As reported on October 21, 2014 in the Daily Herald, according to ComEd officials on the topic of smart meters:
“Although the meters transmit six times a day, the radio frequency is on for less than 5 minutes a day.”
The above statement is common misinformation disseminated by the smart grid industry.
The vehement and persistent opposition to utility “smart” meters has given rise to programs across the nation where customers are allowed to refuse installation of those meters and typically keep their traditional analog meters. In most cases, a fee is required to be paid by the customer for this “service.” This service is sometimes called an “opt-out” program.
The primary purpose of this article is to highlight how the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has perpetrated unequal, unfair, and unjust treatment of citizens in the state of Illinois who choose to refuse installation of smart meters.
Key Article Point
Illinois electric utilities violate the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act by collecting granular energy usage data through smart meters far beyond that required for generating a customer bill. This correlates to a significant loss of privacy for the consumer.
Earlier this year SkyVision Solutions released a 75-page report demonstrating how smart meters invade individual privacy. Through a step-by-step logical approach, it was shown how the collection of incremental energy-related data for residential electric customers using “smart” meters represents an unreasonable invasion of privacy.
A portion of the above privacy invasion argument relies on the fact that smart meters generally collect thousands of data points per month on each household which is not necessary for billing purposes. It has been further established that the analysis of granular smart meter data can be used to infer types of human activities or occupancies of a home for specific periods of time.
SkyVision Solutions asserts that compliance with the statutory language of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (hereafter referred to as “the Act”) should adequately protect consumer privacy interests as will be explained in this article.
However, electric utilities installing smart meters in Illinois are most likely violating the Act and are thus committing consumer fraud. To more fully develop this argument, let’s first review the section of the Act that deals with billing and collection practices of electric service providers.
The utility companies say it can’t be done, but …
Key Article Phrase: “Launching attacks that extract occupancy [patterns] from smart meter data is surprisingly easy.”
Utility Myth: “The utility cannot detect the presence of people in their homes.” 
Utility Myth: “[Smart meters] are not surveillance devices.” 
Fact: “An important example of the sensitive information smart meters reveal is occupancy — whether or not someone is home and when. … Occupancy is surprisingly easy to detect, since it highly correlates with simple statistical metrics, such as power’s mean, variance, and range.”  Utilities claim smart meters are not surveillance devices, yet the repeated data gathering by smart meters beyond that required for billing purposes can reasonably be considered to represent unwanted surveillance and stalking.
As explained in an October 1st article at DarkReading.com, European researchers will reveal later this month major security weaknesses in smart meters that could allow an attacker to order a power blackout. A widely deployed smart meter device can be programmed to cause a power blackout or commit power usage fraud.
Researchers Javier Vazquez Vidal and Alberto Garcia Illera will reveal this month at Black Hat Europe in Amsterdam how they reverse engineered smart meters and found blatant security weaknesses that allowed them to commandeer the devices to shut down power or perform electricity usage fraud over the power line communications network. The researchers aren’t disclosing the specific smart meter manufacturer at this time — they haven’t yet disclosed anything to the vendor in question, either. They have hinted heavily that it’s a brand installed broadly in Spain.
With a career as a strong consumer advocate, Ralph Nader’s views on selected issues can many times bridge the gaps between the major political parties. Such is the case on so-called “smart” meters.
This article highlights a portion of a recent program on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. The program aired on Saturday, September 27, 2014, on KPFK in California. About 15 minutes were devoted to the issue of “smart” meters, focusing primarily on the aspect of invasion of privacy.
What follows are selected quotes from Ralph Nader on the topic of utility smart meters, complete with two (2) audio files. One 4-minute audio focuses primarily on the statements by Ralph Nader himself as a part of the radio program. The second audio provides the entire 15-minute smart meter segment broadcast on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour.
After recently reporting on smart meter-related fires in Australia, Canada, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Florida, the latest reports are coming out of Nevada. This appears to be a continuation of the “Domino Effect” described at this website in late August.
As reported by the Reno-Gazette-Journal on September 13th:
“The Reno and Sparks fire chiefs are asking the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to investigate the safety of smart meters installed by NV Energy on homes throughout the state in the wake of a troubling spate of blazes they believe are associated with the meters, including one recent fire that killed a 61-year-old woman.”
Introduction to the Documentary Film
“When business leads research, can we still trust science?”
For the past ten years worldwide, questioning on the safety of mobile phone antennas has been increasing. Numerous scientific studies have revealed the adverse effects of electro- magnetic waves on health. Yet, most health agencies, industry representatives, and a portion the scientific community claim that current health standards adequately protect the public.
Earlier this year journalist Nancy Meritens and film director Jean Hèches completed their documentary Ondes, Science et Manigances [or Microwaves, Science and Lies], that demonstrates how the telecommunications industry creates doubt about harmful radiofrequency waves through the manipulation of science.
“A Major Consumer Alert”
It is almost impossible to keep track of all of the smart meter fires and related safety issues. We jump from country to country and from state to state. The latest issue is in Florida where Lakeland Electric will soon begin replacing over 10,000 residential smart meters on concerns they might overheat, General Manager Joel Ivy said Tuesday, August 26th.
Are we seeing a domino effect within the industry?
This past March, SkyVision Solutions released a report entitled, “A Perspective on How Smart Meters Invade Individual Privacy.”
The report has now been updated with new information regarding investor owned utilities (IOUs) as well as addressing a White House report concerning “big data” issued in May 2014.
Fire after fire after fire. … How much risk is finally too much when the results of failure can be catastrophic?
The Saskatchewan Smart Meter Fiasco
The recent events in Saskatchewan, Canada have refocused attention on one of the many risks associated with “smart” utility meters, i.e., the increased risk of fires.
The following guest editorial about smart meters was written by John Ranns, the longtime Mayor of the District of Metchosin located on the southern coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.
Mayor Ranns initially wrote the guest editorial in November 2013 hoping to have it published in the Victoria Times-Colonist and subsequently in other major newspapers in British Columbia. None of the major papers published the piece.
In communications with SkyVision Solutions, Mayor Ranns indicated that he wanted to make an appeal to the conscience of legislators. Ranns says that, “As a long time elected representative I remain dismayed at the lack of political under-standing regarding the relationship between our governance and fundamental freedom.”
What follows is a guest editorial printed with permission of Mayor Ranns that major media outlets have yet failed to publish, in one instance citing that the article was not “topical.”
[Editor Note: This blog article consists of a document authored by Richard H. Conrad, Ph.D., intended as a letter addressed to a utility company considering the installation of smart meters.]
NINE REASONS WHY TODAY’S SMART METER SYSTEMS ARE A MISTAKE
by Richard H. Conrad, Ph.D. biochemist
Smart electric meters and smart grid systems track and record details of customers’ energy usage, and transmit the information to utilities wirelessly at microwave frequencies. Authorities are attempting to make smart meters mandatory. They are usually installed without permission and sometimes against the wishes of homeowners. Smart meters fill homes with pulsed microwave radiation 24/7 without consent, and infringe on the privacy, security, safety and health of residents.
The U. S. Department of Interior (DOI) has declared that exposure standards used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are “out of date and inapplicable today.”
After reading the information provided in this blog article, maybe we can start a campaign to have some personnel transferred from the Department of Interior to the FCC. The people at the DOI seem to have a better grasp on the hazards of radiofrequency (RF) radiation and might be more inclined to take measures to protect humans as well as fauna and flora.
What follows are excerpts from a letter dated February 7, 2014, from the United States Department of the Interior and addressed to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the United States Department of Commerce. This letter highlights the Interior Department’s concern that cell tower RF radiation emissions have had negative impacts on the health of migratory birds, their offspring, and other wildlife species.
… The Promise of the Smart Grid vs. the Smart Meter Canard …
As stated by Timothy Schoechle, Ph.D. in a document released in late 2012:
“The smart meter is a canard – story or a hoax based on specious and grandiose claims about energy benefits ostensibly derived from the promise of ‘two-way’ communication with the customer. … These energy benefits have not been delivered, or have been only minimally delivered by the meter networks.”
“The meter has come to symbolize a ‘bait-and-switch’ situation, mainly to the benefit the utility industry and its vendors as well as to politicians and bureaucrats. In their present form, smart meters offer few or no benefits to consumers, but pose significant risks and costs to them and to society.”
On January 28, 2014, Dr. Karl Maret gave a presentation at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, California on the potential biological and adverse health effects from the radiofrequency radiation emitted by “smart meters” and other wireless devices.
Northeast Utilities (NU) operates New England’s largest utility system serving more than 3.6 million electric and natural gas customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
In a written submittal filed with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, Northeast Utilities was highly critical of a proposed state plan that would require utilization of “advanced metering” or smart meters within the state of Massachusetts as part of an electrical grid modernization plan. In fact, the comments are quite remarkable in that they appear to reflect reality without undue political spin or bias. Let us hope that other utilities, public utility commissions, and politicians everywhere can soon come to similar unbiased conclusions that are based upon economic realities and reflect consumers’ and societal best interests.
Shooters armed with assault rifles have prompted new worries regarding the vulnerability of the country’s vast electrical power grid.
On April 16, 2013, an attack on an electric substation near San Jose, California, nearly knocked out Silicon Valley’s power supply. This attack was initially downplayed as vandalism by Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the facility’s owner.
This article details how experts have expressed concerns pertaining to radiofrequency (RF) emissions from “baby monitors” and then how Commonwealth Edison Company attempts to minimize concerns over smart meters because they are just like baby monitors.
Experts Express Concern on the Use of Baby Monitors and other Wireless Devices
According to Dr. Devra Davis, “We need to protect children from wireless routers, baby monitors, and numerous other sources of microwave radiation that can affect the brains and bodies of infants and toddlers.” [Reference 1]
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) generally categorizes agents (e.g., substances or radiation) into four (4) categories in terms of cancer causing ability:
- Group 1: Carcinogenic to humans.
- Group 2A: Probably carcinogenic to humans.
- Group 2B: Possibly carcinogenic to humans.
- Group 3: Not classifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans.
This article will demonstrate in a step by step fashion that evidence is mounting for RF radiation being considered definitely carcinogenic. In the paragraphs that follow, information is presented showing how research data has accumulated over the past couple of years showing a progression from Group 2B to Group 2A, and finally to Group 1. In addition, evidence continues to mount regarding other types of adverse biological effects caused by RF radiation emissions, some of which are summarized in the final section of this article.
NAPERVILLE, IL — As a follow-up to another blog posting, “Naperville Smart Meters Keep Track of Household Activities,” a new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was made by members of a Naperville household to obtain information related to smart meter readings for their account.
NAPERVILLE, IL — Over the past year, the City of Naperville and its municipally owned utility have installed smart meters for nearly all residents. In an attempt to resolve some concerns related to the City no longer documenting “current” and “previous” electrical usage meter readings on monthly bills, one resident sent the City of Naperville a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in an attempt to obtain this information for her account. What she received back was a month’s worth of 15-minute interval usage amounts in kWh, literally thousands of numbers with no associated meter readings. The resident sent the information to me to determine what sense I could make of the numbers and to show me that the actual meter readings were not included with the 67-page document that she had received from the City.
In November 2011, market analysis and consulting provider Pike Research released a report examining the current state of utility cyber security.
The report was entitled Utility Cyber Security – Seven Key Smart Grid Security Trends to Watch in 2012 and Beyond and concluded that although a great deal of attention has shifted to protecting systems that govern infrastructure, utilities have a long way to go in protecting critical networks. The primary headline from the report was:
“Utility cyber security is in a state of near chaos. [emphasis added] After years of vendors selling point solutions, utilities investing in compliance minimums rather than full security, and attackers having nearly free rein, the attackers clearly have the upper hand. Many attacks simply cannot be defended.”
As reported at this website last month, an independent review in Canada revealed that smart meters are experiencing catastrophic failures when rain water (and/or condensation along with other contaminants) gets into the smart meters themselves, causing arcing across electronic components with eventual failure of the meter.
Well, last night it rained in Regina, Saskatch-ewan, and there was another smart meter fire.
SaskPower confirmed crews were called to replace yet another failed smart meter on a resident’s home on Regina’s east side early Friday morning.
According to the Warrenville Environmental Advisory Commission (WEAC):
“Smart Meters … are coming to Warrenville …
There has been controversy over the non-ionizing RF-EMF radiation they give off. Some concern may be warranted, though the risk is likely less than that of a cell phone.
People should be aware of the risk and not, for instance, station a baby crib directly near where the meter is operating.
In a new paper, “Green Electricity or Green Money? Why some environmental groups hamper clean energy,” the National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy seeks to foster dialogue about possible impediments to courageous leadership by environmental organizations.
As reported at this website in late July, “Fires Prompt Saskatchewan Government in Canada to Order Removal of 105,000 Smart Meters.”
On October 27th, the Government of Saskatchewan released the results of a scathing review on the smart meter “debacle” which is now commonly being referred to as a “catastrophe.”
With the growing backlash against smart meters, the smart grid industry is stepping up its propaganda campaign with new and recycled YouTube videos, pamphlets, and blog articles favorable to the industry. For consumers concerned about the risks associated with smart grid technology, it can be hard to get the facts unfiltered by industry biased propaganda.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald has broken many stories on the global surveillance being conducted by the NSA and GCHQ. As one of the first reporters to see Edward Snowden’s files, he faced personal repercussions for his professional work — yet continues to speak publicly about mass surveillance. In this searing talk, viewable below, Greenwald makes the case for why you need to care about privacy, even if you’re “not doing anything you need to hide.”
The presentation by Glenn Greenwald is particularly important to remind us on “why privacy matters” in a world threatened by more and more intrusive monitoring of our activities, whether it be from recording of telephone calls, tracking of Internet activity, surveillance drones, or utility smart meters.
Key Article Point
Even if electric utility companies are able to “blame” a hot socket or customer wiring for many smart meter-related fires, the meters themselves likely contributed to the fires, the severity of the fire damage, or the speed at which the fires spread.
Subsequent to a house fire, one of the primary responsibilities for investigators is to determine the point of origin and cause of the fire. Determining the cause typically involves establishing whether the fire was accidental or criminal in nature. It is also possible that the final investigation report will document that the fire’s cause remained “undetermined.”
When a smart meter and associated meter box are the origin of a fire, many times the evidence is burned or “consumed” to the extent that a full cause determination is difficult to make with certainty. This is exemplified by examining the above photo for a smart meter-related fire in Reno, Nevada, still under investigation. For some smart meter fires, the fire may simply be documented as “accidental” and where the cause was “electrical” in nature. In other instances, a complete forensics investigation is not completed due to a lack of training, time, or other needed resources for the assigned investigators.