5 PG&E Smart Meters

It looks like BC Hydro is getting smart meter installations underway in BC. Having participated in a focus group over the very subject matter months ago, I was privy to some of the features that might be enabled. Depending on the time of day, you’d be charged a certain amount on your monthly bill. Obviously this pointed to evening and off-peak preferred usage to save money, e.g. running the dishwasher after 10 pm. Luckily this scenario didn’t turn out be the case, as time-of-use rates are used in other jurisdictions with peak demand that exceeds BC Hydro’s ability to supply electricity to its customer base.

I’ve been reading various reports online that the smart meter may not be as intelligent a solution as BC Hydro gives it credit for. Further fueling my curiosity over the matter is a signed notice I came across today in my neighbourhood.

Attached to both the main house and basement sublet were signs posted that read “Do Not Install Smart Meter“. The notice outlined a few key concerns mentioned below, ending with not granting BC Hydro/Corix permission to be on the property for the purpose of installing a smart meter. The homeowner’s signature does authorize BC Hydro meter readers access for the purpose of reading the ‘non-wireless’ meter manually.

Let’s start with the price tag: $930 million dollars. Is the initial cost eventually going to outweigh the benefit down the road?

As well, think of how many jobs will be eliminated throughout the province. A job as a meter reader is valuable to those who hold the gig. Doing away with thousands of these positions will hurt that niche industry.

Smart Meter/  Stupid Meter
[Flickr photo credit: diffuse] *I chose this photo due to the conversation it’s generating. Click on the image to read the comment thread.

I’ve also heard that certain medical equipment could pose a health risk when coupled with the smart meter. If you know someone who wears a pacemaker, they should think twice about having one installed. I also couldn’t help wondering whether those ‘smart’ meters might interfere with other appliances.

According to BC Hydro’s website, “Updating BC Hydro’s meters is a key step in modernizing our entire electricity system, keeping our rates low and ensuring BC Hydro can continue to deliver safe, reliable power. More information about the status of the electricity grid will ensure BC Hydro can continue to deliver safe, reliable, low-cost electricity to homes and businesses across the province when it is needed.”

Feel free to comment below, regardless of your position.


  • Comment by Mor10 — December 30, 2011 @ 11:26 am

    The “medical risks” of Smart Meters are pure nonsense. We are surrounded by devices that produce small electromagnetic and RF fields all the time including high voltage powerlines, electronic appliances like microwave ovens, cell phones, wireless phones, wi-fi routers and even plasma TVs. The difference is that these devices are inside our houses and often very close to our bodies whereas the Smart Meters are outside the house often in electrical closets. The paranoia surrounding these devices are rooted in misinformation and misinterpretation of data coupled with a very North American assumption that the government and its bodies always wants to kill or harm its citizens.

    There are some interesting arguments against the Smart Meters of which the loss of jobs is by far the most compelling. But the medical angle has no root in reality.

  • Comment by arianec — December 30, 2011 @ 11:43 am

    I haven’t actually seen a smart meter installed in this part of town. I did however see artist renderings (in the aforementioned focus group) of a physical panel installed INSIDE the home that would show 24/7 usage on a screen. I’m guessing that this hasn’t (yet) panned out, and again, I am only aware of the outdoor meter being installed, and not an indoor component.

    Perhaps the outrage is more due to a possible interior component coming to fruition. If the meters are only to remain outdoors, I also couldn’t see how this would affect an already electromagnetic-overloaded society.

  • Comment by duediligence — December 30, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

    The World Health Organization has classified the electromagnetic radiation from cell phones & smart meters as possibly carcinogenic and have recommended that children especially should limit exposure to these devices. Why would any parent wish to expose vulnerable youth to a constant exposure that you can’t turn off possibly located in proximity to children’s bedrooms?

    I don’t understand why some think that since we are already exposed that more exposure won’t make any difference. Radiation exposure is culmulative as we all know, and it is prudent to avoid it as much as you can, especially at night when your body is trying to detox from all the toxins and carcinogens we’ve been exposed to during the day.

  • Comment by x — October 25, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

    Unfortunately Mor10 doesn’t have a clue what he is writing about. Pulsed low-level microwave radiation, like that emitted from “smart” meters, is scientifically proven to cause blood-brain barrier leakage, heart palpitations, cancer, DNA breakages, tinnitus and numerous neurological disorders. Assuming that cell phones are safe is ridiculous given all the evidence that they’re not. Why would there be warnings to keep them away from children lately from manufacturers and authorities? You can’t turn off your meter, it’s pulsing microwaves 24/7 and the exposure is about 100 times that of typical cell phone use according to nuclear scientist, Daniel Hirsch. They are also an egregious violation of privacy, tracking your every move, and soon will be able to control your “smart” appliances.

  • Comment by Dan Udey — October 26, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

    “It will cost jobs” is a terrible reason to avoid new technology. No one these days would argue that automatic telephone switchboards are a bad thing, and yet they put a lot of telephone operators out of work.

    Also, the commenter claiming that smart meters are ‘tracking your every move’ is only doing damage to the cause. The more ridiculous, unfounded, crazy talk you make up, the less people will take your actual points seriously.

  • Comment by Jon Jennings — October 26, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

    My neighbour has one of those “you have no right to install a radiation emitting device on my property” signs on her meter.

    The unfortunate thing is that meters in our area are placed on the outside walls of garages, so there’s at least 20 foot and two walls between them and anywhere where humans hang-out. Plus the steel plate on the back of the meter does a pretty good job of preventing any radiation from entering backwards into the house.

    She’s actually at far more risk from radiation from MY smart meter which is nicely angled to point radiation at her house. I thank her for not having a smart meter pointing at my house. Oh, plus she’s also getting all the radiation from the two wifi routers and a microwave that I have inside the house against the wall closest to her.

    I wonder if she makes her family leave their cellphones outside when they visit?

    I predict a time in the near future when the BC Hydro ‘contract to supply’ that you implicitly sign when you ask them to deliver electricity to you will require a smart meter. If you don’t agree with the terms then you’re welcome to not accept their offer.

  • Comment by Dean — October 26, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

    These devices are not on all the time. In fact, BC Hydro says theirs will only transmit for an average of 1 Minute per day! Also, the transmitting power is way less than a standard Wifi router which is on 24/7!

    Here is a very basic primer on radiation. Everything radiates…yes, everything. You could sit in the middle of nature and you will be exposed to background radiation.

    Now, whether or not you get sick from radiation depends (simplistically) on a couple things: time and strength, where strength diminishes with distance. The longer you sit in the sun (pretty strong radiation) the more you absorb and the redder you get, or you could spend less time at a higher elevation to get the same burn.

    Cell phones, wifi, GPS, smart meters, radio, television…that’s all weak radiation and there is also distance involved. You would have to expose yourself for a long time and at very close distances to get sick.

    Basically, if your wifi isn’t making you sick, then neither will your new smart meter.

    But, I think the BC Hydro explains it better: http://www.bchydro.com/energy_in_bc/projects/smart_metering_infrastructure_program/faqs/radio_frequency.html

  • Comment by x — October 26, 2012 @ 10:15 pm

    Comparing pulsed microwave radiation to sunlight is disingenuous, or you just don’t have a clue. If you’re going to attempt to compare electromagnetic radiation sources, you must consider frequency. Sunlight is not equivalent to microwave radiation. Sunlight does not pass through opaque objects; microwave radiation, like from a smart meter, does. That is undeniable proof that they are different and have different properties. The level of microwave radiation in a typical city is now 10 billion times what humans evolved to tolerate. If you’re going to compare to sunlight, so can I. Imagine if the sun were 10 billion times more powerful, it wouldn’t be pleasant to say the least. Just because it’s invisible doesn’t mean it can’t hurt you. The telecommunications industry has no interest in fairly assessing the health risks of microwave radiation and actually employ vast resources burying the data that prove it’s harmful, just like the tobacco industry did. In a decade or two, the health ramifications are going to be devastating if we continue on the current path of microwave proliferation. The EPA in 2002 admitted that the FCC guidelines (which are identical to Safety Code 6 in Canada) are NOT APPLICABLE TO CHRONIC MICROWAVE EXPOSURE! This means that THERE ARE NO APPLICABLE SAFETY STANDARDS. This is the biggest experiment in scope to ever be visited upon the human race. Remember cancer can take decades to appear from chronic exposure to toxins, and there is increasing evidence that we are on the path to a significant increase in cancer rates from microwave radiation. The duty cycle of a “smart” meter although appearing low in the specifications, is analogous to a strobe light. It’s on less than one thousandth of the time as well, but you wouldn’t want one in your bedroom would you?

  • Comment by thimc — October 27, 2012 @ 1:18 am

    There is zero credible evidence that EM frequencies at the levels emitted by smart meters, cel phones etc. is sufficiently carcinogenic to do harm to us or our pets.

    However, as we all know, there is plenty of pseudo-science, dubious research, new age fantasy, paranoid delusions and conspiracy theories on the internet. To believe in these things is fine. You’re entitled to your own beliefs -but no one is entitled to their own facts.

    However, pseudo-scientific theories like these must never be allowed to enter into the equation when dictating public policy. Because facts are universal. They affect everyone equally. Your fantasies are yours and your to enjoy. But don’t project them onto the community. Even if your motivation is noble -the community does not benefit. Ideas that have been dismissed by science yet hold sway in public policy are invariably harmful to the rest of us.

    Kick and scream all you want. Find, post and cherry pick all the dubious literature on the internet you want. Live in your own fantasy world and be happy (or boastful or frightened).

    The rest of us who use the scientific method to determine facts, conclusions and dictate policy have long ago accepted the following:

    1) These accusations have been given more than due consideration.
    2) These hypotheses have been tested vigorously.
    3) They have failed to stand up to scientific scrutiny.
    4) They have been correctly dismissed.
    5) Anyone is entitled to challenge the conclusion that the EM frequencies in question are harmless. However you must provide equally robust scientific data that stands up to the same scrutiny.
    6) So far not one person has been able to provide credible evidence that contradicts these conclusions.

    I’m not criticizing anyone’s motivations or intelligence. I’m not even criticizing WHAT some people think. I am very much criticizing HOW some people think. If they do not accept science in this case their methodology is flawed and their conclusions are worthless.

  • Comment by x — October 27, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

    Thimc, you are either ignorant or a liar. There are many more damaging effects from chronic low-level pulsed microwave radiation than cancer. You are the one lost in a fantasy world ignoring the hard science proving detrimental effects from electromagnetic radiation. Do you really think the World Health Organization would designate EMR as a Class 2B carcinogen because it’s all a fantasy? Your claims are simply laughable and I suggest you educate yourself for your own health. About 75% of studies funded by industry show no harm, while the numbers are approximately reversed for truly independent science. That alone should give any rational person an indication of the money involved in covering up the facts of the situation. Here’s some real science, not fantasy, to get you started. There are thousands more:


  • Comment by thimc — October 27, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

    >>Do you really think the World Health Organization would designate EMR as a Class 2B carcinogen because it’s all a fantasy?<>About 75% of studies funded by industry show no harm, while the numbers are approximately reversed for truly independent science. <<

    This is what I meant by cherry-picking data. I can find articles claiming chemtrails exist. That doesn't make it true. But like I said feel free to believe whatever you want.

    So go ahead and read all the junk science on the internet that supports your claims. And post them all over talk threads and articles. You're free to misconstrue information that you're unqualified to interpret. You are also entitled to dismiss all the peer reviewed articles that contradict your assertions. You can even call people who are better educated than you ignorant and liars and make unfounded allegations of coverups. Go ahead and wallow in conspiracy theories and confirmation bias. These are your rights.

    Being obtuse, scientifically illiterate and filled with hubris is not a crime.

    Thank goodness there are experts who know how to correctly interpret data and are scientifically literate enough to know how EM frequencies actually work back here on planet earth. And thank goodness the rational thinkers can't be bothered listening to you or taking your crackpot theories seriously. Thank goodness for the rest of us who make decisions based on scientific consensus and facts.

  • Comment by thimc — October 27, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

    >>Do you really think the World Health Organization would designate EMR as a Class 2B carcinogen because it’s all a fantasy?<

    Yes I do. The WHO scientists are using the "precautionary principle". I'm sure an expert such as yourself already knew that and is familiar and fully understands it's ramifications. But for everyone else:

    "The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action."

    The WHO has recently received consensus and has announced that they reviewing their determination. They will be re-classifying these EM frequencies in a month or two. Being the expert you are I'm sure you knew that already and wouldn't post data that was outdated -oh wait you did do that didn't you?

    Of course you're free to claim the WHO is part of a conspiracy even though it was you who chose to site and misinterpret their findings in order to support your claims.

  • Comment by x — October 28, 2012 @ 9:54 am

    I am qualified to interpret scientific studies (which are not just “articles” as you mistakenly suggest.) It’s very assumptive of you to suggest that I am not. You have shown that you don’t understand how science works. If you have 1000 studies that show no effect, and one that does and is repeatable, the 1000 studies should be examined for a flaw in methodology or execution. Science does not operate by consensus, but by proving a hypothesis through experimentation or observation. Quantity does not indicate superiority of results. Peer reviewed science by some of the best in the field is not “junk science” because the cognitive dissonance of having put a carcinogenic cell phone against your head for 15 years dooming you to a slow painful death is too much for YOU to handle. Read the science, understand the proven risks, and do what you can to spread the word to prevent others’ suffering. It’s the only humane logical course of action, even for you. Nothing on the cancer classification list of the WHO has ever been relocated to a lower classification. They have only ever been advanced to higher and higher (more positively harmful) classifications. You can go on with your baseless accusations of conspiracy theories (I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned the moon landings, the holocaust or 9/11 yet, actually) but it doesn’t change the fact that microwave electromagnetic radiation even at low levels, if applied chronically, IS PROVEN TO CAUSE MANY DIFFERENT DETRIMENTAL HEALTH EFFECTS.

  • Comment by thimc — October 28, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

    My “assumptive” (you meant to say presumptive) suggestion comes from the fact that you don’t know how to interpret the data you’re reading. You’re obviously a laymen who’s in over his head and doesn’t realize it or hasn’t come to terms with it. The good news is your cognitive impairment comes from dogma, fear and hubris. Not a lack of intelligence.

    These fanciful notions of yours require suspension of the fundamental laws of physics and biology. It is quackery pure and simple.

    Back here on planet earth we are subject to the laws of physics and will use them to dictate public policy. Like it or not, rational, scientific, critical thinkers and intellectuals are not in the same camp as you. C’mon over and join us if you ever feel like venturing out of the realm of fantasy. You’re plenty smart -just misguided.

  • Comment by Dean — October 29, 2012 @ 12:17 pm

    I don’t care if I look up and see the sky is blue…this study says the sky IS GREEN, dammit!

    I guess at the end of the day, with these things being on for less than a minute a day, I just can’t buy into the danger hype.

  • Comment by arianec — October 29, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

    Thanks to all of your comments, good bad, and ugly!

  • Comment by x — October 29, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

    No, I did in fact mean “assumptive” and the fact that you presume that that word doesn’t exist proves your intellectual laziness and inability to research the simplest of things. You obviously have assumptively decided that I am a layman when in fact I possess a degree in physics and am quite capable of vetting scientific studies for proper methodology. I am well versed in the laws of physics, and the operative mechanism here is induction, you know, the principle by which the alternator in your car charges the battery. Human beings are electrical with signals operating on the order of tens of millivolts. It is not far fetched that microwave radiation, or any electromagnetic radiation for that matter, could have an effect on our electrochemical systems. And peer-reviewed science has shown just that. Blood-brain barrier leakage, calcium ion transfer blockage, and changes in glucose metabolism are all PROVEN effects from low-level microwave radiation. This is simply undeniable scientific fact at this stage in the game and no scientist that doesn’t want to be ridiculed would deny it. As far as cancer is concerned, there is ample evidence to instate the precautionary principle for that disease alone. It took decades for tobacco to be fully recognized as the carcinogenic scourge that it is. So go back to the dictionary, learn a new word, and then go to the scientific studies out there – literally thousands of them – and learn how low-level microwave radiation causes detrimental health effects. The Bioinitiative report has a handy list to get you started.

  • Comment by tinfoil — October 30, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

    Wow, it’s pretty obvious who X is. I’ve read all of his half truths and cherry picked data on twitter. Don’t let him tell you he’s qualified for anything other that fear mongering, spewing misleading data and childish name calling.

  • Comment by x — October 30, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

    Please, be specific, what’s misleading, what’s a half truth?

  • Comment by thimc — October 31, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

    Anyone with a better than average proficiency of English is laughing at his use of the language.

    Anyone with a better than average proficiency of science is laughing at his pseudo-scientific assertions.

    Anyone with a real degree in physics is laughing at his claim to hold a degree in physics.

    Anyone with a degree in common sense is laughing at the assumption that his alleged degree makes him qualified to invalidate the conclusions of the rest of the scientific community and the fundamentals of physics itself.

  • Comment by x — October 31, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

    The “rest” of the scientific community. Who are they exactly? Do you own a dictionary? Do you have a clue about science and how real science is not performed with the final results already decided, funded by industry whores who stand in conflict of interest. The “cherry picking” comment made by the earlier poster demonstrates perfectly a misunderstanding of how science works by falsifying a hypothesis. I suggest that everybody learn what this means before they consider scientific studies without proper context of what they mean. This W5 transcript from 1999 is quite revealing as to how bad the situation was then with respect to the cell phone industry: http://tinyurl.com/c8hbscl and it’s only gotten worse as the value of the industry has gotten so much larger.

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