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Smart Meters – Not So Smart!

by Nicole Biljlsma

In 2009, Victoria became the first state in Australia to introduce smart meters. In time, all states will be involved through the National Smart Meter rollout. Smart meters enable the utility companies to measure and record remotely how much electricity you use at different times of the day and week. As such they will be able to charge different rates for different times of the day, week and year.

In order to be able to read your meter remotely, a pulsed radio frequency is emitted six times per day (though this will vary depending on the provider) using mobile phone technology in the range of 915 to 928MHz and 2.4GHz.

Whilst these frequencies are within the Australian guidelines, our exposure standards fare poorly when compared with other countries. This is not good for individuals who are electrically sensitive. Despite the fact that in 2010 the Netherlands prevented a bill making smart meters compulsory, Australian consumers are powerless to stop the installation of these devices.

“Waiting for high levels of scientific and clinical proof before taking action on electromagnetic fields… can lead to very high health and economic costs, as was the case with asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco” – (Council of Europe, 2011).

How is it possible for a group of seemingly intelligent bureaucrats and environmentalists to spend billions of tax payer dollars in a scheme that will fundamentally:

8 reasons why they should NOT be compulsory: 

  1. Expose your family to harmful radiation – the World Health Organisation has classified this type of radiation as possibly carcinogenic to humans (IARC, 2011).
  2. Endanger species – there is mounting evidence that this type of radiation may adversely affect bees, bats, birds and plants, the impact of which will have a devastating impact on farming communities and ultimately our food source (Warnke, 2008) .
  3. Violate your privacy – apart from enabling utility companies to control YOUR appliances remotely, the system is much easier to hack in to and sabotage with jamming devices. This was evidenced in 2009, when the contact details of 179,000 Toronto Hydro customers were taken.
  4. Significantly increase your energy bill – despite reassurances from the utility companies and governments that your bill will decrease, the reality is that consumers have found a significant increase (doubling or even tripling) in their energy bills if they continue using electricity at peak period times.
  5. Renowned for billing errors – In 2009 a class action lawsuit was filed against the utility company Pacific Gas & Electric for installing thousands of faulty smart meters resulting in skyrocketing energy bills. In 2011, Californian residents filed a lawsuit against General Electric and Landis+Gyr – the manufacturer’s of smart meters for incorrect billing errors in 1,600 defective meters (Edwards v. General Electric.Co, 2011). General Electric are the primary manufacturer of smart meters in Australia.
  6. Cause job losses – good bye meter readers. Automation generally equates to less employees; after all its all about higher dividends for shareholders!
  7. Increased fire risk– this technology may interfere with appliances as they can be turned on remotely. In New Zealand, 422 fires involved smart meters in 2010 (Clark, 2010). In addition, Victoria’s energy regulator has conceded smart meter contractors might lack required skills and is reviewing the qualifications of workers rolling out scheme (Fyfe, 2011).
  8. Economic viability – the cost of the ‘advanced metering infrastructure’ required to upgrade high tension lines, meters, substations, central control facilities is in the billions… Consequently, the European Parliament has strongly encouraged member states to study the economic feasibility of smart grids before they implement them.

Radio frequencies disrupt magnetite in a bee’s abdomen which leads to increased swarming typically seen just before bees abandon their nest.

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