Meter Fires: The Failure to Protect

… Who is watching out for us, ensuring that these devices that are being put on our homes without our permission, mandated by law, are safe? No one. This is in our hands and this report provides the means by which we can and must demand a recall.23

Its findings are a warning for every state and region:

  1. No agency is tracking fires;
  2. Regulations and laws are being broken with impunity, e.g. meters are being removed from the fire scene, electrical inspections are not being done;
  3. Reporting is haphazard at best;
  4. The meter is combustible, poorly designed, and not certified by any agency to be safe;
  5. BC Hydro did not perform its due diligence by having an independent Electrical Engineer inspect the meter prior to signing the contract. Rather, it accepted ITRON’s assurances;
  6. Smart meters have burned, melted and caused homes to burn. BC Hydro and [British Columbia Utility Commission] both deny this is happening.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Michigan Senator Patrick Colbeck testimony to Michigan House Energy Committee:

When I look at what happens with smart meters, in particular, I’m actually concerned it is putting our homes, our nation, and frankly some of the power suppliers at significant risk…That is a risk that is not entertained when you have an analog meter…Against this increased risk, there is little to no consumer benefit to the adoption of smart meters.24

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

  • Smart/digital meters are ignition sources installed on every building and many water lines.
  • Flame-resistant roofing material and “defensive” zones of cleared vegetation are useless if a building ignites from within and threatens homes and trees around it.
  • The most preventable fire hazard in every community may be Smart/digital utility meters.

What is the extent of fires and electrical damage related to Smart/digital meters?

Were Smart Meters a factor in the recent California fires? If so, how much of a factor? These questions and many more need to be answered:

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Fire season has begun. These actions must be taken now:

  • An urgent re-evaluation of the Smart Meter program and consideration of a repeal in light of program weaknesses, problems, and costs, using a process that facilitates public involvement.
  • Public investigations into electrical and fire problems associated with Smart/digital meters, with testimony by independent experts, whistleblowers, and public stakeholders.
  • A moratorium on further installations, including Smart/AMR water meters, and Smart/digital met metering on solar arrays.
  • Public investigations into overbilling, accuracy, health, security and other problems with Smart/digital meters utilizing independent experts, whistleblowers, and public stakeholders.
  • An immediate no-cost opt-out and replacement of electric, natural gas, and water Smart/digital meters with analog meters for all residential and commercial customers who request it
  • Public investigations into the California Public Utilities Commission and other utility regulatory commissions to discover the extent and length of knowledge of Smart Meter program problems, actions taken to block investigations, personnel involved, and coordination with utility companies and other state utility commissions.
  • Investigation by state insurance commissioners into insurance company knowledge of fires, deaths, and property damage related to Smart/digital meters.
  • Investigation of waivers granted from state electrical worker requirements for temporary meter installation workers
  • Prohibition against utility company personnel removing Smart/digital meters and other equipment from fire scenes, with substantial penalties for violations.
  • Re-evaluation of the National Electrical Code and utility company exemption.
  • Revision of state electrical codes and electrical worker qualification requirements to eliminate exemptions for utility companies
  • Mandated release of all utility company records and communications on damaged and malfunctioning Smart/digital meters, surges, electrical problems resulting in fires, property damage, injuries, and deaths including to pets.
  • Mandated disclosure of claims paid by utility companies for fire or surge electrical damage or appliance/electronics damage to property owners, insurance companies, and city, county, and state entities

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Nina Beety is an investigative writer and public speaker, and the author of “Analysis: Smart Meter and Smart Grid Problems – Legislative Proposal, 2012”. Her website is She lives in California.

This is a preliminary document, subject to revisions.

Resources on Smart Meter fires and electrical hazards include:



2 NFPA 70 National Electric Code 2008 (emphasis added)


4 City and County of San Francisco (CCSF) petition to modify 09-3-026, 6-17-10

p. 1

The City requests an immediate suspension of PG&E’s further installation of SmartMeters until the Commission concludes its investigation into the significant problems created by PG&E’s deployment of its SmartMeters. In view of the problems already known to the Commission, it is unreasonable for PG&E to simply continue installing SmartMeters as if nothing is wrong. [initially, the petition focused on Smart Meter reliability and accuracy problems; later in the proceeding, the City added electromagnetic emissions from Smart Meters]


6 CPUC Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA) response to Californians for Renewable Energy (CARE) application for modification, October 20, 2010 (A.10- 09-012), p. 5

7 San Francisco, Comments on CPUC Proposed Decision, Opt-out Proceeding, 12-11-11, p. 4-6

The City recommends that the Commission reject the PD [Proposed Decision] in its entirety for two reasons. First, the PD makes these findings without a hearing and without allowing the parties to this proceeding – other than PG&E – to submit any evidence. The Commission cannot make such a finding when it prevented the parties other than PG&E from making a record. …The parties were never given an opportunity to submit written testimony.

Despite this procedural posture, the PD would dispose of this case without a hearing. The PD determines that a hearing is not necessary because “there were no disputed factual issues material to the resolution of this application.” The PD, however, makes this determination based solely on the uncontested evidence submitted by PG&E in support of its application.

The PD errs by ignoring the many protests and motions filed in this proceeding…

… It seems obvious from the proceedings in this case that a complete record would show that there are disputed factual issues that require a hearing.

In issuing the PD without allowing the other parties to this proceeding to submit evidence the PD has denied these parties their legal right to be heard in this ratesetting proceeding.


Quote from CPUC Report to the Governor, see page 5:


10 7-2-10 PG&E email filed ex parte on 12-22-14
Brian Cherry to Thomas Bottorff (PG&E)

11 October 12, 2010 oppose-scott-and-corrupt-legislature.html


13 ibid



16 link no longer works


18 (emphasis added)

19 — one example


21 For example, PG&E hired PR firm Edelman to counter public opposition to Smart Meters, and product defense firm Exponent as investigator when PG&E caused a gas explosion in Carmel, destroying a home.

22 ibid


24 Sen. Colbeck was an aerospace engineer prior to becoming state senator.

Testimony to the Michigan House Energy Committee March 7, 2017


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Report on fire and electrical hazards of “Smart” and other digital meters – Part 4

Report on fire and electrical hazards of “Smart” and other digital meters – Part 3

This version can be translated with the translation tool available on this site.

Fire and Electrical Hazards from ‘Smart’, Wireless, PLC, and Digital Utility Meters – Part 3

Nina Beety
July, 2019
PDF of full report

Continued from Part 2…

Flawed FCC requirements and testing

Isotrope, LLC: 1

Conclusions in this report include the observation that [FCC] Part 15 radiated–‐ and conducted–‐emissions testing of electrical meters does not replicate actual conditions because a power cord is attached to the meter socket in the test chamber rather than simulating the installation of the meter on a meter socket connected to both the power grid secondary and the residence distribution panel. Moreover, while the conducted emissions from the meter at 915 MHz ISM frequencies in a residence was observed to be substantial, FCC Part 15 regulations limit conducted emissions testing to 30 MHz, ignoring the conducted emissions of the AMR radio signal.

7. Summary Conclusions

AMR Conducted Emissions Are Strong, but Not Regulated. The conducted emissions of the AMR electric meters at the 915 MHz band are substantial, but are not regulated by Part 15 (which cuts off above 30 MHz). If the 30 MHz limit were applied to 915 MHz, it is probable that the meter would fail a lab test, subject to the following observation.

AMR Meter Lab Testing Fails to Simulate in Situ Wiring. The lab testing of the AMR meters employed a simple power cord temporarily attached to the meter mounted in a panel. The meter does not normally employ a power cord. This approach does not simulate the manner in which the house wiring feeds through the electric meter. The meter has two power connections: one entering the meter typically from the top to deliver power to the meter and another exiting the bottom of rear of the meter panel to supply power to the main breaker panel. Using a power cord instead of setting up the power wiring the way the device is actually used may not reveal how the house circuit wiring through the meter may act. The actual in situ wiring may be more like an antenna that may pick up unwanted RF energy and noise within the meter and conduct it into the residence. See photo appended to this report [p. 15-16]

Other noise frequencies above 30 Hz caused by the switched mode power supply would not be regulated by FCC Part 15 either.

Inadequate worker qualifications and training, poor installation quality

PG&E hired the company Wellington to install most Smart Meters. Wellington hired people who were not electricians and gave them a minimum of training on how to remove the analog electric meters and install gas and electric Smart Meters. Installers were paid per meter they installed and were also awarded bonuses for exceeding quotas. They incentivized installing meters as quickly as possible. This was true of other utility companies in the U.S. and other countries. Many times these contractors would not notify building occupants they were installing meters and disconnecting the electricity, endangering the people in the building or home. There were also accounts of contractors removing the meters under load – not disconnecting the electricity at all. This is a fire risk and a very hazardous procedure.

The Saskatchewan provincial government changed the law to allow SaskPower to use unqualified workers to install Smart Meters.2 This was discovered through Freedom of Information requests. “(International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) IBEW Local 2067 originally fought the exemption, saying it had ‘serious reservations about the potential for injury or property damage and the lack of qualified supervision.’ The change went ahead anyway. On March 1 this year [2014], the meter replacement workers were brought into the union, their safety training “beefed up,” and wages and benefits increased.”3

Tennessee IBEW local 1288 strongly opposed Smart Meters over the high program costs, fire danger, overbilling by the meters, loss of jobs and value of on-site inspections.4

However, in California and other areas, IBEW actually promoted Smart Meters and the temp jobs at public city and county hearings, and opposed Smart Meter moratoriums.

IBEW supported unskilled workers installing Smart Meters. Why? Because “the meter replacement workers were brought into the union.” How much did utility companies and contractors pay IBEW to enroll installers as temporary union members? Which state officials gave these temp workers a qualifications waiver from state safety rules?

A former Wellington worker talked with Stop Smart Meters! in 2011:

SSM: The FCC requires that these devices be installed by trained professional electricians. What kind of training did you receive prior to working as a ‘smart’ meter installer?

WW: We received only two weeks of training before they sent us out to do the installations. Though the procedure is relatively simple, if you get it wrong this can lead to arcing, shorts- even house fires. The blades on the back of the meter have to be aligned properly with the jaws on the socket the meter gets placed in. I kept hearing one of the managers say, “you guys weren’t trained properly.” …There was a lot of pressure on workers to install as many meters as possible in a day in order to earn bonuses. I overheard numerous times while at work, “you could have burned that goddamned house down.”…The more you called Wellington, the worse it looked on your record- because you’re wasting time. I saw sparks coming from one of the meters on a home. I reported it but am not sure what- if anything- was done.5

A fire captain called PG&E when he had electrical problems following Smart Meter installation. A PG&E worker checked his electrical system.

He then proceeded to tell me that they were having nothing but problems with the contractor who was installing the meters and that it was costing PG&E more money to follow the contractors through each neighborhood and fix the problems they were causing and that the reason they did this is that PG&E didn’t want to pay its own workers wages and wanted a cheaper price…

He then went on, telling me that the burnt area was more than likely due to the contractors not being able to fit the new Smartmeter into place, so they widened the receiving clip and shoved it into place. By them widening the clips, they caused an area of no contact which then caused arcing every time we used an appliance with 220v.

…He then kept telling us more and more about all the problems and how this company only gave these people installing the meters two days of training and were hiring people who were not electricians. He also told us about injuries to contact [contract?] employees were receiving due to lack of training.6

Vulnerability to hacking

Cybersecurity has been a problem with Smart Meters from the beginning.

Reuters, 2014:

Traditionally, energy utilities have kept infrastructure like power plants safe from cyber attack by keeping it separate from the open Internet. But that is rapidly changing as a new generation of “smart” power meters hooks up customers to their utilities through the web,

…Last November, Felix Lindner came very close to shutting down the power supply of Ettlingen, a town of almost 40,000 people in the south of Germany. “We could have switched off everything: power, water, gas,” Lindner, head of Berlin-based Recurity Labs, an IT security company, said. Fortunately for residents, Lindner’s cyber attack on its energy utility, Stadtwerke Ettlingen, was simulated. But he revealed how easy it was to hack into the utility’s network through its IT grid, which gave him access to its control room.7

Interview with former CIA director James Woolsey:8

…What they’re doing now, they’re constructing what they call a “Smart Grid.” And they’re going to make it easier for you and me to call our homes on our cell phone and turn down our air-conditioning on a hot afternoon if we’re not there. Great, but that may well mean that a hacker in Shanghai with his cell phone could do the same thing or worse. And a so-called “Smart Grid” that is as vulnerable as what we’ve got is not smart at all, it’s a really, really stupid grid.
[ASSURAS] Vulnerabilities is what you’re telling me. We’re not taking care of them.
[WOOLSEY] We’re not.

A widespread hack in Puerto Rico allowed electricity theft and fraudulent bills.

Smart Meters allow access to energy data and use for surveillance, data alteration, and being able to shut-off power to individual meters, neighborhoods, or the grid itself.

Doug Powell, Manager of SMI Security, Privacy & Safety, Canadian utility BC Hydro:

Every endpoint [meter] is a new potential threat vector.9

Bloomberg, 2015:

’Introducing smart meters means you install access points to the electricity grid in private homes,’ said Reinhard Gruenwald, an energy expert at the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag, a scientific institution advising German lawmakers.10

This vulnerability brings fire and explosion risks, says Karthik Pattabiraman, 11 associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at University of British Columbia, discussing his recent published research on improving Smart Meter security:

Hacked meters can even cause house fires and explosions or even a widespread blackout. Unlike remote servers, smart meters can be relatively easily accessed by attackers, so each smart meter must be quite hackproof and resilient in the field.

Danger due to meter location

Sparks, Nevada fire chief Tom Garrison was interviewed on Nevada Smart Meter fires:

Fires sparked by smart meters can be dangerous because they often start outside of the house and cannot be detected by smoke detectors, Garrison said. “It can burn a long time and enter the attic or the walls,” Garrison said of a smart-meter blaze. “The occupants inside may not even be aware the house is on fire. This is very alarming to me.”12

Vibration and heat in building materials from RF emissions

Thermografix Consulting Corporation thermal radiation consultant and Red Seal journeyman electrician Curtis Bennett has measured heat buildup in buildings as a result of vibration caused by internal or external RF emissions. He has repeatedly warned that fire wall and structural integrity are being compromised by this exposure, and that this can lead to fire wall failure.13 He says building codes were designed to protect and shield building materials from 60 Hz electromagnetic fields and their impact on material integrity. Those fields vibrate molecules, changing molecular polarity at 120 times per second. This vibration also causes heat.

But, building codes were not designed for the much higher frequencies and vibration of wireless radiation exposure. PG&E electric Smart Meters constantly transmit at 924 MHz and 2.4 GHz for the Home Area Network. This high frequency radiation causes molecules in building materials, metal, and in the body to change polarity 1.8 billion times per second and 4.8 billion times per second. “There is a physical interaction with the frequencies at molecular levels affecting building code compliance by vibrating the building billions of times per second.”14 These exposures violate building codes which prohibit vibration.15

Accelerated corrosion

In metal, these near-field exposures can cause metal fatigue and rapid non-oxidative corrosion from electron-stripping.

Andrew Michrowski PhD:16

The rate of corrosion is directly proportional to the frequency of emissions – 3 GHz signals will corrode 10X faster than 300 MHz, and 500,000X faster than powerfrequency (60Hz) corroding water mains, gas pipelines, reinforced concrete re-bars, etc.

Violation of FCC Grants of Equipment Authorization

EMF Safety Network, California Public Utilities Commission, A.10-04-018 excerpts:

5. FCC Grants of Equipment Authorization, which govern the rules upon which FCC compliance is based, warns that RF exposure compliance depends on specific conditions.

6. Network has researched FCC conditions for the following meters that PG&E is deploying: FCC ID numbers OWS-NIC514, OWS-NIC507, and LLB6327PWM.

7. Network believes that PG&E Smart Meters violate one or more FCC conditions that determine RF exposure compliance. The conditions include one or more of the following, depending on the specific make and model of Smart Meter:
—-limited single module approval requires professional installation;
—-antenna(s) must provide a separation distance of at least 20 centimeters
(cm) from all persons;
—-antenna(s) must not be co-located or operating in conjunction with any
other antenna or transmitter;

8. I doubt that several weeks of installer training qualifies PG&E installers as professionals” and also doubts that Smart Meter installers are given accurate information about RF operating conditions.

9. Many PG&E Smart Meters are installed within 20 cm of public access. In some cases the meters are installed inside homes and businesses. In many situations Smart Meters are easily accessible to the public.

10. PG&E Smart Meters are widely co-located in banks of multiple meters.
Co-location also occurs within Smart Meters because electric Smart Meters include at least two internal RF antennas. One antenna is used for the mesh network system and the other is for Home Area Network (HAN) systems. Antennas are designed to work in conjunction with HAN and RF appliances and with other Smart Meters in a mesh network.

11. Antennas have separate Grants of Equipment Authorization, which suggests that manufacturers have tested antennas in isolation and individually, and not in combination, which is how the Smart Meter and the Smart Grid system were designed to operate…17 (emphasis added).

This lack of compliance may have electrical safety consequences.

Other fire-related issues with Smart or digital meters

Removing meters and hampering investigations

A fire scene is essentially a crime scene, and must be preserved pending investigation by fire personnel. However, PG&E and other utility companies are usually very quick to respond to incidents and pull off the meter and take it away. They often arrive at the fire scene before the fire department.18 Utility personnel do not let investigators examine meters, and they have even questioned the fire department’s authority to have the meter.

From Nevada:

In some cases, fire investigators who did respond had difficulty confiscating the burned meters as evidence.

“I notified (the NV Energy employee) that the smart meter remains were evidence for the investigation and would be logged in at the Sparks Police Department for investigation hold,” the Sparks investigator on a fire on Windswept Drive wrote. “(He) asked under what authority we have to keep their property.”19

From Quebec:

Quebec City’s fire department says Hydro-Québec has been too quick to remove smart meters from the scenes of fires where faulty wiring may be an issue.

The fire department says the meters are sometimes gone before investigators can look at them to find out whether their wires might have been damaged, which could lead to a short circuit and a fire.

“A fire is considered a crime scene and at a crime scene evidence should be left alone,” said France Voiselle, a department spokeswoman.

But Patrice Lavoie, a spokesman for Hydro-Québec, said the meters belong to the public utility and the meters don’t cause fires.

“We are totally entitled to bring them back to our office,” he said.20

Insurance adjuster Norman Lambe, New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission:

Q. What are some of the issues that have arisen from “smart” meter-caused fires?

A. In cases of fire involving “smart” meters, by the time a representative from the
insurance company arrives at the scene, the utility has already responded, usually during the course of the local fire department’s fire suppression efforts. Utility companies commonly remove the “smart” meter that had malfunctioned and/or ignited prior to completion of the necessary investigation into the cause of the fire. This hampers my ability to see that a proper investigation is performed for insurance purposes. This also complicates the job of Fire Marshals and/or fire department investigators. This may potentially also lead to a misdiagnosis by fire departments and insurance agencies and an undercounting of the total number of “smart” meter caused fires.

Utility companies have kept the “smart” meters, claiming that they are the company’s property, and they can do with them as they please. It can take me several months, if not years, to obtain the “smart” meter that is believed to be the same one involved in, and the primary cause of a particular fire. Thus, the timeframe required to perform the requisite analysis is substantially extended; consequently, fires caused by “smart” meters can be extremely challenging to investigate and resolve.

…(Claim number 2015-2031-77A)This case exemplifies the difficulty that we encounter when trying to obtain access to “smart” meters in order to perform a proper investigation. We still have not been permitted the opportunity to inspect the meter by Nevada Energy. Residents stated that the “smart” meter exploded. The inability to access the meters in “smart” meter fire cases is a consistent problem…(Re: Friars Village Shopping Mall) Please note that as of the date of this testimony, more than two years later, we have not yet been able to gain access to our insured’s “smart” meter in order to perform the requisite investigation.21

A fire broke out at a home In Firebaugh, California:

[Jose] Valdez and his family ran out and firefighters had already started pouring water on the house. 
He noticed several PG&E employees got there almost as quickly, and he says one of them removed the smart meter while the firefighters worked. Firebaugh’s fire chief saw it too. 
He says he [has] never seen that before, but he thinks he knows why they may have wanted the device. 
“Investigation after the fire was put out revealed that in all probability the fire was caused by a problem in the electrical panel and the problem in the electrical panel, in my belief, was the Smart Meter that was installed in the panel by PG&E,” said John Borboa.22

In Nevada:

The investigation files also offer evidence that the meter blazes could be more widespread than even fire investigators know. In the reports, NV Energy employees on the scenes of two of the fires told investigators that such blazes happened regularly.

In an interview last week, an electrician who helps NV Energy replace the meters told the Reno Gazette-Journal that often meters would be fixed before the fire department could even be called. The RGJ has withheld his name because he continues to do work for NV Energy and didn’t want to put his employment at risk.

“NV Energy was so quick in having me or one of the other guys out there that the fire department never knew about them,” he said. “We’d have the panel changed out and power turned on within five hours and a guy painting the wall right behind us.”

He said that he’s fixed 15 or 16 burned-out meters in the past two years in Reno, Sparks and Gardnerville.

“The fire department was never called on most of them. I only saw the fire department on two or three of them,” he said.

… Another worker on scene at that fire told Sparks investigators he “has been replacing about two smart meters a month that have failed and caused damage to the residential or commercial buildings.”

“NV Energy collects all the damaged smart meters and has not admitted to the problems with them,” he told investigators, according to the report.23

This situation is likely illegal, and utility workers and IBEW members are participating in the cover-up.

At a fire in June 2013, an NV Energy trouble technician told firefighters that exploding smart meters were a “big problem,” and that trouble technicians and meter technicians have opted out of having them installed on their own homes — which they did out of safety concerns as well as in protest to NV Energy’s decision to lay off meter readers once the smart meters were installed.24

Non-specific and inadequate fire coding

Complicating and impeding investigations and research is the lack of specific fire coding for fires related to Smart Meters. Coding is vague, and there is no coding for a Smart Meter or electric meter as primary or secondary cause.

A UK report said: “The current (CLG) Fire & Rescue Service Incident Recording System is not configured to capture specific details of fires originating in electrical equipment.”25

Punished whistleblowers

  • Oncor employee Bobby Reed testified before the Texas legislature about Smart Meter fires and was fired. The union filed a complaint with the NLRB.
  • PG&E meter reader Patrick Wrigley testified before CPUC Administrative Law Judge Amy Yip-Kikugawa that he was fired because he spoke up on meter inaccuracy. He also told her that PG&E knows Smart Meters cause fires.
  • Sensus: Engineer Don Baker was fired for warning of meter defects creating a fire hazard. He filed a qui tam lawsuit against Sensus, Alabama Power and Southern Company because he said they knew of the defects.26 U.S. DOJ refused to hear the case.

These whistleblowers were ignored.

Problems undercounted due to lack of proper investigation

The Canadian report by Ritenburg and Associates27 on SaskPower’s meter fires found malfunctioning meters were often not investigated. Instead, they were returned to the manufacturer for replacement. Meter malfunctions or issues were also not thoroughly recorded. The Ritenburg report has photos of meters tagged as “communication errors” but have signs of arcing on the circuit board.

Many more meters may be malfunctioning due to burgeoning conditions that can culminate in fire, but they are not being counted. Therefore, the true scope of the problem will not be known. This benefits meter manufacturers, utility companies, and states and provinces which bear the liability.

SaskPower told Ritenburg that it’s normal for communication to be lost with meters “for up to a day.” Ritenburg’s response: “This trend makes reporting of off-normal conditions on a timely basis somewhat unreliable.”

Saskatchewan ordered SaskPower to remove all its Smart Meters, and Ritenburg reported that SaskPower was simply disposing of the meters, not examining them for signs of degradation. This is unprofessional and lacking in any regard for public safety. It is likely common practice for most, if not all, utilities. How can the public trust these companies and workers to deliver gas and electricity safely to their communities?

Elimination of monthly inspections

Utility companies no longer visually inspect meters every month. Meter reader jobs were eliminated by Smart Meters, which wirelessly transmits customer usage data constantly instead. Labor cost-cutting was a key part of alleged program “benefits”. However, those monthly meter visits could identify meter safety issues. The public has repeatedly warned about this cost to public safety and opposed these job losses.

Increasing terpene production in surrounding trees due to stress

Studies have shown significant stress, injury, and death to trees from RF exposure due to cell towers and radar28, and the public has reported rapid negative health changes to trees following Smart Meter roll-outs. This occurred in Monterey. Trees produce terpenes — volatile oils that are aerosols — under normal conditions. When trees are stressed or injured, they emit more terpenes. Increased volatile oils due to wireless radiation exposure would create a more flammable environment for fire.

Inaction from fire safety administrators

Some fire and public safety officials have been outspoken about these fire and electrical hazards, and helpful in researching this issue, such as the 2017 testimony of retired fire captain Duane Roddy to the Michigan House Energy Committee. Others have kept quiet, unresponsive to records requests, and uninterested in investigating, while others have even said the meters are safe.. Some fire personnel have expressed fear of retribution, fear for their jobs, or the risk of lawsuits if they speak out on the fire and electrical problems they’ve seen.

From Nevada:

“Given the lingering safety question presented by the Reno and Sparks fire departments’ expert, staff believes it would be prudent to gather some information from NV Energy regarding any fires which have occurred where NV Energy equipment may have been involved,” PUC lawyer Tammy Cordova wrote. Not everybody is convinced that the meters are a menace. Nevada State Fire Marshal Peter Mulvihill thinks the gadgets are safe, although he said the new fires warrant an investigation. NV Energy, which has installed 1.1 million meters, also defends their safety.29

Preserving the fire scene is essential.30 Fire officials and insurance companies must thoroughly investigate first. Yet, state, county, and city fire officials haven’t stopped utility companies from removing meters from fire scenes. They also haven’t insisted on conducting their own investigations, and haven’t gotten specific fire coding. Why?

A PG&E email31 to the CPUC surfaced several years ago about getting the help of “sympathetic” fire officials after Smart Meters exploded at two shopping malls.

PG&E advertises its close relationship with fire officials in television ads. Fire departments also get grants from PG&E for equipment. PG&E and other utility companies routinely train fire personnel for electrical and gas fires. This creates a cozy relationship particularly with fire department upper management.

The report on British Columbia fires and investigations32 indicates some fire safety officials and agencies may have become politically compromised — a disturbing prospect. In 2016, twelve horses were killed, eleven injured, two severely so, and two firefighters were injured in a catastrophic barn fire in Florida.33 Initial quotes from Fire Rescue and fire investigators were that the cause was a catastrophic failure of the meter “causing flames and sparks to ignite hay, feed and other combustible materials that were nearby”. But that changed. The incident report later issued by the county and its inspector painted a very different picture — “unspecified electrical malfunction on the south end of the building…(I was unable to identify which device caused the fire without further specific testing and examination…).” The investigation office did no further testing once arson was ruled out, turning the case over to private investigators. Smart Grid Awareness researched this and was unable to discover any final resolution or determination.

If some fire administration officials are no longer objective and won’t speak out and expose a fire hazard, they harm the public and the fire fighters on the line that must deal with the consequences and risk their lives. That is unacceptable.

Continued in Part 4….

1 Report on Examination of Selected Sources of Electromagnetic Fields at Selected Residences in Hastings-on-Hudson, November 23, 2013 (emphasis added)

2 link no longer works

3 story.html (emphasis added) link no longer works



6 (emphasis added)


‘Smart’ technology could make utilities more vulnerable to hackers, 7-16-14


EnergyNow, June 19, 2011



Turkey’s 10-Hour Blackout Shows Threat to World Power Grids


UBC researchers find ways to hackproof smart meters





16 Personal correspondence, 2014, with Dr. Michrowski, Planetary Association for Clean Energy (PACE)


Application for Rehearing, California Public Utilities Commission




Norman Lambe testimony, July 13, 2016, PNM rate case, New Mexico PRC

22 with video

Lawsuits claim faulty PG&E Smart Meters started house fires, November 17, 2017


24 ibid (emphasis added)

25 Investigation Report into: Fires Originating in Electrical Intakes, Mark Hobbs, Lead Fire Investigation Officer, East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, UK, July 2010


27 release backgrounders/2014/oct/3 ritenburg final report.pdf




31 PG&E email: 84. “We have contacted several fire chiefs who are sympathetic” 1.pdf



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