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Smart meters are being forced upon Illinois residents, and those who resist will be forced to pay monthly fines.
The Obama administration began pushing for smart power and a smart grid in 2009. President Obama wanted to use funds from the taxpayer-funded stimulus bill to install 40 million smart meters around the country.
As previously reported by Off The Grid News, the smart meters would allow instantaneous sharing of home electrical usage data with power companies. Opponents of the smart grid devices have cited privacy issues, potential negative health effects, increased cost, and utility company manipulation of electrical usage with the often involuntary installation of the meters. Cyber hacking of smart meters to possibly overload and garner control of significant portions of the power grid is also an often-voiced worry about the smart power initiative.
Smart meters also can literally control newer household appliances that have the capability to communicate with the device.
In Connecticut, 30 percent of customers in a pilot program had higher bills after smart meters were installed.
The latest smart meter battle is being fought by Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) customers governed by the Illinois Commerce Commission. The governmental agency said that customers fighting back against smart installation are merely deferring the inevitable. Customers who refuse to allow the device to be placed on their property will reportedly be charged an extra $21.53 per month. The commission attempted to justify the added fee to cover the salaries of meter readers to determine monthly bills.
Last fall the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a $14.3 million Smart Grid Technology grant for the furtherance of smart grid systems in rural parts of America. The National Institute of Standards and Technology issued a report warning about smart meters:
In the current operation of the electric utilities, data taken from traditional meters consists of basic data usage readings required to create bills. Under the smart grid implementation, smart meters will be able to collect other types of data. Some of this additional data may constitute personal information or may be used to determine personal activities. Because of the associated privacy risks, only the minimum amount of data necessary for services, provisioning, and billing should be collected.
Illinois residents who do not want the smart meters have refused ComEd access to their existing traditional meters so the devices could not be swapped. ComEd is required to finish installation of smart meters in all homes by 2022. The Illinois Commerce Commission said that continued rejection of smart meters is futile and all homes will ultimately have the high-tech devices, whether property owners want them or not.
Illinois residents are not the only ones engaged in an uphill battle against government regulations and intrusion on both property and privacy rights.
Maine electric customers started vocalizing their opposition to the smart grid technology last year. Environmentalist Ed Friedman is one of the folks leading the charge against smart meters in America. Friedman believes that the smart power devices not only prompt an invasion of privacy, but pose health risks, as well. According to the Take Back Your Power documentary, smart meters may have a negative impact on human blood cells. The Maine man also objects to utility companies and governmental agencies being able to receive and transmit information from his home without his permission.
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“I called the company, I said we didn’t want one. And they said ‘You don’t have a choice.’ That got my back up. In this country, we have no choices about technology,” Friedman said.
The Stop Smart Meters website states that fire dangers are also a problem associated with smart meters. Fire calls after smart meter installations reportedly include the shorting-out of electronics of all varieties and the burning-out of appliances. According to the Stop Smart Meters group, the smart grid devices do not always emit less RF (radio frequency) exposure than a cell phone — as some utility companies allegedly state.
Former CIA Director David Petraeus once said that internet accessible appliances will transform the art of spying. Petraeus also noted that spies will be able to monitor individuals without ever breaking into their home and planting a bug. He went on to say that remote control radio frequency identification devices, or energy harvesters, sensor networks, and small embedded servers all connected to an online network will be all that is necessary for clandestine intelligence gathering. Unfortunately, it is not only possible spying by foreign terrorists on the grid Americans need to worry, but quite possibly the NSA as well.