Hawaiian Electric has just filed its grid modernization plan with state regulators, which involves installing more than 455,000 controversial smart meters on Oahu, Hawaii Island and in Maui County. Smart meter installation would begin in 2018 on Hawaii Island and in Maui County. A local non-profit – Honolulu-based renewable energy-focused Blue Planet Foundation – is pushing smart meter implementation with a web site that includes many outright falsehoods about health, safety, security, and savings issues.
Here’s my response with Blue Planet’s statements followed by the truth.
- “Typically, a smart meter emits its radio signal for about 1 minute per day.”
This is an outright lie. In California, for example, in response to a court order, PG&E was forced to provide documentation from the manufacturer of the meters that the average meter in the mesh network transmitted data signals to the utility six times a day, network management signals fifteen times a day, timing signals three hundred sixty times a day and beacon signals to the mesh network nine thousand six hundred times a day….That’s roughly seven transmissions per minute, twenty-four hours a day, coming out of every meter.
- “According to the American Cancer Society, there “is no clear evidence at this time that RF waves from smart meters (or other devices) can cause harmful health effects.”
But according to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine: “Multiple studies correlate RF exposure with diseases such as cancer, neurological disease, reproductive disorders, immune dysfunction, and electromagnetic hypersensitivity.
3. “Low-level radio frequency does not produce any biological effect, and causes “no known adverse health effects.”
Again the American Academy of Environmental Medicine: “Many in vitro, in vivo and epidemiological studies demonstrate that significant harmful biological effects occur from non-thermal RF exposure.”
- “According to the World Health Organization, a “number of studies have investigated the effects of radiofrequency fields on brain electrical activity, cognitive function, sleep, heart rate and blood pressure in volunteers. To date, research does not suggest any consistent evidence of adverse health effects from exposure to radiofrequency fields.”
Blue Planet forgets to mention that the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified RF from cell phones as a ‘Possible Human Carcinogen’ (Class 2B). IARC Director Chris Wild stated that the, “IARC decision reconfirms the need for governments to institute biologically based exposure guidelines that take into consideration known biological effects occurring from all kinds of EMFs at non-heating levels of exposure, which industry has long sought to deny, despite decades of evidence.”
- “With regard to home security, there is a fear that burglars who are cyber-savvy cryptographers can hack into the smart meter and procure energy data that would help them determine the most opportune time to break in. This is possible, but is it probable?”
Oh yes it is. In 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated widespread incidents of power thefts in Puerto Rico believed to be related to smart meter deployment. The FBI believed that former employees of the meter manufacturer and employees of the utility company were tampering with the meters charging between $300 to $1,000 to reprogram residential smart meters and $3,000 to reprogram commercial smart meters.
A series of hacks perpetrated against so-called “smart meter” installations over the past several years may have cost a single U.S. electric utility hundreds of millions of dollars annually, the FBI said in a cyber intelligence bulletin obtained by KrebsOnSecurity.
- “The installation of smart meters will enable direct communication between the endpoint and the utility, eliminating the possibility of human error.”
Well that’s completely false. A Forbes story noted: Scores of consumers in California paid for more electricity than they actually used due to errors made by about 1,600 flawed “smart meters” installed by a major investor-owned utility. Pacific Gas and Electric Company admitted that about 1,600 so-called “smart meters” had charged customers for phantom power.
Chicago Tribune – “One of Chicago’s largest suburbs uses a type of smart water meter that it knows has regularly overcharged residents — sometimes by hundreds of dollars a bill — while failing to give the public accurate information about the scope of the problem.”
CBC – Canada’s Hydro-Québec was reported to be looking into complaints that its new smart meters are overbilling homeowners, following a CBC investigation. And in Australia: Evidence of serious systemic billing errors affecting Australia’s largest power company Origin Energy have come to light – resulting in overcharging and usage mistakes as high as 200 per cent.
- “The numbers show that smart meters are a good investment.”
A complete falsehood, according to a number of reports. A smart-meter report by the U.K.’s Future Energy Strategies noted: “Critics, many of whom are within the energy industry and prefer to remain anonymous, contend that the benefits will be at best marginal, the technology will soon be out of date and need replacing and there is absolutely no consumer demand for their money to be spent on them.”
Two years ago, Germany’s Economy Ministry commissioned a study which concluded installation costs would be greater than the achievable energy savings for average citizens, “while the bulk of benefit could go to industrial consumers.”
A Dutch study of 743 households with smart meters found they only used 0.9 per cent less gas and 0.6 per cent less electricity than those with old meters.
In reviewing the issue, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said, “Consumers don’t need to be forced to pay billions for so-called smart technology to know how to reduce their utility bills,” while adding, “the only real question is: How dumb do they think we are?” And Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette reported that there is “No net economic benefit to ratepayers.”