Margie Rothwell was having serious problems with the electricity in her home. The power turned on and off for no apparent reason. The house fire alarm kept going off and the noises were scaring her dog.
She called her brother, who was a master electrician, to help her. He found electrical lines not working and the smart meter digital readout was unreadable. He recommended she call the utility SMUD right away, which she did. (SMUD stands for Sacramento Municipal Utility District.)
A couple hours later, the SMUD technician came and when he got closer to the smart meter he said he smelled “burn”.
Margie recalled, “He had a very horrified look on his face when he looked at the burnt smart meter and meter socket.” The technician removed the smart meter and quickly put it in his truck, concealing the evidence.
The technician installed a temporary adapter which left her home with only 110 volts and limited power in parts of her house.
She was left with no dryer, no air conditioner, no electricity in the master bedroom, or anything that required 220 volts.
She asked the SMUD technician for a business card. He said he didn’t have one. She asked him for his name and he would not give her his full name.
The SMUD technician told Margie that she was responsible for replacing the damaged meter base, which included hiring a professional electrical contractor and getting a city permit. Margie asked him if SMUD would fix it. He said no.
She called several electrical professionals to get estimates which ranged from $1,500-$3500.
She then searched the internet for “smart meter problems” and she found out that this is a common problem with smart meters. In California, fire captain Ross had similar electric problems, as did another fire captain Matt Beckett. A fire erupted shortly after a PG&E smart meter was installed in Vacaville, California which killed a man.
She contacted the EMF Safety Network director, Sandi Maurer, who connected her to Eric Windheim, EMF Safety consultant, and director of Sacramento Smart Meter Awareness. Together they helped her write a declaration about the burnt meter and panel, the limited electricity, and her experience with the technician.
Margie sent the declaration and a demand letter to SMUD via certified mail with returned receipt. The following week Eric supported Margie at two SMUD board meetings, where she demanded they pay for the repairs as soon as possible. Margie asked the board, “If SMUD’s smart meter is so smart why didn’t it send SMUD a warning message that there was a very dangerous electrical failure going on at my house? Was SMUD going to wait for the fire department to send you a report in the mail?”
Following the board meetings, Margie:
- Kept all communication with SMUD in writing
- Refused to risk having another smart meter on her home
- Demanded the analog meter as the only replacement
- Never agreed or consented to the opt-out extortion fee
The smart meter could have burned down her house, with Margie in it. Since it caused similar hazards for other customers, she was not going to take that chance ever again.
Nine days after she went to the first board meeting SMUD repaired the burnt panel and restored an analog meter. SMUD paid for all the repairs, and they returned analog meter without Margie’s agreement to pay their opt-out fees of $127 plus $14 a month.
SMUD denied the smart meter was to blame for the electrical problems. The SMUD representative wrote to Margie, “What I can assure you of, is that the damage to your panel was not caused by the Smart Meter. The origin of the damage was in the meter socket assembly.”
Eric Windheim says, “A Maxim of Law is: “Where damages are given, the losing party should pay the costs of the victor” which is exactly what happened here. Since SMUD is paying for all of this they have admitted causation. If Margie’s wiring was really at fault SMUD would have charged her for all repair costs.”
A lawsuit against Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) has been filed in Superior Court of California. The plaintiff, John Echols, alleges three causes: negligence, public nuisance, and unfair business practices related to the forced installation of utility smart meters.
Mr. Echols refused to allow the smart meter on his residence and refused to join the opt out program due to SMUD’s discriminatory fees. He declined having a smart meter because of the dangers of pulsed radiation that smart meters emit, and the health risks to his family.
SMUD charged Echols the opt-out fees despite his argument that he never opted out, and he never opted in. SMUD eventually forced a smart meter onto his home, followed by cutting off his power completely, during a Sacramento heat wave last summer (2013). His power was eventually restored, but without a meter and his bills were estimated.
The situation continued with legal complaints made by Echols which went unresolved at SMUD. In December Echols filed the law suit against SMUD. The court filing can be found here: http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1114179096387-71/Echols+v+SMUD+Complaint.pdf
In 2012 SMUD board members mocked customers who did not want smart meters on their home, and laughed about how much they’d have to pay to opt-out. A SMUD director said, “The $166 upfront will convince them they can really afford a lot of tin foil hats” [laughter]…Another director says, “But they are already wearing them!” http://emfsafetynetwork.org/smud-smart-meter-shenanigans/
While the SMUD board was laughing all the way to the bank with federal stimulus funding for smart meters, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine called for a halt to wireless smart meters to protect public health. http://emfsafetynetwork.org/american-academy-of-environmental-medicine-calls-for-a-halt-to-wireless-smart-meters/
Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) will host a workshop about the specific concerns and issues related to their Smart Meters, including: health, safety, privacy and billing accuracy.
This is in stark contrast to last year when SMUD directors were caught on tape implementing a smart meter opt-out program that was intentionally designed to intimidate and discourage customers from opting opt. They made fun of people who didn’t want Smart Meters on their property. One director said, “The $166 upfront will convince them they can really afford a lot of tin foil hats” …Another director said, “But they are already wearing them!”
Now SMUD is offering a dialog with staff, outside experts and the Board of Directors themselves. The workshop will be on:
Thursday February 21, 2013 at 6pm.
Location is 6201 S street, Sacramento Ca.
The old SMUD HQ building, first floor.
Eric Windheim, an environmental health educator in Sacramento, encourages SMUD customers-owners to attend this workshop, to write/bring letters, and to speak to the board. He says, “It’s critical for the Board of Directors to hear directly from customers opposed to Smart Meters.” Eric and others have spent nine months speaking at SMUD meetings calling on the directors to be accountable. Here is an example of testimony at SMUD meeting of a Smart Meter victim. SMBleeding – YouTube
Eric is organizing speakers for this workshop. He can be reached at 916-395-7336
Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is implementing a smart meter opt-out program that’s intentionally designed to intimidate and discourage customers from opting opt. The audiotape from SMUD is a unique inside look into industry plotting against their customers.
SMUD is charging $127 upfront and $39.40 per month, and they will cut off customer rights to opt out by Dec. 31, 2012. They plan to only notify those who’ve already complained, which is 2,500 of their 600,000 customers. SMUD will not notify the rest of their customers, nor post about the smart meter opt out program on their website, because they don’t want them to know about it. In addition the ‘radio-off’ smart meter is their only opt out option, and if you move, you lose the right to opt-out.
Even though SMUD is very concerned about their ‘reputational risk’ at [01:51:54] the directors make fun of people who don’t want utility smart meters on their property.
One director says, “The $166 upfront will convince them they can really afford a lot of tin foil hats” [laughter]…Another director says, “But they are already wearing them!”
In closing Director Posner says, The less that’s said about this, the better off we are.” The last thing they want is a social media campaign that exposes them as unfriendly to their customers.