by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions
Someone sent me a link to a smart grid-related webinar video from 2012 where a utility industry RF safety expert made some surprising but yet rational statements on the need for ‘smart’ meter opt-out programs.
Klaus Bender is Senior Director of Engineering and Standards for the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC). On April 9, 2012, he gave a presentation entitled, “Smart Meters and RF Safety.” Most of the presentation dealt with summarizing the basis for the current RF exposure guidelines and that there is no “documentable proof” for an injury mechanism beyond “tissue heating and burns.”
But then towards the end of the presentation, Klaus Bender made the following statements:
“We have to also realize that science is evolving. We have to keep looking at non-thermal effects and see if we can come with anything. We can’t just assume that we’re always right. We have to continue testing.
And at the same time there are customers that are going to have special needs, that have RF susceptibility, whether that is a perceived issue or an actual physical condition, and utilities can’t ignore that.
And so, unfortunately, when utilities are working on planning their RF network for reading smart meters they have to take into account some sort of opt-out strategy for those people that feel they have RF susceptibility enough that they can’t tolerate the smart meter on their house.”
[The above video contains material used pursuant to the Fair Use Doctrine under 17 U.S.C. 107 and is presented in the public’s interest for non-commercial purposes.]
With regard to the above statements, Mr. Bender doesn’t say whether customers should have to pay for their opt-out, but at least he doesn’t rule out that people may have an actual physical condition that utilities can’t ignore, … which is what most utilities seem to want to do.
Although many utilities have some sort of opt-out program, there are other utilities (and states) that do not. For example, in Illinois, Commonwealth Edison is only allowing a “deferral’ until the end of the current deployment schedule in 2018, at which time all customers will be forced to accept a wireless ‘smart’ meter if they wish to continue to receive service.
All utilities need to take note of Klaus Bender’s statements and ensure they have an “opt-out strategy,” whether they already have deployed ‘smart’ meters or are considering future programs, which we hope they are not.
Historical Information Regarding Klaus Bender
Klaus Bender is not a new name to the smart meter controversy. In 2010, he authored a UTC paper called, “No Health Threat from Smart Meters.” It was an extremely biased and misleading document that ended with the following offensive statement:
“So when confronted with complaints that say smart meters cause a variety of health effects, ask the complainant to produce the science to support the claim. The conversation should end shortly thereafter.”
“The author ignores decades of published scientific work that delineates bioeffects and adverse health effects due to long-term, low-intensity ELF and RF exposures.”
The Sage rebuttal ended with a listing of 37 pages of published studies labeled as “Required Reading for Mr. Bender.”
Possibly Mr. Bender read some of the Sage suggested reading material and had a change of heart on what was possible as reflected in the 2012 webinar statements mentioned above.
Primary Source Material for this Article
RF Safety of Smart Meters and the Need for Dedicated Spectrum in the Utilities Industry, YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2DU6lw_smA&list=PLabpB-ze0uO-eJstMUVXte6DN2o2H1Xks