Injured by smart meters? Class action lawsuit forming

9/2015 UPDATE to this post. The video has been removed. The lawsuit was unsuccessful.

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In this video Jerry Day interviews Liz Barris about the upcoming class action lawsuit she’s coordinating against California utilities SCE and PG&E for health damages from smart meters. This lawsuit may be extended to other CA utility companies soon.

“Those industries, businesses and individuals who profit from wireless technologies, such as your power company, are suppressing information about the hazards of wireless technologies. They are attacking proponents of responsible wireless management and they are knowingly exposing the public to harm and damage hoping that the general public and the media will refuse to believe the obvious and proven connection between electromagnetic radiation and biological damage. Because of the wireless industry’s irresponsibility and wrongdoing, unfortunately, legal actions have become necessary.”

Lawsuit contact: Liz Barris   contact@thepeoplesinitiative.org website: http://citizensforaradiationfreecommunity.org

Briefs filed in CPUC Smart Meter opt-out proceeding

In January, EMF Safety Network filed an Opening Brief and a Reply Brief in the CPUC Smart Meter opt-out proceeding.  The opening brief provides a good summary of the issues from the customer’s perspective. We recommend the CPUC:

  • 1)    Allow residential and commercial customers for any reason to retain or restore analog meters at no cost;
  • 2)    Require utility company shareholders to bear financial responsibility for Smart Meter opt-out costs;
  • 3)    Order the utilities to refund opt-out fees already paid by individuals;
  • 4)    Open a CPUC proceeding, allow testimony, and hold evidentiary hearings to investigate Smart Meter health and fire safety complaints.

Here are a few key highlights:

  • Over 200 utility customers spoke to Administrative Law Judge Amy Yip-Kikugawa in five California cities. Twenty speakers refer to the opt-out fees as “extortion”. Other descriptions include: “a theft”, “a scam”, “un-American”, “criminal”, “tyranny”, “pay not to be harmed”, “abuse of power”, “a penalty”, “coercive”, “highway robbery”, and “an assault”.  Mr. Holz who spoke in Santa Barbara stated, “in self defense I would smash every single f***ing one of them.” These strong words aptly illustrate the outrage many customers are feeling.
  • Mr. Patrick Wrigley stated he was a former PG&E meter reader for nine and a half years in the Marin office when he was fired because he was not wiling to be quiet about the Smart Meter problems he saw. Mr. Wrigley said, “The fact that PG&E knows that they do catch on fire when they are remotely turned back on when a customer who is delinquent in their bill finally pays their bill. These meters catch fire. They know it, and they are covering it up.”
  •  Dozens of speakers told heartbreaking accounts of health problems since Smart Meter installation: headaches, tinnitus, sleep problems, heart problems, anxiety, nausea, and more.  Some stated they had been forced to move to avoid neighbors Smart Meters and banks of Smart Meters.  For example, Ms. Toril Jelter stated she is a board certified pediatrician and general practitioner with over thirty years experience. She said, “when my neighbors got smart meters I developed severe tinnitus, fatigue, and neuropathy at home and at work.” She stated she had to move her home to a low RF area, and close her practice.
  • In 2009 PG&E began receiving many complaints about Smart Meters. In January of 2010 PG&E hired a public relations firm, Edelman, to try to improve the Smart Meter image online and in print media.  PG&E spent millions of dollars for marketing Smart Meter programs, but refused to remove Smart Meters for customers with health complaints.  The money PG&E spent on advertising and snooping on activists could have been used to cover the costs to restore analog meters.
  • PG&E was provided $128.8 million in risk based allowance, included in the original Smart Meter program. DRA witness Lee-Whei Tan said, “The AMI [Smart Meter] program built in a lot of contingencies. It has almost $200 million contingency plus another $100 million dollars that PG&E can avoid reasonableness review.”
  • If the Commission is using the “cost causation” principle for determining allocation, they should apply utility company neglect as the cause of the problem, not the individual customer.  The utility company shareholders should pay for opt-out costs in order to ensure more accountability in the future.”

To read other parties briefs in this CPUC proceeding click here.

KPFA interview – Smart Meter Lawsuit

Yesterday on KPFA 94.1 Layna Berman, host of Your Own Health and Fitness talks with EMF Safety Network director Sandi Maurer about Smart Meters, and the legal action against the utilities and regulators in California.  Covered is both a review of the basic Smart Meter problems and complaints, and some new information about how the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and PG&E have never addressed or resolved the serious complaints, but only offered an opt-out with penalty fees.

There is an intro by Layna Berman, followed by commentary by Dr. Jeff Fawcett, followed by the Smart Meter discussion. You can access the show at: http://www.yourownhealthandfitness.org/Sage/20120828.mp3

Vermont Legislature Adopts Free Smart Meter Opt-Out

Last week the State Legislators of Vermont voted to allow utility customers a no fee Smart Meter opt-out! Specifically, the bill says that customers must be allowed “to choose not to have a wireless smart meter installed, at no additional monthly or other charge”.

*From the proposed House of Representatives bill: Sec. 15. 30 V.S.A. § 2811 SMART METERS; CUSTOMER RIGHTS; REPORTS (b) Customer rights. Notwithstanding any law, order, or agreement to the contrary, an electric company may install a wireless smart meter on a customer’s premises, provided the company:  (1) provides prior written notice to the customer indicating that the meter will use radio or other wireless means for two-way communication between the meter and the company and informing the customer of his or her rights under subdivisions (2) and (3) of this subsection;

(2) allows a customer to choose not to have a wireless smart meter installed, at no additional monthly or other charge; and (3) allows a customer to require removal of a previously installed wireless smart meter for any reason and at an agreed-upon time, without incurring any charge for such removal.

The legislation also calls for future reports related to smart meters to be submitted on: cost-savings associated with smart meters; whether any security breaches occurred because of the wireless technology; and the health effects of smart meters.

Meanwhile, the Vermont Public Service Board who regulate the Vermont utilities had already approved delaying opt-out charges until April 2013.  The purpose of suspending the fees were to evaluate the real costs, instead of arbitrary numbers.

In California, the Public Utilities Commission approved arbitrary and punitive opt-out fees, and is forcing customers who do not want Smart Meters to agree to the charges- even though they’ve never evaluated the charges!  Seems like Vermont has a few smarter people in charge.

Matt Levin, Outreach and Development Director for Vermonters for a Clean Environment stated they were “pleased the Legislature made such a strong statement on this issue”, however he also expressed caution as the Public Service Board and utilities will continue to evaluate the costs associated with opting out in upcoming proceedings and he said, “our enthusiasm is tempered by the realities and struggles of past experiences”.

However, there will be NO fees charged for at least one year and the legislature has banned the fees altogether. For now, Vermonters have been provided with relief and a victory!   CONGRATULATIONS!

Here’s more info:  Hartwell bill prevents smart meter opt-out fee

* will post FINAL text once it’s posted online.

American Academy of Environmental Medicine calls for a halt to wireless smart meters

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has adopted a resolution calling for a halt to wireless smart meters.
The text of the resolution is below. (link to AAEM Resolution on letterhead)

This represents the first national physician’s group to look in-depth at wireless health risks; and to advise the public and decision-makers about preventative public health actions that are necessary.

Cindy Sage
Sage Associates

January 19, 2012

Proposed Decision of Commissioner Peevey (Mailed 1/22/2012)                                 BEFORE THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA     On the proposed decision 11-03-014

Dear Commissioners:

The Board of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine opposes the installation of wireless “smart meters” in homes and schools based on a scientific assessment of the current medical literature (references available on request).  Chronic exposure to wireless radiofrequency radiation is a preventable environmental hazard that is sufficiently well documented to warrant immediate preventative public health action.

As representatives of physician specialists in the field of environmental medicine, we have an obligation to urge precaution when sufficient scientific and medical evidence suggests health risks which can potentially affect large populations.  The literature raises serious concern regarding the levels of radio frequency (RF – 3 KHz – 300 GHz) or extremely low frequency (ELF – o- 300 Hz) exposures produced by “smart meters” to warrant an immediate and complete moratorium on their use and deployment until further study can be performed.  The board of the American Board of Environmental Medicine wishes to point out that existing FCC guidelines for RF safety that have been used to justify installation of “smart meters” only look at thermal tissue damage and are obsolete, since many modern studies show metabolic and genomic damage from RF and ELF exposures below the level of intensity which heats tissues.  The FCC guidelines are therefore inadequate for use in establishing public health standards.  More modern literature shows medically and biologically significant effects of RF and ELF at lower energy densities.  These effects accumulate over time, which is an important consideration given the chronic nature of exposure from “smart meters”. The current medical literature raises credible questions about genetic and cellular effects, hormonal effects, male fertility, blood/brain barrier damage and increased risk of certain types of cancers from RF or ELF levels similar to those emitted from “smart meters”.  Children are placed at particular risk for altered brain development, and impaired learning and behavior.  Further EMF/RF adds synergistic effects to the damage observed from a range of toxic chemicals.  Given the widespread, chronic and essentially inescapable ELF/RF exposure of everyone living near a “smart meter”,  the Board of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine finds it unacceptable from a public health standpoint to implement this technology until these serious medical concerns are resolved.  We consider a moratorium on installation of wireless “smart meters” to be an issue of the highest importance.

The Board of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine also wishes to note that the US NIEHS National Toxicology Program in 1999 cited radiofrequency radiation as a potential carcinogen.  Existing safety limits for pulsed RF were termed “not protective of public health” by the Radiofrequency Interagency Working Group (a federal interagency working group including the FDA, FCC, OSHA, the EPA and others).  Emissions given off by “smart meters” have been classified by the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a Possible Human Carcinogen.

Hence, we call for:

•  An immediate moratorium on “smart meter” installation until these serious public
health issues are resolved.  Continuing with their installation would be extremely
irresponsible.

•  Modify the revised proposed decision to include hearings on health impact in the
second proceedings, along with cost evaluation and community wide opt-out.

•  Provide immediate relief to those requesting it and restore the analog meters.

Members of the Board
American Academy of Environmental Medicine

Admin note:  The American Academy of Environmental Medicine, founded in 1965, is an international association of physicians and other professionals which “provides research and education in the recognition, treatment and prevention of illnesses induced by exposures to biological and chemical agents encountered in air, food and water.”

Top public health official report: Smart Meters DO pose a health risk!

Santa Cruz County, CA Board of Supervisors directed its public health officer to prepare an analysis of the research on the health effects of Smart Meters in December 2011. Poki Stewart Namkung, M.D. M.P.H., prepared this report: Health Risks Associated With SmartMeters which recognizes:

  • Smart Meters transmit pulsed radiation (RF)  24/7
  • There are evidence-based health risks of RF
  • RF exposure can be cumulative and additive
  • The massive increase in RF public exposures since the mid-1990’s
  • The controversy between independent and industry science, including lack of funding for independent research
  • Evidence to support an Electrical Sensitivity (EHS) diagnosis
  • The public health issue is that Smart Meters are involuntary RF exposures
  • FCC thermal guidelines are irrelevant for non-thermal public exposures.
  • The lack of relevant safety standards for chronic pulsed RF

The report summary calls for more government vigilance towards involuntary RF public exposures because, “…governmental agencies are the only defense against such involuntary exposure.”

The report also provides examples of strategies to reduce RF including minimize cell and cordless phone use, use speakerphone when possible, use wired internet connections, avoid setting a laptop on your lap, and more.

Excerpts:  “The public health issue of concern in regard to SmartMeters is the involuntary exposure of individuals and households to electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation.”

“There are numerous situations in which the distance between the SmartMeters and humans is less than three feet on an ongoing basis, e.g. a SmartMeter mounted on the external wall to a bedroom with the bed placed adjacent to that mounting next to the internal wall. ”

“…SmartMeters emit frequencies almost continuously, day and night, seven days a week.”

“… exposure is additive and consumers may have already increased their exposures to radiofrequency radiation in the home through the voluntary use of wireless devices …It would be impossible to know how close a consumer might be to their limit, making uncertainty with the installation of a mandatory SmartMeter. ”

“… all available, peer-reviewed, scientific research data can be extrapolated to apply to SmartMeters, taking into consideration the magnitude and the intensity of the exposure.”

“Since the mid-1990’s the use of cellular and wireless devices has increased exponentially exposing the public to massively increased levels of RF.”

” It must be noted that there is little basic science funding for this type of research and it is largely funded by industry.”

“…most research carried out by independent non-government or non-industry affiliated researchers suggests potentially serious effects from many non-ionizing radiation exposures, research funded by industry and some governments seems to cast doubt on the potential for harm.”

“Despite this controversy, evidence is accumulating on the results of exposure to RF at non-thermal levels including increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier in the head (Eberhardt, 2008), harmful effects on sperm, double strand breaks in DNA which could lead to cancer genesis (Phillips, 2011), stress gene activation indicating an exposure to a toxin (Blank, 2011), and alterations in brain glucose metabolism (Volkow, 2011). ”

“Currently, research has demonstrated objective evidence to support the EHS diagnosis…”

“Meeting the current FCC guidelines only assures that one should not have heat damage from SmartMeter exposure. It says nothing about safety from the risk of many chronic diseases that the public is most concerned about such as cancer, miscarriage, birth defects, semen quality, autoimmune diseases, etc. Therefore, when it comes to nonthermal effects of RF, FCC guidelines are irrelevant and cannot be used for any claims of SmartMeter safety unless heat damage is involved (Li, 2011). ”

“There are no current, relevant public safety standards for pulsed RF involving chronic exposure of the public, nor of sensitive populations, nor of people with metal and medical implants that can be affected both by localized heating and by electromagnetic interference (EMI) for medical wireless implanted devices.”

“Many other countries have significantly lower RF/MW exposure standards ranging from 0.001 to 50 ~W/cm2 as compared with the US guideline of 200-1 000 ~W/cm2”

“In summary, there is no scientific data to determine if there is a safe RF exposure level regarding its non-thermal effects.”

This is an excellent report and a must read for all public policy decision makers, and especially utility regulators.  Many thanks to Dr. Stewart Namkung, the Santa Cruz Supervisors and to the EMF educators in their area!  Please circulate!

Smart Meters: unregulated, unsafe…

In a recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) letter to Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, Julias Knapp, the FCC Chief of Office of Engineering and Technology, responds to an inquiry from the EMF Safety Network. The letter downplays the need for FCC oversight and regulation of their own installation RF safety conditions stating, “The grants of equipment authorization routinely list the four conditions cited by EMF [Safety Network] for the broad class of transmitters that include most Smart Meters….adherence to those conditions is not necessarily required for Smart Meters to achieve compliance with our RF exposure guidelines….the utility is responsible for ensuring compliance with any installation conditions listed on the grant of equipment authorization .”

In addition the FCC falsely claims, “the devices normally transmit for less than one second a few times a day and consumers are normally tens of feet or more from the meter face…”

See the following video about Smart Meter radiation. Listen to the clicks to see how often the meters are transmitting, and compare that to the FCC claims.