Smart meters – an update

There has been a great deal of activity world wide on the smart meter front over the last two years so this is jus ta bird's eye view. The first article below sets out the scientific grounds on which its authors base their concern over the wide roll out of smart meters.

Smart Meters: Correcting the Gross Misinformation
This is an open letter in the Quebec-based magazine La Maison du 21e siecle by Dr David O. Carpenter, founder, University at Albany (NY) School of Public Health, in conjunction with some 40 of his peers, detailing the adverse health effects that coudl be expected from a wide roll out of smart meters.

The Stop Smart Meters UK blog has a wide range of posts covering most of the activities of campaigners and pressure groups in the US and Europe plus both research findings and many 'real life' stories of those who have suffered from the installation of smart meters in or near their homes.

• In the UK there have been some local victories over the installation of smart meters and, more importantly, campaigners have forced the government to withdraw its plans to roll the meters out nationwide – see below. However, Thames Water are also trialling smart meters which threaten to be significantly more powerful than the British Gas variety so the campaign continues.
Stop Smart Meters UK have leaflets available for download/print which can be distributed in anyone's local area.

• 'It will not be an offence for a householder to refuse to accept a smart meter'.
A signal victory was won by campaigners in the UK in estabishing this principle in November 2011. Here is the relevant passage from Hansard:

House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 29 Nov 2011

29 Nov 2011 : Column 903W
Energy: Meters

Barry Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps he plans to take to ensure smart meters are provided to all residential gas and electricity customers. [82634]

Charles Hendry: The Government will place regulatory obligations on energy suppliers that will require them to take all reasonable steps to install smart meters for all their domestic and smaller non-domestic customers by the completion date in 2019.

Guto Bebb: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether households will be able to choose not to have a smart meter installed if they have concerns about the health effects of exposure to radio frequency, such as non-thermal health effects. [82918]

Charles Hendry: We expect the benefits of smart meters, such as providing consumers with control over their energy usage and an end to estimated bills, will lead to demand for them from consumers.
To ensure that all customers are able to benefit from smart meters, we will require suppliers to take all reasonable steps to install smart meters. However, we recognise that there may be some circumstances where it would not be practical to install a smart meter.
We have made it clear that we do not expect suppliers to seek an entry warrant simply to fit a smart meter and it will not be an offence for householders to refuse to accept a smart meter.

Guto Bebb: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change pursuant to the answer of 14 July 2011, Official Report, column 491W, on meters: radio frequencies, what recent steps he has taken to alleviate concerns of people who experience non-thermal health effects of exposure to electromagnetic microwave radiation. [82920]

Charles Hendry: We have continued to engage with a wide range of stakeholders in the development of the smart meters programme. For example, the consultation on the technical specification of smart meters was sent to a wide variety of stakeholders for their consideration, including those that have an interest in health issues. The draft technical specification includes reference to the fact that, to be compliant, a smart meter must comply with the internationally agreed guidelines set out by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.

We also continue to respond to letters and inquiries as they come through to us, including those from members of the public or stakeholder bodies who have questions about electromagnetic sensitivity and smart meters.

• Finally to Australia.
Below are two letters from Dr Federica Lamech to the Premier of Victoria which are both self explanatory and typical of the battles being waged by those concerned by the health (and other) implications of smart meters and the authorities who wish to install them.

22nd February 2012

To the Premier of Victoria

Mr Baillieu,

Since the completion of the smart meter roll-out in my area, I have been very, very sick.

I have continuous palpitations, chest pain, a weird taste in my mouth, loss of appetite, lethargy, dizziness, faint attacks, inability to concentrate and complete insomnia.

I have the feelings at home, in the street, in all the streets of my area and at the shops.

I am not able to function. I can't work, I can't look after my family, I need my husband, who is now the only breadwinner, to take care of me.

My symptoms only disappear when I am in an area without smart meters, in a large park or on the beach. When my husband drives me through the Melbourne suburbs, I tell him when I feel my symptoms abate, he stops the car and looks at house fronts and, sure enough, he sees the old-style meters. This can be reproduced very predictably.

We now have to sell our home and find a place to live, where I get few or no symptoms. In the long-term, we have no choice but to leave the state of Victoria, as even if I find a 'symptom free' home, my life would still be very limited, as I could not roam most streets, go to most shops, visit friends, work etc.

My family's life has been completely ruined. We have lost everything we had worked for. My two teenage kids have to cope with the trauma and grief of the overwhelming loss that awaits us on a daily basis. I already can no longer work as a doctor, eventually my kids will have to leave their school, university, grandparents and friends behind.

This is all senseless and monstrous. Even in the big scheme of things, my life matters and so do the lives of those who depend on me, especially my family and friends, for whom I am not replaceable.

What happened to me was avoidable and clearly a breach of human rights – the right to health and the right not to be subjected to experimentation without my consent.

The community has never been consulted on the need for smart meters, or even well-informed.

With the mandatory Victorian smart meter roll-out we will have irreversibly compromised those democratic values that have defined Australia so far.

Dr Federica Lamech


Follow up letter after a standard response from the Premier

27th March 2012

Mr Baillieu,

The reply I received to my letter to the Premier of Victoria dated 22.2.12 was not helpful. It implies that there is complete lack of post-smartmeter-roll-out surveillance of possible health effects. It also implies that the government's strategy in relation to people like me, who have developed significant adverse health outcomes due to sensitivity to smartmeters' radiofrequencies, is to ignore us.

The EMC Technologies study on which the Office of the Energy Minister claims to have based its decision that the meters are safe is of such poor quality (ie. it does not meet the relevant scientific criteria for a study to be valid) as to be a joke. Apart from the fact that it does not even address the health consequences of constant exposure to radio frequency fields, it uses a sample size of sixteen to assess the safety of a device that could potentially affect more than five million Victorians. Also, in most of the results tables, up to a third or more of data is missing and labelled 'NM', ie. not measured.

It is, moreover, unheard of, in the scientific world, to come to conclusions about anything that may affect the health of millions of people based on only one study. And it would be considered inadmissible to not have a post-roll-out surveillance study in place. It was only through this type of post-release surveillance that it was discovered that Vioxx could cause heart attacks and that drug was consequently removed from the market.

At this stage I am starting to prepare myself for legal action against the Victorian Government. This is important for myself, as, at the age of forty-seven, the loss of my earning potential and the loss of my skills to the community are considerable, but also for those who may be similarly affected by the meters' radiotransmissions, but may be too old, sick, alone or financially disadvantaged to speak up and be heard or do to do anything to improve their situation.

Worldwide, evidence is emerging of potential negative health effects of smart meters' radiotransmissions on susceptible individuals. For this reason, the UK government has reversed its decision on their mandatory smart meter roll-out. Smart meter installation in the UK will now be voluntary, based on health concerns, and it is even suggested there that the meters should come with a 'health warning'. See this article.

From now on, all correspondence from me and any reply I receive or lack of it will be made public via the internet and an array of media outlets. I will also distribute copies to journalists, politicians of all persuasions, community and church leaders and persons in the public eye, both here and overseas.

I will use any means and contacts at my disposal to name and shame those in the Victorian Government, who, having been informed of mine and others' predicament, have chosen to ignore it.

Dr Federica Lamech

july 2012

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jFirst Published in July 2012

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