Protecting Ourselves and our Families from Radiofrequency Radiation

RF Radiation

Current guidelines of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and similar organizations are outdated and do not adequately protect us from the hazards of radiofrequency radiation (RF).  FCC exposure guidelines only protect against thermal damage despite overwhelming evidence that so-called non-thermal effects also occur.  These non-thermal effects are simply unregulated.

To better understand why the FCC does not seem to care about protecting the public from all known RF hazards, it is recommended to read the document published last year, “Captured Agency:  How the Federal Communications Commission Is Dominated by the Industries It Presumably Regulates.” [1]

For full article go here.

Smart Meters Should Do No Harm

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by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Smart Meters Should Do No Harm RevI discovered a new article [1] written by Nick Hunn of WiFore Consulting Ltd. regarding the status of the smart meter program in the UK, dated August 1, 2016.  In May 2016, Mr. Hunn provided testimony before the UK House of Commons’ Science and Technology’s “evidence check” as was highlighted at this website in a separate article [2].  In particular, Mr. Hunn has been critical of the smart meter’s remote disconnect capability from a cyber security perspective, stating in his testimony that:

“If somebody could hack into that or just by mistake turn off very large numbers of meters, that sudden shock of taking them off the grid, and even worse be able to turn back on at the same time, would cause significant damage.  And to me that’s an unnecessary risk.”

Hunn has a unique and colorful writing style when making his points.  His latest article reiterates concern about inherent security flaws for smart meters and that there could soon be an unraveling of the UK smart meter program due to cost overruns and fewer projected benefits.

Read rest of the article here.

Utilities Intimidate and Browbeat Customers on Smart Meter Refusals

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by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Intimidate Customer on Smart Meter RefusalsGovernments and corporations are forcing utility ‘smart’ meters onto consumers’ homes saying that they give consumers control over their own energy bills.  This propaganda-like message is quite misleading and more importantly completely ignores the tremendous financial, health, safety, privacy, and cybersecurity risks that smart meters impose on consumers and society [1].

Fully informed and attentive consumers recognize the numerous risks associated with smart grid technology and may attempt to refuse smart meter installations or exercise rights to “opt-out.”

Unfortunately, electric service providers many times make it extremely difficult to opt-out of smart meter installations and in fact may intimidate, browbeat, or otherwise “nudge” consumers into submission using a number of tactics.  Let’s mention a few examples of these tactics that have come to my attention over the past few weeks.

Read the entire article

Smart Meters and Power Outages: Myths and Realities

Smart Meters and Power Outages: Myths and Realities

By Mary at Maryland Smart Meter Awareness

During Hurricane Sandy, we heard utility spokespeople claim that smart meters would help in the event of a storm by enabling the utility to see immediately the location of all outages rather than having to wait for thousands of phone calls. This claim is misleading because the problems in restoration of service are not due to the utilities’ lack of knowledge about where the outages are, but rather to the number of outages and how prepared the utilities are to deal with them. The reason for long waits for restoration of service has to do with how many outages occur and how prepared the utility is to deal with them. In addition, the utilities do not restore power on a “first come, first served” basis. Utilities triage restoration so that their efforts bring the most people back on line in the shortest possible time. Thus regardless of how BGE becomes aware that you lost your power, you will still have to wait until you have a high enough priority before BGE restores your power. Having a smart meter is this situation will make little, if any difference in the time it takes to get your power restored.
One way to prevent widespread outages and to make restoration more effective would be to upgrade the infrastructure of the entire electric grid, an endeavor that is long overdue. This might include, for example, more underground wires and keeping those above ground in better repair. Quite obviously, a robust system that prevents outages to begin with would be far better than an alarm system that notifies the utilities of failures once they occur. As for the unavoidable outages that may still occur, utilities might take the following measures:

  • Have parts available rather than waiting until a storm to start looking for these
  • Have extra crews in place before a storm
  • Maintain and upgrade infrastructure on a regular basis

Clearly, restoration of service does NOT depend on having a smart meter on one’s house. The utilities’ ability to look at a computer to identify all the outages is not the key factor that will speed restoration. In other words, the absence of smart meters has not prohibited timely restoration of service. In fact, the opposite might be true, for two reasons:

  1.  Allocating funds for smart meters makes it less likely that sufficient money will be available for addressing infrastructure related problems that cause outages in the first place.
  2.  A wireless smart grid poses serious hacking and cyber security risks that render our power system far more vulnerable to maliciously being taken down which is not the case with the current system. This concern has been voiced repeatedly by top security experts. Thus, in deploying a wireless smart grid, we are actually opening up the likely possibility that our power system can and will be hacked into, and that more devastating outages will occur once the smart grid is in place. Instead of outages being only weather related, they will now be linked to hacking and cyber security issues as well, thus requiring yet more money to keep up with technology and security breeches.

The question to consider is: What possible benefits might smart meters have for consumers during a storm? And do these benefits outweigh the many problems posed by smart meters?

During storm Derecho in July, 2012, PEPCO already had a functioning smart grid; yet full restoration took 5-6 long, hot days. How is that an improvement over restoration of service prior to the deployment of smart meters?

Despite utility rhetoric about the capability of smart meters to alert them immediately about where outages are, the fact remains that it can take up to six hours for the outage data from a smart meter to reach the utility’s office. This fact has been acknowledged by the utilities and Smart Grid professionals themselves.

Therefore, a phone call is faster, better, and more efficient than smart meters for reporting outages. An automated phone system for notification could be highly efficient provided that the utility is set up to receive and process the calls.

Another, perhaps trivial, “benefit” of smart meters might be in the case of people who had evacuated their homes prior to a storm, and afterwards, wish to find out whether or not they have power before returning home. It may seem, at first blush, that a smart meter might be of help here because of the possibility of going to the utility website to find out about the power status of their home. However, in the event of large-scale outages, utility websites could easily be knocked offline. Moreover, as previously mentioned, it is important to understand that utilities, despite their rhetoric, do not offer real-time data online. Therefore, people could have to wait up to six hours after the fact to learn from a utility website whether their power was restored.

In addition, a utility might report that the customer’s power is on, even though the home may be uninhabitable because of flooding, or damage by fallen trees, etc. Thus, a phone call to a neighbor would still be advisable to ascertain the safety of returning home. And since a call to a neighbor must be made in any event, power status information can be gotten as well.

Even if smart meters did perform as claimed by the utilities, (which has never actually been demonstrated during outages where smart meters have been installed) for consumers who are aware of the dangers of wireless smart meters, the option of calling in their own outage is far preferable to dealing with all of the health, safety, fire, security, and privacy issues that surround these meters.

Therefore, being spared the trouble of making a phone call and/or saving some minimal, if any, amount of time for the utility to become aware of their outage, is a tiny, insignificant benefit compared to all the risks posed by having the meter. No truly informed person would ever make this choice.

If a smart grid is necessary at all, then a fiber-optic grid, which at least reduces health, security, and hacking issues, should be employed.

In summary, the claim that smart meters are going to help consumers during storms is deceptive. Smart meters do not expedite restoration. The money being invested in smart meters — which benefit only the utilities — should instead be invested so as to truly benefit the ratepayers, namely in infrastructure upgrades which would prevent outages from occurring in the first place.


*Recall the 2003 power outage, which was not related to a storm:

“It was a hot day (over 31 °C or 88 °F) in much of the affected region, and the heat played a role in the initial event that triggered the wider power outage. The high ambient temperature increased energy demand, as people across the region turned on fans and air conditioning. This caused the power lines to sag as higher currents heated the lines.”**

One significant benefit smart meters provide the utilities is to effect what utilities call Demand Response (DR). Smart meters do not address the real issues which are related to poor & antiquated long haul power transmission infrastructure, but smart meters do enable utilities to remotely control/regulate consumer appliances during high demand periods to reduce the load. Now some might say that this is necessary because there is only a limited amount of electricity available at any one time, but the reality is that utilities purchase electricity at higher rates during peak times. By automatically reducing our consumption during these times, utilities (1) don’t have to buy as much electricity at higher rates, and (2) can ignore the critical need to invest in better power transmission infrastructure. Essentially, if utilities can reduce consumption during this period, they can significantly increase their bottom line. This saves the utilities money, not the consumers***.

Chicago Suburb Formally Requests Smart Meter Permanent Refusal Option from ComEd

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by SkyVision Solutions

The Village of Burr Ridge, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, has formally requested “that Commonwealth Edison take action to work with the ICC [Illinois Commerce Commission] and General Assembly to amend its rules to allow for property owners to permanently opt out of its Smart Meter installation Program.”

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Opt-Out Comments

URGENT! ACTION REQUIRED

The Seattle City Light DRAFT “Smart” meter Opt-Out Policy has been released. You have until August 15, 2016 to respond. A sample letter is included below. Share this message with everyone; there must be hundreds of people to have any affect.  Forward to all your friends and family in the Seattle area, post it on your Facebook.  Seattle City Light (SCL) also services people in Burien, Lake Forest Park, Normandy Park, Renton, SeaTac, Shoreline, and Tukwila.

First off, WHY “Smart” Meters (Advanced Metering Infrastructure – AMI) are a bad idea:

  • The “Smart” meters are NOT the “Smart” grid
    • Meters do NOT enable integration of renewable rooftop solar
    • Meters are for billing automation ONLY; reducing costs of labor, and increasing revenue for the Utility
  • The project is costly (~$100 million) for little or NO benefit to the consumer
    • Your rates are going up to pay for it
    • Your bills will be higher – bills have doubled and tripled in other cities
    • New Time-of-Use rates will be enabled (more expensive when you use power the most)
    • Digital meters need to be replaced every 5-9 years; analog meters last 40 or more
  • “Smart” meters have known fire issues recognized by the industry
    • SCL makes it clear that the base (what the meter is plugged into) is your responsibility, so if there is a fire at the meter, you will likely be liable
  • Privacy invasion – Monitoring our personal actions while we’re at home
  • The systems can be easily hacked
    • Creating new cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the electric grid
    • The data collected will be controlled by a private corporation
  • Health risks from wireless radio frequency radiation are controversial, but there is real and growing evidence that electromagnetic radiation is NOT safe
    • The industry is using the “Merchants of Doubt” tactic (using industry hacks to cloud public understanding of scientific facts to advance a political and economic agenda) to convince people there is no harm
    • Industry can NOT prove “smart” meters are safe
  • The so called “smart” meter benefits, as listed on Seattle City Light’s notice and website, are easily dismissed
  • Visit the website for more detailed information and references to the above statements www.safemeters.org

SUMA-NW is opposed to “Smart” Meters and the placebo of Opt-Out. The only fair, just solution is an Opt-In if the deployment is not canceled.
The problem with Opt-Out:

  • Only Home Owners of single family residences can participate
    • Renters, users of the electricity, must get landlords to opt-out
    • Over 50% of all SCL customers are renters
  • Multi-unit complexes (apartments or condos) cannot opt-out for individual units
  • Opting out does not protect you from the radio frequency radiation from your neighbors’ “smart” meters
  • Customers opting out pay an additional $15.87 per billing cycle, on top of the increased rates to pay for the AMI project

 

Sample Letter to Seattle City Light (Please, personalize the letter as you see fit.)


To Seattle City Light:

I do not want “smart” meters in my neighborhood, let alone on my home. The Opt-Out Policy is wholly inadequate to address my concerns.

The Advanced Metering Infrastructure provides NO benefit to me; it instead negatively impacts me whether I opt-out or not:

  • Increased cost of electricity
  • Increasing use of electricity to manage unnecessary usage data
  • Increasing electromagnetic radiation, which harms the environment and the health of every living creature
  • Increasing security risks; creating a computer network of 430,000 new access points that can potentially be hacked to attack the already vulnerable distribution grid
  • The divergence of funds to protect utility revenue rather than creating sustainable energy solutions for the future

Then there are the unaddressed concerns of:

  • Privacy rights
  • Fire hazards

Further, charging me an additional $15.87 per billing cycle, on top of already increased rates, to keep my service the way it’s been for decades, to avoid the above concerns, is unjustifiable.

As a customer of Seattle City Light, I demand a reconsideration of deploying the AMI “smart” meters, and if done at all, should be deployed as an OPT-IN only.

Sincerely,

Your Name and Email


Copy and paste this letter into an email, make any word changes or edits you want, replace highlighted text with your name and email. Email to scl_dppcoordinator@seattle.gov. We suggest cc’ing the General Manager Larry Weis, and all the Seattle City Council Members:

kshama.sawant@seattle.govsally.bagshaw@seattle.govtim.burgess@seattle.govLorena.Gonzalez@seattle.govDebora.Juarez@seattle.govbruce.harrell@seattle.gov, Lisa.Herbold@seattle.gov, mike.obrien@seattle.govRob.Johnson@seattle.gov, Larry.Weis@seattle.gov

Here is the link to the Policy and instructions for feedback from Seattle City Light:

Visit the City Light Under Public Review page to download the draft Opt-Out Policy. Hard copies of the document are also available for inspection at the Downtown Seattle Public Library, 1000 4th Avenue, Level 5: Charles Simonyi Mixing Chamber, Seattle, WA.

Comments on the draft Opt-Out Policy should be filed by mail to:
Seattle City Light General Manager and CEO
P.O. Box 34023,
Seattle, WA 98124-4023; or

send email to scl_dppcoordinator@seattle.gov

The City Light Department will accept written comments through August 15, 2016. The General Manager and CEO will then consider the public comments, and decide whether to adopt, adopt with revisions, or set aside the proposed policy.

SolarFest 2016

FSolar Fest 2016 Sonjaun was had by all. Overall, SUMA-NW was well received at SolarFest this year. We made a presentation at 10AM, just as the fair started. We used a flip chart to make three take-away points:

 

  1. Smart Meters are NOT the Smart Grid
  2. Markets will lead the way NOT the Utilities
  3. Take Action for healthy, cost effective Solutions

The first point is the conflated WP_20160723_11_12_43_Prodefinition and greenwashing clarification. We left this chart up throughout the day and it was an eye-opener to most people. All along, people were surprised that being against so called “smart” meters did NOT mean we were against the actual “smart” GRID. This is very important information. Our booth emphasized the fire hazard today.

“Smart” Meters

“Smart” Grid

Centralized Revenue Control No New Meters required
Fire Hazard Distributed Renewable Energy Generation
Costly (Capital, rates, TOU) Sensors for outage detection
Loss of Privacy Electricity Supply/Demand Balancing
Health Risk Reduces use of Fossil Fuels
Grid Vulnerability by Hacking (9/30 substations) Creates Green Jobs
Negative Environmental impact
Automation = Job Loss

WP_20160723_11_19_02_ProThe second point was about Utilities versus the Markets. The Markets will be the driving force of rooftop solar energy and any renewable energy generation. The Utilities are stuck in a century old model that cannot change with the times. Seattle City Light for all its virtues as a carbon neutral, green energy provider are forced to focus on economies-of-scale, reducing costs by automating billing and other field services with “smart” meters. Demand for electricity, especially among residential customers, is going down just with conservation and energy efficiency programs. The Utility simply CANNOT afford to support decentralized, renewable energy. This is why incentives are being reduced and solar is NOT being promoted.

Utilities Market
Centralized Distributed
Fixed production Innovative
Inflexible Flexible
Need to control users Independence
Need to maintain or increase demand Installations of Solar up 94% since 2015
Economies of Scale Solar power becoming more affordable
Increasing rates built in Decreasing cost built in
Monopoly, no incentive to change Driving innovation and change
1 producer, many users Many producers, many users

WP_20160723_11_28_30_ProFinally, we talked solutions, what actions can we the public take to move the conversation towards progress, cost effective, renewable energy integration into the electricity grid. We started the conversation with these obvious ideas:

 

Solutions

Construction Codes
Incentive Policies
Community Organizing
Need Storage R&D

One person in our audience suggested creating special loan products that allowed people to pay the same monthly rate for electricity but to a loan provider, and the loan could be sold with the house. What a brilliant idea.

Solar Fest 2016-rs2Thanks to John Frink, Nancy Morris, Carolyn Mateos, and Sonia Hoglander for manning the booth. Thanks to Cher and David Ward for helping with equipment and materials.

Dr. Jill Stein on the Wi-Fi Issue

Dr. Jill Stein, the Presidential candidate for the Green Party, is the ONLY candidate to even dare talk about the possible negative impact of electromagnetic radiation such as Wi-Fi on our health. This is indeed evidence that the truth is finally getting out.