Smart power meters a threat to health

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Smart meters have some advantages. They can give a detailed picture of daily electricity use, such as the cost of a 15-minute shower. Photo / NZME.

By Sue Kedgley

Call me a Luddite, but I don't want a "smart" electricity meter installed at home, and certainly not without my knowledge or consent.

According to Meridian Energy, I will have no choice in the matter. Once they start installing smart meters in my neighbourhood they will put one on our house, whether we like it or not.

Smart meters are being fitted to replace old "analogue" meters and more than a million have already been installed.

There's no law mandating that power companies use them to measure our domestic electricity usage, although the Government has mandated that all old electricity meters are tested and recertified by 2015.

Power companies like Genesis and Meridian are installing them for commercial purposes, because they allow them to measure household electricity use, as often as minute by minute, from a remote location. This enables them to get rid of meter readers, and to collect valuable information about electricity use that can be used for marketing purposes or sold to third parties.

Smart meters have some advantages. They can give a detailed picture of daily electricity use, such as the cost of a 15-minute shower. This may encourage households to reduce electricity use.

But they are also intrusive.

They allow power companies to collect detailed information about people's home lives - when they get up, when they leave the house, when they turn on a computer - and some worry that the ability to gather this data amounts to an invasion of privacy.

Some groups claim they could be used as part of the infrastructure of a surveillance state.

Others are concerned that wireless-operated meters add to the electrical smog we are all exposed to. Once installed, they may pulse electromagnetic radiation into a home, emitting millisecond bursts of radio frequency thousands of times a day, according to documents supplied by one manufacturer.

Continued below.

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You can't turn a smart meter off. It just pulses, 24/7.

It is established that some people are sensitive to electrical fields and microwave radiation and may not be able to tolerate a new and continuous source of emissions.

In Sweden, where electromagnetic sensitivity is recognised as an official disease, 3-5 per cent of the population is estimated to be electro-sensitive. That percentage of our population equates to about 135,000 people.

There are other concerns - that power companies could use smart meters to stop power to consumers who have been late paying their bills, or that they could overheat and cause fires. A spate of house fires linked to smart meters has led to mass recalls in some parts of Canada and the United States.

Some will dismiss these concerns as trivial, imaginary or unimportant.

But surely people should have a choice. And surely a power company should not be able to install a smart meter for commercial purposes, without the knowledge and consent of the household.

We are switching from Meridian to a company that guarantees it will not force a smart meter on to our home but I would like the Government to stipulate that smart meters cannot be installed without householder knowledge and informed consent.

If it doesn't I predict the forced installation will become as controversial here as it is in many other countries.

Sue Kedgley is a Wellington regional councillor and former Green MP.

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104 Comments

Debbie

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10:48 am Thursday 09 July 2015
I have had a smart meter installed by Mercury Energy without my knowledge or consent. This happened after I specifically called to cancel it. Can you please tell me what power company you switched to that will not force a smart meter onto me?

I think the NZ public are being tricked, it turns out we do not have a choice anymore and we will have smart meters forced upon us whether we like it or not. Sure they say smart meters are safe.......but so was thalidomide!
I need someone to help and speak up about this.

I want to be able to choose, I thought that's what living in New Zealand meant....

Thank you
Debbie, Whangarei

Ragni Samujh

- Pakuranga
09:21 am Friday 12 December 2014
My power company recently wrote to me about making the change from Mercury installed meter to smart meter. It also stated if I did not want this change to call a Hamilton listed number to make a registration. This tells me people do have a choice of having a smart meter installed or not.

Each month I am happy to take a picture of my meter and send to accounts who are more than happy to accept my reading. So all those out there, smart meter claim to be smart, ask those who have had this installed recently in their new homes and they will tell you exactly what struggle they have had with their power companies. Have your say, you do not have to have a smart meter upgrade.

EMR Hertz

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03:11 pm Monday 17 November 2014
Stop Smart Meters.org link

Clearly you did not bother to look at that page, in the same resource section. Only lists a few hundred credible studies on EMR, out of the thousands that have proved harm. There has never been proof of safety. We are guinea pigs.

Look at IARC monograph for RF radiation. IARC is part of WHO and they say Class 2B carcinogen, although many members wanted it higher - back in 2011. They only meet around 5 yearly sadly.

Talk to a utility company that uses smart meters. They will be happy to tell you about how the real time monitoring works. It is one of their marketing tools. Have you seen the GEM ads?

The smart meters that you have had experience with might have been far enough away from where you or your parents sleep or spend significant time. The effect lessens with distance. But what if it was close to where people sleep?

Do you eat wheat? Do you have gluten intolerance or celiac disease? Just because you don't does that mean no one can? Would you wear a safety belt or crash helmet if they weren't madditory?

educate

- New Zealand
11:24 am Monday 17 November 2014
That website is a blog full of misinformation and doesn't reference any creditable sources. When the WHO or similar recognised authority investigates and finds that smart meters (or WiFi etc.) are unsafe for use, I will start worrying. I have lived in homes with and without smart meters, without any noticeable impact on my health (or that of my elderly parents or anyone else I know). As with anything else in our changing world, we know nothing until we know everything.

Re half hourly data: This is recorded by a smart meter, and then submitted to an energy party via one transmission. If you are with a provider who offers an online service where you can see your usage half hourly, this is being uploaded each night to enable an up to date view (often one day behind). They do not transmit this data every half hour.

I never said smart meters were 'wonderful', just merely that scaremongering isn't helpful, and that no research has been presented by a creditable, authenticated source to back the claims that they are unsafe.

EMR Hertz

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02:16 pm Sunday 16 November 2014
If you had a "smart" meter or any knowledge of them or what is supposed to make them so wonderful you would know that they are transmitting virtually constantly to enable you to go on line and get updates at least every 1/2 hour. How could that happen with "one transmission (usually in the wee hours)".

Not only does it transmit the data from your home it is also relaying the data from your neighbours "smart" meter also - in a network. If you are really unfortunate you might have a hub on your home which means it is a major relay station. You need to see and hear the bursts of radiation on an RF meter to fully appreciate the interferance they create.

Anyone who looks at the valid health concerns can see that they are warranted. Technology is great when it is safe. Many of us know that it isn't. Avoiding any unnecessary esposure to wireless radiation is most sensible and especially with vulnerable people like children and expectant mothers, the elderly, those with neurological problems, heart issues, already have cancer, anyone really.
This might educate you... please look and respond.

http://stopsmartmeters.org.uk/resources/what-are-smart-meters/

EMR Hertz

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11:40 am Sunday 16 November 2014
For those who want to know more about whether "smart" meters, cell phones, Wifi, cell towers, tablets, wireless iPods, printers, mice, baby monitors etc. might be causing harm to health, because they emit pulsed microwave radiation. There has been a lot of research showing that there is cause for concern. Any one who proports there is no evidence clearly has not looked, has been fed industry spin, or is lying because they have a vested interest or simply don't want to know the truth.

A huge collection of research, mostly showing evidience of harm, it is well presented on

http://www.emfanalysis.com/research/

It might not be too late for you or your children if you learn what precautions are prudent. Don't wait for it to come from the governemt. They have too much invested and won't act until the health costs far outweigh the profit, as happened with tobacco and may never want to admit they knew all along.

educate

- New Zealand
11:40 am Sunday 16 November 2014
1) Smart meters are digital devices transmitting data daily via one transmission (usually in the wee hours), less often than your smartphone and wifi. There may well be a link, and there may well be a link also between cancers and cellphones and microwaves. Researchers have been speculating on this for some time but no definitive research has been produced that has been authenticated by recognised health authorities.

Who says I don't have a smart meter? Although whether I do or not isn't up to me, it's up to my supplier.

2) your supplier doesn't turn off your hot water. Your lines company turns off supply to your hot water (if your meter is set up with a corresponding relay device) at peak times to limit the load on the network. Smart appliances such as fridges, washing machines etc. are in development but there aren't very many (proportionately) on the market just yet.

The Internet of Things is coming, and smart meters may well play a part, but in their current state it is more likely an external device will enable switching on/off of these appliances and devices.

As for a 'vested interest' I do have a working knowledge of the wider energy industry from a technology perspective.

EMR Hertz

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03:07 pm Friday 14 November 2014
So what part of the industry do you work in then? If it is telecommunications you might want to look elsewhere for the future. Your spin doctors are starting to lose momentum with the evidence that is piling up and the law suits that will further expose the facts.

Electrosensitivity and other biological effects from EMR is very real and as more people are affected and getting educated the 100th monkey theory will bring a new reality, or humans will just microwave themselves to oblivion within a few generations...

What you quoted is extremely outdated. The following is current.
"Even electromagnetic fields at levels of only 1/100,000th of what we are regularly exposed to from mobiles, are found to disturb the complex electrical operations taking place at cellular levels, and to cause damage to DNA, proteins, neurons and oxidation processes."

"In spite of this, we have allowed an electrosmog of an almost unimaginable dimension to develop," he stated.

Calling for Wi-Fi to be discontinued worldwide, he warned: "It is going to affect future generations, and the time to act is now."
World Bulletin.net link

EMR Hertz

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03:01 pm Friday 14 November 2014
1) Smart meters are digital devices transmitting pulsed microwave radiation - link is just there - proven fact. The RFR they emit are a Class 2B psssible carcinogen. While cancers might take many years to develop other bioligical effects can be occurring and felt almost immediately. Thousands of lives in NZ and other countries where the technolgy is installed have already been moderately to seriously affected. You could be next. Why have you not already got one if you think they are so great?

2) Have you heard of "smart" appliances? Did you know your hot water can be turned off remotely by your supplier? Do you really know anything at all?

You talk like you have a vested interest (although your knowledge of the facts seem very thin) but maybe you should state it.

EMR Hertz

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03:01 pm Friday 14 November 2014
Clearly you haven't been "lucky" enough to have a (so called) "smart" meter installed at your place other wise you would know that they transmit via wireless the data from your premises at least every 1/2 hour because you can get updates of you useage that frequently.

However each "smart" meter doesn't just transmit your information it also connects in a grid with your neighbour's ones and you might even be "lucky" enough to be a hub. In which case your meter might be transmitting virtually 24/7.

And they are extremely sharp pulses so that the complex data can travel quite a distance through buildings, trees and people. Kind of like having a cell phone tower on or even inside your home,

Sent from my hardwired computer with all wireless functions turned OFF and my laptop is earthed to reduce voltage emissions

I do not find it necessary to life to have a smart phone or microwave oven. I have knowledge of biology and have researched the potential dangers of especially pulsed microwave radiation. I am not a technophobe or luddite. I have just learned to take sensible precautions and recommend that others educate themselves about the potential harm from man made EMR.

educate

- New Zealand
12:56 pm Friday 14 November 2014
1) any link between smart meters and radiation is unproven. But feel free to google that on your smartphone while you heat up dinner in the microwave.

2) electricity companies do not spy and collect data such as when you shower and how late you stayed out on Friday night. The meters can record usage every half hour (industry standard based on the wholesale trading market). Currently, most providers are still billing on a monthly read, but some have enabled customer products to show you your usage patterns, which consumers find useful for managing their consumption.

3) your meter is not owned by you, and your contract with an electricity provider enables them to remove/replace meters as required. If inside, a contractor will require access, and this too is stipulated in that contract.

4) the industry is working together to build networks of smart meters nationwide, and in a matter of months/years, it won't matter who bills you for your power - you will be getting one either way.

5) yes, smart meters can disconnect remotely. And sometimes are, after the provider has been through the due (regulated) process of notifying you that disconnection is imminent if you fail to pay your bill.

James Gray

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12:56 pm Friday 14 November 2014
Metering used for charging is required to be callibrated and certified. In reality it's a case of the old meters being inaccurate and undercharging customers. An industry wont survive in the long term like this, unless the per unit charges are inflated to compensate, which means people that have accurate meters would be overcharged.

James Gray

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12:56 pm Friday 14 November 2014
Most of the civilized world has been bathed in EMF since long before cell phones, wifi, or smart meters. If EMF sensitivity were really a disease they would all be in constant agony.

Many people who claim EMF sensitivity certainly have health issues, but there's no evidence at all they are caused by electromagnetic radiation. By making up a bogus cause, you deprive people of the chance of finding the real cause of their ailments

James Gray

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12:56 pm Friday 14 November 2014
No reason why an old kettle would be inefficient, what's it going to do, turn too much electricity in to heat?

Nick Hewett

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12:56 pm Friday 14 November 2014
What a pile of crap people are saying about smart meters!
They transmit via GSM (cell network), and transmit maybe once a day. the data they transmit is ONLY the kWH (electricity units) used at an installation, yes the time of consumption is recorded also. BIG DEAL.

Electromagnetic concerns: If you are really that worried, you shouldn't be using electricity. Reason: all live electrical cabling connected to a load (delivering power) has a alternating magnetic field surrounding the entire length, from generation point to clock radio (or whatever!).

Clearly the people who are scared of smart meters are nowhere as smart as the meters they are scared of. Because: they happily use the internet to 'research a blog', possibly using a cell phone , or Wifi...

The green party need to rid themselves of these political liabilities (or loonies), if they want to have any credibility within the public...
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