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As FPL’s Smart Meters Convert 50,000 Flagler Homes, County Takes Dim View of Opponents

| May 22, 2012

The smart one is to the right. It's a digital replica, with more nimble capabilities for the customer and the utility company. (FPL)

For six months beginning this summer, Florida Power & Light will be replacing old electric meters with smart meters on some 50,000 Flagler County homes and small businesses. The conversion will virtually affect all residential properties. It’s part of a roll-out of 200,000 smart meters in Volusia and Flagler counties, itself part of FPL’s statewide conversion of 4.5 million in 32 counties to smart meters.

The smart meters are dormant 99 percent of the time, but they periodically transmit information back to FPL on the customer’s energy usage.

“Right now a customer doesn’t know how much energy is used until the bill arrives,” Elaine  Hinsdale, an FPL spokeswoman, said. “The smart meter will enable customers to actually manage and take proactive action if they want to reduce their energy consumption and thus reduce their energy bill. So the meter will tell them like it’s currently been telling FPL how much energy they’re using, they’ll be able to monitor it by the hour, by the day, by the week and by the month.”

The information can be monitored through a customer’s account online. The company in turn can use the information to better manage its grid and respond to problems when power fails.

It all sounds somewhere between innocuous and useful. To some customers however, the smart meter is a dangerous thing: a tool of “surveillance,” an intrusion on individual privacy, an environmentally dubious device that emits allegedly harmful electromagnetic pulses, and an extension of big government or big brother. Small but vocal minorities of customers are looking to opt-out of the conversion.

FPL itself is assisting them, for now. “If a customer has a concern about a smart meter, we will gladly put their installation on hold,” Hinsdale said. “We will conclude the installations in 2013, and at that time we’ll know how many customers we need to work with and how to address their concerns.”

But the opt-out customers want to be permanently off the smart meter grid. Some of those customers are approaching their local governments to draft them into a campaign that would limit FPL’s power to replace the meters. County or city governments can’t tell FPL what to do. But the Florida Public Service Commission can, up to a point. The commission is holding workshops later this year to hear public concerns about the smart meters and figure out how to balance FPL’s and most customers’ conversions with the concerns of those who are opposed.

In Volusia County earlier this month, the county council voted to send a resolution to the Public Service Commission supporting an opt-in provision for customers. In other words, a customer would have to be actively agree to a smart meter before one is installed, as opposed to the more passive option of opting out of one. The Volusia council in April had actually passed a resolution agreeing to an opt-out provision. But several people turned out at a subsequent meeting and shifted the commission’s approach. Opponents of smart meters took that as a victory.

Then they turned their sights on the Flagler County Commission, demanding a similar resolution locally. Commissioners received a letter from Joan Affatado, who has frequently and at times emotionally appeared before the Flagler commission to plead against smart meters’ introduction.

Flagler County Commissioner Nate McLaughlin brought up the matter Monday evening. “I think a letter of support for that resolution, or support to have the PSC look at these smart meters, make sure that they’re either proving or disproving whatever is our there. But I’m looking for this board to consent to a letter of support for that ordinance from Volusia County.”

Barbara Revels, who chairs the commission, asked fellow-commissioners if they were interested in having the county administration draft such a resolution.

“First they went with the opt-out, but now they’re asking for the opt-in. They want to make it optional,” McLaughlin said. “It’s just letting the PSC know where we stand. This is their decision. The whole smart meter issue is theirs, it’s not ours. But I’ve been asked to at least do a letter of support. That’s what I’m asking of this board.”

Commissioner Alan Peterson wasn’t willing to support an opt-in provision. “It ought to be the other way. It ought to be opt-out, because the vast majority—my guess is, the vast majority of the population doesn’t care one way or the other, so therefore that segment that really feels that this is a problem, let them opt-out. But they ought to have their option.”

Peterson is right: of all the 3.3 million smart meters installed so far with FPL customers, “about one-tenth of one percent have expressed a concern of smart meters,” FPL’s Hinsdale said.

Barbara Revels, who chairs the commission, brought up the matter of a resident whose home faces an entire meter bank. The woman is not connected to the anti-smart meter movement. But she is concerned about a cluster of meters so close to where she lives. “So there’s other issues involved with that, because she would not able to, if it was opt-out, have her meter pulled off the wall if other people were in on that bank. She was asking for there to be consideration regarding multi-unit properties.”

But Revels wasn’t favoring a Flagler County resolution similar to Volusia’s. “I want to make sure, like commissioner Peterson said, that this is really, really important for our future power management, across the country I believe, that we can learn from having our power better managed. They do that from data as well as I would want to go online and be able to see data changing in my household. I think that bit’s a really great thing. Until such time as someone has really been able to produce some scientific evidence of what it might do, I think that people should have that right to opt out, if it’s possible—if it’s possible—for the power company to do, and if it’s possible for the public service commission to approve that, and that’s as far as I want to go as far as the scope in being involved in this.”

Commissioner Milissa Holland agreed that an opt-in provision would be “way too cumbersome.”

Conclusive evidence on the alleged dangers of the smart meters is non-existent. Hinsdale says the meters emit one thousandth radio frequency of cell phones or baby monitors. Opponents of smart meters seized on a study by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine released in mid-April that urged “immediate caution” in the installation of the meters. “More independent research is needed to assess the safety of ‘Smart Meter’ technology,” said Dr. Amy Dean, board certified internist and President‐Elect of the AAEM. “Patients are reporting to physicians the development of symptoms and adverse health effects after ‘Smart Meters’ are installed on their homes. Immediate action is necessary to protect the public’s health.”

But the academy, while ennobled by an impressive name and supported by physicians, is itself suspect, opposing such things as fluoride in water and supporting the medically untested notion of “multiple chemical sensitivity,” which ascribes a variety of ailments in people to environmental factors, though such findings are based—according to Quackwatch’s Stephen Barrett, himself a physician, on “questionable diagnostic and treatment methods.”

FPL’s Hinsdale says the smart meters do not tap into the power use of specific appliances inside the home, though they do have that capability. The smart meters are equipped with two radio emitters, one a 900 mhz radio, the other a 2.4 ghz radio. The latter, which could tie into appliance use (as long as those appliances themselves have a chip[ that interfaces with the meter) is turned off, Hinsdale says, with no plans to turn it on—and certainly no such plans without the customer’s consent. FPL just concluded a pilot program in Broward where the second transmitter was turned on, but it involved 500 volunteers who opted into the pilot program.

Opponents of the smart meter who fear its surveillance capabilities point to the existence of the second radio as the equivalent of a Trojan horse: it’s there, ready to be turned on. That’s not quite the intention with FPL, Hinsdale said. “As with a lot of technology, it’s built for the future,” she said, with some utilities using the technology to other ends. “We are not. FPL has no plans to implement the option other than our proposed option right now.”

That option only measures overall power use.

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39 Responses for “As FPL’s Smart Meters Convert 50,000 Flagler Homes, County Takes Dim View of Opponents”

  1. tulip says:

    Has anyone given a thought to what these new meters are going to cost us on our bill? These meters will be paid for by the consumer—The electric companies do nothing for free. No one has even asked FPL about a fee and I read somewhere online there is one.

    If people want to know where they use the most electricity, look to the A/C, heat and pool—doesn’t take a potentiiall hazardous meter to figure that one out.

       1 likes

  2. Outsider says:

    It sounds to me like these meters will eventually have the capability to turn certain appliances on and off. I would like to reserve that freedom to me.

       2 likes

    • maggie says:

      outsider:

      reply to your two comments: Yes and Yes. Our freedom has been sold to the highest bidder. Any of you educated in global events will know who & what that is.

         1 likes

  3. Anonymous says:

    ill be wrapping the power box in lead after they put it in…

       2 likes

  4. Maredy Hanford says:

    Want to understand what is going on? Watch this:

    Technocracy – Patrick Wood (You Tube)
    “Technocracy” at the Eagle Forum Convention, Saturday June 18, 2011

       1 likes

  5. Marcus says:

    Government Conspiracy: Check
    Tin Foil Hat to Prevent mind reading and radio wave transmissions (see Maggie’s post for more details): Check
    Atlas Shrugged in case of boredom: Check
    Alex Jones’ cell number: Check
    Cyanide pills (In case of capture by communists, see Jone A’s post for more details): Check
    Picture of Glenn Beck (for inspiration): Check
    DNA from Ronald Regan (for the continuity of the Republican Party): Check

       1 likes

  6. Ann says:

    They already have these in South Florida- and at midnight the day after you are late- they cut your power off- so they certainly could cut off certain appliances as well.

       0 likes

  7. Ann says:

    not to mention peoples homes are catching fire after they are installed….

    http://www.wsvn.com/features/articles/helpmehoward/MI92249/

       1 likes

  8. Deborah Rubin says:

    I can’t believe this news article quotes Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch, saying he is a physcian–as if that makes him more of an authority than the AAEM doctors. Barrett was never Board Certified because he failed the exam http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/2008/12/skeptic-stephen-barret-of-quackwatchorg.html
    and here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3AStephen_Barrett/Archive_8

    “Dr. Barrett responds: I took the certifying exam in 1964 when about 1/3 of psychiatrists were board-certified. The exam had two halves, psychiatry and neurology. I passed the psychiatric part but failed neurology because it included topics unrelated to either my training or my interests. Unlike most residencies, my psychiatric training program had no neurologic component. Since there was no reason to believe that certifcation was necessary, I decided not to re-take the exam. ”

    and was taken to court for his accusations:

    http://www.quackpotwatch.org/quackpots/quackpots/barrett.htm

    Does setting up his own website make him an authority over emf scientists, too?

    They cite the AAEM, then discredit them without addressing any of the science the AAEM put forward, but because Barrett has slammed them. So we have Barrett’s condemnation of AAEM verses the 31 peer-reviewed studies and expert opinoins the AAEM cites.

    AAEM position paper: http://aaemonline.org/pressadvisoryemf.pdf

    And there are so many more expert opinions found here under expert letters: http://sagereports.com/smart-meter-rf/

       0 likes

  9. Anonymous says:

    The reason the large percentage of people are for the smart meter is that they have no idea whatsoever of the workings of the so called Smart Meter and should learn more about Smart Meters and their down falls. I recomend viewing the dark side to smart meters available on the web. Very informative and no BS. Comming from the worlds leading athority on smart meters not a sales person or employee of a utility company.

       0 likes

  10. Anonymous says:

    I have expertise in rf and radio transmission and the capabilities of smart meters. An excellent site to visit the dark side to smart meters. A lecture given by the worlds leading authority on smart meters, not an FPL employee or some Crack Pot. Its amazing that a smart meter has the ability to tell say for example if a person were to pleasure themselves with a Vibrator that ran on 2 d cell batteries with a dc induction motor at 1am in the morning. Thats not amazing Thats serveilance and a direct intrusion of our consttutional rites to privacy. Plus how long the vibrator was running. What about hypithetically speaking a individual was growing tomatoes or green peppers and the light happened to be a 1000 wtt. HPS lamp and it was on for 12 hrs a day law enforcement would assume they were growing Marijuana and that person was in the blooming cycle and pay the individual a visit to see what they were growing. Bull Shit envasion of privacy.

       1 likes

  11. Brenda says:

    Bottom line is… it’s my land, my house, my right to have or not have a smart meter! Why do I have to have one installed just becuase they send me a flyer stating they are planning to start installing them? I understand the points addressed earlier about we gave up our rights to privacy long ago with PCs, cell phones, etc… But those items, I willingly use. This item, I am not being given a choice. Reasons why I don’t want a smart meter…
    1. It allows people to identifiy what electrical devices I have and record when they are being used… a violation of my privacy.
    2. They monitor household activity and occupancy, a violation of my rights and domestic security.
    3. They transmit wireless signals which can be intercepted by unauthorized and unknown parties, that could be protentially used by criminals to commit criminal activity against me.
    4. Data about my family’s daily habits are collected, recorded and permanently stored in databases.
    5. These databases may be accessed by criminals, blackmailers, corrupt law enforcement, private hackers of wierless transmissions, power company employees and other unidentified parties who may act against us.
    6. “Smart Meters” are by definition, surveillance devices which violate Federal and State wiretapping laws by recording & storing in databases information attained without our consent or knowledge.
    7. Electromagnetic and Radio Frequency energy contamination from smart meters exceeds allowable safe and healthful limits as determined by the EPA.
    8. These meters can and will be hacked. A theif can use a coil and a battery to create an EMP pulse to turn off the power to a house in order to gain access.
    9. Smart meters are not mandatory! The Public Utilities Commission has no such authority to make a forced mandate.
    10. Smart Meters do not run backwards, making it next to impossible to “go green” by using solar panels to gain KWH credits.
    11. Lightening strikes or EMPs can change memory bits by adding extra electrons to the small memory cells. This can change the internal smart meter settings and calibration data, how accurate would their readings be then and who monitors if the calibration and settings are thrown off?

    People… stop allowing your rights to be stripped away from you!! Stand up for your rights, what little you still have left, before they are all gone!!

       1 likes

  12. F.P.L. will cut back on meter readers and make more profits for their stock holders.and they will take away individual rights of home owners.

       1 likes

  13. Diane says:

    I haven’t found a single positive about smart meters besides the fact that the homeowner can view usage. I’m already very conscious of my electric use and minimize usage at all times. I have to say, I am quite worried about the health effects and the fact that I don’t have a choice in doing what I believe is right for my family. That in itself is creating anxiety for me. I’ve opted out (postponed) for now, but my neighbors, whether they were home or not, got them installed.

       1 likes

  14. Mr Electro says:

    For all you people who actually believe these meters are safe………If an electronical signal can be sent from these devices then others can receive and/or transmit other electrical RF signals. With a little knowledge one can mix signals with WHAT EVER info or data instruction they want……..The major problem with electronic technologies is 95 % of the people using it have NO IDEA they are being monitored in more ways then you can imagine. Learn to QUESTION everything government does. They not your friend !!!!!!

       1 likes

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