Are smart meters bad for you? According to the courts, it’s not.
The battle between pro and anti smart meters has been on for years, ever since these devices have been installed in homes as part of the Advanced Metering Initiative (AMI) by the Central Maine Power (CMP) that aims to help residents reduce energy bills.
Many have claimed that smart meters have affected their health after installation. Cindy deBac, a resident of Scottsdale, AZ, is leading the fight against the installation of smart meters in homes as she claims to have experienced being adversely affected by a smart meter when it was installed in her home back in 2012.
These smart meters emit electromagnetic frequency (EMF) and radio frequency (RF) which is any of the electromagnetic wave frequencies that lie in the range extending from around 3 kHz to 300 GHz used for communications or radar signals. High-power extremely low frequency RF with electric field levels in the low kV/m range have been known to induce an annoying tingling sensation in the body.
The EMF Safety Network, an organization that aims to raise awareness against the effects of EMF and RF on humans and the environment, has a list of the alleged side effects of smart meters. The list includes sleep problems, headaches, fatigue, disorientation, dizziness, eye problems, leg cramps, respiratory problems, nausea, vomiting, skin rashes, high blood pressure, to name a few.
With claims to such symptoms related to residential smart meters, how did the court reach its ruling?
In a report (pdf) published in April 2014, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) concluded that smart meters pose no harm to people’s health. The report stated that the (RF) emissions from these smart meters comply with duly promulgated federal safety regulations and other RF emission standards, and are therefore safe for use in homes.
Despite the report, Ed Friedman, an opponent of smart meters, asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the hopes that installation of these devices will be halted due to health concerns. Yet in the face of the research data, Friedman’s request may be in vain.
But according to Agnes Gormley, senior counsel at the Public Advocate, the PUC has reviewed a large amount of evidence that debunks claims of smart meters affecting people’s health. CMP states that these smart meters send out a signal for nine seconds or less each day, so the risk or RF exposure is very minimal compared to the gadgets used in homes such as Wi-Fi routers, cordless phones, and even baby monitors.
The court concluded that the smart meter opponents wanted an “impractically high” standard for safety and that the PUC has provided enough evidence to prove that smart meters are not a health threat.
Friedman was not too happy about the decision stating that “The court has miserably failed the people of Maine, instead relying on CMP-supplied evidence.”