ARTICLE

Smart meters not so 'smart'

Alliant Energy's Downtown Industrial Substation was built after the 2008 flood on ground that did not flood. Photographed in downtown Cedar Rapids on Monday, June 11, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Alliant Energy's Downtown Industrial Substation was built after the 2008 flood on ground that did not flood. Photographed in downtown Cedar Rapids on Monday, June 11, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

In June I received written notice from Alliant Energy stating that within two weeks Alliant would be installing a meter “upgrade.” The note indicated my power would be off during installation, and I would be notified when that would take place. It provided no information about increased cost, options for opting out or potential risks of the “upgrade,” a smart meter.

Two days later, a serviceman was installing meters on the side of my condo building. I told him I had heard bad things about smart meters, and didn’t want one. After attempting to convince me, he marked my meter with an “X” and replaced the remaining six on the outside wall, below my headboard. I have grave concerns about the emissions I will be exposed to every day and at night while I sleep.

I learned from testimony at an Iowa Utilities Board hearing that smart meters will pulse EMR (electromagnetic radiation) into our homes up to 11,000 transmits per week, not 42 per week as stated on the Alliant website. Other sources of EMR include microwave ovens, cellphones and Wi-Fi, which we can use at our discretion. Not so with smart meters.

Anecdotal accounts indicate people were threatened with opt-out fees if they refused installation. The Iowa Utilities Board has continued the hearings on smart meters through Dec. 5, and no ruling has been made about allowing opt-out fees.

Alliant wants customers who decline a smart meter to pay a tariff of up to $30 per month to keep reliable, safe and long-lasting (50 years) analog meters. Smart meters are costly for consumers to replace about every 6 years. I am very careful with my energy use for financial and environmental reasons and I find this unfair and unacceptable.

I could not prevent the other six meters on my building from being installed. My neighbors, who were all at work, did not know Alliant was coming that morning, nor did they know anything about the new meters. This appears to me to be a stealth maneuver on an unsuspecting public.

Researching smart meters, I discovered well documented negative consequences:

• possible threats to health

• invasion of personal privacy through sale or distribution of data

• fire hazard

• national and personal security issues through hacking

• loss of meter reader jobs

• higher monthly bills and costly future replacement

Former CIA Director James Woolsey said smart meters are a “really stupid grid” that can be hacked, causing the grid to be “shut down or completely annihilated.”

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EMR has been classified as a Class 2 Carcinogen (like DDT and lead) by the World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Environmental Medicine has called for a moratorium on smart meters.

Groups are fighting for the right to keep analog meters. Several European countries have decided against full scale rollout. New Mexico denied smart meters citing “no benefit to the consumer,” and hundreds of thousands have been removed from homes due to safety (particularly fire) concerns.

I’m requesting IUB provide a no-cost opt-out option for all Iowans, and I urge all consumers to make an informed decision.

• Miriam Kashia lives in North Liberty.

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