DC’s smart meters going heywire?

Chris Turner's smart meter at work. Click to watch video.

For those of us following the climate change debate, we’ve heard for years that before we can build a clean energy economy we need a “smart grid” capable of plugging into an array of big and small power sources — from residential rooftop solar panels to massive wind farms.

But, it turns out even here in Washington, D.C., there are those who see something more sinister in the smart technology.  For some,  the “smart meters” represent a  massive new assault on the airwaves and public health.

It’s not exactly the kind of rabble rousing underway in Tea Party strongholds, where the meters are considered part of a United Nations’ plot to outlaw America’s beloved suburban sprawl  and herd everyone into “smart growth” shoebox apartments and “walkable” neighborhoods. D.C. activists, however, are using some of the same arguments and links to rail against the technology update. That might be part of the reason they aren’t getting much traction with city officials or their own neighbors.

Read more about DC’s meter battle in my story in today’s Washington City Paper.


About greendistrict

I'm Christine MacDonald, a journalist and the author of the book: "Green, Inc., An Environmental Insider Reveals How a Good Cause Has Gone B

Posted on April 19, 2012, in Activism, Carbon footprint, Climate Change, Conservation, DC, energy efficiency, Environment, Local Politics, Smart grid, Smart meters. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. The answer to health concerns about wireless “smart” meters is fiber optics:


    Being zapped 32,000 to 56,000 to 90,000 plus thousand times per day forever may not be healthy. Especially if you are sleeping within three to ten feet of the wireless “smart” meter.

    http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=6959 (Link to Santa Cruz County, California Health Agency Report on Health Risks of Smart Meters and http://www.sej.org/publications/tipsheet/many-are-claiming-health-problems-caused-smart-meters and http://whyfry.org/society-of-environmental-journalists-smart-meters-health-impacts/

    In her City Paper article about my meter Ms. MacDonald missed several points. Those are

    1) The “meter” read was ordered by the Washington, DC Public Service Commission (PSC) and not the Office of People’s Counsel (OPC) and nobody from the OPC was present. Note: The OPC, which is responsible for representing Citizen’s concerns before the PSC has petitioned the PSC to study letting customers opt out of having a “smart meter as the Public Service Commissions in California, Maine and Nevada have done.

    2) The Four PEPCO employees agreed that my meter, which I thought was going haywire, at 32,000 to 56,000 transmission per day was actually operating normal and that the PEPCO website which had stated it was transmitting up to six times per day and asleep 99 percent of the time was in error. Let me say that differently: The four PEPCO employees present all agreed when I asked them individually in front of Ms. MacDonald and the investigator from the Public Service Commission, who video tapped the meter test, that the PEPCO website was in error (That part of the PEPCO website has since been taken down).

    Question: If the title of the story is about a meter going haywire and it is found to be going haywire in contradiction of what PEPCO has stated on their website and stated on neighborhood list serves and at neighborhood meetings then isn’t that worth reporting?

    3) Ms. MacDonald quotes the Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Betty Ann Kane:
    “Turner’s side had no better luck with the D.C. Public Service Commission, which regulates Pepco. The meters are safe, says Commission Chair Betty Ann Kane, who notes that the city’s Water and Sewer Authority has used the same technology for six years.”

    In calls by me to the Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) Customer Service and to the Assistant General Manager for Consumer Services, Charles Kiely about WASA meters I was told that the WASA meters broadcast twice every 24 hours. Their meters are run by a battery and are not attached to a home or building but are in the ground. Note: The PEPCO meters are not battery powered but are powered by a draw from the current coming into the house and customers are apparently paying $3 to $7 a month to run them.

    In addition the meters are not UL listed and are susceptible to power surges. http://www.paloaltoonline.com/weekly/story_print.php?story_id=15485 (Power surge raises questions about SmartMeters, East Palo Alto electricity surge burnt out digital meters, When 80 PG&E SmartMeters caught on fire and burned out after a power surge in East Palo Alto on Aug. 25, the incident raised questions for some residents and utilities officials about the safety of the new digital devices).

    In conclusion: Having four employees from one of America’s most hated corporations*, who just got fined $1 Million**, acknowledge that their website was in error regarding “smart” meters and whose CEO reportedly made over six million dollars last year (including stock options) seems newsworthy to me.

    Chris Turner, Esq.
    Neighbors, Inc., vice-president

    * http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jul/10/pepco-ranks-as-the-nations-most-hated-company/?page=all

    ** http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/maryland-public-service-commission-fines-pepco-1-million/2011/12/21/gIQAwRiz9O_story.html

    • Chris, I’m sorry you feel you didn’t get enough space to express yourself in my City Paper story. The newspaper only has so many pages; we have space constraints.

      As for the concerns about cell phones and other less powerful wireless transmissions like the ones used in the smart meters, I hope this BBC article will allay some of those fears. Here’s an excerpt:

      There is still no evidence mobile phones harm human health, says a major safety review for the UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA).

      Scientists looked at hundreds of studies of mobile exposure and found no conclusive links to cancer risk, brain function or infertility.

      However, they said monitoring should continue because little was known about long-term effects.

      READ THE FULL STORY HERE: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17843953

  2. George Karadimas

    After Reading the FULL story , I would suggest that you peruse the readers comments to the article.

    I venture to say that they will point you to evidence suggesting the CONTRARY conclusion. Here is a link I found there.

    http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v93/n7/full/6602764a.html …and the Subject you say??

    “Mobile phone use and risk of acoustic neuroma: results of the Interphone case–control study in five North European countries.”

    And I am Sure this is Just the Start.

    So I suggest you Devote more space your articles in your paper, and do More research to get to the TRUTH.

    Before we all get Microwaved to death in the name of Convenience.

    George Karadimas

  3. George, I also hope scientists keep studying potential risks.

    But on such a serious issue, don’t you think only the best peer reviewed science should prevail? From everything I’ve read, the world’s foremost scientists in this field say there’s no evidence — so far — that cell phones are a public health threat.

    • George Karadimas

      May I be so Bold as to suggest that you have been following the wrong crowd and have been doing your reading in all the wrong places?


      One of the reason I attribute to my longevity on this earth…is that I have chosen to live my life erring on the side of CAUTION and when I read…….. “Is a rise in brain tumours linked to the radiation sources we hold so close to our heads? Experts can’t agree on the answer” and knowing that the world runs for the BENEFIT of the Powerful Economic Interests, I conclude that the Prudent thing for me to do, is let them sort it out one way or another and if positive then I will Jump into the fray.

      I.E Why take a Chance when I have a perfectly safe and proven alternative.

      In the case of the Cell Phone….the Land Line.
      In the case of the Smart Meter….The Analog Meter which has been working JUST FINE for 100 years and it ain’t Broke, so why Fiddle with it??

      When you read the Article above, there are PLENTY of Passages and agencies that are warning you to CAUTION! Now You want to be the Guinea Pig? Be My Guest, and PLEASE do NOT chastise me for electing to be left out, of this ill contrived experiment.

      Additionally In my Opinion “greendistrict” is a Misnomer, Unless one is talking about the “Green” that is migrating from the ratepayers wallets to the coffers of the power companies monopolizing your energy supply in your area.

      Here is what is happening in Naperville Ill. http://www.napervillesmartmeterawareness.org/federal-lawsuit/ take time to read the comments by virginia farver: They are all about Microwave Radiation, “I lost my Beautiful, Young Son, from glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer on October 11, 2008.”

      The Naperville power that be tells us “Federal Judge Rejects Attempt to Halt
      Smart Meter Installation” http://www.naperville.il.us/dynamic_content.aspx?id=25418

      But the Court Docket tell a story of the Injunction Hearing continuing http://napervillesmartmeterawareness.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Order-4_19_2012-for-May-31-Hearing.pdf

      A simple Minded folk like me asks a simple question!
      Why is it that the residents of Naperville are so much in arms to stop the smart meter? Does it have something to do with the AIR they Breathe or the water they are drinking? OR is it that they KNOW SOMETHING else that they want NO PART of it? and IF SO WHY??

      George Karadimas
      (A simple minded guy from the REMOTE Mountains of GREECE…. but with an internet enabled dilapidated but functional hardwired ether-net computer.)

  4. George Karadimas

    Mobile Phones are Safe, NOT!
    Interview with Dr Annie Sasco, MD, MPH, MS, Dr PH.

    Despite the voices of industry-funded scientists saying otherwise there is concrete evidence that mobiles/cellphones and wifi cause cancer in humans.

    In 2011 the IARC reclassified them as Class 2B, possibly carcinogenic, yet they actually had enough evidence if not the gall to go further and classify them as Class 2A, probably carcinogenic.

    Here Dr Annie Sasco, Harvard Doctorate, ex-Head of the IARC on cancer research, ex-cancer specialist for the WHO and now group leader of an INSERM programme on cancer prevention in France, talks frankly in an exclusive interview about why we should be concerned – especially for children.

    Even if you don’t use a mobile phone or wifi you are still affected. Watch this video for true facts, not industry-funded hype that there is no evidence of harm. It could save your life.
    Published on Apr 24, 2012 by Richard Bradford


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