Smart meters are now being rolled out in most western countries. If your home doesn’t have one yet, this new technology is almost certainly coming your way, with the promise from utility companies that it will enable you to see and control how much energy you use. Most gas, electric and water companies are installing them or have plans to do so.
They say this will be good for the environment and could mean a saving to you if you switch off appliances you discover you don’t need to keep on. It will also be very convenient for the utility companies because they’ll be able to monitor your usage without sending a bloke round to read the meter.
In theory this sounds great, until you realize that they are not hardwiring these meters in, as they could. Instead they are using the cheaper and easier option of using wireless transmission. This means that soon every home will have up to three smart meters transmitting radiofrequency microwave radiation, similar to that emitted by cell phones and wifi routers. The difference is, we won’t be able to turn them off if we want to, or move them to a safer location in the home if we choose to.
People who are sensitive will find this very invasive, and those who suffer from electrohypersensitivity (about 3% of the western population and climbing) may find their homes uninhabitable. Some experts, such as Dr David O. Carpenter, a public health physician who graduated from Harvard Medical School and is now Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, State University of New York, consider them to be such a serious health risk they shouldn’t be allowed.
Most homes in Italy already have smart meters, and many other countries are installing them. In Japan a whole new city called Fujisawa is being built 50 km west of Tokyo that will run entirely on a smart grid.
The utility companies say that each meter will only transmit for a few seconds each day, but people who’ve already had meters installed say the cycle can sometimes be as often as once per minute. As a result, there have been significant protests about Smart Meters in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands. In California, 47 local governments have so far made smart meters illegal, with others expected to follow suit.
So if you get invited to have a smart meter installed in your home or workplace – or told that you must have one – it’s wise to be in full possession of the facts. A good starting point is the information at stopsmartmeters.org and powerwatch.org.uk.
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