Smart Meter Scourge Targets UK with Propaganda

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This analog meter installed inside a home in Bristol, UK, is fitted with a coin activated pre-pay meter, an attempt by utilities to avoid students moving out and not paying their bills.  Meters in the UK are typically located inside the home, providing a practical advantage to resist smart meters- just don’t answer the door.

Smart meters are now being installed in the UK haphazardly, house by house without the regimented deployments that have riled neighborhoods in the US, Canada, and Australia.  The UK government has delayed the systematic roll-out of smart meters but still claim they will be in every home in the UK by 2020 (though of course they have no legal mandate to force them on private property as elsewhere).  The UK government claims that the meters are voluntary but Big Energy is duping customers into believing that they are mandatory.

Energy companies are keen to avoid the kind of public relations disasters that have engulfed and derailed smart meter programs elsewhere, planting misleading propaganda into British newspapers, and trying to make the public believe these stupid things are really necessary.  Serious doubts have been raised by our UK counterpart StopSmartMeters.Org.Uk at the parliamentary level about the wisdom of such a scheme. (see video below).  Shortly after SSM UK’s testimony, the Dept. of Energy and Climate Change announced a yearlong delay in the program.  A detailed report on the UK’s smart metering scheme that includes opposition testimony can be found in pdf form here.

It’s not that British energy companies are so much kinder and gentler than in the US.  It’s that they know if they behave like thugs and disconnect people who have paid their bills, the British public will simply not tolerate it.   People in the UK are aghast when I tell them that the local power company in the US cut off our family even though we pay our bills.   They shake their head and say it could never happen in England.  People just wouldn’t allow it.

Perhaps this community spirit is left over from the blitz in WWII where Londoners had to hide in Underground stations to avoid German bombs.   The National Health Service (NHS) emerged from this trauma and the British would not tolerate its loss (though an ill-advised privatization scheme is being hotly debated, and ushered in through the back door at the moment).

Energy companies have been targeting low income families around the UK for smart meter deployment, according to Mike Mitcham of SSM UK.  Being able to remotely disconnect these households is one major benefit to the utilities.  Energy companies are also promoting “smart” meters as a solution to energy poverty – a little like promoting high interest loans as a solution to debt.

The grassroots movement against smart meters in the UK and elsewhere continues to grow.  Walking around London I have seen SSM UK posters in people’s windows, so it is clear the word is getting out.   Can the utility companies sneak these radiating spy meters into people’s homes before they grasp what is at stake?  It remains to be seen.   Bottom line here is that if communities get aware, then organize and refuse, we have the power to take on even the biggest corporations.  We just have to believe in- and take back- our own power.

Posted in Britain, Changing a Meter, Citizen rebellion, Class Issues and Social Equality, Democracy, Smart Grid | 4 Comments

London’s Black Cabs Join Global Revolt Against “Smart”

London's cabbies are all atwitter over smart phone app Uber

London’s cabbies are all atwitter over smart phone app Uber

I’m still in the UK giving talks, meeting with our allies, and spending time with family and friends,  planning to return to the US in a week via cargo ship.

Here in London, on Wednesday, the center of the city was gridlocked with more than 10,000 honking (hooting) black cabs.

Tourists wandered around perplexed as to what the fuss was all about.

The fuss- which has been building for months and on June 11 saw simultaneous taxi driver protests in London as well as Berlin, Madrid, Rome, and Paris- was in response to the transportation corporation and smart phone app Uber- which has come under fire for its predatory approach to the transportation market. In San Francisco where the firm is based, an Uber taxi driver with no commercial license and distracted by his smart phone ran over and killed a 6 year old girl on New Year’s eve last year.

Such deaths and injuries are becoming more frequent on SF’s streets, possibly the result of a deadly combination of dependencies on motor vehicles and smart phones.  A combination that Uber is capitalizing on, encouraged by regulators who don’t mind sacrificing human life under the wheels of a car or at the tip of a smart meter microwave antenna if it will make millions for their investor pals like Goldman Sachs.

A wrongful death lawsuit by the girl’s family has been filed against the company.

The website Labor Notes says companies like Uber are part of a larger trend to sacrifice safety, eliminate workers rights, while further consolidating wealth:

“Under the guise of a progressive-minded “sharing economy,” rich companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Taskrabbit are dissecting work into smaller, discrete tasks—a way to evade regulations that once protected workers, and to saddle workers with costs and risks that employers once covered.”   More here.

Facilitating the emergence of Uber in California was the same compromised state agency that brought us the smart meter- the California Public Utility Commission, chartered by the state’s constitution to make utility and transportation services reliable and protect the public’s health and safety but instead doing the opposite, using your tax dollars to bore the hell out of you and then when you’re not paying attention, take your money and your health.

And it’s the same story in many states and other countries.

The stress of keeping up a normal edifice of an institution rotten to the core is evidently getting to CPUC President Michael Peevey.  He recently lashed out at an attorney representing the public who was asking too many tough questions, yelling “I’m not here to answer your goddamn questions- now SHUT UP!”.  Actually Mr. Peevey that’s precisely why you are here.

The world seems dizzy with the euphoria of “smart” wireless technology- the internet of things- the cloud and promise of constant connection.  Like any drug, there is always a downside and the other edge of the sword is becoming increasingly apparent. One of these days we are going to wake up with a massive smart hangover- and unfortunately there is no app yet devised that will cure that headache.

Whether or not London’s taxi drivers are aware of it, they are part of a global backlash against smart technology and tech abuses that has blockaded smart meter installation trucks, buses carrying employees to Google and Facebook, and protested gentrification and forced relocations in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere.

This is not just about the individual phenomenon of smart meters or app-based taxi networks but a wholesale corporate harvesting of our essential systems- our transportation networks, our water, gas, and electric utilities, accommodation and our communications infrastructure.   These systems we depend on generate obscene profits for the select few who have little regard (and often outright hostility) to concerns about how new policies and technologies will affect society or the rights of individuals.

In the case of the taxi industry, how will the growth of Uber affect the quality and safety of transportation in cities around the world?  For those who choose not to use (or can’t afford or are sensitive to the radiation from) smart phones how will their transportation choices be affected?

One can imagine a not too distant future where you are standing on a street corner in a busy city needing to get across town with hundreds of empty taxis (with drivers and without) passing you by because they haven’t received a request from your smart phone.  You vainly put your hand out but no one pays attention.  The machine rolls on.  In Uber’s world, using your hand to hail a cab is unacceptably obsolete and unbearably analog.

Even though it works.

“Smart” is deaf to human cries of pain or protest unless they are translated into the comfortable and sterile left brain language of ones and zeroes.

Such technologies promise convenience and connectivity, but the reality is that they:

  • erode safety, the environment and human health
  • violate your privacy
  • create a monopolistic arrogant world that destroys choice
  • damage the social environment by separating us with screens
  • consume more electricity
  • cost us more in the long run

What do we risk by simply going along with this agenda?

A future where if you don’t “choose” a radiation pulsing smart meter on your home then you can “choose” to live without electricity.

A future where your children are deprived of education unless you pay a large amount of money or allow them to be bathed in carcinogenic radiation all day.

A future where expectation of constant social media availability drives device dependency and social alienation.

A future where unless you are willing to blindly jump headfirst into “the cloud” without hesitation, you are ostracized and ridiculed, fined, harassed, interrogated, and arrested.   Basically turned into a second class citizen.

A future where our valuable wired and analog public telephone network is dismantled and copper wire sold off, making our communications system as unreliable and poor quality as the electricity from the newly vulnerable “smart” grid that services like Skype depend on.

Such worrying future scenarios are looking increasingly like the present.

It’s one thing to make the mistake of drifting into such a future through blind obsession with technology- it is quite another for us to allow so-called political “leaders” to do so without public input or debate. Especially when the warning signs are all around us.  It’s downright Orwellian.

London (and all of us) will suffer a huge cultural loss if one can no longer stick your hand out and hail a proper black cab with a knowledgeable, safe trained driver.  If you can no longer find a public pay phone in an emergency.  If you can no longer get utilities in your home without revealing your private activities and exposing your family to radiation.

“Smart” progress is no progress at all.  It is a regression to a new dark age, a diminishing of quality in favor of quantity, a boring corporate utilitarian view of the world that makes our lives duller, shorter, and more expensive.

We can use wise technology in a way that empowers people and improves our quality of life but sadly that is not the current trajectory. It is up to us to change direction.

European taxi drivers found their voice this week and made it clear that some arrogant American company cannot so easily cross the pond and disrupt a system that has worked well for decades.  Uber has tried to spin the protests as luddites acting out- the same argument that has been used against smart meter protestors.  It didn’t hold water then and it doesn’t now.    Expect global grassroots protests to swell as the toll of this multinational “Smart” agenda grows.

Eventually, like so many bubbles before, it will burst.  Rather than worrying about how to stop it from growing, maybe we should start talking about how to pick up the pieces and move forward after its inevitable demise.

Posted in Britain, California, Cell phones, Citizen rebellion, Class Issues and Social Equality, CPUC, Democracy, Electro-Hyper-Sensitivity, Environmental Concerns, landlines, neighborhood organizing, Privacy, radio-frequency radiation, Safety, Smart Grid | Leave a comment

Mobilize the Movie

More info: http://www.mobilizemovie.com/

Posted in California, Cancer, Cell phones, Citizen rebellion, Democracy, FCC, Federal Government, health effects, legal issues, neighborhood organizing, radio-frequency radiation, Smart Grid, World Health Organization | Leave a comment

Debunking The Utility “Smart” Meter Safety Myth: SSM! NY Issues Report on the “Antenna Effect”

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 12.09.25 PMAnother nail has been driven in the coffin of the ludicrous notion of “smart meter safety.”  One of our many sister organizations, Stop Smart Meters! New York has issued a report detailing flaws in the review that many utilities cite in order to claim that their “smart” metering systems are “safe.”   FCC and industry analysis only examines smart meters in isolation, not as part of the grid as they operate in real life.

Why is this important?  Electric wiring- in addition to carrying current- can also act as an antenna- creating what are essentially “antenna cages” in homes.  Pulsed microwaves from the meters, as well as dirty electricity resulting from the conversion from AC to DC current can create hazardous conditions.  When you have dozens or hundreds of smart meters pulsing and emitting dirty power transients in the same wavelength, electrical pollution can be intensified.

Bottom line: Analyses of smart meter radiation that only analyze one smart meter in isolation have little bearing on the actual environmental conditions in which these devices are designed to operate- environments where real humans actually live.

To read the full report, check out the SSM! NY website.

Posted in Dirty Electricity, FCC, Federal Government, Health studies, New York City, radio-frequency radiation, Smart Grid | 1 Comment

Forced Off Grid for Speaking Out: 3 Months on, the Hart Family Finds Hardship- and Self-Reliance After PSREC Cuts the Wires

IMG_6368 By Josh Hart, Director of Stop Smart Meters!

It’s been three months since Plumas Sierra Rural Electric “Co-Operative” cut the electricity off to our home though we have paid every penny of electricity that we have used.  They say it’s because we refused to pay the “opt out” fees they added to our bill.  We say we never *opted in* and their disconnection is retribution for raising awareness in the community about the risks of their AMR smart meters.  You can read all the sordid details of PSREC’s actions against us here.

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PSREC literally cut the wires to our all-electric home in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains on Feb. 19th and we have been living without electricity ever since

It has become clear that we are far from alone, as we have seen in Nevada, Wisconsin, Australia, New York, and many other places.  Utility disconnections of those who refuse “smart” meters are part of a disturbing international trend to hold residents’ essential services hostage in order to force an irrational and dangerous technology.  If the public really was for the “smart grid”, such dirty tactics wouldn’t be necessary.

We refuse to “just give in” and pay to defend our health, safety, and wallets- especially for something our neighbors get for free. (1)   Though it has been a challenge, and at times a painful struggle, we refuse to participate in an extortionate relationship with a utility industry that has injured people and lied about it, used microwave radiation and deprivation of utility service to coerce payment or compliance.

We will simply not go along with this.

So how has it been living for the last 3 months with no electricity?

The situation is challenging.   We live in a rental house that is fully electric- no gas or propane here at all.  Luckily there is a wood burning stove- otherwise we would have probably frozen to death long ago- to the delight of the utility.

On the plus side, we already have some of the necessary equipment to cope from when we rented an (intentionally) off the grid home in the Santa Cruz Mountains a couple of years ago.

Faced with months of cold mountain weather we had to change our lifestyles and adapt to new imposed circumstances.   It’s an odd feeling- you’re willing to pay your electric bill fair and square – but they won’t take your money.  They will go directly against the financial interest of the “cooperative,” your doctor’s orders, local and international public opinion, peer-reviewed science and common sense- following the marching orders of their increasingly crooked industry just to maintain the absurd “dogma” that wireless is safe, and that we should now have to pay a fee if we want to avoid it.  The situation is- of course- absurd and that’s the way we should treat it.

Still, they insist we have a “choice”- “choose” to pay the money or “choose” to have no electricity.   Since we’re not going to pay the fee, it seems that at least for the moment- while state, federal elected officials, joined by the illegitimate CA Public Utilities Commission, side with the utility and say they are now authorized to disconnect paying customers and until we can fund and mount a successful legal challenge, it seems we have to pay up or learn to live without what they’re selling.

Is it even possible to live without electricity in an all electric rental home, we wondered?

The best way to deal with a challenge is to figure out what the barriers are in the first place and then split them into smaller, more manageable parts.  So we looked at how we use energy in the home and how we could get along without an unreasonable and dangerous utility if we had to.  We’ve put together this brief guide to our lives living off the grid in the hope that it may help empower those of you in similar situations.  Feedback is very welcome.

Stop Smart Meters! Guide to Basic Living Off Grid

HEATING

large pots of water on the stove can retain heat in the room and provide available water for washing dishes and bathing

A woodburning stove provides heat, cooking, and hot water for dishes and bathing- only wood req’d

A wood stove or fireplace is key to effective off grid heating and cooking.  Some local air quality regulations prohibit these in built up areas, but a propane stove can also be used with ventilation and caution.  Large pots of water on a wood stove (like the ones on the left) can retain heat in the room and provide available water for washing dishes and bathing.

 

 

 

 

 

HOT WATER

A solar camping shower can be filled with water from the stove or left out on a sunny day to heat up

A solar camping shower can be filled with water from the stove or left out on a sunny day to heat up

This is a pain. Bob Marshall the hotheaded General Manager of PSREC no doubt gets a sadistic grin on his face thinking about forcing us to take cold showers in the winter (I tried it once and don’t recommend it- your skin actually does turn blue).   We have had to heat up large pots of hot water on the wood stove to wash the dishes or take a shower.  In summer, that won’t be possible and we’ll have to use the propane camp stove.  If this goes on much longer we may get a barrel and paint it black, stick it in the sun and run a hose to where it’s needed.   During the warm season, solar hot water really is that simple.  A shower without the extortion or dirty carbon footprint- I feel cleaner already!

 

 

LIGHTING

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This lantern on the left has a solar panel or AC port for charging. The one on the right can be wound up by hand or plugged in

People actually used to sleep when it was dark and wake up when it was light.  We use mostly rechargeable and solar or wind-up LED lights and sometimes beeswax candles at night.   Plus headlamps.  We find we are sleeping better without all that (dirty) electricity in the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFRIGERATION

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A decent quality cooler will actually keep your food cold for a day or two. A lower quality one not so much.

We use a large cooler and change out the ice daily, provided by a friendly neighbor’s freezer.  We bought bottled water in a gallon size, then we freeze the whole thing and the resulting ice blocks last 1-3 days (depending on outside temperature), and don’t leave a watery mess in the cooler. If you can’t find a friend to freeze your water bottles for you, buy blocks of ice instead of ice cubes, they will last a lot longer.  It is a pain and if this goes on much longer we’ll be looking at buying a propane fridge with the money we’ll be saving on our electric bills.   Guess if PSREC doesn’t want our money…. the RV place down the road definitely does.

COOKING

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A camp stove can replace an electric range but make sure there is adequate ventilation

When it’s cold outside, a wood burning stove can double as a cooking and heating appliance and has for thousands of years.  When it’s warmer, a simple 2 burner camp stove works well for most things.   An oven can run off of propane gas or even the sun with good exposure and little wind.  Having an indoor space like a laundry room with adequate cross ventilation makes it possible to cook inside.    Otherwise depending on your climate, you may need to cook al fresco- at least for a little while.  Another option is the rocket stove. Rocket stoves are scalable and designed to heat up water quickly and efficiently using fuel as small as twigs.  Plus you can build your own.

COMPUTERS

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This adapter plugs into a cigarette lighter and can charge your notebook computer from your car

The irony of the digital age is that most devices themselves require very little electricity to run.  New ones have batteries that- when charged-  can sometimes last all day.  We charge our notebook computers (that we use with a wired ethernet cable of course) in our car using a cigarette lighter DC adapter (above), and have several computer batteries we can charge to extend our work.  A small, inexpensive DC-based solar panel and battery system can power electronic devices, LED lights, radios and many other low voltage uses.  And it is possible to install such a system while minimizing EMF pollution.

All of the above is possible in a rental, without making any permanent change to plumbing or wiring, or even installing any solar panels.   If you own your home, there are of course more permanent (and pricey) systems you can put in place to make it easier and more reliable for the long term.

Even without these improvements, it has become clear that one can live manageably without grid electricity as people have done for thousands of years (more than 1.6 billion in the world apparently still do- including 180,000 households in the US).

The utility industry’s coercive practices depend on our reliance on them.  If a lot of people started going off grid, threatening profits in a big way, the coercion would fall apart.  It just takes a little work, bravery and creativity to break that reliance.  Of course, when people are forced off the grid, the real losers will ultimately be the utilities, whose coercion is backfiring into lost income, public resentment, and a “spiral unto death” of fewer customers and ever-higher prices.

The dying utility dinosaur won’t go quietly however.  Laws prohibiting breaking free from the utilities – like the one in Florida currently being challenged- will likely spread (and be resisted) as governments and law enforcement are brought in to bring the public back into line, to continue our dependency on a utility industry in the process of wrecking the planet and our health.

     Amount we (spent) annually on our Electric Bill: ~$1200

     Propane Fridge: $300-$1000

     Small DC Solar Panel/ Battery Set Up: $1-3000

     Becoming independent from the criminal utility mob: Priceless

We could all do without entitled, arrogant, profit-mad utility companies imposing their will on us. How about delivering utility service and actually listening to their customers?  If that’s not going to happen, there are other ways we can make this work- from the bottom up via decentralized microgrids (an idea that keeps utility executives up at night).   Three months in, we’re finding out more about those other ways every day, and turning utility bullying back against the bullies.

Yes we absolutely insist and demand that our electricity be switched back on – we have the right to a standard analog meter at no extra charge. But we are not desperate or grovelling like these outlaws are accustomed to.  Their petty and senseless decision to turn us off has only strengthened our resolve to resist the fees & the smart meter program as a whole.  The longer this goes on, the worse they look.  And we’re not going away.

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If you can help with a donation to our legal fund, we would be most grateful- just indicate on your check or paypal donation that it is for legal expenses.  Thank you.

(1) Other PSREC customers who used analog meters at the time their ‘opt out’ policy was approved in August 2013 have not been forced to pay the fees- just the Harts.  PSREC allows remote homes to self-read their analogs at no extra charge due to the cost of sending meter readers out.  We are simply asking for equal treatment- a requirement of the California Public Utility Code (453a)

Posted in Australia, California, Citizen rebellion, CPUC, Democracy, Dirty Electricity, Electro-Hyper-Sensitivity, EMF Mitigation, Environmental Concerns, Installer Threats and Assaults, legal issues, neighborhood organizing, Nevada, PSREC, radio-frequency radiation, Smart Grid | 2 Comments