Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Smart Meter Blows Up / Bills highest ever / Skyrocketing power bills / Radiation labels / Cell phone warnings / WiFi EHS / 150 Year Old remedy / Insidious dangers

Sent: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 12:06 PM
Subject: 3 smart meter items

Three news items here.

Smart Meter Blows Up At Business

The PG&E Smart Meter has come under fire recently because some customers said their bills have skyrocketed since the new meter was installed, but one north of the river business said their Smart Meter had blown up.

Some employees at Henry M.M. Engines said their Smart Meter caught fire, which sparked concern and questioned the safety of these new meters. On Wednesday, a PG&E technician was called out to replace the meter after employees found the device burned up and lying on the ground.

"Basically it was an explosion. I saw the meter on the ground and the face plate was blew off and the whole meter was blackened. Even the breaker box that housed the meter was blackened by what seemed to be an electrical short," said Vernon Nelson, an employee.

Another employee wondered how safe the meters are in general, especially for residential families?
ABC 23 contacted PG&E who said they are not aware of any smart meters catching fire or blowing up. However the PG&E technician told the employee as he was replacing the meter, that he had replaced at least 15 meters around town due to the same problem they had, said an employee.
"I wonder how many houses have burned down because of these Smart Meters catching fire?" said Nelson.

The fire department said there may have been some minor incidents of a meter burning up, but there were no confirmed house fires due to the meter itself. PG&E officials said they are investigating the problem at Henry M.M Engines, but so far are not sure as to why the meter seemed to be burned up at the plant.

Also see:

500 Bakersfield and Fresno residents attended five-hour smart meters hearings sponsored by Senator Dean Florez on Monday, October 5 and 21. Sixty residents testified that after smart meter installation, their monthly bills were the highest ever received, even while on vacation or after installing energy efficiency measures.

TURN has received over 100 smart meter complaints from Northern California.  While most of the complaints were from Bakersfield, others were from Fresno, Calaveras, and other counties in which PG&E has installed smart meters.

A pattern of PG&E smart meter billing which was erratic and difficult to explain, was uncovered during a week–long field visit to Bakersfield by TURN staff to conduct in–person interviews and detailed reviews of individual billing records.

TURN recommendations to address the PG&E smart meter crisis:
The CPUC letter of October 14, which orders independent testing of PG&E smart meters, represents an important step in resolving the smart meter crisis. TURN recommends the following steps to restore public confidence in smart meter technology.

1)  Expand representation on the Independent Oversight Committee, which consists of the CPUC Energy Division and the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, to include representation from local residents, local elected officials, and TURN.

a)  It is important to include key parties from outside of the CPUC to participate in the selection of the third party smart meter expert, the design of the investigation, and to vouch for the integrity of the process, findings, and remedies.
b)  The investigation should include a thorough review of customer accounts, customer interviews, comparisons of customer usage in hot weather locales that still utilize electro-mechanical meters, and every component of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure—i.e. smart meter calibration and accuracy, transmission of data, disaggregation of data, PG&E information technology systems, and billing software.
c)    The investigation should advertise that it will conduct individual bill analysis, smart meter inspections, and customer interviews upon request of any customer who believes that their smart meters are providing inaccurate usage or billing data.

2)  Impose an immediate statewide moratorium on smart meter installation until the independent investigation is complete, and remedies implemented.

a)  Assign all costs of conducting this investigation and delaying contracts for smart meter installation, upon PG&E shareholders, rather than ratepayers.

And see:


Fresno, CA (KFSN) — By Gene Haagenson
The hearing called by State Senator Dean Florez drew a standing room only crowd of folks upset about their PG&E bills. Florez opened the Fresno meeting saying, "We really would like to get to the bottom of some of these skyrocketing power bills."
Cynthia Baldwin is among many Fresno customers who saw their bills double, tripled or even quadruple over the summer. She said, "How did my bill go from 3 hundred dollars to almost 11 hundred, it didn't make such sense."
The steep rate jumps occurred as PG&E installed Smart Meters in hundreds of thousands of homes in the Central Valley this summer. The utility claims it's not the meters that caused the increase in electric bills, but rate hikes approved by the state, that the public may not have been aware of.
PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith explained that, "PG&E did a terrible job of explaining the rate increase that took place in March, and the impact that was going to have on customer bills, especially in the summer."
PG&E insists the meters are accurate but Mark Toney of TURN, The Utility Reform Network says there could be a number of problems in the Smart Meter system. He said, "It's possible the meters are reading correctly but somewhere in the system before somebody gets the bill there's a breakdown. We need to find out and ratepayers deserve an answer as to what the problem is and how to fix it."
The state Public Utilities Commission has ordered PG&E to respond to customer complaints by inspecting and testing the computerized Smart Meters.


Mayor Newsom backs radiation labels on cell phones>

Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, December 15, 2009, page A - 1
San Francisco would become the first city in the country to require that
cell phone retailers label the devices with the level of radiation they
emit under a controversial proposal being discussed at the Department of
the Environment and endorsed by Mayor Gavin Newsom.
There is no scientific consensus that cell phones pose health hazards, and
the Federal Communications Commission is adamant that any cell phone
legally sold in the United States is safe for consumer use.
But Newsom - who said he'll keep on using his beloved iPhone - said customers have the right to the information.
"The information exists, but not at the point of sale," he said. "If we
prevail, and I believe we will prevail, other cities will follow suit."

The FCC, working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has adopted
limits for safe exposure to radiation, which are calculated in terms of a
unit called the Specific Absorption Rate that signifies the amount of
radio frequency energy a person absorbs into his or her body and brain
when talking on a cell phone.
The FCC requires that cell phone manufacturers ensure their phones are at
or below a SAR level of 1.6 watts per kilogram of body tissue to be
legally sold in this country. Some phones emit as little as 0.2 watts per
Newsom supports legislation to require that cell phone retailers display
the SAR level next to each phone in a font at least as large as the price.
Retailers would also have to provide information about what SAR values mean.
All types of stores selling phones would be affected. The Department of
Public Health would monitor stores' compliance and could levy fines.
The city's environment commission is debating the legislation, though it
would need approval at the Board of Supervisors to become law.
Other ideas being discussed at the commission are encouraging the school
district to ban cell phone use in elementary schools because children are
more susceptible to radiation and requiring that all cell phones be sold
with a headset so radiation is farther away from the brain.
The Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, a trade group
representing cell phone companies, hotly disputes the notion that cell
phone radiation poses health concerns.
It points to the American Cancer Society's findings that cell phones are
"unlikely" to cause cancer and to the World Health Organization's
determination that cell phones aren't a public health risk.

John Walls, vice president of public affairs for the trade group, released
a statement reading in part, "CTIA and the wireless industry have always
been guided by science, and the views of impartial health organizations.
The peer-reviewed scientific evidence has overwhelmingly indicated that
wireless devices do not pose a public health risk."
The organization didn't specify whether it would fight San Francisco's
legislation, but Newsom said he expects it.
The Environmental Working Group, a national nonprofit research and
advocacy organization, recently conducted its own study on radiation in
cell phones and maintains that consumers should have access to the
Renee Sharp, director of the organization's California office, said only
recently have scientific studies examined radiation effects of people
using cell phones for more than 10 years.
 "There have been several very large studies which have been done in other
countries which have found increased rates of brain tumors and salivary
gland tumors especially on the side of the brain or side of the face where
th e user preferentially uses their cell phones," she said.
She said the FCC's regulations are inadequate, especially for children.
She said other countries are taking far more progressive steps, including
recommending which phones are safest for children.
Sharp, who has been advising San Francisco officials on their legislation, said more public information can only be positive.
Safest devices
The Environmental Working Group recently published information on cell
phones and radiation levels, including which devices are the safest. Find
the information at www.ewg.org/cellphone-radiation.
E-mail Heather Knight at hknight@sfchronicle.com.
This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Elizabeth Kelley, M.A. International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety www.icems.eu  info@icems.eu

- 15 12 2009 The Examiner San Francisco: "Law would require cell phone warnings"





Gk1 wrote:
Until last summer I was, like most people nowadays, very fond of all my modern communication gadgets from wifi to mobile, from Palm to laptops and all their advantages.

From 2006 onwards I went several times to see a doctor for heart palpitations, but they couldn't find anything wrong with me.
Then in July 2008 I suddenly started experiencing dizziness on numerous occasions, till it got so bad one night, suffering even from speech problems, that I ended up in A&E thinking I had a stroke or heart attack; in the following weeks I underwent many tests. The results showed I was absolutely fine, but the symptoms stayed. The doctors told me I just had been stressed, but the thing is I wasn't stressed at all prior to this.

To my own shock and confusion I realized that my dizziness always occurred, when I was in close vicinity to Wifi, mobiles, and mobile masts.

Other symptoms added themselves to the list: excessive sweating during the night, memory and concentration problems, a pain in my head, and discomfort either side of my neck [ glands ] pins and needles in my hands, a feeling of being static (I gave people electric shocks in that early period, when I shook their hands), prickly skin and even skin rashes. The latter, when I was sitting in front of my computer or the tv. Even certain light sources (energy saving light bulbs and neon lights) caused the skin problem to occur.

After medical professionals weren't able to help, I started my own research and found many websites and blogs by people, with exactly the same problems as mine. They are sufferers of electro-sensitivity (ES), a condition fully recognized in Canada and Sweden as a medical impairment (with 300.000 sufferers in Sweden alone) but unfortunately ridiculed in the UK. I had never heard of it (this to show I am not a hypochondriac), but once I realized that this was the source of my problems, I started clearing my home environment from Wifi, DECT phones and non-essential electrical items. My problems immediately started to get noticeably better.

Since I am suffering from this condition, I have spoken to many people about it and even if not everyone has fully blown symptoms of ES, I have encountered many people who have some of the described symptoms.

So the problem might lie on a bigger scale than the assumed 3-5% of sufferers worldwide. This is the main reason of me contacting you, as I have the feeling that more awareness needs to be raised, as many many people suffer of a small portion of ES symptoms. Especially prevalent seems the following:

Most men carry their mobile in their jacket or trousers for easy access. I used to carry mine in my motorbike jacket's front left pocket. When I stopped doing that the unexplained palpitations I suffered from for 2 years vanished immediately.
In conversations with friends, colleagues and fellow bikers I heard that many of them experience similar symptoms like pain or tremors in the chest area or what the American media refers to as "phantom text messages". Every now and then I'd think I had a text message, when carrying my phone in my trouser pockets, but when I checked there was nothing there.

According to Swedish scientist and ES expert Olle Johansson this is caused "by high intensity bursts of extremely-low frequency electromagnetic field charges that your phone is producing and (that are) affecting your nervous system."

This seems to affect mainly men, as men are more likely to carry their phone on their body than women, who mainly carry them in their handbags.

Of course I don't know, if carrying your mobile is a cause of ES or if these phantom text messages are just another symptom and the causes could lie somewhere else, like problems with your immune system for example, which could to make you more susceptible to all the electromagnetic radiation around us, but in any case I guess it can't be good to have heart palpitations.

I know: I have heard every joke about "vibrating pockets" and have been many times referred to Ben Goldacre's "Bad Science" column. There are definitely pseudo-scientists out there making a lot of money from scaremongering, but we have to distinguish between those and the victims in all this.

Retrospectively I am convinced that my heart palpitations were an early warning sign for what was happening later on. I might have been able to avoid to come to down with electro-sensitivity, if I had known more about it. And believe me: ES is not an easy thing to live with.

During all this happening I thought for a short period of time, that it might just be my ancient phone causing trouble, so I opted for an iphone, but that just made things far worse, which brings me to another issue of widespread problems nobody seems willing to be talking about.
Now I know that the radiation emitted from an iphone/ Blackberry is far higher than the one of my old Nokia. (Measured in SAR ratings: iphone a whopping 2.0, the ancient Nokia a mere 0.57) In the US for example the guidelines are much tighter, the iphone on the market there has a lower rating.

Since then I have spoken to many proud owners of an iphone. Many of them experience sleep problems (most of them seem to wake up in the early hours of the morning (around 4.30) and find it difficult to get back to sleep) and/ or feel ill. Even though some of them admitted, that their problems started shortly after acquiring their new gadget, they are of course unwilling to put two and two together. As I was when it all started happening to me.

Our fast communication tools are just so wonderfully convenient, that we are very reluctant to think, there might be a problem.
And I'm not talking about some weird conspiracy theory. Just the reluctance to let go of something making our lives so much easier. But maybe the price we are all paying on the long run will be too high?
Even though it should be said, that of course the revenue of the communications industry is vast.

But smoking used to be a relaxing pastime, didn't it?

If you are still sceptical, while reading this, maybe you can suspend your disbelief and convey an easy test: Maybe ask around in your office, if people are experiencing sleep problems and/ or the phantom text messages? Maybe ask willing participants to switch off their mobile and Wifi during the night, remove the DECT phone from the bedroom and not to carry the mobile on their bodies for a period to see if it makes any difference? The phones, if kept switched on by your bed (i.e. used as an alarm clock) will not let your brain go into a proper sleep pattern and thus not allowing for your body's necessary recuperation process to work over night.
There should be warnings on phones: Do not keep by your bed.

I am sure that the results of such a test will be very convincing.

Since all this has happened to me I have spoken to many fellow sufferers, as well. Many people, completely left alone by the NHS, forced to leave their jobs and in some cases even their homes. I am in writing contact with a woman who is now living in a tent, as it is the only place, where she can be symptom free. A desolate and lonely existence.

The people I have spoken to come from all walks of life: lawyers, bankers, actors, lighting technicians, librarians etc. They all suffer the same symptoms. If they were all hypochondriac, how come they all have the same set of symptoms? Surely this can't be some sort of mass hallucination or hysteria.

Even the though numbers are growing ES sufferers and anyone trying to ask for more research are being ridiculed.

So far research hasn't come up with any conclusive results, but as a sufferer of ES I know, that has just to do with the fact that the scientists undertaking the trials don't understand (or worse don't take it seriously) and so the lab environment is a problem in itself for most sufferers.

The whole scenario reminds me very much of the case of ME (especially because of some of the similarities in symptoms between the two illnesses). Sufferers of ME were ridiculed for years as having "yuppie flu". Maybe there is even a link?

For more information:

2 British websites about ES:

A Canadian website about ES:

The Swedish website about ES:

The following website and articles are about the (proven!) negative effects of energy saving lightbulbs (for everyone, not just ES sufferers) and the planned ban of tungsten bulbs by the government this year:

Recent articles in the press.


Other problems to come include the widespread ideas of rolling out wifi over whole cities and the installation of so-called smart-meters, that will send your electricity usage reading wirelessly to the providers.
I am already scared, how I will be able to live my life and cope at my job with the increasing EMFs and Wifi everywhere.

Looking back it would have been great, if I had known more about the possible problems of overexposure to modern communication. So I am trying to raise awareness wherever I can. For example I have contacted my local MP (with no result unfortunately), talked to age concern (who were interested in some of the scenarios), had an article published in two Motorbike magazines etc. and I will keep going…

Personally I'm really worried for the future of all my friends and family living in this country. I believe we are sleep walking into a really big problem for our health.

Listen to your body, not the telephone industry! Money talks, not the public heath.
12/15/2009 5:31 AM EST

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Insidious dangers of a brave new wi-fi world ...

THANK goodness someone is asking 'is electro smog causing our headaches?' (Mail). We certainly should urge caution in installing blanket wi-fi coverage in towns and cities.

While not everyone appears to be affected (so far), the future is an unknown quantity. Our local councillors would have us believe it's 'all in the mind' and the wi-fi providers assure them, of course, that it's perfectly safe. I still work in the town, but too much time in the High Street makes me feel dizzy, so I avoid it if possible.
This whole venture has caused my husband and I great distress, expense and the upheaval of having to move house -- plus I now have to travel three miles to work instead of a five-minute walk.

In this age of 'human rights', I wonder what the 'rights' are of people like us? Should councils be allowed to force wi-fi on towns, whether people want it or not? What about electro-sensitive people who are made ill from it? It seems the French and German authorities care more for the health of people in those countries than do the authorities here. In Glastonbury, we're told we have to 'move with the times' -- but at what price? I know from my own experience that it causes health problems and I feel very sorry for the people of Swindon.

Mrs J.  EDWARDS, Walton, Somerset