A Smart Approach To Smart Meters

John FinniganA new documentary about smart meters opens on September 5th called Take Back Your PowerThe film suggests that smart meters cause illness.  According to an August 12 USA Today story, the film’s director was inspired by a friend who became seriously ill after a smart meter was installed at his home.  Naturally, this type of personal experience might shape one’s view on smart meters, but correlation is not causation.

Electric utilities have installed over 38 million smart meters across the country and there “has never been a documented injury or health problem associated with such meters.”  According to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), “no scientific evidence establishes a causal link between wireless device use and cancer or other illnesses.”

Smart meters send information to utilities by using radio frequencies (RFs) such as those currently used by televisions, radios, baby monitors, cell phones and wifi routers.  RF signals have permeated our atmosphere for as long as we’ve had televisions and radios.

We use these devices every day, and many of them create much higher levels of RF exposure than smart meters.  The exposure level depends on the strength of the RF signal emitted by the device, the duration of the RF signal and—importantly— the distance from the source.  Cell phones emit up to several thousand times more RF signals than smart meters.  Smart meters also transmit intermittently and briefly during the day, while we talk on cell phones for long periods.  Finally, smart meters are located outside the home, while cell phones are often used close to one’s head.

These factors result in a dramatic difference in RF exposure from smart meters compared to cell phones.  So, whether or not future studies find that RFs cause health impacts (because current studies do not; see these reports by: Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and Electric Power Research Industry), smart meters make up a very small part of a person’s daily exposure.

Smart meters are an integral part of a smarter utility system that makes better use of distributed, clean energy, manages energy demand more intelligently and gives customers – for the first time ever – an active role in using, choosing and controlling the energy they need to power their homes and businesses.  Smart meters are an important ingredient in designing a clean, less polluting, low-carbon energy system.

EDF has a long history of working at the intersection where the environment meets human health, and our internal experts have taken a very hard look  at the available research on RFs.  However, we support utilities taking a proactive consumer-oriented approach to smart grid installations, including allowing individuals who oppose the installation of smart meters in their homes to be able to opt out.  The opt out option not only allows people to control whether or not they receive a smart meter, but it also allows everyone else – customers and utilities included – to reap the vast array of economic, environmental and health benefits from modernizing our antiquated, wasteful and polluting energy infrastructure.

Given the significant environmental and health-related benefits that could result from a more efficient, resilient grid by way of more locally-generated clean energy and fewer fossil-fuel power plants, EDF believes that case for smart meters is much stronger than the case against them.  The following states investigated the issue in connection with their smart grid deployments and reached the same conclusion: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Wyoming and most recently Texas.

For more information on this topic, please see the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative’s video Separating the facts from the Fiction about Smart Meters.

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24 Comments

  1. Cassandra Unheard
    Posted September 6, 2013 at 2:56 am | Permalink

    This sort of denialism is the reason I would no longer give money to EDF. Too bad the Tobacco Institute no longer exists; this guy would be a great fit for helping them correct all those nasty rumors about smoking being detrimental to health.

    It's time for the EDF to face facts: RF is like Asbestos and Tobacco rolled into one big slow-motion 21st-century public health disaster. And EDF is fighting for the wrong side.

    http://www.bioinitiative.org/preface/

  2. Posted September 7, 2013 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately, quoting such sources as the FCC stating that, “no scientific evidence establishes a causal link between wireless device use and cancer or other illnesses,” is not persuasive or objective. The FCC indicates that it has a “mandate” to promote the creation of an efficient and uniform nationwide telecommunications network, thereby creating a conflict of interest in terms of protecting the public. The FCC and smart grid advocates selectively dismiss evidence that does not support the narrative that smart meters and other wireless devices are safe. It is hard for one person to fully refute the “establishment” on this issue, but I will at least demonstrate that I have thoroughly reviewed this subject matter by referencing my recent comments to the FCC on reassessing its exposure guidelines. Refer to link if interested: http://skyvisionsolutions.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/fcc-comments-aug-2013-skyvision-solutions.pdf

  3. Posted September 9, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    An electricity meter is a device that measure amount of electricity consumers by a particular house, residence or a shop. The basic unit for measuring electricity is KWH. For commercial use electricity meters firstly introduced in 1880’s, from then till now electricity meters face various advancement and changes in design and technology too. Smart Meters provide total control of the energy use and allowing customers to adopt energy efficient measures that can help save money on their energy bills and price increases.Due to less maintenance and easy installation smart and prepay meters changes the trend of electricity consumption all over the world.

    • Inside Nine
      Posted September 13, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

      I wish these meters were as innocuous as utilities and their hired shills want us to believe. I live in California and have met too many people whose lives have been restricted because of the health effects they experience in smart metered neighborhoods. Class action law suits are being filed and the smart meter will eventually be recognized as a bona fide "green con." (as in con artist).

      If people don't want the meters for whatever personal reasons why not respect their wishes. What's wrong with a precautionary approach? Most new technology is piloted before it is foisted on large populations. They meters are pulsing 24/7 all throughout the country.

  4. Warren
    Posted September 13, 2013 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    EDF is totally out of it.

    Lawrence Berkley National Lab is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. That's the same U.S. Department of Energy that subsidized the “smart” grid to the tune of $3.4 billion. In fact, Steve Chu, who was the head of the U.S. Department of Energy when the billions were dished out, used to head the Lawrence Berkley Lab before he went to the Department of Energy. Does anyone think Lawrence Berkley Lab will bite the hand that feeds them?

    The Electrical Power Research Institute used to actually call themselves an “industry collaborative” on their website and they had a very long list of member utilities. Also at their site, EPRI boasts that members “pool their resources to fund research”.

    In short, neither one of these outfits are independent or impartial. Historically, there is a long list of products and procedures that promoters assured us were safe and they turned out not to be. We are being conned by pormoters again with the "smart" grid.

    Additionally, the "smart" grid is actually way more costly and so does not "save" anybody anything. It is not "green". Central Maine Power promised $363M in savings (so they could get stimulus $) and in just 3 years have come begging for a rate increase because they have a $99M loss. Ernst & Young just did a cost/benefit analysis for Germany which showed increased "smart" grid costs. Attorneys General in Illinois, Connecticut & Michigan have all determined the same thing.

    Watch the film.

  5. Posted September 13, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    EDF and Fred Krupp have lost ALL credibility over this issue. I find it disgusting that EDF continues to try and mislead the public on the issue of health effects and smart meter radiation, however it is no surprise considering the conflict of interest with Ann Doerr on the board of EDF and married to John Doerr of Silver Springs – manufacturers of smart meters. EDF has also been hired to help roll out smart grid and smart meters in Texas in addition to CA. Fred Krupp also pays himself over $400,000 a year to run his "non profit" EDF. It's time people start waking up to the fact that EDF is no friend of ours OR the environment, but really a shell of a company it used to be and an absolute shill for the industry in every direction you look on this issue and others like it. I will never give a red cent to this corrupt group and I hope you don't either. EDF LIES to the public about the WHO and their stance, using OLD press releases from 2005 as opposed to 2011 when the WHO came out with their cancer conclusion on EMFS as emitted by smart meters and smart grid. PLEASES tell your friends about the shameless group and NOT to support them!!! EDF disgusts me. It is groups like EDF who give the words "non profit" a very bad name. SHAME ON EDF AND SHAME ON FRED KRUPP!!!

  6. Posted September 13, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    PS, please watch this brilliant film, Take Back Your Power and get the REAL story on smart meters and smart grid..not the story EDF would have you believe. You can get the film by clicking on the below link.

    http://www.yekra.com/take-back-your-power/#!/deployment_code=40886970mrhalw

  7. Inside Nine
    Posted September 13, 2013 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    For those who aren't busy looking the other way,
    Here's a summary list of hundreds of Smart Meter Health complaints:
    http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?page_id=2292

    I know its hard to acknowledge that our own technology could be responsible for the pain and suffering of thousands but its a good first step to making the world a better place.

    Hey "Environmental Defense Fund", defend these people please!

  8. Hardwired
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Smart meters/smart grid serve no other purpose than to control the populace and boost profits for big business. Time of use charging (TOU) will be next. This is likely the largest (ignored) consumer revolt in the history of America. Sadly, for those living in condos with 45 co-located smart meters on the opposite side of the bedroom wall – this is nothing short of daily TYRANNY.

  9. Deborah Rubin
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    This paradigm of "fixing" one evnironmental problem with another is the reason I stopped supporting and trusting EDF. I don't know what they must be thinking or what research they are reviewing. Thousands of studies show harm and Florida has many sick people, some who have had to leave their homes, as evidence.

    EDF, behind the curve again.

  10. Deborah Rubin
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    I wish EDF would consider, there is no reason the grid must be Wireless—how does the wireless aspect make it more reliable and secure–does it really? And what type of changes in our usage and sourcing of energy would truly help the environment? EDF is supporting Big Energy Money instead of other paradigms that are truly sustainable. And adding another layer of pollution, microwave, is counterproductive at best.

    Think!

  11. Steve Martinot
    Posted September 15, 2013 at 3:47 am | Permalink

    What hypocrisy! The Environmental Defense Fund is supposed to defend the environment. Humans are part of the environment that technology and corporate investment are despoliating. Yet the EDF will not even demand implementation of the precautionary principle with respect to humans in the face of RF illness from new technology. The studies that have been done that implicate RF directly in many illnesses and biological damage do not get much funding, and no media coverage. Obviously, the EDF is depending on the corporate media to inform it about how humans are trying to defend themselves against corporate technology.
    It is time for you to change your name to the Corporate Defense Fund. If you do, the money will roll in even faster than it is now.

  12. Shari Anker
    Posted September 15, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    As one of the people who has been (and is being) injured by the pulsing microwave radiation from the smart meters I must point out that there is no national registry recording our symptoms. Hardly any doctors have had training in in recognizing the symptoms of the reactions that many are reporting. As a lifelong environmentalist, I am terribly saddened that an environmental organization would go out of its way, with no evidence, and listening only to industry, to proclaim that this is a non-isssue. In my opinion, this is the DDT issue of the 21st century. Using the same kind of argument that, hey, we all use these devices and no one appears sick so it's got to be safe. Any environmentalist worth their salt knows that whenever new environmental agents are introduced, there is always an effect. We have now deemed it okay to to change the electromagnetic sphere, in our neighborhoods, homes, offices and in our body's cells, with anthropogenic pulsed radiation, and arrogantly assume there will be no effect. Ha!!

  13. Deborah Rubin
    Posted September 15, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    EDF says "The opt out option not only allows people to control whether or not they receive a smart meter, but it also allows everyone else – customers and utilities included – to reap the vast array of economic, environmental and health benefits from modernizing our antiquated, wasteful and polluting energy infrastructure."

    The opt out does not protect you from the radiation emitted by your neighbors's–plural–meter and the infrastructure. Even in a private home, that radiation will reach you, and God help those living in condos and apartments.

    And, EDF, what about the ENVIRONMENT and all that lives in it?

  14. Deborah Rubin
    Posted September 15, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    EDF, in the spirit of true disclosure, I ask you to place on the public record exactly which studies [y]"our internal experts have taken a very hard look" and how they were evaluated. And why did you exclude or discount the thousands of studies showing harm?

    You should issue a report instead of expecting the public, your benefactors, to trust you.

    Citing FCC–that revolving telecom door– as your reference–you are taking the Procrustean Approach. If you care to learn something about those Guidelines, which are incidentally being reviewed for health:
    http://www.emfacts.com/the-procrustean-approach/

    And check out the expert comments to FCC Dockets 13-39, 13-84, 03-137. And so should the public.

    Holding out for the cause to be definitively proven, meanwhile, ignore the correlations and even the proposed mechanisms, ignore the sick.

    See Pall 2013, Panagopoulos 2013, 2000 and 2006.

    Also, US Fish and Wildlife Report 2009.
    Balmori 2009, a review of the literature studying the effects of the environment.

  15. Posted September 15, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Probably the most clear sign of bias in the EDF article is the final reference to the SGCC video which is pure propaganda; in a blog posting at my website it is described that "the video under the pretence of being a 'credible' source of information, exudes propaganda, makes nonfactual statements, and denigrates concerned citizens through hyperbole." For more information, refer to http://thetruthaboutsmartgrids.org/2013/05/10/smart-meter-propaganda/.

  16. Bruce
    Posted September 15, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Permalink
  17. Bruce
    Posted September 15, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    The Procrustian Approach to Smart Meters
    http://www.emfacts.com/the-procrustean-approach/

    have a free download and the real down low

  18. Posted September 16, 2013 at 3:34 am | Permalink

    Mr. Finnigan,

    Do you really expect us to believe you are writing about smart meters without bias or conflicts of interest when you used to work for Duke Energy?

    From your public LinkedIn profile:

    Duke Energy February 2008 – July 2012 (4 years 6 months) Cincinnati, Ohio
    "Highlights include representing Duke Energy on electric restructuring, smart grid, energy efficiency, solar/renewable energy and integrated resource planning legislation."

  19. Steven Magee
    Posted September 16, 2013 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    Electric utilities have installed over 38 million smart meters across the country and there “has never been a documented injury or health problem associated with such meters.”: The injuries by these toxic wireless transmitting utility meters regarding the radio wave sickness they have inflicted on me are extensively documented at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), The Arizona Corporate Commission (ACC), the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), Tucson Electric Power (TEP), Southwest Gas (SWG), Tucson Water, and my doctor, to name just a few. These wireless utility meters make me sick and are damaging my plants. It is extensively documented by many other people as well, search "Smart meter sickness". The UK has halted the installation of these toxic transmitting meters in part due to the known extensive health problems that they create.

    • Posted September 16, 2013 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the statement that there “has never been a documented injury or health problem associated with such meters” is a false statement, particularly since Mr. F did not define what he meant my “documented.” I have personally seen scores of documented injuries and there are likely thousands that I have not seen. It is likely that Mr. F would not accept a physician’s statement or diagnosis of harm or illness but that was not stated in the article. We don’t know what his criteria would be for a documented injury; it is just that documented injuries don’t fit the narrative that smart meters are wonderful devices that will save the planet.

  20. Mica Vehik
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to the many readers who took the time to weigh in with their thoughts on smart meters. Certainly, there are some strong differences of opinion. For a more detailed assessment of EDF's position on smart meters and analysis of existing smart meter research, I'll direct readers to EDF President Fred Krupp's letter to our members, which addresses many of the questions and claims raised in the comments to this post: http://www.edf.org/SmartMeterResponse.

    EDF’s commitment is to the environment and human health, not to the success or failure of any particular technology. We will continue to look to science for answers to our greatest environmental challenges and to help us ask new questions. Regarding our funding sources, EDF does NOT accept funding from companies that can be affected, positively or negatively, from our work. The sole exception is Intervener Compensation administered by the California Public Utility Commission, which is paid on a mandatory basis by utilities to nonprofit groups, including EDF, as compensation for the costs of intervening in state regulatory proceedings: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PUBLISHED/REPORT/101138.htm.

    Please read our corporate donations policy for further details: http://bit.ly/RS5FjI

    – Mica Vehik, EDF Communications Director, US Climate and Energy

  • About the author

    Senior Regulatory Attorney
    John Finnigan is the senior regulatory attorney for EDF’s US Climate and Energy Program, representing EDF before state public utility commissions on smart grid deployments and energy efficiency matters.

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