An Earth Day Statement on Smart Meters, Technology and Community Rights

Screen-Shot-2015-03-18-at-1.49.56-PMBy Josh Hart MSc
Director, StopSmartMeters.org

As we mark Earth Day 2015 today, let’s take a moment to reflect on the real threats to life on the planet, and take a look at some of the false, undemocratic “solutions” that do far more harm than good.

The truth is that the corporate capitalist economic system is killing the Earth.  

More than seven billion humans live on Earth and most of us owe our existence to cheap oil, artificial oil based fertilizers and mechanized agriculture. Continuing to depend on limited toxic substances like oil and coal is leaving us a heated, disturbed planet with few energy options.  Paying lip service to this problem, while diverting billions of dollars to fanciful false solutions like the “smart grid” that only line the pockets of the very wealthy is simply a policy of genocide.

EarthTempRisingGases emitted by industrial civilization over the past two hundred years or so are leading to a dangerous destabilization of Earth’s climate- poking angry weather dogs with sticks.

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Big Brother Brown

California’s drought is one of many likely and unpleasant outcomes from this relentless pumping of waste into the atmosphere. Communities go thirsty and are less resilient to these threats because of inappropriate sprawling development, further Thefueling fossil dependence. Meanwhile Big Ag’s mono crops—drenched in pesticides—get all the water they need from Governor Jerry (PG&E is my secretary- literally) Downtown Brown.

An economic system requiring infinite growth on a finite planet is destined to collapse.

Fossil fuels must be left in the ground where they belong. The fracking, drilling, burning frenzy is not only risking the future, it’s spectacularly bad business.

AL GORE SF“Smart meters” are being promoted by Al Gore as a “solution to climate change,” though there is no evidence- even after at least 6 years of smart grid operations- that a single kilowatt-hour has ever been saved by the stupid things. Evidence suggests more power is being consumed to manufacture the meters, run the meters, and power the wireless transmitters and huge data banks set up to store and transfer your personal private data.  But who’s checking?  It’s only a hundred billion dollars! Mr. Gore’s support of the smart grid likely has more to do with his significant investments in companies like Silver Spring Networks than any desire to actually “save the planet.”  Save the mansion more like.
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The smart grid uses more energy, costs us more, emits more carbon, causes fires and deaths, and adds an intentional layer of pulsed RF electro-smog—not to mention security vulnerability— onto the existing grid.

Smart Grid is No Friend of the Earth.

Building power hungry ultra-tech pipe dreams like the “internet of things,” the “smart grid,” and so-called “smart cities” while we remain hopelessly wedded to fossil fuels is like constructing fancy glimmering new floors on the top of a skyscraper while the construction rots away the foundation below.

We risk collapse unless the focus is shifted to the essentials- with some urgency.

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A shrub dies back around a smart meter in Ontario. What’s it doing to those inside the home?

The deployment of the “smart grid,” an untested system that spreads RF microwave pulses across broad areas of the planet, is already resulting in serious and negative health effects to humans, other animals, and plants.  This is radiation the World Health Organization says may give you cancer- and is implicated in chronic damage to the DNA, immune, endocrine, and central nervous systems. The same symptoms have now been observed from pulsed smart meter radiation exposure on opposite sides of the planet, and are linked in this report from Ron Powell.

While corporate interests ignore the warning signs, they hatch plans to exacerbate this existing damage, saturating every home, city, and the entire planet with RF radiation from billions of transmitting antennas—mounted on solar drones, balloons and satellites, making electrical silence obsolete. Now when I hold my head in pain when I have to be around wi-fi, I really start to wonder whether this is a good idea.

Have you ever been asked whether this is a good idea? Didn’t think so. Neither have I.

solar_cells_panels_array_monocrystalineAppropriate technology is inherently empowering and sustainable. Safe solar and storage technologies are viable now, making utilities nervous, and offering an individual and collective path out from under monopoly control and dirty, outdated fossil technologies.

Wired and wise micro-grids that don’t belch carbon or damage DNA though wireless exposure are the future.

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Solar rooftops in Germany

In an alternate 2015, where the billions that have now been spent on exploding, hazardous smart meters were instead used to de-carbonize the economy, insulate and seal homes, and provide affordable, shielded and safe solar panels, we would no longer need coal power, nuclear, or large dams that wreck the lives of rivers and communities. That kind of policy- of course- threatens the profits of the most powerful industries on the planet. And we know where that kind of proposal goes.

Technologically though, it’s all possible. And it’s not too late.

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Profits over planet.
Profits over people.
Another world is possible.

 

Why has our energy policy gone so far off the rails? One reason is that utilities make more money by spending more money (a 10.45% interest rate of return every year). These wasteful and unnecessary expenditures of ratepayer money cost us dearly.  Utility bill revenue and government grants are the great feeding troughs that utilities gorge at.

Then they foul the Earth with Carbon, EMF, and Nuclear pollution— the evil trio of ecocide.

All these problems are really one problem: a worldview that applies a mechanistic lens against a living changing world.  The current failing system says we can take as much as we want from the planet- and not give back. That the planet and its sentient inhabitants exist to serve the increasing appetite of corporations.  That we should rely on technology to try to fix what technology has broken.  Take for example the idea (and practice) of geo-engineering- of spraying aluminum particles from aircraft or “seeding” the ocean with iron as a “solution” to climate change.

“If we can’t get a natural “system” to do what we want, we’ll just force it!

(You might want to check out the history of the US Army Corps of Engineers and waterways in the US to see where that arrogant attitude gets you.)

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 6.02.29 PMDefense of community rights is integral to keeping our neighborhoods- and the entire planet safe from those institutions that would despoil and ruin places and lives for profit and control.  Individual rights are critical, but without the community united, we are up against powerful despots by ourselves.

Together, we are stronger.  Human lives are interdependent with the lives around them.

Bicycle paths, greenbelts, and wilderness areas are critical to healthy human- as well as IMG_0482non-human—living communities.  Many have little choice about how they travel due to a lack of a safe non-motorized travel network in their area, and remain dependent on cars.  This leads to health epidemics, pollution, and greater risk to communities.  Calming and reducing traffic in residential neighborhoods, and providing networks of greenways increases a community’s cohesion, enabling more effective defense of rights when those rights are threatened.

The truth is that clean water and air, and life itself was abundant beyond our wildest dreams at a time not too long ago before humans started spreading exponentially across the landscape, consuming everything in sight, and altering the makeup of the thin film of atmosphere that separates us from space. The human population needs to be voluntarily brought under control—through lower birth rates and other humane means or it will be controlled for us- the hard way.  We are not outside of, or above nature.  In terms of technology, it’s time to “dial it down” as EMF expert and consultant Cindy Sage recently commented during a critical KPFA interview for Project Censored.

The Earth—Nature herself— and all of us have an inalienable right to live and thrive. It’s time to re-wild the planet and admit the feral.  Admit that it exists inside of us and admit it into our lives and communities.

The mainstream culture and corporate, capitalist economic system are killing the planet. Smart meters have become a symbol of this failed, corrupt system. The question posed this day and every Earth day should be— what are we going to do about it?

Stop Smart Meters!  Start an Energy Revolution!

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Josh Hart is the Founder and Director of StopSmartMeters.org, founded in 2010 to organize a direct action campaign to stop PG&E forcibly deploying smart meters in California.  Since 2010 the campaign against smart meters has spread internationally. Stop Smart Meters! continues to provide technical assistance, materials, organizing advice, and support to hundreds of groups worldwide. Hart and his wife have been living without electricity for 14 months after their electric “cooperative” in the Sierra Nevada Mountains disconnected them for refusing to pay opt out fees. The Harts recently won their court case against PSREC, but the utility is refusing to restore power and is appealing the verdict. Stop Smart Meters! is asking supporters to donate to help cover the Hart family’s legal expenses related to this case.

Read more about Stop Smart Meters! stance on “smart grid” and the environment here.

Posted in Animal Harm, Cancer, Citizen rebellion, Class Issues and Social Equality, Climate Change, Democracy, Environmental Concerns, health effects, neighborhood organizing, PG&E, Plant damage, radio-frequency radiation, Safety, Smart Grid, Wi-Fi, World Health Organization | Comments Off on An Earth Day Statement on Smart Meters, Technology and Community Rights

Judge Rules Electric Utility’s Smart Meter Opt Out Fees Violate State Law; PSREC Refuses to Reconnect

IMG_0802PLUMAS-SIERRA RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE ACTED ILLEGALLY WHEN IT CUT OFF ELECTRICITY TO HART FAMILY

QUINCY, CA — A utility cooperative in rural Northern California has been ordered by Plumas County Superior Court Judge Janet Hilde to:

 “…cancel the opt out fee and monthly fee for reading the analog meter, allowing Plaintiff (StopSmartMeters.org Director Josh Hart) to self-read the analog meter.”

The decision last week comes 14 months after Plumas Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC) cut the electric wires to the Hart household in February 2014 though the family have paid for their full electric usage minus the illegal “opt out” fees.  During that time, they have been living without electricity in an all-electric home in the Sierra Nevada mountains, without either a fridge or hot running water, depending on a wood stove for heat, cooking, and heating water. The family is continuing to hold out and have refused to sign PSREC’s proposed agreement that would have traded Mr. Hart’s silence about the dispute over the utility’s hazardous smart meters for restoration of electricity service.  “We refuse to be extorted, coerced, or silenced,” says Plaintiff and veteran anti-smart meter organizer Josh Hart.  “It’s about time PSREC is held to account for its flagrant violations of disability rights.  The court’s decision has vindicated our standing up to the utility and confirmed that PSREC is indeed violating the law. They must obey the law and reconnect services.”

Bob Marshall

Bob Marshall, General Mgr. of PSREC

In the small claims court case brought by Mr. Hart in March, Judge Hilde found that PSREC and its General Manager Bob Marshall violated state discrimination law.  The fees: $141 to start and $15/ month to use an analog meter, were found to be illegal under CA law as the utility levied a fee for what they knew was a simple accommodation of a physician-confirmed functional impairment, or disability — the removal of RF emitting equipment from the premises.

Judge Hilde’s decision states:

“Plaintiff presented the court with a letter from his physician, stating that he has a condition, Electromagnetic Field Hypersensitivity, which causes him to suffer from headaches and other medical symptoms when exposed to radio frequency from smart meters. Plaintiff also provided the court with copy of the California Public Utility Code section 453(b) which provides in part: ‘No public utility shall prejudice, disadvantage, or require different rates or deposit amounts from a person because of ancestry, medical condition, marital status, or change in marital status, occupation, or any characteristic listed or defined in section 11135 of the Government Code’”

Though Judge Hilde has now ruled that the fees are illegal, and ordered PSREC to offer a self-read based electric service, General Manager Bob Marshall refuses to comply with the judge’s order, and is refusing to restore electricity to the home.  Marshall and the PSREC Board of Directors say they plan to appeal the case. Hart asks, “Is it really in the public interest to spend ratepayer money on expensive attorneys to continue to refuse paying customers, unreasonably deny service, and defend illegal and discriminatory behavior?”  

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Josh Hart demonstrates outside PSREC HQ in September after he was barred entry from the annual member meeting

When Mr. Hart attempted to attend the annual meeting of the cooperative and vote in the election for directors in September, PSREC officials threatened him with arrest for “trespassing,” even though Mr. Hart was at the time a member and received an invitation to the event. “PSREC is retaliating against us for speaking the truth about their hazardous metering systems.  Their continued refusal to reconnect our home, even in the face of community pressure and a judge’s order is petty and vindictive, and is only driving more attention to an issue they’d probably prefer to sweep under the rug.”

This is not the first time that local courts have sided with smart meter radiation poisoning victims.  In 2012, a small claims judge in Santa Ana ruled that So Cal Edison replace an analog meter on the home of a woman who was made sick by the new wireless “smart” meter (see download below).  A woman in Santa Cruz County settled out of court with PG&E after she brought a small claims case for reimbursement for thousands of dollars spent to shield her apartment against radiation that was causing tinnitus and other health problems.

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Smart meters in Stockton, CA blew apart after a surge hit the city. No analogs were reported to have behaved similarly

This legal victory for the Harts and the broader Stop Smart Meters! movement contributes to the ongoing erosion of the legitimacy of smart meter “opt out fees” nationally. Earlier this week, the Arizona Corporation Commission voted to suspend such fees statewide, while legislation in the state of Vermont already prohibits such fees.  “The fires, the health problems, and the recent simultaneous explosion of hundreds of smart meters in Stockton point to the fact that we should be abandoning the entire ill-conceived system — not just be dropping the fees. Charging for the use of safe and secure analog meters, and disconnecting paying customers is a violation of the law and community moral standards,” stated Hart.

PSREC has until May 7th to file an appeal.

We are seeking to raise $10,000 through crowdfunding to hire an attorney and compel the utility industry to comply with the law.  Contributions to the legal effort (as well as solar panels and other off-grid equipment) are being gratefully accepted at StopSmartMeters.org/donate

More information about filing your own small claims case– NOLO Guide

KQNY Interview with Josh Hart Oct. 14th, 2014  (Aired but only posted online today):

Links to a timeline and full SSM! coverage of PSREC’s violations

Download Text of Judge’s Decision:

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Download Hart’s pre-trial Demand Letter to PSREC:

PSREC DEMAND LETTER

Download 2012 Kyle- SCE Case:

Santa Ana SCE Judgment

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Posted in California, Citizen rebellion, Class Issues and Social Equality, Electro-Hyper-Sensitivity, Fundraising, health effects, legal issues, Physicians, Plumas County, Police, PSREC, radio-frequency radiation, Smart Grid | 8 Comments

San Antonio, TX Takes to the Streets to Stop Smart Meters!

On Saturday, March 28th, residents of San Antonio, Texas took to the streets to demand an end to smart meters, and to urge support of two bills currently in the Texas legislature that would force utility companies to offer a no cost analog opt out option for the entire state.  Several organizations have coalesced in recent months, particularly in San Antonio, where CPS Energy- a municipal utility- has been forcing smart meters.

For more information about the Texas Stop Smart Meters! campaign, the current legislation, and if you are a Texan, how to take action to urge your representatives to support HB 3421 and SB 1044, see the Coalition for Safe Meters or Stop Smart Meters San Antonio sites.

To find out what is happening locally in your area, and hook in with our growing network, check out our Find a Local Group Page.

For more background on the Texas campaign against smart meters:

Texans Against Smart Meters

Residents Lock Up Analogs in San Antonio

SSM! Message to San Antonio City Council: Be a Wise City!

Alamo Heights City Council Demands Halt to “Smart Meters”

Posted in Cancer, Citizen rebellion, Class Issues and Social Equality, health effects, neighborhood organizing, radio-frequency radiation, Safety, Smart Grid, Texas, Time of Use Pricing | 3 Comments

UK Business Institute: Smart Meters “An Unjustified, Over-Engineered, & Expensive Mistake”

-3From the IOD Press Release:

An influential British business group- the Institute of Directors (IoD)- has called the British Smart Meter scheme an ‘unjustified, over-engineered and expensive mistake.’

The (UK) Government’s roll-out of Smart Meters, digital energy meters designed to provide real-time usage statistics, should be “halted, altered or scrapped” to avoid a potentially catastrophic government IT disaster, the Institute of Directors warns today.

In a major new report entitled “Not too clever: will Smart Meters be the next Government IT disaster?” the IoD brands the £11bn scheme, the largest government IT project in history, “unwanted by consumers, devoid of credibility and mind-blowingly expensive”. The business group calls on an incoming government to review the project and “consider a fresh start”.

The Smart Meter program, which has the hugely ambitious target of installing 100 million new pieces of kit in homes and business by 2020, was initiated by Ed Miliband as energy secretary in 2008, following an EU Directive, and confirmed by the Coalition Agreement in 2010.  The report’s author, Dan Lewis, Senior Infrastructure Advisor at the IoD, calls the political consensus “a conspiracy of silence among politicians in thrall to big ideas and even bigger budgets”.

Lewis continues:

“The professed aims of the Smart Meter program are laudable, and we all recognize the benefits of reducing consumption and increasing energy awareness. But there is little credible evidence to suggest that a scheme of this size and complexity will achieve those goals.”

The IoD report highlights a number of key concerns:

  • Despite the EU Directive, 11 nations have ruled out electricity smart meters and only 5 are pushing ahead with the 2020 target for gas meters. In contrast, as is so often is the case, the UK has gold-plated the Directive.
  • The government refuses to publish any of the reports on the program by the Major Projects Authority.
  • The cost-benefit analysis conducted by the Department for Energy and Climate Change is so heavily redacted as to be almost unreadable.
  • The Smart Meter network would be vulnerable to cyber-attack and disruption.
  • Introducing time-of-day pricing to shift consumer demand will only work with price increases that are not politically realistic. Retail consumers really can’t change their energy consumption that much.

The report places the rollout of Smart Meters within the context of previous large-scale IT fiascos, including the infamous NHS National Programme for IT, the eBorders Programme and the BBC’s disastrous Digital Media Initiative.  Furthermore, a recent survey shows that 80 per cent of IoD members rate the ability of government to manage large IT projects as “poor or very poor”.

Dan Lewis adds:

“This scheme is far from smart. The dishonourable roll call of government IT projects that have hemorrhaged vast amounts of taxpayers’ money to no discernible effect needs no further additions. Consumers will not forgive the already unpopular energy companies for a costly program which fails to deliver and ends up making them poorer. Without a change of direction, whoever wins the general election is at risk of overseeing a spectacular failure in the next parliament. They would be well-advised to consider a fresh start.

Consumers do not want the meters, they have proved a costly mistake in countries where they have been rolled out, and the Government is withholding key details about their costs and benefits. This makes for a program which is devoid of credibility, over-engineered and mind-blowingly expensive. Perhaps the only reason why the cost and ambition of this project has not become a national scandal already is because of a conspiracy of silence among politicians in thrall to big ideas and even bigger budgets.”

A key area of concern outlined in the report is that the technology behind the scheme is untested and some parts will likely be obsolete by the scheduled switch-on date of 2020.

Lewis added:

“We know that an incoming government will be under intense financial pressure, having to find further cuts to public spending. This does not fit well with increasing energy bills for a project that has such unrealistic targets, such large costs and such uncertain benefits.”

Read the full report here.

Read the Full Press Release Here

Check out our Sister Organization: Stop Smart Meters! UK

More coverage of the UK’s smart meter mess here

Posted in Britain, Citizen rebellion, Democracy, Smart Grid | 4 Comments

Wheels Coming Off Smart Grid as PG&E Smart Meters Explode/ Burn/ Smoulder in Stockton, CA After Crash Causes Surge

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Not a video

STOCKTON, CA — Numerous media outlets are reporting that an inebriated driver in Stockton hit a pole yesterday, causing a powerful electrical surge that led dozens of “smart meters” to explode or catch fire.

Excerpt from the Stockton Record on the exploding smart meters:

“Stockton fire Capt. Bryan Carr with Engine 6, one of several fire crews dispatched Monday morning as dozens of electric customers began reporting explosions, smoke or the smell of burning wires, described the scene as “unreal” when his engine pulled onto Fairbury Lane, a residential street in southeast Stockton. Expecting to pull up to a specific address, Carr’s crew was greeted by a number of residents out on the street wondering why his engine wasn’t stopping at their house.
In some cases, meters were literally blown off the panels. People described it as hearing a whirring sound like the meter was speeding up, then like an explosion. Some of the meters weren’t blown off, but they were fried and the glass was gone,” Carr said.”

stockton smeter 12 cbsThis is not the first time that smart meters have shown their vulnerability to electrical surges.  In September 2011, a surge in East Palo Alto, California caused dozens of smart meters to fail. Despite this and hundreds of other incidents involving fire including where people have died, the California Public Utilities Commission has not even officially looked into the matter much less taken action to protect public safety.  Utilities around the world continue to deny any problem exists and have been seizing meters involved in fires before fire investigators have a chance to do their work, drawing public protests from Quebec’s firefighters.

A smart meter face is left dangling in Stockton after numerous meters explode or catch of fire after a surge.It has been widely recognized that smart meters – with their plastic housing and complex circuitry- are more vulnerable to fire and heat than traditional electromechanical analog meters, built solidly of glass and metal. Many utility industry observers have said they could not recollect past surges damaging analog meters the way that smart meter have been affected.

Utilities are seeking to collect money for the “privilege” of using an analog meter- or even worse- in some areas- attempt to forbid their use entirely.  Will ratepayers foot the bill to replace these $500+ smart meters every time there are surges in the network and they start popping like corn again?

stockton smeter 02 kcraThe condition of analog meters in Stockton is not known.  If you are in the area and have reports, please comment below.

More coverage:       News 10        KCRA

Posted in California, Fires, PG&E, Smart Grid | 4 Comments