Chicago Suburb Formally Requests Permanent Smart Meter Refusal Option from ComEd

Story Updated July 27, 2016

Permanent OptOutThe Village of Burr Ridge, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, has formally requested “that Commonwealth Edison take action to work with the ICC [Illinois Commerce Commission] and General Assembly to amend its rules to allow for property owners to permanently opt out of its Smart Meter installation Program.”

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Smart Meter Deployments: Based upon Biased and False Assumptions for Providing Eco-Feedback to Consumers (Part 2)

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Smart Meter Enabled Eco Feedback ImageWhat if the billions and billions of dollars being spent to deploy so-called “smart meters” were found to be justified based upon biased and false assumptions?  Should consumers still be required to pay for smart meters that were erroneously promoted as being installed for their benefit, i.e., to help them manage their energy bills?

This article will demonstrate that based upon the latest research and under the most optimistic circumstances, consumers within the general population might reduce their energy consumption by only as much as 0.5 to 0.7 % if they have access to enhanced feedback from smart meters.

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Smart Meter Enabled Demand Charges: “No Way to Live”

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

High Smart Meter Bills and Demand ChargesProponents of smart meters justify them primarily based on assertions that consumption feedback to consumers will help them conserve energy in support of sustainability goals.  As stated in one study [1]:

“Smart meters offer possibilities for providing immediate and frequent feedback on household energy use via different means such as websites, mobile phones, and home displays [, and] it is important to study which type of feedback (e.g., financial, environmental, or social comparison feedback) is most effective to encourage sustainable energy behavior, and under which conditions these changes are most likely.”

In actuality, smart meters represent, at best, a “novelty” to the consumer and as reported by one recent study, “the interest in the meters wore off after a time” [2].  In addition, we have shown at this website that the vast majority of consumers will suffer a financial “net loss” with smart meters [3].

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Radiofrequency Radiation Boosts Cancer Rates in Animals, According to Federal Government Study

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions; Updated May 27, 2016

BrainAccording to Microwave News, results of the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) have shown that exposure to radiofrequency (RF) radiation has resulted in statistically significant increases in cancer among male rats.  These rats were subjected to whole body exposure from RF signals as used for GSM and CDMA-type cell phones over a period of two years [1].

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Smart Meter Remote Disconnect: An ‘Unnecessary Risk’ for Significant Damage to the Grid

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Hacker with Smart Meter Interface to Remote DisconnectI have written numerous articles over the past couple of years describing how smart meters make the electric grid inherently less safe from a cybersecurity perspective.  In fact, in one article I recently stated that: “The most dangerous ‘feature’ included in the majority of smart meters deployed today is the remote disconnect option.” [1] Continue reading

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Occasional Catastrophic Digital Meter Failures ‘Worth the Risk’, According to Industry Executive

Smart Meter Fireballby K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

A utility industry document written in 2006 has been discovered that reviewed costs and benefits related to solid-state (digital) utility meters used for residential customers [1].  In that document, a senior vice-president for National Grid was quoted as follows:

“We lost several nights sleep worrying about catastrophic failures, but it was worth the risk.” [emphasis added]

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Increased Knowledge of ‘Smart’ Meters Leads to Unfavorable Views, According to Study

Negative Feedback on Smart Metersby K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Governments and corporations are forcing utility ‘smart’ meters onto consumers’ homes saying that they give consumers control over their own energy bills.  This propaganda-like message is quite misleading and more importantly completely ignores the tremendous financial, health, safety, privacy, and cybersecurity risks that smart meters impose on consumers and society [1].

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Little Justification for ‘Smart’ Meters Unless to Serve as “Crude and Heavy-Handed Price Mechanism” to Change Consumer Behavior

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Little Justification for Smart MetersThis article highlights the views of Stephen Thomas on the topic of smart meters.  Stephen Thomas is an Emeritus Professor for energy policy at the University of Greenwich.  Professor Thomas was featured as a guest on BBC Radio’s Money Box program on March 26, 2016 [1].  In addition, he has published a paper entitled, “Not Too Smart an Innovation: Britain’s Plans to Switch Consumers to Smart Electricity and Gas Meters” [2].

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Illinois Attorney General Issues Consumer Alert on ‘Smart’ Meters

Illinois AG Smart Meter Consumer Alertby K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan today issued a consumer alert “urging Illinois residents to do their homework on smart meters – how they work, what type of data they collect, how the data can be used and if you authorize it, who can access it.” [1]

In an interview with WLS-TV of Chicago, Lisa Madigan said that:

There is a “lot of potential for consumers to be deceived.”

“There’s a possibility that [energy suppliers] will also be able to determine whether or not people are in the home.  There are some people that may not feel comfortable with sharing that information.” [2]

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The “Smart” Dryer and TOU Rates: A Stupid Idea on So Many Levels

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Smart Dryer Appliance ImageWithin the last couple of months I have posted comprehensive articles to demonstrate how consumers financially suffer with smart meters and that they are also financially and socially punished when subjected to Time-of-Use (TOU) electricity rates [1][2].

Those articles, although comprehensive, were somewhat broad in nature.  Let us take a closer look at one particular household appliance that is frequently touted by smart grid proponents, the “smart” dryer.  It is advertised that you can “save money” by using a smart tumble dryer in the late evening when electricity rates are low.  There is an inference that you would place your washed clothing in a smart dryer, go to bed, and the dryer would later turn on and complete its drying cycles while you were sleeping.  Before proceeding, let me present some common sense public service advice on tumble dryer safety:

Tumble Dryer Safety: “Occupants are advised to use tumble dryers and washing machines when they can be supervised.  Ideally they should not be switched on and left to run overnight whilst people are sleeping.  We would encourage people to switch off all electrical appliances when vacating the house and during the night to reduce the risk of fire in the home.” [3]

“Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you go to bed.” [4]

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“A smarter grid could actually become a less safe grid,” from Discover Magazine

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

Smart Grid vs. Safe GridThe March 2016 issue of Discover magazine features an article, “Blackout of the Century,” with the online version being entitled, “Averting the Blackout of the Century.” [1]

At this website I have posted numerous articles explaining how the future “smart” grid is more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats from hackers.  In summary, I have stated that smart grid proponents have not properly considered the societal implications of smart grid and smart meter cybersecurity threats which can result in catastrophic events affecting widespread areas of the electric grid [2 through 21].

The Discover article highlights the work of a trio of scientists and their findings that so-called smart grid technologies “could have unintended consequences on reliability” beyond the consideration for cybersecurity risks.

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Vast Majority of Consumers Suffer Financial “Net Loss” with Smart Meters

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Frontier Economics and Consumer Net Loss with Smart MetersThis article provides specific information to counter claims made by smart meter proponents that smart meters provide consumers with financial benefits, i.e., saving energy and reducing their utility bill.  In addition, this article presents information to help disentangle how policy makers conflate the topics of grid modernization, smart meter deployments, and sound environmental policy.

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TEDx Talk: “Wireless Wake-Up Call”

Washington DC Immersed in WirelessA TEDxBerkeley Presentation about the Health Impacts of Wireless Technology and Proposed Solutions

On February 6th, Jeromy Johnson, an expert in mitigating the negative impacts of Electromagnetic Field (EMF) exposure, was featured as a speaker at the TEDxBerkeley event for 2016.  The title of the presentation was “Wireless Wake-Up Call.”

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Families Punished by ‘Smart’ Meters and TOU Rates, Recent Study Confirms

Load Curve and TOU Ratesby K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

In describing the effects of time varying electricity rates or Time-of-Use (TOU) rates on consumers, I have previously referenced the logical and common sense assertions of the Berkshire-Litchfield Environmental Council (BLEC) [1]:

“Tiered pricing automatically penalizes the elderly, the self-employed, the infirm, the unemployed, [and] stay-at-home parents with young children …  People can choose to do their laundry later at night but meals and bathing carry fewer options.”

More recently, the social implications of implementing TOU rates have now been described in a study published in September 2015 regarding “peak demand and the family peak period in Australia” [2].

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‘Smart’ Meters Being Deployed without Transparency or Necessary Public Debate

Transparency on Smart Metersby K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

I have discovered several recently published articles and studies that provide profound insight on how the “smart grid” is envisioned to affect the consumer by those developing it and how substantial social implications of smart grid implementation are not being sufficiently addressed or publicly debated.

This article will explain who envisioned the smart grid and why smart meters are being deployed.  Empirical evidence will be presented on how consumer interests and rights are being ignored and why smart meter opposition by the public is fully justified and necessary.  Finally, this article provides possible solutions to correct some of the injustices being imposed upon the consumer.

Highlights and Key Points of this Article

  • Because of the absence of transparency or public debate, the smart grid lacks “democratic legitimacy.”

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Puppet Attack: Newly Discovered Cyber Threat for Smart Meters

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Smart Meter Puppet AttackA newly discovered cyber security threat for utility smart meters, called a “puppet attack,” is described in the January 2016 issue of the Journal of Network and Computer Applications.  The paper itself is entitled, “Puppet attack: A denial of service attack in advanced metering infrastructure network.”

The new “puppet attack” results in what is called a denial of service for smart meters using wireless mesh network technology.  As described in the Abstract for the article:

“The intruder can select any normal node as a puppet node and send attack packets to this puppet node.  When the puppet node receives these attack packets, this node will be controlled by the attacker and flood more packets so as to exhaust the network communication bandwidth and node energy.”

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‘Smart’ Meters Represent Industrial Profiteering and Government Sanctioned Surveillance, According to Study

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Consumer Dataveillance by Smart MetersIn an article from December 31st, I wrote that ‘Smart’ Meters Generate a ‘Gold Mine of Data’ for Utilities and that they provide a ‘gateway’ to the home.

To better understand the full nature of this “data gold mining” and the motives behind it, I will highlight portions of a newly published paper, “The Neoliberal Politics of ‘Smart’: Electricity Consumption, Household Monitoring, and the Enterprise Form.”  The authors are from Portland State University.

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‘Smart’ Meters Generate a ‘Gold Mine of Data’ for Utilities

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Smart Meter 'Big Data' Gold MineI have been saying for a number of years that utility smart meters invade your privacy and have substantiated this assertion in a number of ways.

Utility companies dismiss privacy invasion claims by replying with simplistic, misleading statements, such as, “Just like standard meters, smart meters will measure the amount of electricity you use – not how you use it.” [1]

In trying to find a new and simple way to explain how smart meters are in fact invading your privacy much more than traditional meters, I thought of an analogy of comparing smart meter data collection with “mining for gold.”

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Investigation: US power grid and ‘smart’ meters vulnerable to hacks

US Power Grid under Attackby K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

The Associated Press National Investigative Team today published a comprehensive article detailing the vulnerabilities of the US power grid to hackers.  Here are selected excerpts from that article, “AP Investigation:  US power grid vulnerable to foreign hacks”:

“Security researcher Brian Wallace was on the trail of hackers who had snatched a California university’s housing files when he stumbled into a larger nightmare:  Cyberattackers had opened a pathway into the networks running the United States power grid.

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Climate Change, ‘Smart’ Meters, and Giant Flying Boulders

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Climate Change Smart Meters and BouldersAt a time when negotiators from around the world gather in Paris to finalize an international “climate change” agreement, activists and political ideologues are using every possible opportunity to scare people into believing that the very existence of life on our planet is at stake.

Whether one views man-made climate change as real or not, and if so, whether mankind can do much about it, the fact is that the climate change talks in Paris have little to do with providing real solutions to environmental issues.

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‘Smart’ Meters are ‘Guilt Meters’ and an Example of a ‘Fraudulent, Bogus Innovation’

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Emoticons Guilt and Smart MetersAt this website we have categorized the various risks related to utility smart meters, including health, privacy invasions, cyber threats, increased risk of fires, inaccuracy in billing, and environmental impacts.  In addition, we have shown that smart meters provide no net economic benefits to consumers and in fact are subject to accelerated technological obsolescence.  Governments, utilities, and other members of the smart grid industry skew business case assumptions in an attempt to show them “economical.”  For example, they usually assume smart meters will be used and useful for 15 to 20 years when a 5 to 10 year lifetime is more likely.

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Congressional Testimony: ‘Smart’ meters have a life of 5 to 7 years.

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Introduction

Gaines Testimony Oct 2015Testimony was provided last week at a Congressional hearing regarding “cybersecurity for power systems.”  I plan to address some aspects of this hearing in a separate article, but a surprising admission was given by one of the expert witnesses that I will discuss here.

Mr. Bennett Gaines testified on behalf of FirstEnergy Service Company.  He is a Senior Vice President and the Corporate Services and Chief Information Officer.

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Smart Meters Not Necessary to Modernize the Electric Grid Says a Major U.S. Utility

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

Eversource Position on Smart MetersOn July 30, 2015, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission issued an ‘order of notice’ commencing an investigation into grid modernization in New Hampshire.  In response to that order, Eversource Energy (formerly known as Northeast Utilities) provided comments on September 17, 2015.  As stated by intelligentutility.com:

While smart meters or AMI meters are often equated with grid modernization, Eversource does not see them as necessary.  In fact, the company says that it has found customers are not very interested in moderating energy use based on time-varying or dynamic rates.”

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Smart meters giving Victorian consumers ‘no benefit’ on electricity bills, auditor-general says

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

Smart Meter DunceIn 2006, the Victorian Government in Australia mandated the rollout of electricity smart meters to all households and small businesses across Victoria under the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) program.

Victorians have paid more than $2 billion for the deployment of the smart meters, but there has been “no overall benefit to consumers,” an auditor-general’s report has found.

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Congressional Hearing: Smart Meters Present Vulnerabilities to the Grid Due to “Smart Technology” and “Lots of Access Points”

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

Congressional Hearing on Power Supply VulnerabilitiesThe U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Oversight and the Subcommittee on Energy held a joint hearing titled Examining Vulnerabilities of America’s Power Supply on September 10, 2015. The purpose of the hearing was to “discuss various threats to the national electric grid, including:  severe weather or other natural events; cyber, physical, or coordinated attacks; space weather; and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks.”

From the Hearing Charter:

“As the electric grid continues to be modernized and become more interconnected, the threat of a potential cybersecurity breach significantly increases.”

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Consumers and Environment Unlikely to Benefit from Smart Meters, Confirms Latest Research

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

Kellogg Smart Meter Graphic with CreditThe smart grid industry has continued to spend billions and billions of dollars to deploy smart meters into the population despite the mounting evidence that they are of no value to consumers and actually introduce significant privacy, safety, and security risks.

Recent research at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago Booth School provides additional confirmation that smart meters are unlikely to benefit either the consumer or the environment.

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‘Dragnet’ Data Collections by Smart Meters and an ‘Infrastructure of Surveillance’

And What Your Utility Company Doesn’t Want You to Know about Smart Meters

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

Smart Meter Big Data Dragnet CollectionIn what was likely a little publicized workshop conducted in November 2013 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on privacy and security issues concerning the Internet of Things (IoT), I found some invaluable insight offered in the FTC video archives on the subject of smart meters.

A presentation was made at the FTC workshop by Lee Tien, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).  Key statements in the presentation and follow-up panel discussion include the following:

I’m not really a cheerleader for the Internet of Things.  To me, it raises a huge number of privacy and security issues, to the extent that IoT devices entail ubiquitous collection of large amounts of data about what people do.”

“And you are also concerned about — or should be concerned about the environmental collection, sort of a non-targeted dragnet collection from devices in the environment.”

Smart meters are a good example.” Continue reading

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Don’t Waste Money on Energy Efficiency Upgrades, According to Study

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

A new study finds that even when accounting for the broader societal benefits of energy efficiency investments, the costs still substantially outweigh the benefits. [1][2]

Green Home and Saving Environment with SMFrom the abstract of the study:

“Conventional wisdom suggests that energy efficiency (EE) policies are beneficial because they induce investments that pay for themselves and lead to emissions reductions.  However, this belief is primarily based on projections from engineering models.”

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Utility Industry Aware of Safety and Accuracy Issues with Digital Meters for Years

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

EPRI White PaperIn reviewing an electric utility industry document from 2010, it is quite clear that the industry knew of safety and accuracy issues with smart meters before they were ever manufactured and deployed.  The title of the document is “Accuracy of Digital Electricity Meters,” published by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

What is so incredible about the document is how strongly it was acknowledged that traditional analog meters were “an amazing of piece of engineering work.”

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Utilities ‘Very Excited’ about Mining Smart Meter Data and Invading Your Privacy

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

Big Brother Graphic with SMAt a recent IBM-related conference, Dr. Stephen Pratt, Chief Technical Officer for CenterPoint Energy, stated the following during an interview:

“We have an entire organization that’s gotten behind data as an asset

We get a lot of data.  We do 221,000,000 meter reads a day …

We can do nothing with that data, or we can mine that data and use what we find from mining that data …

That is very exciting to me today.”

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Smart Meter Rollout a Waste of Money, According to Study

Waste of MoneySmart meters have been advertised as a means to “empower” consumers with information that will somehow save customers money despite the fact that the deployment of the meters themselves cost billions and billions of dollars.

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‘Smart’ Meters Have Failed and Were a Dumb Investment

Failed Smart Meter ProgamHaving reached the end of 2014, there is no doubt it has been a devastating year for utility smart meters and smart grid advocates.  Whether all utility executives yet realize it or not, smart meters have failed.  They have failed miserably to the deliver the promised benefits.  We are left with nothing but the increased costs and risks associated with boondoggle projects reminiscent of pork barrel spending bills approved in the middle of the night by a Congress wanting to get home for the Christmas holidays.

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Ralph Nader’s Viewpoint on Smart Meters: A “Step Toward Technological Despotism”

Nader PhotoWith 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.

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“Microwaves, Science and Lies” Documentary Reveals a Product Defense Strategy

Introduction to the Documentary Film

Waves DVD Jacket. Front“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.

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Dr. Karl Maret Discusses Smart Meter Potential Health Effects

Sources of RF RadiationOn 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.

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Radiofrequency (RF) Fields: Possibly, Probably, or Definitely Carcinogenic — The Evidence Mounts Toward the Latter.

BrainThe 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.

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Assessing the Prevalence of Bias in Studies Showing Savings Linked to Energy Consumption Feedback (Part 1)

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Smart Meter Enabled Eco Feedback BiasKey Article Point

Based upon the positive biases that are inherent in energy consumption feedback studies, there is considerable doubt on the validity of estimates that smart meters can deliver the promised energy savings.

Introduction

From a public policy perspective, smart meters are primarily promoted on the basis that they will result in consumers reducing energy consumption by providing them with feedback.  Continue reading

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Smart Meters: An Example of Surveillance Capitalism

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

Surveillance Eye and CapitalismAn essay preview was given this month for a new book by Shoshana Zuboff to be published in 2017 dealing with the topic of “surveillance capitalism” [1] [2].  Giant corporations supported by government have created a new digital “subspecies of capitalism based in which profits derive from the unilateral surveillance and modification of human behavior.”

“While the world is riveted by the showdown between Apple and the FBI, the real truth is that the surveillance capabilities being developed by surveillance capitalists are the envy of every state security agency.” [1]

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Questions Remain Unanswered Regarding Potential Health Effects Related to Smart Grid Technologies

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

Health of the Body Image plus Smart MetersIn June and July of 2011, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) hosted two separate workshops related to the possible health effects associated with radiofrequency (RF) emissions from smart grid technologies.  In December 2011, EPRI published a report summarizing the results and findings from those workshops [1]. Continue reading

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