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General News · 25th August 2012
Dianne Bersea
Since I started posting about the Smart Meter issue I've had some interesting feedback. Today I received an e-mail that suggested that the meter I claimed locked my remote entry car doors is not a "Smart Meter". It's actually a digital, Centron Itron meter..., which BC Hydro has been using to replace aging analog meters. The Centron meter provides high accuracy data reading BY WIRE with the capability of being upgraded to full radio frequency data output. I can't say if that upgrade has taken place on the ferry shed meter, but the Itron manufacturer's fact sheet extolls the virtues of this product and it's modular adaptability including RF (radio frequency. So, either my doors locked spontaneously because I emit a strong radio frequency myself, this meter has been upgraded or, another source of radio frequency was active in the area. I did hear from one other person who has experienced recent spontaneous car door locking and unlocking on Robertson Road.

In other related news...., it was an interesting experience to staff a Smart Meter and moratorium info table at Friday's Market. One person insisted I was way off base because Smart Meters "are not wireless and therefore harmless". I quickly visited BC Hydro's web site and established that the meters currently being installed ARE wireless. But I do understand how the "not-wireless" idea has come about (see above).

Other people suggested that I am a voice 'crying in the wilderness', that smart meters are inevitable and I should "get with the program." Not me, at least not yet. I've always thought of electricity as a fragile resource, and as we have let it take over more and more of our world, we sit on the fragile edge of keeping all the systems working. Surely there are solutions beyond devastating the earth to mine bitumen that we ship east from our west coast ports while importing crude oil on our east coast. Surely there are ways to reduce our electrical impact by higher billing for excess use and giving fee breaks when we reduce our use. And there must be ways to collect data that do not have emissions that require us to ultimately purchase Smart Appliances and Smart Cars that talk to our Smart Meter and turn our homes into a not-so-smart microwave ovens. That hardly seems like Smart consumerism.

In response to another question these Smart Meters are not UL or CSA approved because they are not appliances. According to Itron data sheets they "are stringently evaluated for RF safety and meet all US Federal Communication Commission (FCC), Industry Canada (IC), and Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) standards."

Further: "The World Health Organization (WHO) notes in its Fact Sheet 304:

“To date, the only health effect from RF fields identified in scientific reviews has been related to an increase in body temperature (> 1 °C) from exposure at very high field intensity found only in certain industrial facilities, such as RF heaters. The levels of RF exposure from base stations and wireless networks are so low that the temperature increases are insignificant and do not affect human health.”

Why do I feel warmer but not necessarily safer?

Oh, one other thing…, a 2010 Vaasaett Global Energy Think Tank “Evaluation of residential smart meter policies” concluded “1) As a technology, (without appropriate regulation) smart meters provide more benefits to the utilities than to the end consumers.”