Seattle City Council to vote on Smart Meters June 30.

Dear Councilmembers Kshama Sawant, Mike O’Brien, and Sally Clark, and other esteemed City Officials,

Thank you for listening to public concerns about City Light’s smart meter program (AMI) and particularly for your statements (Kshama and Mike), affirming the wisdom of applying the precautionary principle (PP) in regards to this new and untested technology. If you are truly sincere regarding upholding the PP, it would seem the Council’s upcoming vote on June 23rd would necessitate imposing some sort of moratorium until a more transparent and careful analysis of the potentially far reaching negative impacts of AMI – in all its tweaked versions – will likely entail.

In reviewing the comments of City Light officials at Wednesdays Energy Committee meeting, it is patently obvious that these officials have an agenda they are following, with only superficial lip-service accorded to public concerns about health, safety, privacy, costs, etc. To highlight just one example of this, I raised the point in my public testimony regarding pulsed radiation and an outdated FCC exposure standard based on tissue heating. This was largely ignored by Mr. Gonzalez, Program Manager for AMI. In his comments he blithely remarked that the data is sent in a mere millisecond, only 30 seconds a day total time. Let’s break down the math on that: 1000 milliseconds = 1 second…. times 30 = 30,000 pulses of radio frequency radiation/day = 1 pulse every 2.88 seconds, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Nearly 11 million pulses a year.

As Dr. Henry Lai of UW Dept. of Bio-Engineering has stated, nobody truly understands what the long term health effects of smart meters are because they haven’t been studied. Anecdotally, as a health care practitioner of over 16 years, I am seeing increasing numbers of women (and some men) with fertility problems, anxiety, depression, headaches, immuno-suppression, rashes and strange inflammatory conditions, and a wide variety of other “medically unexplainable” conditions.

Cute sounding comparisons to the radiation of baby monitors, or single point equipment measurements offered as supposed proofs of safety readings are an insult to our intelligence. Claiming that the radiation level of a single reading is a small fraction of the decades old, corporate influenced FCC standard, does not by any measure offer proof of safety. Furthermore, Mr. Gonzalez’ reference to being within federal standards is unclear. Is this conclusion arrived at via an average exposure over time? And even if it isn’t an average, again, the FCC standards are based on an extremely limited number of studies and assume that the only health effects are based upon thermal tissue heating, failing to examine more subtle biological effects such as interference with the blood brain barrier, calcium channel regulation within cells, genetic mutations over time, etc.

The telecommunications industry is the most profitable industry on the planet now. Just as the oil companies have fought the truth of global warming with lies, and political influence in D.C. for decades in order to maximize profits, ignoring the impact on public health and the web of life of our Earth Mother which supports us all, the same greed and deception is at work here.

At one point, Mr. Gonzales said “safety is always the paramount concern”, however, he couches that concern in terms of meter location issues, completing dismissing the growing alarm expressed by health and medical professionals, many European governments and scientific literature such as the 2012 BioInitiative Report.

Regarding concerns about the selling of personal data, City Light – I believe it was Mr. Gonzalez – stated that they would never do that “unless the customer gives us permission”. Such a statement strikes me as being very odd and possibly foreboding. What customer would every knowingly give personal data to a utility company to be sold to marketing company. That seems an absurd proposition – unless such permission was buried in one of those multi-page fine print “terms of use” agreements which people foolishly never read, routinely signing away their rights? Promises are easily made and broken in order to push through corporate agendas on an unsuspecting public. Often such sleights of hand go unnoticed until it is too late. Oops!

At the end of the AMI meeting, Council-member Sawant asked for data from Portland, and BC utilities on their installations and Mr. Carrasco indicated “that wouldn’t be a problem.” Of course, Mr. Carrasco can retell the success stories of other utilities couched in terms of technological advancement, ignoring any adverse health data – again – because such data is nonexistent. As Christina, the last commenter eloquently and passionately shared, we are all guinea pigs inside a giant microwave cooking experiment. All life is interconnected. We are truly making a mess of this planet, routinely failing to consider the wider implications of our actions in our rush to embrace technology. If I sound alarmist, I am alarmed! I’m a father of an 11 year old who with every cheerful smile, is trusting me that I will exercise responsible stewardship and safeguard a future which in her mind, is still brimming with health and hope.

In fact, all twelve of the individuals who spoke during the public comment period spoke with depth, passion, articulateness and informed positions. All of them essentially said “No, please don’t force us to have smart meters.” Nobody had anything positive to say about smart meters – except City Light officials. That deserves some emphasis and reflection. And most of us are opposed to smart meters whether they are wired or wireless. Where is the independent data offering proof to the supposed claims of energy savings? As for removing 30 meter reader’s cars from the road, as several people noted, these meter readers could easily be given electric vehicles. Why not spend our limited resources of time and money on investing in solar instead?

Is it mere coincidence that Itron (noted in a 2008 press release on Senator Maria Cantwell’s web page), one of the global “leaders” in smart meter manufacturing, and that stands to profit greatly from the smart grid agenda, has its headquarters here in Washington state? Economic growth is pathological if it results in great harm to living beings and the environment.

Lastly, I regret the behavior of one individual acting on her own, who at the close of Wednesday’s meeting, in frustration threw the agenda papers angrily back across the room divider in the direction of a Council staff member. However, such behavior, while inexcusable, is worth calling attention to because it highlights the immense mental (cellular?) stress that many people in our shared world are experiencing today. Can we correlate radio frequency radiation (RFR) and psychological dysfunction? Again, there are no clear answers as such correlation as there is little research in this area.

However, Dr. Dietrich Klinghart, MD, PhD of the Institute of Neurobiology in Seattle did show a correlation between RFR and autism– so such speculation cannot be easily dismissed. How many people will be pushed over their psychic edge by excessive exposure to RFR, perhaps even to the point of being a causative factor in horrible acts such as mass shootings? Again, we cannot know the answer to these questions, therefore it is critically important that we do adopt a precautionary approach as Council-members Sawant and O’Brien both advocated for.

In conclusion, I implore you, as elected officials and stewards of the common good, to step back for a moment from the glitzy promises of brand new modern technology and consider the far reaching impacts to health, privacy, and costs to be borne by both taxpayers (e.g. potential rises in health care insurance rates as more people experience higher incidence of chronic illness), and ratepayers. Please impose a moratorium on the AMI portion of Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan until the many issues outlined above and brought forth by other knowledgeable members of the public, can be addressed with the utmost confidence, such that public health, privacy and economic fairness is assured.


Jordan Van Voast, L.Ac.

[Notes: The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. You can also contact the City Council and let them know your concerns about smart meters. Kshama Sawant is the Chair of the Energy Committee. Thank  you! Directions to City Hall. Please bring signs which make clear your opposition to AMI (“smart” meters) – which should really be called dumb meters. It’s a really dumb idea. Thank you!

October 2016 Update

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