August 23, 2013
A couple in North Bend, Washington is suing their power company after being forced to pay a monthly fine for refusing to install a new digital electric “smart meter.”
Electrical engineer Larry Costello and his wife Christy chose to opt-out of the smart meter program after their power company, Tanner Co-Op electric utility, began installing the meters on all their customers’ homes.
Tanner Co-Op claims the fee is to cover the cost of the meter reader who has to visit the Costellos’ home each month, but the Costellos say the fee is unjustified since the meter is an invasion of privacy to begin with.
“The issue that we have with the smart meter technology is that it really is an invasion of privacy to the homeowner,” said Larry Costello to Kiro 7 News.
While analog meters simply report the total power usage in a home, smart meters have the ability to analyze and control specific devices being used. The new meters can even allow a power company to change the temperature of a home by electronically accessing the thermostat.
“I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t want to be told when I can run my dishwasher and when I can run my refrigerator. So those are my concerns and also knowing when I’m home and when I’m not home,” said Christy Costello.
The Costellos also noted that certain smart meters even have the ability to tell what channel a TV is on. Tanner’s general manager claims his company’s meters are incapable of reading that information and denied further comments due to the ongoing lawsuit.
Not only do smart meters pose a privacy risk from power companies and the federal government, hackers have also proven that many smart meters are vulnerable.
Just last year, researchers in Germany analyzed several smart meters and discovered that the devices transmitted unencrypted data, allowing the researchers to know whether or not anyone was home. The data even revealed what movie was being watched on TV.
The U.S. Department of Energy even warned that information collected by smart meters could be shared with third parties such as insurance companies, creditors and businesses that could use the information to learn about a homeowner’s habits. Former CIA Director James Woolsey even called the entire smart grid “stupid” while noting how easily smart meters could be hacked.
Smart meters have also raised massive health concerns regarding the amount of electromagnetic radiation being emitted. Several doctors, including physician and epidemiologist Sam Milham, say the meters give off as much as 100 times the amount of radiation as a cell phone and have been linked to several health issues.
Daniel Hirsch, a senior lecturer on nuclear policy at UCSC, says the federal government purposely misleads the public on smart meter safety by conducting biased studies backed by power companies.
An investigation by WSUA 9 News also found that a power company in Washington DC was lying to the public about how often their smart meters emitted radiation. The company stated that the meters emitted radiation once every 4 to 6 hours despite the investigation finding the number to be 4 to 6 times every minute.
While some have been able to opt-out of the smart meter program, others have had meters installed on their property against their will. Two mothers in Illinois were arrested earlier this year for legally filming police and trying to block city utility workers from installing the new meters.
This article originally appeared at SecretsOfTheFed.com.