A War Against Smart Meters
A fierce debate has been underway in the USA since the Government announced its intentions to replace all analog meters in the country with the new smart meters. The Government claims that the meters will offer real time information on a household’s energy consumption, telling the consumer what they are spending their money on, and allowing them greater ability to control their utility bills. This would enable the consumer to know how much it costs, for example, to leave a TV on standby each night.
Smart meters also have built-in “traffic light” systems that indicate energy levels, green being low and red being high. This will, in turn, enable energy companies to issue bills based on what the consumer is actually using, rather than providing an estimated bill. This is all very handy, but it comes at a price. That price, leading scientists have found, is health.
Citizens in towns and villages across the country are involuntarily having their houses fitted with smart meters, and many communities are taking a stand against it. In Naperville, Illinois, opponents of the city’s smart meter installation program are embroiled in a long-standing court battle against the city. On Thursday April 19, a judge ruled the challenging smart meter awareness group a victory. The judge declined the immediate issue of a preliminary injunction allowing home and business owners to refuse installation of the controversial new meters. The group had asked that home and business owners should have the immediate choice of keeping their old analog meters. In the meantime, the city has proceeded with installing 40% of homes and businesses in Naperville with new smart meters, according to a statement from the city council following the latest ruling. The court battle will now continue throughout the next six weeks; a status and motion hearing is set for May 31.
Residents in Plymouth Township, MI, however, have mixed opinions on the meters. The Township’s Board of Trustees last week voted down a resolution that would have challenged the installation of the systems. Trustee, Steve Mann, said he was reluctant to tell governing bodies or schools what to do as there was not currently enough information available on the safety implications of these meters. However, some people in the area are still concerned and the council is thinking of bringing in an opt-out system for those worried about health implications.
A Victory for Freedom of Choice
Customers in Edision, CA, have been given the freedom of choice. The California Public Utilities Commission last week passed a final approval of an opt-out clause for those preferring to stick with their analogue models. This is a significant victory for those concerned about smart meter radiation risks and privacy issues posed by the meters. Commission President, Michael Peevey, said: "As we move toward a more advanced electricity grid, smart meters will offer customers real benefits. However, if a customer does not want to have a smart meter, our decision today gives them that option."
Systems like this could mean that other states and counties may follow suit. In Indian River County, for example, the Public Service Commission is considering an opt-out for all residents. However, a decision on this is still a long way off as they will first be producing a set of recommendations on the matter.
An uproar has recently started in British Columbia, Canada (a country that is also undergoing serious issues with the compulsory installation of smart meters), when a homeowner from Kamloops was almost asked to pay for a bill of $5,000 due to a faulty smart meter. Residents already had doubts about the safety and privacy implications of the meters, but were assured that they would have noticeable cost benefits.
Astonished resident, Trevor Cameron, had opened a bill for $4,800. Upon querying with utilities company, BC Hydro, he realized that the meter had been charging five dollars for every one dollar of electricity the family had been using. Opposition to these smart meters has since strengthened; they are now unconvinced that Cameron’s faulty meter was an isolated incident. Campaigner, Brad Thiessen, said: "I don't buy that all. This has been happening in Texas, California, Australia, Ontario…B.C is going to be no different."
The debate goes on…