Summary of Oram’s Findings and Conclusions Regarding Smart Meters to date:
Please go to the link for the full article: http://www.createhealthyhomes.com/smart_meters.php
Here is what I do know:
- Smart meters cause symptoms for some people. (We also believe that there are others who likewise have health symptoms from their smart meters and the neighborhood mesh network and don’t yet know that their symptoms are caused by these sources.)
- There are serious questions about the efficacy and need for smart meters in the power grid in the first place — see “Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid,” by clicking here. There are also reports of a coming decrease in their deployment in the US in 2014.
- The remote communication of electric, gas and water usage data from smart meters to the utility central office wirelessly through a mesh network is not necessary. Sending this information wirelessly is not the only means of communicating the data.
- Hardwired, non-wireless alternatives for communicating user data to the utility already exist in virtually every home in the form of copper pair telephone lines and hardwired Internet networks to and from the house (that is, telephone and cable company Internet service). This is how Italy gathers its meter data. The country has banned smart meters altogether.
- Regarding wireless transmissions by smart meters through the mesh network, there is a vast difference in power density levels emitted by smart meters when compared from one utility to another, even when two utilities use the same brand of meter.
- There is also a vast difference between utilities in the number of beacon signals transmitted by each smart meter per minute. These beacon signal transmissions are programmed by the utility to “keep the network healthy” and to “synchronize the meters.” This is done so that when the time comes each day for all smart meters to actually transmit their data, usually once or twice per day, the entire system works as designed.
- In July 2012 I measured three homes with smart meters and one home with an electromechanical opt-out meter in the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) service area in Central California (Landis+Gyr model smart meters and GE electromechanical meter). I measured the same power density levels and number of transmissions per minute from the three smart meters that is being reported by smart meter activists in San Francisco and other Northern California cities and towns in the PG&E service area.
- In my study of homes with smart meters throughout Southern California, however, I have found substantially lower power density levels of radio frequency exposure compared to the levels that I detected from smart meters in Central California. The levels in Southern California are lower by a factor of at least 75-100 times. (The one exception to this is GE brand smart meters used only by Burbank Water & Power (BWP), which transmit the same power density levels as Landis+Gyr meters that I measured in central California and are reported in Northern California.) (There are, also, transmissions of higher power signals by all smart meters once or twice a day when the actual usage data is transmitted. These have been measured to be higher than during the beacon signal transmissions.)
- Likewise, the number of synchronizing beacon transmissions from Itron Openway smart meters used throughout Southern California is also substantially fewer per minute than transmitted by the Landis+Gyr meters that I measured in Central California and lower than what is reported from PG&E meters in Northern California. (Again, the exception to this is Burbank Water & Power, where the frequency is actually one transmission every 15 to 20 minutes. Thus BWP customers have beacon signals that are much stronger than any other utility customer in Southern California, but that beacon signal occurs much less often than anywhere in the state.) (To view this report, click here.)
- Thus power density and number of beacon transmissions varies widely from utility to utility. It is therefore not accurate to say that all smart meters are the same. Nevertheless, all wireless smart meters are still harmful and should, in my opinion, be replaced with meters that communicate only over hardwired lines.
- As harmful as smart meters are, however, there are additional forms of EMFs in homes and offices that people should also know about.
- It is interesting and important to note that some electrically hypersensitive (EHS) people report that while they can tolerate the more steady wireless transmissions from cordless telephone base units and Wi-Fi enabled Internet routers, they cannot tolerate the intermittent and much more short, sharp and persistent beacon signal transmissions from smart meters on their homes and in their neighborhoods. They say this even when the power density levels from smart meters are lower than from these other devices, as they are here in Southern California. Thus for these people, smart meters are a definite health hazard. Researchers say the human body cannot easily accommodate to the short bursts of radio frequency exposure from smart meters, measured in milliseconds.
- It has also been my observation, and the observation of my colleagues around the country, that those electrically-sensitive individuals who are most bothered by smart meters almost always have one or more serious EMF exposure issue in their home concurrent with their smart meter. These other EMF issues (high electric fields, ungrounded outlets, wiring errors, knob and tube wiring, close proximity to power lines) are usually above and beyond the normal EMFs we find on our home evaluations. In our opinion, these additional EMFs create a situation whereby the client’s body is simply not able to cope with the overwhelmingly negative health impact from the combination of all these EMFs, causing them to be more sensitive to the addition of a smart meter than is the case for other homeowners who do not have these same serious EMF issues in their home. Remediating these other EMFs helps reduce the electrically-sensitive person’s intolerance to wireless transmitters. The bottom line is, if you are bothered by smart meters, besides opting out, make sure you get your home evaluated and mitigated for all types of EMFs so that you can truly heal.
- Furthermore, smart meters cause another problem aside from radio frequencies. There are credible reports from two engineers in San Francisco that smart meters used by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) generate detectable transient voltage harmonics on circuits throughout the house as seen on oscilloscopes. These include Landis+Gyr and GE brand meters. These harmonics, a form of “dirty electricity” and presumably caused by the switched mode power supply used in smart meters, cause symptoms in certain people in the PG&E service area separate from the ill effects known by these customers to be caused by radio transmissions.
- Many of these customers noticed the onset of symptoms starting the day the smart meter was installed. These symptoms are thus presumed to be from the harmonics of dirty electricity because they occurred before the radio frequency mesh network was activated in their neighborhood and on their meter. This was verified by measurement with radio frequency detectors.
- I have studied many homes in Southern California with smart meters (using different brands than used by PG&E) and have not found evidence on my oscilloscope thus far of any harmonic frequencies that I can attribute directly to the smart meter, yet, I do measure harmonic frequencies caused by other known sources of dirty power, such as dimmer switches. I realize this statement flies in the face of the widely assumed fact among smart meter activists and concerned citizens throughout the US and Canada that all smart meters produce dirty electricity, but I made significant attempts to try to measure these harmonics and was unable to attribute any to the Itron Openway brand smart meters that I measured. I did find harmonic frequencies, but in all cases they had a known cause other than from the smart meter. Click here to see the study.
- Note 9/12/13: Furthermore, in July 2013, I worked with a client in Thousand Oaks, California who is an Electrical Engineer who informed me that he had read that Itron does filter their smart meters. He said he would look up that citation and get back to me, and I await that. I will post that information when I obtain it. This may indeed explain why I have not documented thus far any evidence of dirty electricity explicitly attributable to the Itron Openway smart meters measured in Southern California.
- This is consistent with the report from engineer and fellow building biologist Tom Wilson of Orlando, Florida that all smart meter manufacturers put filters in their smart meters to filter out these harmonics. The fact, however, that harmonics are being measured from PG&E smart meters and that PG&E customers report the onset of symptoms from their smart meters before the radio transmitter is activated, while others of us do not measure harmonics from other brands of smart meters, may indicate that these filters work with some brands and not with others. See my smart meter study page for details.
I am in contact with engineers within my profession to review my findings for accuracy and to help our profession develop a reliable, consistent protocol for measuring harmonics of dirty electricity throughout the country and Canada to verify that they do exist as universally as is now presumed. We want to be accurate in knowing exactly what is causing the symptoms that people genuinely do feel with these devices, and we also want to maintain our credibility among outside engineers and utility representatives with whom we communicate as we try to find solutions to this health issue.
- Thus I have come to the preliminary conclusion that dirty electricity from smart meters may not be the universal phenomenon that smart meter activists and concerned citizens believe it is.
- I have also come to the conclusion that people in the PG&E service area, one of the first utilities to roll out smart meters in the country, experienced a “triple whammy,” so to speak, when they were deployed. The three elements of this triple whammy included: 1) Very high power density levels from the beacon signal transmissions; 2) A very high number of transmissions per minute; and, 3) According to measurements taken by engineers in San Francisco, the additional presence of harmonics of dirty electricity on circuits and plastic AC power cords. This confluence of effects caused symptoms in numerous PG&E customers and prompted citizen pushback against the utility. This forced the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to issue mandatory opt-out provisions for all three regulated electric utilities in the state (PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric).
- However, it is also accurate, according to my evaluation of clients’ homes, to say that what is true for smart meters in Northern and Central California is not universally true for customers of other utilities throughout the state or nation. I do know, however, that people in other parts of the country are experiencing the same degree of symptoms as people in Northern California, at least from the transmission of radio frequencies and possibly from the effects of dirty electricity (if it exists beyond PG&E’s service area). I also know that we measure similar power densities and numbers of beacon signal transmissions per minute in other utitilies outside California.
Here is what I do not know:
- We do not know who else in the country has actually measured harmonic frequencies known to be caused solely by smart meters. We would like to know what other findings exist outside Norhtern California to corroborate the presence of dirty electricity from smart meters.
- If filters are indeed present in all brands of smart meters, how effective are they in blocking harmonic frequencies from getting onto circuits and plastic power cords?
- What is the reason some electrically hypersensitive people are so bothered by smart meters when they can tolerate other wireless devices, even when power densities are measured at much higher levels from these other devices than the smart meters on their homes?
In conclusion, it is my observation that smart meters in Southern California produce beacon transmissions that are less strong and occur less often compared to those in Northern and Central California. It is also my observation that smart meters outside Northern California may not be producing dirty electricy. I present these observations and the conclusions they lead me to not to support the deployment of smart meters, but rather to separate fact from assumption and so that concerned people can focus on what is truly causing their symptoms and what is not.
Furthermore, it upholds our credibility to be accurate in what we actually measure and to what we attribute the very real symptoms that many people have and continue to experience from smart meters.
(End of July 4, 2013 summary.)