FAQ: Changing a Meter

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First read this section on other ways to get a “smart” meter removed from your home. Then read these posts about what has happened to some people who have been open with PG&E about changing their own meter.

Also, please view this video which details at length how to go about the changing process, and here is a site that offers a kit to help you do so.
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Q: Do I have the right to have my “smart” meter changed for an analog meter?

Stop Smart Meters! asserts that you have the basic legal right to safety and health in your home. Read about the opt out now in place for PG&E customers (Feb 2012.) PG&E and other utilities claim that only they can change your meter. Nonetheless, for PG&E customers, the change back to an analog may be scheduled for months away, and for someone adversely affected by their smart meter, this may be unacceptable. For ratepayers in states and countries without “opt outs”, where (officially) there is no option to refuse, they may have no other recourse than to effect this change themselves. For a guide to North American smart meter opt out policies, click here.

Basically, there is the law and then there is utility company policy.   The law states that if someone or something is on your property (whether you rent or own) and you don’t want them (or it) there, you have a right to get that person-or that device- off your property.   The utility’s easement typically only covers maintenance and access to read your meter, NOT installation of a communications device on the side of your home.   The utility messed up when it failed to ask permission, and now they are suffering a predictable backlash against their arrogant policy of “implied consent.”  The utility is NOT the government (despite what they may think)- they are a private party bound by local, state, and federal law.   They can respond to you refusing access for smart meter installation or having your meter swapped out in several ways.  They may threaten you with jail, service disconnection, or fines, but they are bluffing!  They cannot have you arrested unless they can prove you were trying to defraud them by tampering.   They cannot disconnect the service of a paying customer according to state utilities code.   They can only charge you more if your state PUC allows them to do so, and this is typically a lengthy process.   So ignore their threats, stand your ground, and have that analog put back in its rightful place- on the side of your home!  Then lock it up!

Protecting the health, safety, and security of yourself and your family seems to us to be one of the most basic of human rights.

Q: Is this legal? Will I be arrested? Will my electricity be cut off?

We aren’t qualified to give you legal advice, but we can tell you what we’ve heard about. We know that no one so far has been arrested for changing their meter back to an analog. When during December 2011 PG&E cut off several customers’ electricity for changing their own meters, bad press quickly brought them to heel, and those customers got their lights switched back on in a week. Electricians tell us that making upgrades to a homeowner’s electrical system can sometimes entail a meter change. PG&E says you must contact them first before making this change.

Pay your bills and/or send them money to cover estimated bills for the period in question, based on your bills/usage in previous years, same month. Don’t allow the utility to cut you off for non-payment!

People who have had meters changed in California have sometimes ended up with the utility sending out a meter reader, and then they pay ahead by a number of months (to avoid charge of nonpayment, which IS grounds for being cut off) or send in a photo of their meter’s reading at an agreed-on date to the utility. Sometimes the utility accepts this, and sometimes they fight the person, threatening disconnection and/or legal charges such as meter tampering. Such charges have not been filed so far, and such a charge would entail proving the customer had intent to defraud the utility or steal electricity.

We know people who have made such a change, and results have varied. These are people in good standing with their utilities, people who pay their bill. This woman in SoCal, for instance. She was threatened with the police and with disconnection—a traumatic and frightening threat to have to endure—but this has not happened (late Sept 2011). It would be a PR nightmare for a utility if they followed through with something like that. StopSmartMeters.org would certainly help publicize any such threats or actions, as we did for this woman. Here is a collection of posts about this.

There are issues that people have run into in the process. The “smart” meter belongs to the utility, so people changing a meter have had to decide how to keep the SM safe and make it right with their utility. One person said he thought he would send it back certified insured mail.

Also, there have been issues with the different readings on the two different meters. One woman had to pay a high bill one month, but it came down next month, and she just lumped it. People have documented every step of their process (photo, video), so they can protect themselves from any bogus charges of tampering for the purposes of electricity-theft. These people are not thieves or criminals and have tried every alternative working with the utility or state agencies to protect their health before taking this step.

If you decide to have an analog re-installed, we do recommend that you secure that meter from tampering or trespass. There are some ideas here. Every bit of your electrical system on the home side of the meter belongs to you, as well as (of course) the surrounding walls and the air.  You have a right to tell anyone (besides a cop with a warrant) to leave the premises and they must comply or they are guilty of trespassing.

Q: Can I change it myself for an analog?

All electrical work on your home should be addressed by a qualified electrician. We don’t recommend that any person work on their own electrical system by themselves.   However, people have in the past used this video to guide them, at their own risk.

Q: How can I find an electrician to help me?

Asking friends or neighbors for recommendations is a start. Calling electricians in your community is another route.

Q: How can I find an analog meter?

Most electricians know which electrical supply stores carry analog meters. People have found them online by searching. Currently, because so many analogs have been removed, there are many fully functioning analog meters around.  You can order quality refurbished analog meters from Electrahealth. Protect it with one of these ideas.

Q: How can I protect myself against charges of tampering?

Although we are not legal experts, it seems that the charge of “tampering” means you have to have had intent to defraud your utility or steal electricity. That is not your intent, and so it seems to us a charge of “tampering” would be difficult for them to prove from your behavior, as long as you are methodical. That said, you may want to seek legal advice.

Document your repeated requests to your utility for an analog meter. Document your illness from the “smart” meter. Show that you have made every attempt to go through the legal means to relieve your distress. Preserve anything that belongs to the utility carefully. If they take you to court or charge you fines, we will publish an account and publicize your story to the best of our abilities.

But so far, no one has been charged with a crime for changing a meter, nor fined, though threats and intimidation seem to be utility standard procedure. Here is one woman’s still-evolving story. Here’s a collection of posts on the matter.

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42 Responses to FAQ: Changing a Meter

  1. kalifa says:

    What if I’ve notice that a smart meter has been installed on my home and know that it was not there before. I was warned about this smart meter by a friend and at that time there was no smart meter connected to my home when I checked. Today I found on the 16th of October that one had been placed on my home. This has happen within the last three weeks. What can I do?

  2. Jim says:

    The smart meter can still be affected by a EMP or kids with a coil of wire and a battery close up.
    It may be possible to trip the relay and turn off the power using a coil of wire or make it read incorrectly, or change the rate tables or calculations inside (alter memory bits by EMP).
    If it’s still receiving signals the possibly of it being commanded from remote may still be possible.
    At any point, the transmitter may be able to be commanded on, and the power company is therefore just playing with you.
    I would demand the mechanical meter back and not stop till they put it back.

  3. carol brust says:

    I had my old meter installed . because I could not sleep. and I was getting many headaches. i live in a mobil home park and because there are so many mobil homes that have the smart meters . I’m still being affected . I live in Maine where do I go to air this concern ?

  4. joshua mason says:

    I already had one installed. Is there a link to a step by step paper or something that will walk me through the process of having it switched back? Thanks!!!

    • andrea says:

      HELP! They were told do not put that on my house (Brentwood Tennessee)and they snuck in and did it wile I was at work- fully knowing that I agreed to pay to opt out. I talked in person to the NES worker and he talked to his supervisor who was going to contact us -he never contacted us he snuck that meter in. I am beyond mad. How can I get NES to get that thing off asap! NES in Nashville Tennessee they are horrible what can I do please advise. I have called NES and my attorney – need help

      • Dean says:

        Just moved into a home in Spring Hill TN in September but had not looked until today when I discovered the smart meter on our home. I’ve contacted MTEMC to request a swap out for analog so waiting to hear back from them. Does anyone here know what rights a home owner has in TN regarding these meters?

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  6. deanzna says:

    thank you! i called the pge hotline and got on the list!! im soo glad i found this out, my little girl sleeps right next to this nightmare device!

  7. HateSmartMeter says:

    Prior to the installation of the device, we had no electrical problems. A few days after the “smart meter” was installed we noticed one circut kept being tripped. I replaced the breaker to it. Then a second breaker kept tripping, I changed it. Now the lights on the first breaker/circut flicker all the time. I changed the bulbs, and they flicker…
    The second breaker I changed has my kitchen refridgerator on it, it trips and then approx 30 seconds later it turns on again……

    Here in Las Vegas NV we can get the old analog meter back onto our homes if we pay a “enrollment fee” of 110.00 and a monthly service fee for the meter to be personally read, at a 15.00 fee BUT it is a digital meter, not the origional analog ones they took off the house. They charge us for usage. they charge us to cover the added costs of a summer they didnt buy enough power so they had to buy it at massively higher rates and instead of the company losing money from their screw up they make us pay them back for the additional costs….. If the rate is 0.03 a kwh, it should be that AND ONLY THAT and it should NOT matter what time i use that kwh either. The Nevada Energy is going to bleed us of every extra cent they can get…. Wait once a house is completely self sufficent and makes more electricity than it uses (solar panels etc) Nevada Energy will charge a fee for them having to pay you the money it owes for the extra electricity YOU sold them. Then if the house never uses a single KWH in a month they will charge a “NON USAGE” fee !!! If you disconnect from their grid, they would then charge a “no-service” fee !
    They are worse than a gang, as a gang only hurts you right now, they dont rob you of your future like NV Energy tries to with the help of their little friend the PUC

    • HateSmartMeter says:

      oops I made a mistake, I said “Here in Las Vegas NV we can get the old analog meter back onto our homes ” this isnt the case….. as i stated later it is a alternate digital meter not the orgional analog meter…

  8. Robert Burnham says:

    My Analogue Meter is on a telephone pole 5 feet from the house and the meter sits on a metal box, how am I stop them from changing it to a smack us meter. I have notes on the meter telling them to stop and No trespassing. But if I am away when the sneeky snake people come they will still change it. The Rats.
    Should I get foil ready?

  9. Ann Wixom says:

    I refused the smart meter and have had signs up around my meter and on the fence gates. Again this morning the Oncor showed up and I said no smart meter. He told I have to because there are no more meter readers. I still declined and he then told me the next people I will see are there lawyers.

  10. Geri says:

    I have 3 smart meters in my kitchen with the fuse panel and breakers for 3 apartments…not my choice… my landlord let them in although I did line the doors with tin foil…. yikes…. I think I`m scared now…… HELP….

  11. Nancy Russell says:

    DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT CITIZENS CAN DO ABOUT PREVENTING SMART METERS FROM BEING INSTALLED IN PA AS OF 1/5/2013? WHAT LAW THAT I CAN DOWNLOAD/PRINT WILL INSURE OUR PROPERTY RIGHTS AGAINST BEING FORCED TO HAVE THIS HAZARD INSTALLED?

  12. Alex says:

    My first thought when smart meters were being installed was that there was a potential risk of fires; so far I have not been wrong. I have further evaluated the situation and have come to the conclusion that smart meters also have the potential to cause shift in the foundation of buildings/houses. Smart meters emit electromagnetic energy; it has been noted that prior to any earthquake, there is shift in the earth’s magnetic field. This type of technology is not only dangerous to the planet but it is illegal technology. It is illegal technology because it has no grounding, all technology that concerns electricity have to be grounded by law. How these vultures get away with this, I simply do not now. The Federal government of Canada has just given billions of dollars to a wireless company to install wireless radio service on Canadian Navy ships. This investment provides no new jobs into the economy and will eventually drive up the health care cost as sailors begin to develop radiation sickness.
    These companies have very aggressive lobbyist and our governments are not taking the time to do the research or to obtain objective reviews on the dangers of such technology.
    I am EMF sensitive and I do not wish this illness on an enemy if I had one. your whole life is turned upside down, one is always one step away of ending the suffering. I lost my job, live on disability, I have to have my grocery delivered, and all other things I need delivered to me. I hardly go out into the community and have difficulty even living in my home.
    Please stop the smart meters. Please stop the madness, stop buying cellphones and other wireless devices that work off cell grids! We the consumers have the power but over the last two decade we have given it away. I see people complain about smart meters yet they talk about their wi-fi and iphones. Stop the madness now!

    • Kim says:

      Well said! You know most people that are EMF sensitive have mercury poisoning (and usually steps from some strain of EBV). If you want more information let me know 🙂

  13. tk says:

    I just realized that i have two smart meters where I live. I called today to have one removed

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  16. mark says:

    I had a “smart meter” on my home and started experiencing unexplained headaches as well as my wife. My son has frequent nose bleeds another symptom caused by the meter. I recently contacted the electric company (Oncor) about the situation and was told it was mandated and they refused to remove it. I purchased an analog meter and notified them and gave them time to remove it without fail. I removed it and mailed it to them. Two weeks went by with my analog meter on then right before my wife came home they cut my lock ignorned my no trespassing signs and left my meter on the ground. I am in the process of trying to cut their locks and get my analog meter back on my house. Is there anyone in Texas experiencing similar situations I’m in the Central Texas area? HELP!!!!!!!

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  18. E. says:

    I am happy to pay PG&E to come put an analog meter back on my house (even though it’s $254!!!!!!).

    What I object to is the punitive monthly fee of $51. Does anyone know if i continue to pay my electric bill minus this $51 whether they will or have the right to cut off my power?

  19. Dino says:

    Is that Portland Gas & Electric ?
    The reason that I am asking is that I live in northern California and served power by Pacific Gas & Electric (also called PG&E).
    I never did get a smart meter, nor did many of my neighbors, but I had to pay a one time opt out fee of $75 to grant a meter reader access my property to install a tag on my meter that says, “opt out”. To me. that seems expensive to let someone from PG&E onto my property for 5 minutes to put a tag on my meter, but it is well worth it to me considering the thousands of dollars I will save by not having a smart meter keeping track of how much electricity that I use during their new “peak pricing” hours.
    Oh, also the monthly charge here in California is $10 per month to read the card that I set and leave on the fence after reading my own meter.
    There are over 15 meters on my street that still need to be read manually, so for PG&E to come up and read my card on the street, I am doing the meter readers a favor.
    You know how these corporations are, they hire some bean counter to come in from Japan and claim that they know long it SHOULD take to do a meter read, but in some areas, the bean counters estimates are just a pipedream.

  20. Laura says:

    I’m sicker after having PSREC change the meter. It’s worse than the smart meter. They really messed up me, my electricity & yes the whole house- it’s growing mold under the meter. I also have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity & am living far below the poverty line – with opt out fees. I want to move to a country that has freedom. All I have for fun is crafts I do at home & now I can barely see or think.

  21. Colleen says:

    What about smart water meters? In this case it’s not a utility company I’m fighting, it’s my city, so it would be considered government? I’m getting threats and it’s stressing me out, so if I’m forced to have the smart meter, can I still remove it legally?

    • Dr. meter says:

      “Because water meters are isolated units, not putting any Dirty Electricity on your wiring, and not being connected to anything else electrical, and not really having a fire hazard, I think— I am all in favor of wrapping up such a unit in a couple layers of foil. Or using aluminum screening, which is probably better re fire risk. It should be possible to cut transmissions down to a level that is a tiny fraction of the full signal.

      Wireless is a vulnerable, stupid way to meter things. So much can go wrong in transmissions, eh?

  22. Paul says:

    If you remove or alter any meter they will fine you for tampering-I work for the Calif. CPUC and the info on this page will only cost you $$…they are blowing smoke, the utility will eventually disconnect you and fine you if you mess w/their meters.

  23. Jack Furman says:

    Need help as to what EMP means from a comment about the smart meter,for i have had 2 such meters in the last 2 yrs and just now found out that this meter maybe the cause of my breakers malfunctiong and the headaches,but would like to know how they can be slowed down withiout harm to me and my bill,for they will not install the old meter back on and i am almost deaf,and cannot understand half what they tell me on the phone,plus on SOCIAL SECURITY that is low and i have had my insulation checked in the ceiling that was almost 6-8 in thick,had ac unit checked,had mastic put around every vent hole,taped up every window and these are double paned,put more insulation on my return lines and installed new pipe,put more insulation around doors,keep thermostat at 68 during winter and 80 during the summer months,replaced bulbs with floursant,and always put new filter in every month,keep filter cleaned in my dryer,and i live by myself,for NEED HELP,for this months bill was 361.00 for just one person in my house,for even tried shutting rooms off and closing vents,but the woman said not to,for supposed to hurt my ac unit if i did,for this is driving me crazy and broke,for at a wits end and need any possible imformation as to fix this meter,for right now i am almost frozen and really would just as well be dead,for at least i would not be paying a high bill.HELP

  24. Jennifer White says:

    Hello, Seeking help. I live in New Hampshire and currently have an analog on the house that we rent. I’ve called Eversource MANY times and they are telling me that we do not have a choice to opt out. They did installations on our street of AMR meters about 2 months ago. I locked up my meter prior to installations and informed them that I do not consent! I contacted APEX the installation company and told them that as well and they cancelled the work order. Eversource is still trying to bully us however and saying that we do not have an option. Problem is…we are looking to buy a house and I’m afraid that if we find a house with a Smart Meter on it…what do I do then? Do you know of anyone in NH that could help me with this or know of anyone else that has had luck in this state? I’m working with friends to do the same thing…they are also pushing back but we are being told by Eversource..tough luck basically. Vermont and Maine now have opt out policies, you would think the live free or die state would follow suit! Any help would be so much appreciated!

  25. jack says:

    can i remove a smart meter for a short time. without the electric co.knowing it? i want to upgrade my service. but don’t want to pull a permit.

  26. Joy says:

    My fiancé and I just placed our own analog meter. We had a digital meter placed by the power company but they want to replace it with a Smart Meter. We don’t want the Smart Meter and have made it VERY clear. We sent a certified letter documenting why we have chosen to reject the new meter. The power company has told us that we will either have to accept the new meter or sign an “opt-out” agreement and pay $30.00 extra a month! We haven’t signed such agreement, even though they have sent us two of them…one of which was partially filled out…to put pressure on us to simply sign it and be done. We know that they may turn off the power, although no threats have yet been made. We also know that they may charge us the 30.00 fee anyway. But we do NOT want a Smart Meter and we are fighting! I am scared, I haven’t done anything like this before and it worries me but I keep praying that the Good Lord will help work things out for us.

  27. Cheryl Bailey says:

    I live in a nice apartment in rockport Texas, I became extremely ill to the point of not being able to get out of bed. I had every symptom of Smart meter radiation. I am a registered nurse and was perplexed at the strange symptoms I was having. I then read about smart meters and went outside to look! There were 17 smart meters on our wall, then another 17 meters not 20 feet from those! We pay a good sum to live here and this has ruined my health. We will be moving soon, but I have been seriously injured by these smart meters. The utility company knew that many meters in one spot would make people sick! They are not stupid. I want to know how to hold these people accountable for hurting my health and incapacitating me as I am now unable to work. Who do I contact? I do not know where to start, but I will not just roll over. This has got to stop! 17 meters on my wall!!!!!!! That is murder. Please help thank you!

  28. lulu says:

    I live in ft worth tx. I just became aware of all thus mart meter stuff. This expains my headaches, my earaches, my ringing of the ears is horrible. Just a few minutes ao, i heard a commotion on the side of my house. There was an oncor man switching out my meters! I already had a smart meter. Aee there new ones now? Im very uncomfortable with all this. Does anyone have an answer?

  29. SB says:

    Here are some websites that may help you prevent/remove smart meters:
    1. http://freedomtaker.com/
    2. http://anticorruptionsociety.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/smart-meter-legal-notice-of-no-consent.doc
    3. https://stopsmartmeters.org/how-you-can-stop-smart-meters/
    The take away point is that you must have your “non-consent” in writing and send it to the utility company. Do not let them threaten you. If they say you have no choice, ask them to show you the exact law that says you must accept a smart meter on your property or enroll in an opt-out program. There is no such law.

  30. stephanie says:

    I asked them to change me back to a regular meter because of my sons hearing problem. My budget billing was 119.00 a month, a year and a half later it is now 330.00. How can I get them to check to see if something is wrong on there part? Or how can I tell?

  31. annomous says:

    We live in Hermitage, Tennessee. We are homeowners and have lived in our home for 24 years. We have no trespass signs all over our front yard and we had a note saying no smart meter on our house.

    Low and behold, without our knowledge, we found a smart meter. We called NES and we were told too bad so sad. They will not remove it.

    We have put up surveillance equipment and I watched a NES guy put smart meters on the condos next door to us. It took him all of 10 minutes to switch out 3 or 4 meters. Since our smart meter, I now have headaches on a regular basis. Ringing in my ears and strange blisters have formed all around my lip line twice since receiving this meter only a couple of months ago. I’m 57 years old and I have never even had a cold sore in my life until now.

    How can this be legal? We OWN OUR HOME! How can a privately owned company have more rights to our property than we have? Do they pay our mortgage and huge property taxes? How can this be??? Are there any class action law suits in Nashville Tennessee?

    • Josh Hart says:

      Forcing smart meters on private homes is never legal. You need to set a deadline for the utility to comply with the law (your basic property and constitutional rights) and have the offending meter removed if the utility does not comply. We’re not aware of any class action lawsuits active in TN. However, check out our local group directory for anti-smart meter groups in your area. For Get Smart Memphis group, See: https://www.facebook.com/Get-Smart-Memphis-1415505148703991/

      Your health issues are urgent and distressing. Get that meter off your home soon. Go off grid if you have to, in order to defend your health and your lives. We’re here if you need any more information and there are meters available in our store to document just how bad those smart meter pulses are. In the very near short term, you might consider putting more distance between yourself and the meter, shielding, and turning off the breakers as much as possible and at night (this does not stop the smart meter pulsing-just stops the wiring conducting those pulses into your living areas. – ssm

  32. Lori says:

    Has anyone tried to replace their smart meter with analog meter on their own? How did the utility company react? Did they cut off your electricity? I have been thinking of doing this as I am on my wit’s end, just could not get a proper sleep since they installed the smart meter.

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