Austinites are Concerned About Electric and Gas Smart Meters
The city of Austin, Texas, installed automated, wireless, radiative, electric and gas meters in 2009. All homes, apartments, and multi-family residences in Austin have Smart Meters. These Austin Smart Meters are computers on our homes that send electromagnetic pulses of Radio Frequency (RF) and Microwave energy over a wireless system, every 5-30 seconds, and records our electricity and gas usage without the need for a person to manually record the information. In addition, the electrical design of Smart Meters employs Switching Mode Power Supplies that generate very high levels of voltage transients (electrical noise in V/sec), which can be greater than 1,000 V/sec. These also cause severe health issues.
Key Issues With Smart Meters
Health Concerns In October 2013, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) issued a report documenting the negative health effects associated with automated, Smart Meters and in the report, AAEM called for "Physicians and health are providers to consider the role of EMF and RF in the disease process, diagnosis, and treatment of patients."
Moreover, the Bioinitiative Report is an extensive summary of the health effects associated with low intensity, non-ionizing, electromagnetic radiation. Released in 2012 and published by 29 health professionals from ten countries, with medical and Ph.D. degrees, it summarizes the peer reviewed non-ionizing radiation research published from 1996 - 2011. It details the health effects associated with exposure to RF and Microwave radiation sources such as Smart Meters, cell phones, cell towers, etc.
Many individuals are sensitive to the radiation emitted by Smart Meters. These devices pulse wireless RF and Microwave signals every 5 - 30 seconds at a levels measured more than 60,000 uW/m2. The bottom line is that there are reproducible and documented health effects from low intensity RF and Microwave devices. As the power densities increase, the health effects become more pronounced and serious.
The most common health effects are: sleeplessness, pulsed electrical skin sensations, headaches, inflammation, periodic muscle contractions or twitching, cardiovascular irregularities, thyroid illness, etc. Some report repeated muscle contractions at night when going to sleeping. Several individuals report periodic muscles contraction or twitching every 5-25 seconds consistent when the meter pulses and sends data over the wireless network. Because the radiation emissions are not visible to the eyes, we may not be consciously aware of the huge amount of radiation being emitted by pulsing Smart Meters. Yet, our bodies are sensitive and feel the effects of the pulsed radiation. The consequences of ongoing sleeplessness and inflammation are dire and can lead to many serious health issues such as chronic fatigue, depression, and even cancer. In addition, several researchers have found a link between the wireless radiation frequencies (used in cell phones, smart meters, computers, tablets, etc.) and anemia and thyroid disease.
Privacy Issues Why does the electric company desire our minute by minute electricity usage data? According to Austin Energy, the extensive data will enable detailed electricity rate structures and allow for the capability to charge more for peak electricity usage. Peak usage is defined as the time of the day or season during which demand for electricity is at its highest. Therefore, during the hot Texas summer days, we could be charged more for electricity than in the evenings. Encouraging use of electricity during off-peak times has been shown by independent researchers to not be effective at reducing electricity consumption. Many do not want their privacy invaded with these invasive technologies.
Electrical Safety Problems Smart Meters installed in Austin were purchased by Austin Energy from the manufacturer, Landis + Gyr. The Landis + Gyr Meters are not certified by Underwriters Laboratories and do not contain the well recognized UL Listing insignia common for consumer electrical devices. UL is a global independent safety science company offering expertise across five key strategic businesses: Product Safety, Environment, Life & Health, Verification Services and Knowledge Services. The UL website states, "Our breadth, established objectivity and proven history mean we are a symbol of trust and enable us to help provide peace of mind to all."
The lack of UL certification of Austin's meters is a serious concern for citizens. Safety Issues have been found with several smart meters and fires have occurred in mutiple Texas locations such as Arlington and Houston. In 2012, according to the Houston Fire Department (HFD), the smart meter fire was associated with "an unspecified electrical malfunction in the electrical meter" and it found "only charred remains of the smart meter and conductor" during an investigation.
Electrical Grid Security The security of the electrical Smart Grid wireless system is of great concern. Because the system is designed to be remotely accessed and controlled, this can cause a variety of software vulnerabilities. According to a white paper from KMPG International Coorporation, local systems should be capable of autonomous operations in case of communication failures. Communications may be compromised if the "communication is not encrypted end-to-end." There are real concerns when citizens are looking to Austin Energy to ensure no power outages due to security breaches.
The New York Times reported that hackers have identified issues that would allow damage to Smart Grids and interruptions in service. This became a reality in 2012 when Chinese hackers interrupted service provided by the Smart Grid company, Telvent. Software developers and electronic engineers know that the more automated and complex a system is, the more vulnerable it is. The Smart Grid may not be so smart after all.