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The Facts About Smart Meters Are they really Safe, Cost Effective, and Secure?
Q: The Oregon PUC assures us that Smart Meters are safe for our health. Are they?
A: No. The OPUC makes this claim because the non-ionizing Radio Frequency microwave radiation (RF) broadcast by Smart Meters on average falls below the 1996 Federal Communications Commission safety limit. But a great deal of recent research has appeared showing that RF exposures well under this limit can cause harm. Multimillion dollar studies by the U.S. National Toxicology Program in 2016, and by the Ramazzini Institute in Italy in 2018, clearly demonstrated that exposures at frequencies emitted by Smart Meters caused both cancer and DNA breaks in animals at levels well below the FCC’s “safe” limit. Other replicated effects at lower levels of exposure include neurological damage in animals after short exposures, including leakage of the blood brain barrier. Also, research has clearly established that children absorb far more RF radiation than adults, especially in the brain, making them far more vulnerable to harm from Smart Meters.
Q: The OPUC states that on average “RF emissions of Pacific Power’s meter is about 1.6 percent of the maximum permissible exposure as determined by the FCC.” Does this make them safe?
A: No. The FCC standard basically rubber-stamped the U.S. military standard set during the Cold War when radar served a vital role in national defense, and when the health and long-term well being of civilians from RF exposure was not a consideration. Because the FCC set the “safe” exposure limit so high, even 1.6% exceeds or greatly exceeds the safe RF exposure limits set for civilian populations by China, Russia, Italy, France, Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, Belgium, and Austria. Replicated research has shown harmful effects at levels far below 1.6%, including leakage of the blood brain barrier.
Q. Pacific Power stated that Smart Meters only make only four transmissions a day, and that they broadcast less RF in a year than a cell phone does in 15 minutes. Did they lie?
A. Yes. Pacific Power has made a number of false statements about Smart Meters, and in this case, they flatly contradict information on Smart Meter RF output provided by both the OPUC and by Silver Spring Networks, who makes the Smart Meters Pacific Power installs. With respect to the number of transmissions per day, Pacific Power makes the same claim that Pacific Gas & Electric made, before a court order forced them to disclose the truth that Smart Meters do not transmit signals only a few times a day as PG&E claimed, but because of how a Smart Meter mesh network operates, transmit on average 10,000 times a day. And “downstream” Smart Meters that serve as final transmission points can send out over 190,000 transmissions a day, 20x that average. And, since the RF power unit of a Smart Meter has twice the wattage of a cell phone when it does transmit, it sends out a far more powerful signal than a cell phone does.
Q: OPUC & Pacific Power claim that Smart Meters save customers money. Will they?
A: No. In addition to paying for their own use of electricity, customers will now have to pay for the electricity used to operate their Smart Meters, for routine maintenance, and for future replacement costs as these devices break down and need upgrades—unlike Analog Meters which last for decades with no problems. In fact, in hundreds of cases Smart Meters have malfunctioned, causing fires and damaging structures, sometimes leading to the loss of homes. Also, by using the data collected from Smart Meters, Pacific Power will have the option to charge more for power used during “peak periods,” increasing profits by increasing consumer rates.
Q. Is it true that with a Smart Meter, our bills may substantially increase?
A. Yes. Many people have received increased power bills after getting Smart Meters, which calculate usage using data sampled at intervals using a proprietary formula chosen by the company—and which can greatly overestimate electrical usage.
Q: And what about privacy? Pacific Power claims it will not collect information about our energy use, only the total usage, like Analog Meters have always recorded. True?
A: No. Information from Analog Meters is collected only once a month, but Smart Meters will collect and transmit readings throughout the day by tracking your activities as expressed through your power usage. An unoccupied home has a very different pattern of electrical power use than an occupied one, and computer algorithms can easily analyze this data to provide far more information about the activities of residents. Because Smart Meters take readings 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it’s possible to deduce what is happening inside a home—appliances being used, how many people live there, the schedules they keep, and even what television shows they watch.
Q: Pacific Power claims that we do not need to worry about misuse of the information obtained from Smart Meters at our homes. Is this true?
A: No. Just as you can access your own power use information online, so can anyone else who has the proper codes—including those authorized by Pacific Power like government and other third parties who can legally buy your information. This information can also become available to anyone that knows how to hack into Pacific Power’s insecure database.
Q. The Oregon Public Utility Commission mission statement claim is: “To ensure Oregon utility customers have access to safe, reliable, and high-quality utility services at just and reasonable rates. We do so through robust and thorough analysis and independent decision-making conducted in an open and fair process.” In the case of Smart Meters, has the OPUC fulfilled their mission?
A. No. The OPUC had a duty to insure the safety of these devices not just for a best-case RF exposure scenario—or for an “average” scenario—but for worst case scenarios, something it has clearly failed to do. Bedrooms in some apartment complexes have not one, but a bank of as many as ten Smart Meters mounted outside a wall close to where residents sleep, all of them sending short but very intense RF signals several times a minute, all day and all night. And some of these bedrooms have children in them, who absorb far more RF radiation than adults, especially in the brain, making them much more vulnerable to harm. Given that no one has published any research on the biological effects of the intense pulsed RF broadcast by Smart Meters, the OPUC has, in effect, approved using human beings as guinea pigs.
Q. I want to opt-out, but I can’t afford the high fees. What can I do?
A. Complain to the OPUC. In setting excessively high Opt-Out fees ($137 for not putting one in; plus a $36 monthly reading fee)* much higher than those set in other states, the Oregon Public Utility Commission has clearly placed the profits of Pacific Power over that of the public—to whom they have a primary duty. Compare this to the Opt-Out fees the California Public Utilities Commission set for PG&E: A $75 initial fee and a $10 monthly charge discontinued after 36 months. Also, lower income-qualified customers in California pay only an initial $10 setup charge, and then a $5 monthly charge, also discontinued after 36 consecutive months.
*IMPORTANT NOTE: Because of our efforts and those of others like us who complained to the OPUC, last Summer they dropped the $137.00 “OPT-OUT” FEE! The outrageous $36/month meter reading fee remains. But IF enough people complain, that too will likely become drastically reduced or eliminated altogether. SPEAK OUT & BE HEARD!
Q. How well has the Oregon Public Utility Commission served and protected the public?
A. Very, very poorly. The OPUC approved Smart Meters without allowing public input, and without inviting testimony concerning their risks from independent scientific experts with no history of industry ties or other conflicts of interest. Oregon has approved by far the highest opt-out costs in the nation, in effect making it economically impossible for those in lower income levels to opt-out should they wish to do so for reasons of health, safety, or privacy. In contrast, in 2018 when the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission allowed testimony from independent scientific experts in the field, they came to a very different decision than the Oregon PUC and rejected a proposed installation of Smart Meters. In fact, the New Mexico PRC conclusion was that “The [Smart Meter] plan presented in the Application does not provide a net public benefit and it does not promote the public interest.”
The following were instrumental in winning the first battle to drop unreasonable “Opt-Out” fee:
-Check out Talent City Council Resolution (1) and THIS letter from Jackson County Board of Commissioners to Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Public Utility Commission Chair(2) :
Please Visit freedom2sayno2smartmeters.org for Links to the Peer-Reviewed Science Used for This Information
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