Decision based on cost, but a local resident who started a national movement to ban smart meters claims they can harm health in some individuals
April 7, 2011 (La Mesa)—Helix Water District customers won’t be getting smart water meters anytime soon. The Board of Directors opted against the change.
“We don’t want to spend a million and a half dollars,” board vice president John Linden stated. The board also noted that among 322 pilot project customers who do have the smart meters, only 9 percent accessed the smart meter website to check their energy usage.
Members of the public presented arguments for and against the smart meters. Susan Brinchman, a La Mesa resident who started the website www.smartmeterdangers.org, presented evidence raising concerns over potential health risks. Brinchman has provided ECM with a letter from her doctor to SDG&E, in which the physician states that Brinchman has suffered harm to her health from an SDG&E smart meter on her home.
Brinchman had previously been diagnosed with sick building syndrome but says she had been feeling better until SDG&E installed two smart meters, one for gas and one for electric, on her home--including one right outside her bedroom.
According to her physician, Dan O. Harper M.D., the wi-fi frequenty generated by the SDG&E smart meter “has escalated her symptoms and is causing fatigue, insomnia and cognitive dysfunction. I am hereby requiring that the unit be removed from her home as soon as physically possible. This is covered under the American Disability Act of 1990 under the invisibilities section.” Brinchman says she also believes ear pain and a ringing in her ears are related to her smart meter and says some symptoms improved after she moved out of her bedroom, located near the meter.
SDG&E has denied the request from Brinchman’s doctor in a letter which states that the utility has “carefully reviewed available factual information” and that “the Americans with Disabilities Act…does not require SDG&E to remove your smart meter.”
Brinchman’s website contains links to articles and studies linking radiation levels associated with Smart Meters to various health impacts, fires caused by smart meters, and a study which claims measurements at some smart meters exceeded those claimed by utility companies. Legislation, AB 37 by Assemblyman Jerod Huffman, would impose a moratorium on smart meters and give customers a choice to opt out. The California Public Utilities Commission, after receiving numerous complaints from consumers alleging health problems from smart meters, is considering an “opt out” option for PG&E customers that would force ratepayers to pay $500 if they wish to opt out of having a smart meter.
Helix Water District’s Tim Ross, in a letter to Brinchman, says the district is unaware of any health problems and has relied on reports by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, World Health Organization, and California Council on Science and Technology in reaching that conclusion.
Dexter Levy, a La Mesa resident, encouraged the Board to keep its pilot meters and gather more data, a view shared by Gordon Place, La Mesa Patch.com reported.
As for the potential for smart meters to cause fires, San Miguel Fire Department spokesman Leonard Villareal sent ECM an e-mail which states, "We did some checking and in a survey of Fire agencies and SDG&E, there have been no reported smart meter fire starts in our county." He added, "Looked like they had a problem in Texas with a couple of homes."