Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/26/us_smart_meters/
Americans resort to padlocking their dumb meters
We don't like smart meters round here
Campaigners across America are resorting to padlocks and metal cages to protect their 'leccy meters, convinced that the smart versions will damage their health.
The Georgia Senate is busy passing a bill allowing customers to opt out of having a smart meter fitted, and without cost, but some of the locals are concerned that while they're out Georgia Power (and others) will assume consent and upgrade the meters. These anti-smart-meter residents believe the new meters will poison their brains and bodies, so are turning to physical protection of their dumb meters.
There are many arguments against smart meters, primarily that they're justified on the baseless assumption that once we know how much electricity we're using we'll start using less, but there are also legitimate privacy concerns and suggestions that at some point in the future we'll end up ceding power to the power companies, who might get to decide when we can wash our clothes or run our heaters.
But these protests aren't about that, they're about the installation of a radio transmitter, which is part of a dastardly plan to infiltrate American homes without asking, as one protestor puts it in his complaint about the Pacific Gas & Electric Company:
A 'SmartMeter' is actually a general-purpose digital radio transceiver including an unknown array of sensors, which would form a node in a PG&E wireless mesh data network ... to use its 'foothold' on customer premises at the gas and electric meters to effect an uncompensated taking of valuable radio transceiver and antenna siting rights.
But it's the health risks of placing a radio transmitting into homes which really has people upset:
"A lot of people are getting sick, they're getting symptoms of insomnia, ringing in the ears, heart palpitations, some diabetics are having trouble controlling their blood-sugar levels" says Leah Spitzer, talking to CBS Atlanta.
But Stop Smart Meters Georgia doesn't rely on hearsay and anecdotal evidence, it can call upon the impressively named "American Academy of Environmental Medicine", an organisation researching such ignored treatments as "Hepatic Detoxication Enhancement" and "Sauna Depuration", not to mention a few we couldn't make head nor tail of, including "Total Load Phenomenon".
Here in Blighty smart meters won't be compulsory, but how one opts out has yet to be decided. In America the process is already underway, so Stop Smart Meters has posted pages of recommendations on how your can secure your dumb meter to prevent anyone sneaking in and upgrading it. The group reckons that everyone who opts out should get $300 too, as they've saved the electricity company that much by declining the meter. ®