In Michelle Berriedale-Johnson's article in October 2010, Approaching menaces – are you threatened by a lamp post near you?, she raised concerns over British Gas' intention to install universal 'smart meters' by 2020.
Dr Andrew Goldsworthy has now taken up the cause and below are two extremely informative letters that he wrote to his MP on the subject.
Opposition to smart meters is also growing in the US where installation is much more advanced than it is here. Consumer opposition in the US is mainly based on the fact that the meters have increased rather than reduced household bills (see this New York Times article) but concern is also growing about privacy and the radiation emitted by the meters – see not only this NYT blog but the many comments that follow it.
From Dr Andrew Goldsworthy, Lecturer (retired) Imperial College London
The Dark Side of Smart Meters
8 November, 2010
It would appear that we are all about to have compulsory wireless "smart" meters installed in our homes in the hope that they will somehow save energy. However, they will cost a great deal of money (which will have to be paid for, with interest, in higher utility bills) and accomplish nothing that could not be achieved by conventional "Economy Seven" meters, with an increased tariff if the consumer exceeds a predetermined amount.
On the other hand, their wireless technology presents an increased risk to the health of the general population and real physical distress to the three percent or so of the population who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS).
Before embarking on this in the UK, it would be wise to look at what is happening in America, where smart meters have already been installed in some areas. If you visit this YouTube clip you will find a short lecture given by an electrical engineer who knows a great deal about smart meters and what they can do, both to damage your health and to infringe your privacy.
From the health angle, it should be noted that American residential meters are normally placed outside the house, whereas in the UK they are most commonly under the stairs; i.e. in the centre of the house. This means that more people will be affected in the UK and their wireless transmissions will have to be more powerful to get through the intervening walls.
Just in case there is any doubt that weak ionising radiation, such as that from mobile phone antennas and smart meters is harmful, I am attaching a recent and extensive scientific review of the literature that concludes that there is evidence for biological effects of non-ionising radiation well below current safety limits. It is also available here on the Internet free of charge.
With respect to privacy; since almost all electrical appliances have a characteristic pattern of electricity usage, it is possible for a smart meter to record and transmit personal information, such as how often you visited the toilet at night, by using the electrical "signature" of the (shaded pole) fan. Such details have commercial value and could be sold on to third parties.
Even if you are not EHS, not afraid of getting cancer and do not care if the whole world knows how often you visit the loo, there is another factor that affects us all. That is the danger of a cyber attack by terrorists, or even foreign power, (possibly using a botnet) on the wireless network that could shut down the whole nation's power supplies (these meters are designed to fail to the "power off" state). Alternatively, they could scramble all the meter readings so that they became meaningless and useless to the power companies.
Siemens, who are expected to supply some of our smart meters, have already been subjected to a successful cyber attack by the Stuxnet virus on their non-wireless equipment. Wireless systems can be expected to be much more vulnerable. If a teenager with Asberger's can hack into the Pentagon's most secret files, please be aware that a terrorist could even more easily hack into the wireless meters under our stairs or their equally vulnerable base stations.
I would be glad to hear your views an this and I hope that you will be able to pass this information to the appropriate Secretaries of State so that they can be aware of it before any decisions are finalised. I suspect that once the contracts have been signed it will be impossible to reverse the programme (rather like two aircraft carriers ordered by the previous government) and we and our children will have to pay the full cost regardless of whether the smart meter programme will subsequently have to be scrapped. History does tend to repeat itself I'm afraid.
15th November 2010
I have not yet received a reply to my earlier email on "The Dark Side of Smart Meters" in which I explained how they were a threat to national security by being prone to cyber attack, how they are likely to affect adversely the health of UK citizens, and how they can infringe privacy when configured to detect which kinds of appliance are currently in use. Since these are not trivial matters, I can only assume that you have not received my email, so I am forwarding it again from my Sent Box.
One thing that I did not mention in my original communication, but is very relevant, is that the enforced introduction of wireless smart meters is a clear contravention of the Nuremberg Code which forbids the performance of experiments on human beings without their consent. Insofar as the long-term safety of continual irradiation from these devices has never been tested and many people (including many eminent scientists) believe that it is potentially harmful, the whole nation is being made a part of an uncontrolled experiment on their electromagnetic safety.
In fact, it doesn't matter whether they turn out to be harmful or not; the fact that the experiment is being performed at all without the expressed permission of the consumer is a contravention of the Nuremberg Code. If we are to adhere to the Code, no consumer should have a wireless smart meter fitted without their voluntary consent after being warned that some scientists believe them to be a health hazard. Furthermore, should the property change hands, any new consumer should have the right to ask for the meter to be removed and replaced by a conventional one.
Please bring this to the attention of the Prime Minister and relevant members of the Cabinet. I am sure that a contravention of the Nuremberg Code, which was drawn up to prevent a repeat of the Nazi atrocities, is something that the Government would not want to be associated with, especially if they really did turn out to be harmful. It would definitely not be a vote winner.
I have copied this email to a number of my friends and colleagues. Perhaps you could reply to us all, since we would all like to know what your personal views are on this, as well as to have confirmation that the information has been passed up to and beyond Cabinet level.
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First Published in December 2010
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