Health and privacy issues drive grassroots opposition to not-so-smart meters

By Deborah Oliver, Special to the BDN
Posted Sept. 09, 2012, at 5:35 p.m.

Central Maine Power is on a mission. Its Spanish parent company, Iberdrola, wants to present Maine as a model for its so-called “smart” meter rollouts in New York State and elsewhere.

To succeed, CMP first has to squash the grassroots resistance sprouting all over Maine as CMP customers develop health problems, worry about being hacked, experience appliance and computer malfunctions, and realize that state governments around the country — including Maine — rolled over for powerful power companies that are raking in federal stimulus dough to pay for the meters.

The new meter on your house emits radio frequencies to transmit your usage data to other meters and to repeater devices, bouncing the data around until they reach a collector unit, which bundles the data to relay to CMP. This process saturates the area with CMP’s RF emissions.

Resistance to CMP’s mission began with a handful of brave, hardy Mainers who have been laboring through the morass of state legal requirements in order to get one question answered: “are ‘smart’ meters endangering our health?”

You are scoffing, “if they weren’t safe, the state wouldn’t allow CMP to install them.” Wrong! In July, the Maine Supreme Court ruled in the case that the Maine Public Utilities Commission hadn’t addressed the human safety of the new meters.

The one that is already stuck onto the side of your house. Maybe just outside your kids’ bedroom. Or a foot from where the family sits to watch TV. The more CMP accounts in your neighborhood, the more exposed you are to RF pollution, and the more exposed your household data are. Because not only can these meters make you ill, but they invade your privacy and are susceptible to being hacked.

CMP allows customers to keep their electromechanical meters but charges you $40 a pop, plus $12 every month to keep your existing meter. Although this assures your privacy, opting out doesn’t save you from the negative health affects of the not-so-smart meters all around you. And while the PUC mulls how to address the health question, CMP keeps right on charging people who have opted out but are still being saturated with not-so-smart meter RF.

CMP equates emissions from not-so-smart meters with those from cell phones, cordless phones, and Wi-Fi. That argument is deeply misleading on two points. First, you choose whether to have a cell phone or Wi-Fi in your house, and you alone decide when to turn it on and off. Not-so-smart meters are on 24/7/365 — and you cannot turn them off.

The second widening hole in CMP’s argument is that there is mounting alarm in scientific, medical, and public policy communities about the health dangers to a society saturated by emissions from — you guessed it — cell phones, Wi-Fi and cordless phones. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine and the Council of Europe are among those now issuing strong advice to get Wi-Fi out of schools.

Where can you get more information and help? Unlike CMP, the grassroots resistance to not-so-smart meters isn’t glossy or well-funded. We don’t have a website or an 800 number.

What we do have is a cantankerous notion that we don’t want manmade RF emissions bouncing around us and through us, up to 15,400 times a day. We also have the temerity to believe that the power company shouldn’t be collecting — and possibly selling — usage data that include the brand and model number of any electrical device we use in our homes, and what time we use it.

And speaking of time, you don’t have much left.

Before we’re too far down this dangerous road to back out, educate yourself now about the meters that invade your privacy and might make you ill. Begin by reading the American Academy of Environmental Medicine press release that calls for “Immediate caution regarding ‘Smart Meter’ installation due to potentially harmful RF exposure.” Read their list of medical conditions that can be exacerbated by the meters. Read about emerging studies on the detrimental health impacts of long-term exposure to an environment saturated by manmade RF and EMF.

Call CMP and tell them that you want your electromechanical meter back. Then call your mayor or select board members, your state representative, your state senator, and your Congresspeople to ask why the government is throwing money at power companies to install meters that can make you ill and that invade your privacy.

We may not be well-funded, but Mainers are scrappy. Don’t be steamrolled by Big Brother and Big Business.

Deborah Oliver is a publishing consultant and owner of Ab Initio (“From the Beginning” Publishing Consulting & Editing) in Camden.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/09/09/opinion/contributors/health-and-privacy-issues-drive-grassroots-opposition-to-not-so-smart-meters/ printed on July 28, 2014