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.”