Home‎ > ‎Smart Meter Concerns‎ > ‎


11.  Options?

One solution would be to allow consumers the right to keep their traditional meter.  They would adopt other non-wireless energy conserving measures proposed by consumer advocate groups.  In order to preserve and protect real estate value, consumers should also have the right after buying  a home to have a traditional meter replace a wireless smart meter on their newly purchased home.  They could also do monthly readings and call in or write in to their utility company the energy usage data.  

Prepaid analog meters would be another option.

An additional solution would be to allow consumers a wired smart meter.  In Europe and Asia, wired smart meters are being installed instead of wireless ones.  They either communicate over BPL (Broadband over Power Line), or fiberoptic cables.  A wired meter, however, does not solve the problems and concerns about privacy, security, public safety, and possibly even health, as wired smart meters have not been tested in the U.S. with humans to see if they affect the health and home wiring (cause dirty electricity).

Fiberoptics in particular, offers several advantages over smart meters that use a wireless communications system, addressing some (but not all) of the health and security concerns that trouble consumers.  Will smart meters wired via fiberoptic from the home to the utility company become the "next generation" smart meters?    However, again, a smart meter is a smart meter, and would not be acceptable for those who want to protect their privacy and security, and pocketbooks (for those who oppose time of use rate schedules).

Latest Development in California: On Thursday, March 10, 2011, the CPUC asked PG&E to come back in 2 weeks with a proposal for non-wireless options for consumers who want them, and what it would charge a consumers who wanted to opt out.  Critics of wireless smart meters point out that this doesn't go far enough -- it won't help those who are suffering ill effects from the radiation emitted from their neighbors' wireless smart meters or those who are in apartment or condo complexes living next to panels of wireless smart meters. In addition, those suffering ill effects from wireless smart meters don't believe they should be charged for the right to not having one -- that is the equivalent of extortion, they say.   Moreover, consumers point out that they didn't approve of these wireless smart meters in the first place, so why should they be charged to either  (1) keep their current old analog meter on their home, or, (2) have the newly installed wireless meter removed from their home?   Good points.  Read more here:

Way Out West/Bay Area Green News: "California utilities commission to allow customers to opt-out of smart meters," March 10, 2011, http://www.wayoutwestnews.com/2011/03/10/california-utilities-commission-to-allow-customers-to-opt-out-of-smart-meters/

Press Democrat, "CPUC says PG&E should allow SmartMeter opt-out," March 10, 2011and here: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20110310/WIRE/110319958/1350?Title=CPUC-PG-E-should-allow-SmartMeter-opt-out

Following this development, Tyson Slocum, Director of the Energy Program for the national consumer group Public Citizen (founded by Ralph Nader), has responded that Public Citizen does not support charging consumers who want to opt out. 

In addition, on
March 14, 2011, a major California newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, publishes an Editorial in support of customer choice, pointing out that consumer options are long overdue:

"The California Public Utilities Commission should have stepped in long ago...Ideally, the company would allow customers to keep their old meters...this is a long-overdue step in the right direction. Customer choice should have been an opt-in all along."

Read, San Francisco Chronicle editorial, "SmartMeters should be customers' choice," March 14, 2011, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fc%2Fa%2F2011%2F03%2F13%2FEDJD1I9GLV.DTL+

August 18, 2011 CPUC UpdateThe State of California's PUC has begun a proceeding into smart  meter options for SCE, SDG&E and PG&E, and this may possibly affect So Cal Gas (The Gas Co) as well.

Read here what the EMF Safety Network is proposing.  Please visit their website and donate to their organization to support their work on this front.  This is addressed to the CPUC Administrative Law Judge Amy Yip-Kikugawa, who is presiding over the proceeding:

Pursuant to your ruling on 08-03-2011, EMF Safety Network (Network) provides these alternative opt-out proposal details.

The microwave Smart Grid is an environmental toxin, a threat to the health and well being of communities and the environment and ultimately should be dismantled and eliminated. Steps towards this goal begin with the following proposals:

1. Retain or restore analog meters on both individual and community wide basis, including the removal of Smart Meter infrastructure. This applies to gas, electric and water Smart Meters.

Any ratepayer can have analog meters retained or restored, upon request, for any reason. This request should be honored at any time, retroactive and in the future. Whole areas, including neighborhoods, condominiums, apartments, cities and counties can also request to retain or restore the analog meters and remove microwave Smart Grid infrastructure for any reason. In situations such as apartments or neighborhoods, if one person asks, it should be granted for the entire area. In larger areas, a board or council can request the opt-out on residents behalf. There should be no individual costs associated with this remediation.

Network believes that utilities were profiting well from the system of analog meters and monthly meter readers and Network seeks to continue with the same system, for purposes of accuracy, safety and ratepayer convenience.

All cost analysis should include: expected longevity, upgrades, security patches, batteries etc. of Smart Meters; costs related to Smart Grid equipment, maintenance, and data storage; and compare that data to the cost of the analog meter system. Past, present and future corporate profits should be scrutinized.

If an individual requests a Smart Meter, Network would consider the possibility of using fiber optics, depending on the technical specifications. An additional health concern is the SMPS in the Smart Meter, which adds microwave harmonics to the home's electrical lines. This problem and the health risks, especially to children, created by the wireless home area network must be evaluated and resolved before Network can fully approve this option.

Network does not support a radio-off option, a statewide mandatory fiber optic or telephone system. The costs to the ratepayer to fund a new method for transmitting data is a burden ratepayers should not bear. In addition, the privacy and security concerns will not be addressed by authorizing a different type of Smart Meter system.

2. Immediately restore the analog meters for ratepayers with Smart Meter health complaints who request it.

The utilities have repeatedly ignored people with health complaints. These customers need relief now. All costs of this remediation should be covered by the utilities.

3. Impose an immediate moratorium on the installation of Smart Meters until this proceeding is finalized.

Although you have addressed this request for a moratorium in your ruling, and stated that customers are offered a delay list, the utilities are marketing heavily via television ads about the so-called benefits of the new meters. People are intimidated with more than a sales pitch when they call PG&E to opt-out, they are told they have to have a Smart Meter with the radio off. SCE does not offer a delay list. The delay list is not enough, we need an immediate moratorium.

Thank you,

Sandi Maurer
EMF Safety Network
PO Box 1016
Sebastopol CA 95473

Read the Center for Electrosmog Prevention's filing below (scroll down to bottom of this page and Download).  Please donate to CEP to support their efforts on this front.

Other States

In Arizona, residents are complaining about getting sick from the newly installed wireless smart  meters.  A a resident in Mesa complained about getting ill from hers, and the utility came out and replaced it with a non-RF one. It's an Empower "pay-as-you-go" meter, which does not transmit wireless signals, and she said it doesn't make her sick!  Now that's an option, and two thumbs up to the local utility company that was able to come up with that win-win solution!

Read and watch the TV story here: KPHO-TV Channel 5 News, "Smart Meter Made Me Sick, Mesa Woman Claims; Loni Rosser Says Symptoms Cleared Up With Different Device," posted Feb. 21, 2011 and updated February 22, 2011: http://www.kpho.com/news/26946007/detail.html

For more information on the Empower meter, see http://www.geus.org/empower.htm

Meanwhile, in New Mexico, until the state public utility commission decides how it wants to proceed with options, it is allowing residents to file Medical Waivers so they don't want have to have wireless smart meters on their home.   That's another humane and healthy option.

In Maine, due to resident concerns and communities adopting wireless smart meter moratoriums, the Public Utilities Commission arrived a smart meter opt out decision in May 2011 that charges customers for opting out.  Many residents are not satisfied with that, and are appealing the decision to the courts.  In addition, a state legislator is proposing a no-fee smart meter opt out bill.  Read more on our "Resident Campaigns in Other States" smart meter page, under Maine.

In Vermont, the utilities are offering opt outs for $10 per month, but resident and citizen groups there, including the ACLU-Vermont, opposes the fees and options on various grounds.  Read more about this in our "Resident Campaigns in Other States" smart meter page, under Vermont. 

As mentioned above, on June 29-30, 2010, the Cooperative Research Network Summit in New Orleans, Louisiana, examined a wide variety of Smart Grid technologies from the cooperative perspective, asking which are ready for prime time and what value consumer members may gain from their adoption. The CRN Summit brought together co-op early adopters along with experts from across the industry to share experiences, lessons learned and the latest developments on Smart Grid technologies.

Brad McGoon, Director of Fiber Infrastructure, Show-Me Power Electrical Cooperative in Missouri, gave a presentation about the costs & benefits of the fiber-optic smart grid:
  • If the past predicts the future, then we know that more bandwidth will be required as the applications for computers, communications, control and data increase.
  • Wireless technologies are constrained by inherent performance limitations that do not apply to fiber optic broadband. Wireless broadband networks, whether licensed or unlicensed by the FCC (cell towers or WiFi), use microwave radiation to transmit and receive their signals. These signals can be blocked by buildings, trees and other objects, and transmission quality is also subject to atmospheric conditions.
  • Many WiFi networks operate in unlicensed bands of the spectrum and use the same carrier frequency as cordless phones, and other consumer devices, and are therefore even more subject to interference problems than licensed wireless networks.
  • Fiber optic technology doesn’t have the wireless problems. Network traffic routes across fiber optic cables as a light wavelength and does so without any interference from other data traveling along the same fiber cables. Other wired technologies cannot claim this.(e.g., copper/co-axial cables).

  • The Smart Grid system will not be one technology. Just as electrical generation is not one technology, many communication structures will have a combination of wireless, power line carrier, and even the legacy copper circuit. These will ultimately be routed over a fiber optic network. The fiber optic network provides the higher bandwidth, reliability, and security that the Smart Grid requires.
Source: From the presentation, "CRN Smart Grid Summit: Smart Grid Communication Fiber Optic Infrastructure," in particular, Pages 16-21, http://www.nreca.coop/presentations/4CBradMcGoon.pdf

Found on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association website, CRN Summit, June 30, 2010, "Communication: A Smart Grid Enabling Technology,"

Then again, residents in this Alabama community oppose wired smart meters, too:

Residents in Opelika, Alabama concerned about smart meters and smart grid: http://opelikasmartgrid.com/

Actions You Can Take: Support consumer rights to opt out, and ask your local government and utility to do the same.  Go here (Discussion Item 14, Actions You Can Take) for suggestions and ideas: https://sites.google.com/site/nocelltowerinourneighborhood/home/wireless-smart-meter-concerns/actions-you-can-take-other-helpful-organizations-and-websites

As mentioned in Discussion Item 16  below,
in the Netherlands, the legislature approved allowing citizens the right to opt out of wireless smart meters, due to concerns about privacy.  If they can have that right there, why can't we?  For more info, go here (Privacy and Security): https://sites.google.com/site/nocelltowerinourneighborhood/home/wireless-smart-meter-concerns/privacy-and-security-concerns-still-unresolved

Also read about local government actions being taken by cities, and counties  throughout California to oppose the installation of wireless smart meters in order to protect and preserve their residents and communities; go to Discussion Item #
15. City and County Documents including Agendas, Minutes, Video Meeting links, Staff Reports, Proposed and Approved Ordinances,  Resolutions, Correspondence, etc.: https://sites.google.com/site/nocelltowerinourneighborhood/home/wireless-smart-meter-concerns/city-and-county-documents-including-agendas-minutes-video-meeting-links-staff-reports-proposed-and-approved-ordinances-resolutions-correspondence-etc


DISCUSSION OF MAIN CONCERNS: Read these and helpful information about the wireless smart meter issue -- click each of the discussion items below. 

1.  First and Foremost: Are Wireless Meters Mandatory?

2.  Smart Meters Unite Consumers, Citizens and Residents from Opposite Backgrounds and Political Affiliations

3.  Actions Being Taken: What Are Consumers Doing To Protect Their Civil Liberties and Affirm Their Rights to Refuse or Opt Out?

4.  Going Deep: Understanding the Big Picture and Real Costs and Concerns, Helpful News Reports and Consumer Advocacy Reports and Analysis

5.  Smart Meter Consumers Anger Grows Over Higher Utility Bills

6.  Privacy and Security Concerns Still Unresolved

7.  Health Concerns Grow: Consumers Are Getting Sick From Wireless Smart Meters

8.  Consumers Report Public Safety Hazards and Interference Problems

9. Cities and States Outside of California Pull Back

10. Resident Campaigns In Other States

11. Options

12. Lessons Learned: What's Happened in Australia

13. Lessons Learned: Major Problems for Canada

14. Actions You Can Take & Other Helpful Organizations and Websites

K Iwata,
Aug 19, 2011, 1:07 PM