My Turn: Stand up to ‘smart’ meters

PHOTO BY JONATHAN MIRIN

PHOTO BY JONATHAN MIRIN PHOTO BY JONATHAN MIRIN

By JONATHAN MIRIN

Published: 09-20-2023 6:10 PM

On Aug. 13, 2021 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found the Federal Communication Commission guilty of ignoring 11,000 pages of submitted scientific evidence about harms to children and the environment from exposure to wireless radiation of the type emitted by cellphones, cell towers, cordless phones, iWatches, Wi-Fi routers, Bluetooth headsets, and yes — our electric meters.

The FCC has still not made any sign of beginning to consider those 11,000 pages, which is particularly unfortunate if you happen to be a child, a pollinator, suffer from a neurodegenerative disease or are otherwise more “vulnerable” than the large plastic bowling-ball-sized head of a male dummy, named Standard Anthropomorphic Mannequin (or SAM), which is nearly double the size of the head of a toddler. SAM tells device manufacturers if they have exceeded the 1996 “safety limits” by warming his plastic when they place devices near his head.

Never mind that he’s 97% larger than all people and that heating tissue is the wrong test. The right test is cellular effects. As the Court of Appeals wrote: “The factual premise — the non-existence of non-thermal biological effects — underlying the current RF guidelines may no longer be accurate.”

In other words, there is no one currently verifying the exposure you are experiencing right now is safe because the agency that is supposed to update its guidelines in light of evolving research has been “captured” by the industry it is supposed to regulate, according to a Harvard Ethics report.

The above is particularly poignant this week as the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy is deliberating S. 2152, “An Act Relative to Smart Meters,” which would allow Massachusetts consumers to choose an analog electric meter without paying a monthly fee. By “analog,” I mean a meter that does not emit wireless radiation into your house and toward the street.

If you owned a RF (radio frequency) meter, a hand-held device that measures wireless radiation, you could see that your current meter is likely already doing just that. You are welcome to borrow mine or simply request that the Greenfield Public Library follow Wendell’s lead and accept Hilltown Health’s donation of a meter.

Spurred on by a wish that the Art & Ecology Center we are building in Charlemont also function as a refuge for the people who contact us regularly suffering from “electrical sensitivity,” we asked National Grid to install an analog meter here a couple weeks ago and now will pay for the right to not be harmed. Granted, we have someone in the house who has been diagnosed with this condition by two MDs, i.e., she experiences neurological symptoms from this exposure.

But shouldn’t anyone who wants a healthy home to raise their family have the right to not be forcibly irradiated because they require electricity to participate in our economy? And shouldn’t this be anyone’s right even if they do not have disposable income? The majority of electrosensitive people I have met were injured by smart meter deployment and have never recovered.

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“Smart” is a marketing term that is more appealing than “radiation emitting and personal data harvesting” meter … or phone. Just in case you have an iPhone 12, you might want to know that France recently demanded retailers take them off the shelves because they were found to emit dangerous levels of radiation. C’est la vie … If you are French, Apple will reduce your phone’s levels. If not, good luck.

So if you want to opt in to your smart meter with informed consent rather than have Eversource or National Grid showing up one day to swap your meter and leave you wondering why you can’t sleep and your children can’t concentrate, please consider taking a moment and emailing JointCommittee.Utilities&Energy@malegislature.gov, Abigail.Kuhn@masenate.gov, and Magdalena.Garncarz@mahouse.gov by this Friday at 5 p.m. and voicing your support for S. 2152, now being considered for the fifth time.

Yes, the utilities hate this bill. But you know who doesn’t? The National Grid installer who swapped out our meter. He was a nice person, likely like all the local people who work for the utilities. But they are not driving the smart meter agenda, they’re providing for their families. National Grid is a British multinational. Eversource is a Fortune 500 company.

Short on time? Visit hilltownhealth.org for an email template and a humorous video about the FCC’s non-response. If they’re busy, I guess we have to make our own judgment.

Jonathan Mirin of Charlemont is co-director of Piti Theatre Company & Hilltown Health, a local grassroots organization dedicated to leveraging safe technology for healthy, sustainable communities. You can find peer-reviewed studies at hilltownhealth.org, ehtrust.org, ma4safetech.org, techsafeschools.org and mdsafetech.org. Smart grid alternatives are summarized in researcher and Professor Timothy Schoechle’s paper “Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid” online at gettingsmarteraboutthesmartgrid.org.