Technology We Can Do Without
By Les Jamieson
Have you ever wondered how technologies most of us would never dream up get foisted upon the public? You know, things like digital measuring devices called “smart” meters used by Con Edison. After all, those round analog devices usually found somewhere in the basement that are electro-mechanical meters have recorded electricity usage reliably for a hundred years. Then around 2005, electric utilities began telling consumers they’d need to “upgrade” their safe, reliable analog meters by accepting a digitally-run unit communicating through microwave radio frequencies back to the company. Purportedly, these so-called “smart” meters are a great benefit, if we overlook a long list of issues such as:
- how they pulse highly charged microwave radiation every 30-60 seconds
- how they can profile what devices or appliances we use in our homes and when
- how they do not have surge protection
- how they create fluctuations known as “dirty electricity” over cables behind the wall leaking into our living space
- how we wound up being required to have these devices, and much more.
According to Timothy Schoecle, a PhD engineer who played a role in developing standards for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), there are no benefits to consumers. He wrote “these meters and their dedicated networks are primarily for the benefit of utilities.”
Utilities will claim smart meters offer fast outage detection, details to reduce electricity use, thereby lowering demand, and monthly readings are recorded without need for a meter reader. However, there’s no compelling evidence that these are significant or necessary to consumers, or why they must operate through microwave frequencies rather than be hard-wired through fiber optic networks, which would be the safer route.
Electric utilities have basically decreed that consumers must convert their electro-mechanical analog meters over to microwave-emitting smart meters. First, you’re supposed to get a notice, which by far the majority of people never bother to thoroughly read. At the very end, the notice gives a number to call if you want to “opt out.” It would be in the interest of customers to put it at the top in bold lettering, but it’s at the end so you’ll miss it. If you didn’t opt out, you probably also weren’t all that enthused about calling the utility’s installation contractor to make an appointment for the installation. You got busy, and the 90-day time window flew by. Then you get a stern notice with a threat that you must provide access for installation or be fined $100 a month.
It’s hard to believe. Why are you being threatened to accept something you were never really informed about, never had a chance to give your consent to, nor expressed your desire to have? This can’t be right. Some people wind up with more than one $100 fine and still don’t understand how their utility got so much power over them. The publisher of WestView News, George Capsis, fits into this category. John Margolis, a resident near Hudson Street and 10th Street has gotten two such fines. Oddly, his meter is in the basement next door, so he can’t give Con Edison access. One service rep implied that if he didn’t pay the fine, Con Ed would shut off his electricity. He and his landlord have gotten bounced back and forth between Con Ed and two different contractors with no resolution. John could opt out, but still feels disadvantaged because Con Edison charges $9.50 per month to send a meter reader. Remember when we weren’t charged for our monthly meter reading. Remember when employing people mattered?
Calling Con Ed for an explanation is an interesting experience. The reps are trained to say things like, “There are no safety issues with smart meters. They comply with FCC guidelines”. Now you can answer back saying the Appeals Court for the District of Columbia ruled on Aug. 13, 2021 that the FCC failed to conduct a thorough evaluation of the scientific evidence expected of a federal agency in violation of federal law, calling its decision to not update its guidelines “arbitrary and capricious.” So currently, there are no RF exposure guidelines. Then demand that Con Edison send technicians with equipment to measure the levels of pulsed microwave frequencies, in other words, the levels and frequencies of spiking frequencies. If they did, the readings would show peaks thousands of times higher than what’s considered safe for long -term exposure by the Building Biology Institute. We are in unchartered territory.
What if you own or work in a small business? The smart meter policy gods have decreed that commercial customers cannot opt out. Ask Con Edison why and their answer is “businesses are non-residential”. Where’s the logic? There is none. While you’re at work, if you’ve got a panel of smart meters nearby, nobody is looking out for you. You can try to have your boss purchase smart meter covers for around $75 each. Otherwise, you’ll need some pricy protective clothing to want to avoid exposure to pulsed microwave radiation. If you work from home and your office is considered a commercial space, you’re in the same predicament.
Why is it that we have to opt out in the first place? Shouldn’t we opt in if we feel there is a benefit? Not according to our state Public Service Commission. This is a “quasi-legislative” agency you probably never heard about, with six commissioners appointed by the governor. When the Commission wanted consumers of electricity, water, and gas to switch over to digital smart meters, they knew how to be covert about it. They placed a request for public comment in the New York Register. You’ve never heard of that either? Too bad. It turned out, only 14 New Yorkers posted comments. The policy to replace safe analog meters with microwave-emitting smart meters was easily pushed through. The utility industry could not have a better friend. Then to embark on the nearly impossible task of overturning the policy, one has to file an Article 78 proceeding within 120 days. Steve Romine, of Woodstock, NY, actually did. I just happen to know him. This is how I became aware of how the Public Service Commission operates and how they can rely on “deference” by the courts. The abuse of power by the Commission and what surely looks like collusion by the NY Supreme Court is an affront to democracy in the public interest.
There are many ways this issue affects every New Yorker. Exposure to hazardous levels of microwave radiation from a technology that we were uninformed about, and deprived of the right to consent is just a glimpse of the problem. What you can do is learn how key legislation is necessary to effectively regulate smart meters as well as wireless antennas we see every 2-3 blocks in the city. Go to https://rebrand.ly/safe-meter-and-broadband-policies.
Signing the petition will help make state politicians aware they must get fully informed and take the necessary steps to protect the public. Also, call your NY State senator asking them to co-sponsor and vote for S 8765. This is a bill that will make it much easier to keep our analog meters. Otherwise, the industry backed by the Public Service Commission will continue to shape policies that implement undesirable technology that affects our daily lives, our health, and finances without regard for what really is best for consumers now and into the future.