A SMART meter has caused untold grief for a Balwyn North family of four, eventually forcing them out of their home.
John Aparo and Virginia Lo Giudice and their two sons, Alexander and Lucas, said they were left with no choice but to move after their smart meter was installed near her bedroom.
“I started having heart palpitations and not being able to sleep,” Mrs Lo Giudice said. “It would take me an hour to get to sleep and then I was constantly waking up every couple of hours.
“I also had nausea during the morning and headaches, was always fatigued and had no energy, and just had a general feeling of being unwell.”
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Mrs Lo Giudice said she hadn’t experienced those symptoms before the smart meter was fitted.
She said she saw her doctor, who carried out a number of tests, but couldn’t find any underlying issues.
The 49-year-old said she called CitiPower — who had connected the electronic device outside her bedroom window — to see if she could have it removed or relocated, but was unsuccessful.
CitiPower spokesman Drew Douglas said it, along with Powercor Australia, had put in all but 4000 smart meters out of 1.1 million in its service area.
“Throughout the entire process we’ve tried to work with customers for anyone that has concerns about smart meters for any reason, keeping in mind it was a government-mandated program,” Mr Douglas said.
In reference to Mrs Lo Giudice’s specific case, he said “once the meters had been installed, we didn’t have old meters to put back in”. (Stop Washington Smart Meters: DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO REMOVE YOUR ANALOG METER!!)
Mrs Lo Giudice said she redesigned the layout of her home, including moving her bedroom downstairs.
“In the end, it was too hard to reconfigure the house, so I thought if we can’t move the smart meter, we’ll just move ourselves.
“I was sick and tired of feeling that way and I know that when we went away or when I wasn’t near the smart meter, my symptoms went away and I felt good, so I didn’t want to risk any further complications.”
“I started having heart palpitations and not being able to sleep,” — Virginia Lo Giudice
Mrs Lo Giudice said she didn’t want to leave the area, so they bought another house on the same street when it became available.
Energy and Resources Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the smart meter rollout was almost complete.
“Independent testing has shown that electromagnetic signals are lower than many other common household devices, such as cordless phones and baby monitors,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
Mr Douglas said the smart meter’s internal radio transmitter worked at about half the signal strength of a mobile phone. “It makes the equivalent of a mobile phone call of a few seconds length, several times a day,” he said.
But Lou Coppola, a candidate for the People Power Victoria — No Smart Meters party at November’s state election, said the Government hadn’t conducted any long-term research into the meters’ health effects.
“If Virginia was the only case, you could say it’s one of those freaky sort of things and there’s probably not enough data to make a considered or informed decision,” Mr Coppola said.
“But when you consider there are thousands of people that are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation, which is emitted by the smart meters, you have to say there is a problem.”
SMARTER THAN YOUR AVERAGE METER
■ Smart meters measure and record electricity usage every 30 minutes
■ Readings are sent automatically to electricity distributors
■ Victoria’s five electricity providers — CitiPower, Powercor, Jemena, United Energy and SP AusNet — install, manage and own the meters
■ Meters were first introduced in 2008
■ Nearly 2.8 million have been installed in Victoria