The State of Georgia has just joined the growing number of states that allow opt out for smart meters. Why? Because people are complaining about the headaches, sleep problems, heart palpitations, dizziness, tinnitus, appliance failures, higher bills, risk of fire, and lack of choice. Some state legislatures are listening. DC is also considering opt out legislation, though the battle is uphill. The Washington, DC Public Service Commission, at the request of 5 DC Council Members (Alexander, Cheh, Graham, Mendelson, and Orange), recently commissioned a study on the health effects of smart meters. The main contractor was a company that installed $5 million worth of smart meters in Naperville, IL. No danger of bias, right? Their installation is currently being challenged in federal court for a variety of issues, including privacy protections under the Constitution and lack of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act because there is no accommodation for the electrically sensitive. The DC report concluded that smart meters did not pose a significant risk to health. It remains to be seen how this report will affect opt out legislation proposed by DC Council Members Alexander and McDuffie in 2012 and whether the 5 Council Members who requested a study are satisfied with the report.
This 300 page report has copious analysis of exposure data and comparison to cell phone standards that are based on thermal heating of tissue and only that. Tissue heating as an effect makes it reasonable to average energy intensity over time -- in other words, the energy intensity is divided by 600 and then compared to cell phone standards that were developed for an adult male on a single short phone conversation, based on thermal heating. These cell phone standards are being criticized by many because of the large number of cancers showing up where cell phones are held or stored. Other problems with comparisons to cell phones are that cell phones are not used 24/7, nor are they used during sleep, the time when we heal and are the most vulnerable. Further, cell phone use is voluntary. The issue of multiple meters and collector meters that broadcast beyond the neighborhood, both much stronger than a single meter, were not calculated or measured, just acknowledged to be somewhat higher. Specific health effects, such as those discussed in the Bioinitiative Report (written by an international team of physicians and scientists), published in 2012 (http://www.bioinitiative.org/) are not discussed. In stark contrast to the DC PSC report is a statement, issued only weeks after the DC report was issued, by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine calling for a halt to smart meter installation (http://aaemonline.org/pressadvisoryemf.pdf).
There will be a public event on February 3, 7 p.m. a the Washington Ethical Society, 7750 16th Street NW, Washington, DC at which Council Member Kenyan McDuffie will speak about the opt out bill. Opt out legislation is also under consideration in Maryland, so this may be a good venue for finding allies. Virginians may want to learn from the DC experience. The event is open to the public.