Smart Meters and 5G Wireless Technology Need Scrutiny

By PATRICIA BURKE

National Grid is seeking to replace gas and electric meters with controversial next-generation, two-way wireless meters in Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts. Critics of National Grid are calling for regulatory action to address allegedly fraudulent results reporting for the smart-meter test program in Worcester, Mass. National Grid submitted the disputed results to utility regulators in all three states.

Testimony submitted in February to the Rhode Island Power Sector Transformation Advisory Group indicates that the Worcester pilot results misrepresented customer acceptance, participation, cost savings, and energy savings. The two-year National Grid pilot program was budgeted for $45 million, with recorded costs reaching $60 million before it was completed.

Public testimony provided in April to the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission raised additional concerns regarding claims about the lifespan and replacement cycle for the meters and software, hacking and security threats from an electromagnetic pulse, fire risk, billing issues, misrepresenting energy savings, and health concerns. Testimony also highlighted the damage to property values for neighbors of Worcester’s Cook’s Pond substation, which was in violation of sound ordinances due to improper engineering.

Massachusetts residents were appalled when National Grid overrode citizen health complaints by promoting the testimony of a career mercenary scientist, Peter Valberg, who has represented Philip Morris cigarettes. He is also on retainer to defend the fossil-fuel company We Energies against coal-dust liability claims. Valberg is an expert health spokesman for the smart-meter industry. In 2016 he was featured in the series Science for Sale by the Center for Public Integrity for denying the significance of the largest-ever reported cluster of occupational brain tumor deaths at a chemical plant in Texas.

Certain health-vulnerable populations appear to be susceptible to developing a crippling intolerance to wireless emissions, including those with multiple chemical sensitivity, cardiac conditions, and Lyme disease. Symptoms have decreased for multiple sclerosis and autism patients by reducing the burden of electrosmog. Smart meters prevent residents from being able to protect themselves in their own homes because of the non-stop, pulse-modulated microbursts of radiofrequency energy, and the introduction of high-frequency voltage transients onto household electrical wiring.

In addition to smart-meter concerns, Rhode Island has expedited the rollout of fifth-generation (5G) wireless infrastructure. As reported by BroadbandNow, “Wireless carriers are eager to deploy the technology across their footprints as fast as possible. Unfortunately, that means steamrolling concerns voiced by local governments, residents, and businesses that want more say in how and where small cell structures are deployed within their communities.”

Rhode Islanders for Safe Technology and the Toxics Information Project will screen the documentary Generation Zapped May 22 from 7 p.m.-9 p.m., at the Saylesville Friends Meeting House, 374 Great Road in Lincoln, R.I. Admission is free.

Patricia Burke works with activists calling for new biologically based radiofrequency energy exposure limits. She lives in Norfolk, Mass.