I’m sure you have heard some buzz here and there over the last several years about a “smart grid” and our need to modernize our electricity delivery system. There is a steady move by industry, supported by government grants to phase in these modernization projects. One United States Department of Energy study calculated that internal modernization of US grids with smart grid capabilities would save between 46 and 117 billion dollars over the next 20 years.
What is a Smart Grid?
A smart grid is a communication system – an electronic infrastructure – that can gather and act upon information about power usage from the point of delivery. A smart grid allows centralized management of digital usage data. A smart grid is expected to make power delivery more reliable, more flexible to utilize multiple sources and forms of energy, and will be more efficient. It will also allow power companies and utilities to curb peek usage through incentives or increased prices. Reducing peek usage could allow the shut down of several of the dirtiest power plants. The grid could be coupled with smart outlets or smart electric panels, and with the utilization of wireless communication, the grid infrastructure could reach into your home and talk to smart appliances, such as water heaters, washers & dryers dialing down their power usage during peek times.
What are Smart Meters?
Smart meters collect and store, and transmit your accurate moment to moment power usage through the AMI (Automatic Metering Infrastructure). Smart meters produced today are manufactured with a flexible communication system. They are made to transmit data over wired and/or wireless connections. Wired: either through a broadband connection such as fiber optic, or over low voltage power line using standards-based power line technology (PLC), Wireless: using pulsed Radio Frequency Transmission at 915 MHz LAN, GSM 850 MHz, and at 2405 MHz.
Why are citizens trying to stop smart meters?
The most concise list I have come across can be found here at stopsmartmeters.org
There is a reason for just about everyone here, even for your grandpa who needs a pacemaker for his heart!
Health & Privacy issues abound.
What are the health concerns about Smart Meters?
The primary concern is the unmitigated, unmeasured and unstudied exposure to accumulated levels of Radio Frequency Radiation when the Smart Meters pulsing of constant communication transmissions wirelessly through a RF Mesh Point-to-Point network is then added to our already hazardous levels of exposure from other wireless sources. Studies have not proven this technology to be safe, yet if citizens do not stop it our exposure will continue to increase.
Public health physicians and researchers alike are sounding the alarm that the exposure to extremely low frequency (ELF) and/or RF have been reported to be associated with “childhood and adult leukemia, childhood and adult brain tumors and increased risk of the neuro-degenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In addition, there are reports of increased risk of breast cancer in both men and women, genotoxic effects (DNA damage and micronucleation), pathological leakage of the blood–brain barrier, altered immune function including increased allergic and inﬂammatory responses, miscarriage and some cardiovascular effects” among others, as is sited in this linked article from 2009 by Sage Associates & the Institute for Health and the Environment. The list does continue, but for me, that list right there is enough for me to wan to severely cut back my exposure.
From a purely intuitive perspective, humankind – all animals and insects too – had never been exposed to these frequencies before! Rapidly we are filling up the space that surrounds us with electronic micro waves at Herz levels far above what exist in nature. In the last 15 years we went from transmission in the lower spectrum for radio and t.v. to so much now that, for example, the GSM network frequency 850MgHz at times every day in NYC is so full that you cannot search the internet over the network. ELF and RF are proven to be contributing to our stress, depression, difficulty focusing. Is it not also probable that all of this static, is preventing us from “tuning in” to the natural systems of the planet? Crowding out our intuition? Preventing us from making common sense connections?
What are the privacy concerns?
There are legitimate privacy concerns about allowing industry into our homes. There is a sense of distrust as to what would or could be done with that amount of detailed information. There is also discomfort at the possibility that our power could be turned on or off with the click of a mouse. It is not difficult to imagine how easily this could be used as a tool of suppression. What if you were posting a live video stream from your window that was exposing a scandalous injustice and someone in power was tipped off? Your IP address could be quickly identified, located and power cut within a minute or so. Without power your router won’t work and your stream is broken. I think about when the independent protester in Wisconsin during the collective bargaining sit in was live streaming the peaceful protest which contrasted what FOX news was reporting to be a bunch of rowdy rif-raf. With a smart grid, smart panels and smart outlets, the outlet he was using within the public space of the Wisconsin statehouse could have been shut down. A smart meter’s 2-way communication makes these things possible. The potential for abuse coupled with the historic lack of consumer protection in the USA make this argument against smart meters compelling.
The privacy issue has come up in other countries and communities in California. Responding to an outcry from citizens over privacy issues, Denmark has chosen to make smart meters optional.
What are the other concerns about the Smart Grid?
Just to give you an idea of what else is out there this is quoted from Wikipedia:
Oppositions and concerns:
Most opposition and concerns have centered on smart meters and the items such remote control, remote disconnect, and variable rate pricing) enabled by them. Where opposition to smart meters is encountered, they are often marketed as “smart grid” which connects smart grid to smart meters in the eyes of opponents. Specific points of opposition or concern include:
- consumer concerns over privacy, e.g. use of usage data by law enforcement
- social concerns over “fair” availability of electricity
- concern that complex rate systems (e.g. variable rates) remove clarity and accountability, allowing the supplier to take advantage of the customer
- concern over remotely-controllable “kill switch” incorporated into most smart meters
- social concerns over Enron style abuses of information leverage
- concerns over giving the government mechanisms to control the use of all power using activities
- concerns over RF emissions from smart meters
Well, you’ve made it to the end of my very basic explanation of the smart grid and smart meters along with some of the controversy surrounding. I hope you will continue to do your own research and share your opinions and concerns with your representatives, policy makers, government regulators, power company executives, friends, family and community. If we want freedom we need to maintain a functioning democracy. To maintain democracy, we must participate!
If you also feel compelled to sound the alarm about this potential public health hazard, please take a few minutes today to make a phone call or send an email to your representatives &/or power company expressing your opposition to smart meter microwave Radio Frequency transmission (RF Mesh Automatic Metering Infrastructure). Suggest that they use power line submission (PLC) or another wired form of communication instead .
If you are also opposed to having your moment to moment power usage monitered, then you will have to include that you do not want them invading your privacy in this way. From what I hear, the power company does not have the right to put a transmitter & what social libertarians call surveillance equipment on your property. They are doing this without our consent and before obtaining proof of long term health safety.
My primary concern is for the public health. This is why I am making my voice heard.