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Letter to the Editor – Electric Meters

Dear Editor:

New electric meters

The new electronic meters are here, but are they a blessing or a curse? After a hard look at the design and construction of this ITRON meter there are the following observations:

The biggest weakness is in the power disconnect, it suffers from a small surface area for the disconnect contact and would be prone to excessive heating and likely result in contact pitting and carbon deposits that are not readily visible by the customer and there is not a sensory circuit that could detect it and report it to the consumer or the utility. This design would be prone to creating unpredictable fires.

The second weakness which is causing thousands to become ill is the lack of a common mode and differential filtering of the SMPS oscillations being injected from the meter onto the house wiring circuit, thus making the whole house into an antenna with dangerous RFI/EMI. Overall costs for the needed components would be around $1.50 per meter/circuit board. There are ways to design a SMPS without these filters, and this design would need to have a solid ground reference to earth, but this meter design and construction does not permit an earth ground, so this scenario is unfeasible.

The power required to run the AMI meter is borne by the homeowner. It was never disclosed to the public that their bill will go up by over $115/year just to power the meter. Also the added load on generating capacity was never used in the justification for the investment required for the deployment of AMI. This gives a false impression on the AMI program reducing energy consumption. It does not save any energy for the consumer or the utility. (The analog meter does not cost the consumer or the utility any energy to power it.)

The privacy and security of the full AMI program is another exposure that has not been fully disclosed to the consumer. The broad based scenario of incorporating the Internet of Things (IoT) in the home environment and linking it to a meter creates increased exposure of personal information to third parties without consent. The fact that the consumer agreed to the service agreement of the utility for provision of electricity does not imply the consumer has by default agreed to the disclosure of personal information to places not named and should be a large concern. Imagine if this was the case when you buy gas for your vehicle. Should the gas provider require you to ID the type of vehicle you are driving before the pump is tuned on?

The utility consistently states the RF emissions of the meters meet FCC requirements — a misleading statement, because FCC require-ments are for the effects of enough ionizing power to cause the brain to heat up by 1° C. There have been over 800 peer reviewed independent studies not funded by the industry that have linked this type of low level non-ionizing RF radiation to a group of diseases including brain cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, tinnitus, skin rashes and open sores, among others. Industry funded studies do not concur with these findings so this adds to confusion on the health effects attributed to the meters. I have personally met many of the affected consumers and this is no joke or set of psychological conditions.

The fact that there is a set of circuit boards in a power meter at all is a large risk, as the circuit boards would not be able to withstand a lightning strike or a power surge without an explosive reaction and likely melting of the circuits. This would lead to total destruction of the unit and a possible fire to the structure it’s mounted on.

Patricia Davis

Ava, Mo.