Residents blast Smart Meters
The new Smart Meters installed by Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power are mandatory for customers.
By Josh Mitchell
CHEYENNE — Several residents are upset that Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power has installed new Smart Meters on their homes. Eric Miller of Plum Street said the company threatened to cut off his electricity if he did not allow one of the meters to be installed on his home. But Monica Puente, customer service supervisor for Cheyenne Light, said no employee threatened to shut down Miller’s power. According to Puente, Smart Meters can provide homeowners with information to help reduce energy consumption. The new meters are mandatory for Cheyenne Light customers.
Miller said he does not want the Smart Meter because it emits microwaves that could interfere with metal in his body. He has metal in his neck and titanium in his back. He added that the device could impact his Crohn’s disease. The meters are not a safety hazard, Puente said.
Resident Frank Smith said the new meters are inaccurate and will cause his electric bill to go up 30-40 percent. Puente responded that Smart Meters will not cause power bills to rise. In fact, she said, the devices should help homeowners save on electric bills. Puente said the meters will reduce costs for the company. They transmit readings electronically, eliminating the need for readers going to homes. Local tea party activist M. Lee Hasenauer said there should be public meetings on the meters. He said the devices will charge a higher usage rate between the hours of 1-7 p.m. But Puente said rates do not fluctuate based on time of day.
Forcing people to have Smart Meters is trashing private property rights, Hasenauer said.
Miller said company officials trespassed on his property to install a meter. But Puente said the Public Service Commission grants Cheyenne Light authority to access the meters on private property. The company owns the meters, she added. Miller said he met with company officials last week, and they told him a meter would not be put on his house for now. But they apparently lied to him, Miller said, because employees showed up at his house with a sheriff’s deputy Monday and installed a meter.
Puente said officials never told Miller that a Smart Meter would not be put on his house.
Miller said his wife was intimidated by the deputy showing up at the house. But the deputy accompanied the company employees to keep the situation peaceful, Puente said. Cheyenne Light requested that the deputy accompany its employees to Miller’s home, said Gerry Luce of the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office. He added that no altercation occurred there while the meter was installed. With a device now on Miller’s house, all homes and businesses in Laramie County now have the meters, Puente said.
Wyoming Smart Meters Installed Under Threat of Violence
Utilities seem hell bent on exposing you to wireless radiation – Even under threat of force
A disturbing report from Wyoming this morning- a man who has metal implants, and was worried about the very real risk to his health  posed by the microwave radiation from the meters, was threatened with having his electricity cut off unless he accepted a ‘smart’ meter on his home. Then after promising to keep the meter off his home for the time being, the utility broke their promise and showed up with sheriff’s deputies to install.
You better believe that the California utilities are also preparing to use these kind of heavy handed tactics to force their meters onto your home. Here is an excerpt from San Diego Gas and Electric’s plan to deal with ‘uncooperative residents’:
Proposed Plan for Refusals
- Plan to vetted with stakeholders and refined as necessary
- Send 1st Last and Final letter requesting 20 day response
- SDG&E attempt outreach in field and survey site
- Leave a door hanger at every available entry point
- Send 2nd Last and Final letter specifying date of termination of service
- Make every effort to contact the customer in person
- Option 1: If the electric was changed and the gas is the remaining service, use the electric meter Remote Disconnect feature
- Option 2: Preferred shut-off would be electric first (gas is costly)
- Electric service is cut at the pole or in the underground
- A damage order of approx. $1,000 for service termination costs to be paid before service is restored
- Schedule appropriate crew, law enforcement, animal control for termination date
- Crew will be prepared to cut or install both gas and electric Smart Meters as needed
- Estimated start date: Q1 2011
“The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”
-President Barak Obama, Smart Grid advocate, in his inaugural speech:
 ANSI/IEEE standards adopted in 1992 (C95.1-1992) and 1999 revisions
June 2001 SC-4 Committee Minutes (as cited in Sage Associates’ Assessment of Radiofrequency Microwave Radiation Emissions from Smart Meters 2011)
Ohio community says No to smart grid grant, will take a phased approach to advanced meters
What happened in September in the public power community of Westerville, Ohio, may be a useful cautionary tale for other utilities considering smart grid projects
The Westerville Electric Division applied for a federal grant (under the stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) to help finance a smart meter project. The Department of Energy approved the application, agreeing to provide $4.3 million in federal funding — half the cost of the project. Under the terms of the grant, Westerville was to provide the other $4.3 million.
Then, something unforeseen happened. Residents began criticizing the project. They said it would be a government intrusion into their lives. At public meetings to discuss the smart meter project, they voiced worries about smart meters causing fires and about whether the new meters would make the system vulnerable to computer hackers. Some opposed time-of-use rates, and said they were afraid the smart meters would cause their electric rates to rise. Some said the stimulus money should be returned to the federal government in Washington, D.C.
There was talk of a move to gather signatures on a petition to force the matter to a referendum. City officials were worried that if this happened, it would cause a major delay, as a referendum would have had to wait until the November 2011 elections. This would have left the project with a large question mark hanging over it.
The timing of the Westerville advanced metering project was unlucky. Smart meters have been in the news a lot in recent months, and a great deal of the coverage has been negative. In California, many Pacific Gas & Electric customers are angry about new smart meters the investor-owned utility has installed. A group of them have filed suit against PG&E, saying they have been overcharged because of the new meters. In Maryland in late June, state utility regulators nixed a plan by Baltimore Gas & Electric to install advanced electric and natural gas meters. The federal government had promised $200 million toward the BG&E program, according to a New York Times report.
In Westerville, the issue proved to be so controversial that the City Council voted on Sept. 7 to withdraw several pieces of legislation that would have allowed the smart meter project to go forward. The city then sent a letter to the Energy Department saying it would terminate the grant. At the same time, city leaders endorsed a “Plan B” approach that will bring advanced metering technology to Westerville, but at a much slower pace.
Out of the 100 U.S. cities that received smart grid grants, Westerville appears to be the only one that turned down its grant, said Andrew Boatright, manager of the Westerville Electric Division.
For the most part, Westerville citizens appeared to be in favor of moving forward with the advanced metering project, Boatright told Public Power Weekly. A number of residents, however, were very vocal in their opposition.
The fact that the federal government would be involved, via the grant, seemed to provoke some of the opposition to the project. Smart meters were seen by some as “Big Brother” infringing on residents’ privacy. Some people said they were afraid they would be penalized if they did not subscribe to time-of-use rates.
The municipal utility held a public meeting about the project in early July and heard some negative comments, Boatright said.
“What we were hearing at that time was that people didn’t know this was happening,” he said. For some people, lack of knowledge about the smart meter project meant that they opposed it, he said. So the Westerville Electric Division redoubled the campaign it had started last April to educate residents about the project.
We appeared at several public events and held four open houses,” Boatright said. “We put out mailings, bill stuffers, and did website updates.” he said. “We did get a number of people expressing support for the project.”
Westerville Mayor Kathy Cocuzzi was a strong supporter. She said she would be the first person to volunteer to have a smart meter. City Councilman Larry Jenkins also backed the advanced metering project, and said he, too, would like to be the first person in town to sign up for a smart meter. Jenkins and Councilman Eric Busch both voted “no” on Sept. 7 when the City Council voted to withdraw the local ordinances on the smart meter project. The vote was 5-2 in favor of withdrawing legislation providing for funding, implementation, and financing the advanced metering project.
“I don’t want to do something divisive to the community,” said City Council Chairman Mike Heyeck. Councilman Craig Treneff agreed that it would be best not to divide the community.
The utility has switched its gears to “Plan B,” the go-slow approach to introducing advanced meters. When they voted at the Sept. 7 meeting, effectively terminating the federal grant, members of the City Council endorsed Plan B. Boatright described the alternate plan as “a phased approach, over a longer deployment period,” and said utility staff would contemplate a small pilot project.
Council members Heyeck and Treneff, along with City Councilwomen Anne Gonzales, Diane Fosselman and Mayor Cocuzzi, expressed support for the “go slow” approach.
Meanwhile, there seems to be a groundswell of opposition to smart meters in the United States. “Even with $3.4 billion in U.S. stimulus funds behind it, the race to install smart meters is starting to lose momentum,” Bloomberg news reported in September. Utilities and the companies that manufacture the new meters have joined together in an effort to educate consumers about the benefits of smart meters, the Bloomberg report said.
State regulators have rejected smart meter projects in Indiana and Hawaii. The Associated Press reported Oct. 22 that a town in southern Maine, Scarborough, wants Central Maine Power Co. to delay installing smart meters, to give residents more time to learn about them. —JEANNINE ANDERSON