Paula Orloff: Smart meters aren’t smart |

Paula Orloff: Smart meters aren’t smart

An article in The Union titled, “Smart Meters Aptly Named” was written by a PG&E representative with a long title. I have serious reservations.

PG&E claim: Nearly 99 percent of our customers have upgraded to Smart Meters.

Response: I question that number from PG&E which has been under investigation for collusion with CPUC. Also, it costs to opt out of smart metering. It’s free to get a smart meter. If the costs were reversed, how many would choose a smart meter? Further, in California over 50 local governments have passed ordinances opposing the Smart Meter program. There’s only one catch: CPUC in cahoots with the private utilities has authority to override local governments.

PG&E claim: Smart meters are the foundation for our modern energy grid.

Many studies discuss the 24/7 bursts of radiation that smart meters emit. According to Daniel Hirsch, Professor of Nuclear Policy at University of California Santa Cruz, these intense millisecond bursts produce severe biological effects.

Response: Former CPUC President Loretta Lynch at the 2015 Wireless, Technology and Public Health Summit in Mountain View stated that the “smart grid” and “smart meters” are a “lucrative boondoggle” that the CPUC approved, and the CPUC has become a “rouge agency” essentially controlled by corporations. A November 2012 report published by the National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy in DC states, “ … Billions of dollars in federal subsidies for “smart” utility meters have been misspent on meter technology that will not lead to energy sustainability or contribute to the possibility of a more efficient and responsive electricity grid. A similar conclusion comes from Massachusetts’ largest electrical utility NStar: ”An advance Metering System (smart meters) is not a ‘basic technology platform’ … to realize all the benefits of grid modernization.”

PG&E Claim: Smart meters have several energy/money saving advantages.

Response: PG&E’s energy savings phone and computer messages have some helpful pointers, but not one requires smart meters. Further, in two personal calls, PG&E representatives stated the special Smart Rate savings are limited only to days over 97 degrees. If a customer chooses the “Smart” Rate program, his bill is reduced to only 2.4 cents per KWh before and after the peak hours of 2 to 7 p.m. However, if the customer uses electricity during peak hours on those hot days, they are charged 60 cents per KWh! compared to 16 to 30 cents per KWh depending usage tier.

PG&E claim: “Independent and leading international health experts have tested and determined this technology is safe. For example, the technology in Smart Meters is the same as the technology in WiFi routers, baby monitors and garage door openers.”

Response: A group of 40 international experts rebutted claims of no increase of cancer from exposure to low intensity EMFs (electromagnetic fields ) “In fact only a few such studies … reported no elevations of cancer, and most were funded by the wireless industry (from “Smart Meters, Correcting the Gross Misinformation” by Dr. David Carpenter, July 11, 2012). Among the proliferation of research on wireless technology in the past decade is the BioInitiative Report prepared by 29 scientists from 10 countries, carried out independent of governments and industry organizations. The 2012 update discusses the content and implication of 1800 new studies. According to an overview of the report by co-editor, Cindy Sage, “There is more evidence in 2012 that such exposures (to wireless technologies) damage DNA, interfere with DNA repair, and are hazardous to the nervous system.

Many studies discuss the 24/7 bursts of radiation that smart meters emit. According to Daniel Hirsch, professor of Nuclear Policy at University of California Santa Cruz, these intense millisecond bursts produce severe biological effects. Cindy Sage (Bioinitiative Report) explains, “If you think of a strobe light or a laser in the eyes, it is intermittent but powerfully disabling … Signals may be short bursts of RF (depending on the meter and how utilities choose to operate) but … it is a continual 24/7 battering of the body with cellular insults.” Especially if your bed is on the other side of a smart meter, if you live close to a bank of meters as in apartments, or if your smart meter acts as a neighborhood data collection, those pulsating bursts are more potent and frequent.

We have been guinea pigs for wireless technology for about 20 years with the widespread advent of cell phones, cordless phones, WiFi computers and smart meters, most connected to high power transmitting cell towers. Nonindustry sources have hundreds of studies calling for safety measures or reduction of wireless technology.

Among numerous resources are Public Health SOS by Camilla Rees and Magda Havas, 2009 video, “Take Back Your Power,” by Josh Del Sol (2014); and website,

Paula Orloff lives in Nevada City.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User