Smart Choices About Smart Meters: Critical Issues to Consider in Deciding Whether to Opt Out

A public service brought to you by the Smart Meter Safety Coalition

Now that the Maine Public Utilities Commission has ruled that it is “unreasonable” for Central Maine Power to force every customer to accept a wireless meter, and that it is “in the public interest” for customers to opt-out, here’s a candid look at the information you won’t find in CMP’s promotional materials.

It’s information you need to decide whether the purported benefits of a smart meter outweigh the documented risks to health, safety, privacy and cybersecurity.

Here’s why people, communities and governments around the world are rejecting smart meters:

Click on image for printable informational flyer.

  • Radiofrequency interference causing malfunctioning of wireless equipment such as Wi-Fi and Netflix
  • Radiofrequency interference causing malfunctioning of medical equipment such as pacemakers and wireless insulin pumps
  • Radiofrequency spikes causing appliances to break
  • Health effects like migraines, nausea, vomiting, muscle spasms, heart palpitations and sleeplessness caused by intense bursts of radiofrequency radiation that has just been classified as a “possible carcinogen” by the World Health Organization — in the same category as lead, engine exhaust and DDT
  • Cybersecurity breaches
  • Excessive billing
  • Interception of personal identity information
  • Electrical fires

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Breaking News: CMP Threatens to Sue City of Bath Over Smart Meters

Leaked Letter Reveals City Councilors Pressured to Change their Votes

Add another notch to Central Maine Power’s bullying belt. Two weeks after Bath City Councilors passed an “opt-in” ordinance preventing CMP from installing a smart meter on someone’s home unless that customer wants one, CMP hired a prominent Portland law firm to write a letter threatening legal action unless city councilors back down.

If CMP does, in fact, take the city to court, the Spanish-owned company would earn itself the dubious distinction of First Utility in the World to Sue a Municipality for Trying to Protect Residents.

Even in California, where 40 communities have halted smart meter installation, utilities there have been respecting and accommodating those official statements of concern and requests for more time, rather than taking towns to court for taking a stand.

The letter from the law firm of Pierce Atwood to Bath’s City Attorney was leaked to the Smart Meter Safety Coalition, and states:

CMP requests that the Council rescind the ordinance immediately. If not, CMP is prepared to take necessary legal measures in federal and/or state court to challenge the legality of the Ordinance.

Read the letter in its entirety.

The Bath City Council passed the ordinance to protect residents’ health, safety, security, privacy and pocketbooks. Across the state and across the world, documented reports are pouring in of malfunctioning pacemakers, malfunctioning Wi-Fi, overbilling, electrical fires, heart failure, vomiting, insomnia — and the list goes on. Thankfully, despite CMP’s best efforts to cover up the issues of concerns and force every customer to accept a wireless smart meter on their private property, the Maine Public Utilities Commission recently ruled that CMP must let people keep their current meter — for a price.

While paid opt-outs are better than no opt-outs at all, one reason Bath city councilors passed the ordinance is that they don’t believe people should have to pay to protect their health, safety, security and privacy.

Especially now that the World Health Organization puts wireless radiation in the same “carcinogenic hazard” category as engine exhaust, chloroform and DDT, it seems fair and reasonable to want to protect one’s family from exposure to a possible carcinogen.

That’s why the Bath ordinance makes so much sense. Everyone who wants a smart meter gets one. They just have to ask. Which means, hopefully, they’ve looked at the critical issues and have made the very personal, very individual decision that the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks.

It’s precisely why the Smart Meter Safety Coalition is kicking off a series of discussions and Q&A sessions called “Smart Choices About Smart Meters: Crucial Issues to Consider in Making an Informed Decision.” The first one’s happening June 29th at 6:30 pm at Scarborough Town Hall. All are welcome.

Meanwhile, Bath residents who don’t want a wireless meter won’t have to pay $40 up front and $12 per month to keep a piece of equipment they already have.

Or will they?

It seems, in addition to threatening to sue the city, CMP is also threatening to skirt the ordinance by charging every resident the opt-out fee if they don’t accept a smart meter. So says the letter, which informs the city that the ordinance is “not in the interest of CMP’s customers in Bath who, as a result of the Ordinance, will be required to pay the opt-out fees unless they affirmatively ask to have a smart meter.”

For nearly nine months, the Smart Meter Safety Coalition has tried to work with CMP to find reasonable solutions. At every turn, the company has not only disregarded and disrespected legitimate customer concerns, but actively sought to dismiss and discredit those concerns. CMP hired the same firm that represented the tobacco and asbestos industries in cancer cases to try to “prove” smart meters are safe. When that didn’t work, CMP submitted reams of paperwork to the PUC, trying to “prove” opt-outs were technically and economically unfeasible. When that didn’t work and the PUC staff issued a recommendation for opt-outs, CMP filed exceptions to that recommendation, trying to “prove” why the PUC should not only reject the recommendation of its own staff, but reject opt-outs altogether.

It didn’t work.

The threatening letter is another hired scare tactic — an attempt to “prove” why the Bath ordinance wouldn’t hold up in court. Whether it would or it wouldn’t is not the point. Bath councilors have stepped up and taken a stand to protect residents from the actions of a company with a clear disdain for its customers.


Areas of Concern

Health and EMF Emissions from Smart Meters

CMP claims that the meters are safe because they comply with Electromagnetic Field (EMF) regulations established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  The truth is that EMF is currently under investigation by the World Health Organization as a possible carcinogen, and even the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that the FCC standards are “thermally based, and do not apply to chronic, non-thermal exposure situations.” There has been no independent testing of the devices for cumulative impacts, or long term exposure.

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The Smart Meter Issue

Scientists worldwide are butting heads over whether non-ionizing radiation causes cancer and other diseases. Each side accuses the other of propagating junk science. According to a Washington D.C. court, the issue is an established controversy.

So debating the science in our own backyard only serves to sidestep the facts about CMP’s smart meters, which emit non-ionizing radiation and are coming to your neighborhood.

Since I’m not a scientist, here are the facts:

  • These meters have never been tested for safety.
  • There are no federal health or safety standards for chronic exposure to non-ionizing radiation. The only standards that exist protect an adult male from death by electrocution.
  • The meters are an overlapping mesh network, where each home’s meter transmits to others in the area, and to new cell antennas that will be installed on utility poles to receive and boost the signals. The networks are set up to cover wide areas with pulsing signals, not just for individual homes to receive transmissions from their own meters. These cumulative transmission levels have not been tested for safety.
  • Other states and municipalities have rejected or halted smart meter installation due to not only health concerns, but concerns about overbilling, privacy, electronic interference, and electrical fires.
  • Safer technology is available to hard-wire these meters, or to carry the signals through phone lines. New Mexico’s Health Department mandated that a local water utility use wired connections between monitoring stations, instead of wireless, based on the precautionary principle.
  • Other states currently offer or are considering offering opt-out waivers to people who choose not to exposed their families to this layered radiation. Mainers do not have a choice.

Now for my opinion. CMP and the Public Utilities Commission have a chance and a responsibility to halt the wireless portion of this project; to move beyond scientific disagreements and to protect the public from even the risk of harm.

In the absence of any scientific studies on smart meters, in light of the fact that FCC standards to not cover the potential health effects of chronic exposure to non-ionizing radiation, in light of the fact that people in other states have reported everything from insomnia to muscle spasms to heart palpitations upon installation of smart meters, the precautionary principle is crucial.

Increasing numbers of people report sentitivity to wireless signals. Children, the elderly, people with chronic illness and impaired immune function are most at risk. The involuntary nature of the smart meter installation means that people who need to avoid wireless exposure for health reasons will literally lose their home as a safe haven.

The current controversy over the health effects of this type of radiation dictates the need to err on the side of caution until these meters and the cumulative nature of our exposure can be proven safe. Especially since children, with their thinner skulls and developing organs and systems, are more vulnerable to radiation.

A CMP spokesman said signals from smart meters are “neither strong nor cancer causing.” The World Health Organization and the National Toxicology program are investigating whether non-ionizing radiation causes cancer. As for the strength of the signals, “powerful” is the word used by the company that makes the meters.

CMP is hiring a consultant to look at scientific data. There are no scientific data on smart meters. And a company hiring a consultant, whose findings will undoubtedly be in that companys favor, is the wrong way to gain consumer confidence.

We can’t wait for irrefutable evidence of harm. Governments tend to wait for this irrefutable evidence. But as a parent concerned about my child’s health, the chance of a risk is enough for me. The doubt dictates the need to err on the side of caution. Because proof of harm beyond a reasonable doubt could come too late.

Elisa Boxer-Cook
Environmental Safety  Advocate

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