Smart Meter and Opt-Out Information

(Latest edit 9/19/22). Find below many sections that hopefully will answer most of your questions about the intended PSE smart meter rollout beginning September 2022 and continuing perhaps into early 2023. Many of you are concerned about electrosmog around you. Important that you go for the opt-out by early October as discussed in the entries below. Read them thoughtfully and draw your conclusions and actions as you see fit. The entries are in an evolving state, more to be added as details unfold and CLEAR members contact us. 

If you don’t know what a smart meter is, or does, or how it affects you, you should do some homework here:

1) Read  the article on the home page;

2) Browse through the material, noting bold headings in the “OPT-OUT INFO” below;

3) See the links at the bottom  of this page that give in-depth detail about several questions like: a) Science of SM health effects;  b) industry disinformation and meter issues; c) simpler list of smart meter downsides; 4) engineer’s thoughtful evaluation of the Aclara (PSE’s brand) meters; 5) full reference on faulty smart meter components and fire risks. 

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SOME NON-OPT-OUT SITUATIONS:

1) Are you are in an apartment complex with more than 4 units? PSE won’t let you opt out! The rule is arbitrary but they are firm with it so far. (Complaints about it are worth doing.)

OR

2) Do you live in a rural area with, say, neighbors 100 feet away from you and your meter is located  away from your home? You will have some radiation outside from smart meters communicating with each other and yours. BUT it won’t be particularly strong in your home area and you may rightly feel you needn’t opt-out.

IN EITHER SUCH CASE, you can still mitigate the situation relatively well these two ways:

A) Put a smart meter guard on your meter for about $40 and it will block most of the excess radiation from the meter while leaving enough signal to communicate your usage to PSE and coordinate with other meters nearby;

B) Install Green Wave filters in our household outlets to filter out the “transients,” or “static” put into your household wiring grid by the meter. It is called “dirty electricity” by professionals and it ages your household electronics, radiates from your walls compromising your health, etc. See “More on Dirty Electricity” below about how to mitigate with filters.

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OPT-OUT INFORMATION (browse below to find answers to your questions):

If you have decided on “opting out” here are a few concrete details and actions that will help you go forward if you are trying to get started. More fine-grained, evolving detail is found below this, partly from posts sent to the membership in the recent past. bold print for many topics, angles and issues as well as many answers. After you have checked all this and still have a question, feel free to email it to clearwhidbey(at)proton.me. (Use @ for “at”–avoiding bots here.)

Opt-out action-steps to obtain a “non-communicating meter” (NCM)

For home-owners: Call 877-773-1770 (get full PSE “speech” from agent) or 888-352-2503 (shorter line of questioning and answers) to line up having a 6-page application document sent to you. (Or download it here.) Giving your name and info in the call gives you as much as a 60-day “hold” window before installation of a smart meter by PSE. Otherwise PSE will call in perhaps 3-5 weeks to announce that you will have a “normal meter” (their deceptive term for a smart meter) installed soon unless you act.

(Note: Only the sixth page is to be filled out with info and signed by you then returned to PSE by snail-mail, fax or other electronic means). Your account number and meter number can be found on one of your bills either mailed to you or online in your PSE account.

Snail-mail form return address: Puget Sound Energy, Attn: Meter Upgrade BOT-02G, POB 97034, Bellevue, WA 98009-9735. You will receive a confirmation by email and snail-mail. Or use fax at 425-424-6728.

Home or apartment renter paying your own utilities: Your PSE power account is in your name and you are legally entitled (to change to Opt-Out, and pay the $15 opt-out fee bimonthly. (Exception: See the discussion at the very beginning of this page on NON-OPT-OUT for apartment complexes greater than four units). Your landlord need not consent, but advising him/her of your decision is good as he/she will have to inform your successor tenant to quickly decide to file again for opt-out or a smart meter will be rapidly installed. (Any successor tenant after a smart meter is put in will then have to pay an extra $90 to have the account changed back to opt-out.)

Apartment renter in a complex of apartments: Do the same as above, except: if your landlord is in any way annoyed by your opt-out and resists it, say this: “I know this requires you to monitor more carefully the meter situation when a tenant moves out, BUT  “This is only $7.50/month (from me) to reduce a lot of extra radiation around your other tenants and if they too opt-out, all will feel better living here. Also TRY HARD to convince other renters to go for this opt-out to stop the electronic “mesh” of neighborhood electrosmog from being formed by the meters jointly communicating all day–this can affect you more also. This constantly excessively irradiates all the tenants 24-7.

ESPECIALLY NOTE: The worst possible situation is to have one of your dwelling rooms, God-forbid a bedroom, whose wall ends up with a bank of several smart meters on its outside.  This creates a high-radiation 24-7 situation for YOU to live in.

*****See at least the first 5 minutes of Jeromy Johnson in this Youtube TED Talk, “Wireless Wakeup Call,” to learn about extremes of such apartment smart meters!

In this case do some serious negotiating with the other renters and landlord to get opt-outs for all, or you moved to another apartment, or you may have to move out, as many in the country have faced in smart meter rollouts.

_______________________________________________________________________Excerpts of a first letter to our CLEAR membership, early September:

“Well, many of you have just received the letter from PSE announcing their bland-sounding offer to ‘update’ your meter, never saying the trigger words ‘meter.’ I spoke at length with their phone contact person to get as much info as possible–had to tell her, expertly, I knew these are of course “smart meters” and she agreed. We both chuckled about how they are keeping this term out of reach as much as possible to avoid reactions.

The meter, known world-wide as a ‘smart meter,’ is a big EMF changer, despite PSE’s soothing assurances. They claim it reports usage just ‘5 times’ daily and with weak radiation, conveniently omitting that it compulsively chats, coordinates, and data-shares among neighboring meters with thousands of pulses and signal spikes 24-7, creating what’s known as an electronic “mesh.” The meter’s measuring function injects jagged, multi-frequency transmitting ‘static’ into all household wiring. Termeddirty electricity,” this radiates anyone sleeping within a few feet of house inner walls. (More on this below.)
There’s been a decade of concern and backlash in several cities and states questioning usefulness and safety. New Mexico and Tennesee have persisted in disallowing smart meters. Many states and cities’ power companies have opt-outs at varying prices per month ranging from $0 to $24. Some states (PA, ID) have no allowed opt-out. The WUTC, our state regulator, has required PSE to provide an ‘affordable’ opt-out option that covers only actual expenses. This forced tariff of $7.50/mo to not be electrosmogged 24-7 is at least moderately affordable.

Why bother with all this? International high-level research regularly finds negative health effects from long-term electrosmog exposure. Worse, 5% (called EMS) experience uncomfortable, sometimes intolerable radiation symptoms in real time with 1.5% having disabling symptoms ranging from headaches, tingling skin, tinnitus, heavy fatigue, heart palpitations, etc. Note that these EMS folks often have acquired EMS from extended past exposures. This phenomenon is not unlike how lead, second hand smoke, mercury, pesticides, mold and certain chemicals have a build-up period. Uninformed practitioners, even friends, often pooh-pooh EMS distress as “All in your mind.” Compare this disregard to how the 1.4% of the US with reactions to peanuts are treated: industry, government and institutions bend over backwards to protect them by preventive methods. Decide if you like risking your health so PSE can read and switch your power easier; likely (as often found) they will raise your later bills to subsidize the program. Take advantage of this moderately affordable “escape route” and get the opt-out!

Excerpts of a second letter to our CLEAR membership, early September:

👍 More on Dirty Electricity. Use electric line filters; they are Another way to improve the compromise of the ‘non-communicating’ meter opt-out choice: I said before that the dirty electricity aspect is an unhealthy price of the opt-out. It is possible to mitigate ‘dirty electricity’ in the home with Greenwave filters. To learn about them go to this Greenwave link and on the Greenwave site elsewhere you can read more about the dirty electricity you will certainly have. Each filter costs about $35 and you can require anywhere from 4 to 10 of them (1 or 2 per room) depending on desires, quantity of dirty electricity, and house size. They plug into your electrical outlets and create a strong reduction in the dirty electricity in your lines. (I can answer questions on these, discuss measurement, and even have a few for sale or possibly your trial.)

Three examples of deceptive PSE “soft talk” (in quotes) that you will get on your phone call to the their agents and see in their literature:

👉This is an upgraded model compared to old style meters. No. These ‘smart meters’ are regularly understood by educated, corporately independent electrical engineers as having poor surge protection and no direct grounding. They certainly do not have the “arc breaker,” ultra-safe grounded system of mechanical analog meters (the ones with turning wheels visible inside), that some of us (like me) reliably have. Result: smart meters are over-vulnerable to power surges (that happen when lines suddenly break or electricity suddenly comes on.) Thus they are more prone to cause house fires and secondarily forest and grass fires. Numerous house fires have been traced to smart meters in the last 15 years–power companies are loathe to admit this. Saskatchewan was legally forced to remove 150,000 smart meters because of known fire starts from them, leaving only an opt-in program.

They can overheat, having ‘catastrophic failures’ requiring time-costing power-downs awaiting replacement, and their shorter life span of <10 years means the likelihood of such failures is much higher than mechanical meters. Additionally any independent engineer (not those of PSE or its contractor Aclara Meter Company) will verify that the meters have a fragile remote disconnection switch, fragile/flammable circuit boards, and unpredictable Switching Mode Power Supply (SMPS) surges that can harm, cause erratic behaviors of, and reduced life of, multiple electronic devices in your home. It is widely known that computer and other electronics operational life is extended by getting rid of causes of “dirty electricity” static in the house lines.

One dramatic meter-failure example, among many dozens: 10/27/2017 DISCOVERY BAY, CA: A big rig accident [hitting a pole] caused a power surge, which caused some smart meters to explode. ‘We heard it from inside the house and the pieces, they look like they went 8 to 10 feet…All of a sudden, all the electrical outlets started popping and fire was shooting out of one of them,’ said a resident. 2900 customers lost power.” [Never happens with older reliable analog wheel-turning meters.]

👉Very little radiation. Only sends results to PSE 5 times per day. Not true. Over the years virtually all brands and models have been found to emit milli-second RF spikes thousands of times in a day while they coordinate and send data with other meters in a neighborhood. (A lawsuit against CA’s PG&E Company forced disclosure of secret documents admitting these thousands of voltage mini-spikes per day.) They ultimately channel all user data of the area to one meter that relays it to a nearby collector tower or cell tower. If your house is near that tower it is showered with two-way transmissions coordinating with all the other meters in the area 24-7.

Power companies dishonestly average those transmitted mini-power-“spikes” this way: Every 1000 of the 2-millisecond spikes count as just 1000x.002 = “2-seconds of transmission.” This sounds like basically nothing. Yet each spike is what is disorienting or shocking to our biology: cell mitochondria, DNA, and micro voltage-gated calcium channels all operate electrically. The fact that daily spread-out thousands of spikes have only seconds of totaled time-duration (phrased this way commonly by company reps) is deceptive. (An AK-47 can kill 30 people in a total actual bullet-flying-time of three seconds; fixating only on bullet-flying-time would make mass shootings seem like tiny events.Similarly, the US Navy was chided by higher court judges in a recent lawsuit by the WA Attorney General. The judges said it was basically dishonest that the Navy would take the ear-splitting 10-second spikes of 110 decibels of sound that jets emitted during each of several daily near-rooftop flyovers and average their intensity over the 24 hours of a day. This made them seem harmless in intensity. They had done this for years.)

👉No stronger than a cell phone.” Deceptive. defective argument. Cell phones are up-close and limited time with very strong upper body radiation. Smart meters, meanwhile, are further away, radiating more powerfully but more distant, some of it pointed away but with some sideways into the house, especially windows (like sound spreads in all directions), BUT it’s 24-7 and having multitudes of sharp voltage spikes. It’s “chattering”companion meters in the neighborhood put lots of radiation all around, including your own house. Your meter also injects jagged higher-frequency voltage transients (dirty electricity) into all house electric lines and these radiate 24-7 to your house interior. Cell phones don’t do this.

Testimonials: Electromagnetically sensitive (EMS) persons abound. Like proven for for second-hand smoke, pesticides, lead, mercury, and mold, long term exposures for any of us can cause us to reach a “threshold” where we experience wireless radiation with real-time symptoms. Some persons are immediately sensitive. Up to 30%: mild real time effects; 5%: moderate symptoms; 1.5%: severe, finding, for example, smart meters unendurable. Below are a few declarations to an FCC Docket about changes to FCC standards:

I am experiencing the following symptoms due to the radiation emitted from smart meters: headaches, tinnitus, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, depression, and lethargy. My facial skin has also become extremely dry and rough, as if it has been burned…My daughter experiences the following symptoms due to smart meter radiation: chronic bloody noses and occasional headaches.” Allison Panelli

“I was unaware that a Smart Meter had been installed on our house, but I suddenly began having severe, debilitating headaches, joint and muscle pain, muscle cramping, elevated blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, insomnia, and an intermittent buzzing/tingling sensation in my legs and feet that happened every few seconds day and night, and I realized on checking with the electric company, that my symptoms began right after the Smart Meter was first installed. What further confirmed for me my suspicion that my symptoms were connected to the Smart Meter was the fact that my symptoms completely disappeared when I would go to stay a few days at my daughter’s house in Marin County…” Carole Jones

Since the installation of SmartMeters in our neighborhood, I have suffered with tinnitus, muscle cramps, sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, heart palpitations, migraines, blurred vision, and dizziness…When I visit my father in Shasta County who lives in an area where there are no Smart Meters as yet, the tinnitus stops completely. I sleep well and feel much better.” Julie Ostoich

Since the installation of my neighbors’ smart meters … (my wife and I opted out of the smart meter program, but we are still affected by the smart meters in our neighborhood), I have suffered from daily heart palpitations, dizziness, headaches, worsened tinnitus, insomnia, and fatigue…” Keith Kocsis

After 10-15 minutes of exposure to one “Smart Meter” from a distance of 6 feet, I began to experience heart palpitations and felt physical distress so that I had to quickly move away as I feared for my health, the condition of my heart and my very life.” Ellen Cecil

FURTHER INFO-LOADED REFERENCES TO BROWSE THROUGH

A. (Click) A factual summary, signed by several highly qualified scientists, on the current health science about RF/EMF-based wireless technology; adverse health effects: explaining why smart meters can be harmful to, at least, a significant number of people. It is an Amicus Brief for a recent Supreme Court of PA smart meter challenge.

B. The (click) EMF Safety Network has collected a wide variety of info and video related to the over-a-decade of smart meter problems, variety of known risks, industry misinformation, and overreach that has already occurred. Pick and choose your way through this to find many viewpoints and understandings.

C. Richard Conrad Phd wrote a paper in 2014 (still pertinent today) that spells out with references many undiscussed, overlooked weaknesses and dangers in the whole rationale and execution of the smart meter programs. It’s called (click link) “Nine Reasons Why Today’s Smart Meter Systems are a Mistake.”

D. William Bathgate is a highly credentialed Electrical Engineer who has worked with the Smart Meter industry. Here is critical evaluation of the Aclara smart meter, the brand being installed by PSE: Evaluation of Aclara Smart Meter.

E. 🧐Just in case you are one of those who like a lot of info and and some tech detail, attached is a 2019 paper SM Fire and Electrical hazards… that is one of a few fact-filled sources I have that go in to the particulars of smart meter defects, harms and shortcomings. They are simply not worth the multi-millions that power companies pay (and ultimately regain by rate increases over time to customers). Thus, it is rare for customers see a power bill drop after a smart meter rollout; shocking rate and bill increases are very commonly reported.

More to come…