This post is a remake of the response to a Comment on this site. We felt it was worth more explanation on it’s own post.
A reader asked this Question:
“Do I have any legal options to get this removed and replace with an analog meter?“ I strongly recommend anyone who is adamantly opposed to the meters (whether or not you have one yet) should read to the end so you will have some ammunition to make your complaints to the PUC and your TDU. (TDU stands for Transmission Distribution Utility, who are the distributors, like Oncor/Centerpoint/Texas-New Mexico Power).
Answer- There is no simple way to get back to the old meter, like asking pretty please. If that would work, then all the people who have said they didn’t even want one when the installers came would still have their analog meters. (Some still do have their old meters if they have successfully ‘pushed back’ and been fortunate enough to have been home to thwart the installers, as well as having ‘outsmarted’ the smart meter installers. If you are home and you tell them to leave your property, according to Texas Law, they must abide-however, they can come back with approval from a judge i.e. an order to allow them to install the meter, at which time, you have no choice!)
You ask about legal options?
Well, how much money can you afford to spend suing Oncor? Anyone can really sue anyone about anything…so, yes you can take legal action. Now, in Texas, before anyone can ‘sue’ a Utility and have a chance at succeeding, one must first go through a process. Since I am not a lawyer, I won’t attempt to give legal advice. However, you can go to the PUC website, and you will see that there is an informal complaint form that you can fill out online. The website gives you a few steps. This step is the first required step, the next being to make a Formal Complaint (also described on the PUC website). Without going through this process, your suit would be thrown out for lack of following proper order of remedy. Note: when you file a complaint, you have to explain what you are ‘complaining about and why’, so take some time to formulate a rational argument for why you do not want the smart meter installed on your home. For example, if I were to file a complaint once I received a smart meter, after I have complained to Oncor first, [which is actually what you should do prior to going to the PUC, because the PUC is supposed to investigate Oncor based on YOUR complaint assuming the issue was not resolved to your satisfaction].
For example, I might tell the PUC, “I do NOT want the smart meter on my house or my neighbors for these reasons”
STATE YOUR REASONS, as you may have some perfectly legitimate reasons, such as
- They threatened to take your OLD meter, and leave you with none, if you didn’t accept the smart meter. [WRONG, this violates the PUC Rules Ch. 25* & UNETHICAL, BUT I have heard of this happening on many occasions-if it happened to YOU please contact us through our Contact Us link].*http://www.puc.state.tx.us/agency/rulesnlaws/subrules/electric/25.29/25.29.pdf
- They jumped over your locked fence, dis-regarded your NO SMART METER HERE signs.
- They never put a door hanger on to let you know it would be coming like they are supposed to.
- They never knocked when the installer came.
- You had a power surge problem because your electricity went off temporarily, etc. etc.
Here are some additional comments for your consideration. You can copy/paste these into your own document and revise as you like:
a) Violation of my 4th Amendment rights. According to the stated purpose of the smart meters, the meter is to ’monitor’ my consumption of electricity in my home. This consumption data, however, holds within it the imprint of a ‘digital fingerprint’ of every electricity-using device used in the home. My usage data belongs soley to me, according to Texas Law, and I have NOT given my permission for anyone to receive this granular data impression. There is no reason, nor have I given express permission for the Utility to gather detailed consumption data. Since the smart meter sends detailed data in almost real time, and since such data is NOT necessary for them to have in order to charge me for my monthly usage, I do not give permission to allow the Utility to gather my data in 15 or so min. increments. This monitoring constitutes unwarranted surveillance which violates my 4th Amendment rights.
b) Meters and the Data is not Secure. These meters are susceptible to unauthorized parties gaining access though hacking. Also, by ‘broadcasting’ the data wirelesly over the airwaves it can be vulnerable to hacker intervention. Such ‘hackability’ is documented, and is verified by (Ref.1) InGuardian’s Joshua Wright, upon testing smart meters for 3 Utilities stated among other troubling issues, “his firm found ‘egregious’ errors, such as flaws in the meters and the technologies that utilities use to manage data from meters. ‘Even though these protocols were designed recently, they exhibit security failures we’ve known about for the past 10 years.’ Additionally, many publications state that even though the meters are already being introduced, there is still much progress needed in the area of cyber security. One example of such a statement was made by (Ref.2) SMU researcher named Nair. Quote: “I would say we are in the early stages of incorporating serious security measures for these things,” Nair said. (Ref. 3)Even the former CIA Director James Woolsey states that the “smart grid is stupid”, and it is very vulnerable. He also stated that if YOU have the ability to remotely control your in-home devices, then there is the ability for a hacker to do so as well. Wouldn’t it be great if a ‘hacker-thief’ could raise your garage door, or remotely shut off your power to gain entry in your house?
c) I object for health reasons. There is numerous research studies *http://www.ehib.org/emf/ showing people with EMF exposures as having the same types of symptoms that many who have smart meters on or near their home are experiencing, i.e. tinitis (ringing in ears), heart palpitations, memory loss/brain-fog, insomnia/very restless sleep, headaches and more. Besides the symptoms people may experience initially and continually upon installation of a smart meter, studies show there is potential that long term exposure that the EMF exposure could be carcinogenic. Although the science is somewhat inconclusive to my knowledge, there have also been studies that show exposure to EMF to be harmful to some who are exposed, finding more incidences of certain cancers where workers or others spend time in proximity to EMF radiating devices. There are also additional studies *http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/09553002.2011.538130 concerning the dangers to our DNA caused by pulsed RF radiation, (such as the smart meters emit). I submit that the PUC, the TDU, (Oncor or Centerpoint), nor I, know the actual amount of exposure people will be experiencing when the smart meters come out from the test lab, and into operation as part of a ‘mesh network’ where not only is the meter transmitting it’s OWN data, but that of many other smart meters within proximity essentially causing a huge increase in the purported 1 min. avg. daily duty cycle* of a smart meter. *http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=6455 Where are the EMF test results of the field testing of the smart meters? There has been none to my knowledge, but if some exists, I would invite the Utility or PUC to produce it. If there is none, or very little, then why are we installing the devices without thoroughly testing the equipment in their intended habitat. The truth is, the utility likely has not tested the EMF of meters in their intended habitat of a Mesh Network, and therefore cannot claim to know what the real EMF readings are in our homes. I urge the PUC to find in favor of caution, to declare a Moratoreum. This would be using prudence to protect the public from undo harm, simply to follow the ‘precautionary principle’, better to be safe than sorry 10 years down the road. Common sense would require a test deployment of such smart meters with rigorous testing and observation prior to rushing further installations without proper analysis of health issues. Not only would this be prudent in possibly saving people’s health, but furthermore, I believe slowing down for more “Cost-Benefit” analysis would benefit tax-payers at this very financially distressing time.
d) I strongly object that there has been no effort on the part of the utility to find out if residents/customers have any health issues or wireless MEDICAL devices that might be adversely effected by the introduction of the smart meter. Research needs to be found or conducted as to how the smart meters will affect such medical devices before installation and possible failure of a device that could actually lead to injury or even death to the customer. This shows a blatant disregard for people’s health and other concerns on the part of the Distribution Companies (TDU’s) like Oncor, and I believe it to be tantamount to negligence as well!
(Ref.3) “What they’re doing now, they’re constructing what they call a “Smart Grid.” And they’re going to make it easier for you and me to call our homes on our cell phone and turn down our air-conditioning on a hot afternoon if we’re not there. Great, but that may well mean that a hacker in Shanghai with his cell phone could do the same thing or worse. And a so-called “Smart Grid” that is as vulnerable as what we’ve got is not smart at all, it’s a really, really stupid grid.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAid1bS8t9U
To my knowledge, if this still does not result in the smart meter being removed,(which is the most likely outcome), and you want to further pursue the issue, next you need to file a ‘formal complaint’. In this step, like the first, you are not required to have someone represent you. However, based on the experience of Devvy Kidd, who is currently filing a formal complaint with the PUC, she says she doesn’t see how anyone would really be able to make it through the process very well without legal counsel. At that stage, there is probably a burden of proof that requires you to substantiate your request/complaint. So, you would need to have research to back up your claims. At the time of this initial writing, Devvy is welcoming people to join with her complaint for those who would like to do so. In return, since she has retained legal counsel she would ask for some type of modest monetary commitment. You can find her on the web at www.devvy.com and use the contact link to email her your inquiry. Additionally: Here is a copy of a ‘formal’ Complaint by David Wilner (EMF Consultant) to the California PUC regarding their TDU PG&E. You can read it and get an idea of what it might take to create your own, although, I am sure there are differences in Texas, and again, Devvy can speak to the process since she is working on getting a PUC hearing on the matter (as of the initial writing of this Feb. 8, 2012). Here’s David Wilner of Wilner and Assoc. Complaint: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/efile/C/146649.pdf
I hope this helps. At the time of this writing, I didn’t have time to add further documentation for the health aspects of the complaint, but when I have time, I will come back to it. However, if you do some online research, you could include your own findings. When using data to send to the PUC, try to take information from reliable and appropriate sources. I recommend trying to site studies from credible researchers, and legitimately credentialed scientists or doctors in the field in which the research is done if possible. One credible researcher I have found is Magda Havas. Besides written documentation, she has many videos on her website as well as YouTube, and it is very easy for even laymen in most cases. I did however try to educate myself on such details as what the RF spectrum is to help my understanding of EMF/RF etc. It has been a bit tough to ‘wrap my brain around’, but I try!
All we can do is resist at this point, and let all the interested parties know how we feel, and about any inappropriate actions by the TDU’s like Oncor and Centerpoint who are not according to what I have heard and seen acting ethically, or according to the law in many cases! The other half is getting out the word to our family and neighbors. They certainly aren’t getting the whole story from Oncor/Centerpoint/PUC.