Smart meters aren’t worth the $50 million cost to Glendale after the $20-million federal stimulus grant — they may pose health risks, their transmissions pose security and privacy risks and their rollout is premature.
A total of 43 city and county governments in California have reportedly taken action to oppose smart meters, and communities in other states have opposed them as well.
While the smart grid is something we need to build, smart meters are an exercise in micromanagement. Tracking electricity usage minute by minute isn’t a proven energy conservation method. Consumers who want to reduce their utility bills can turn off the lights or unplug appliances.
Monitoring energy demand will be important when a growing number of vehicle owners recharge electric cars at night, but utility management, not consumers, will reap the primary benefits. This technology is not primarily for or about utility customers.
Glendale Water & Power General Manager Glenn Steiger states in his letter (“Making the case for smart meters,” July 10) that there is “no demonstrated cause-and-effect relationship between low levels of radio frequency exposure and health.” He doesn’t explain his standard for burden of proof.
There are several peer-reviewed studies that indicate long-term adverse health impacts. The California Council of Science and Technology Report Steiger mentions was criticized by the California Division of Ratepayer Advocates, a state agency, for ignoring a set of studies known as the Bioinitiative Report.
Citing Federal Communication Commission guidelines for safe exposure to radio frequency energy in support of his case, Steiger ignores the fact that the city of Glendale itself sent a comment to the commission two years ago stating that local jurisdictions were concerned about the reliability of these federal standards.
There are significant security and privacy concerns with smart meters now coming to light. If the smart grid — a worthy project for upgrading the nation’s energy transmission system — requires information on every single customer’s appliance and energy usage, it should be sent securely over a wired network. Admittedly, that is too expensive right now, which is why the wireless rollout is premature.
Our utility investments and our taxpayer dollars should be focused on a higher-priority goal: developing sustainable, secure sources of energy. Glendale Water & Power’s push to install smart meters isn’t in the best interests of its customers, the taxpayers and ratepayers of Glendale.
Editor’s note: Kalfayan publishes SunroomDesk.com, a Glendale news blog that also follows news on smart meters, electromagnetic frequency exposure standards, and cell tower sites.