May 29, 2015

Ulster legislators urge state passage of smart meter opt out law for customers

Kellie McGuire, BSP Reporter
Posted

“I had a regular life,” Michele Hertz of Accord said about her life before Central Hudson installed a ‘smart meter’ on her home in Accord. Hertz has sustained injuries from the emissions put out by the ‘smart meters,’ she says.


Starting in 2009 she began to experience symptoms, which made her feel that “I was slowing losing my mind,” Hertz said. She had heart palpitations, buzzing in her ears and problems sleeping.


“I had no idea what was making me sick,” Hertz said. Eventually an electrical engineer suggested to her that the new ‘smart meter’ was leaking throughout her home. That was the beginning of her fight.


For the past five years, Hertz has been involved in the campaign to have the Smart Meter removed not only for her home but for people all over the United States.

According to Hertz, the ‘smart meters’ were not tested for health and safety standards.


Tuesday night the Ulster County Legislature voted unanimously to pass resolution 315 in support of NYS Legislation to stop the utility companies from requiring consumers to use the ‘smart meters.’ Ulster County Legislator Ken Wishnick (New Paltz) proposed the resolution.


”There were 19 people who came out to speak about their concern about being forced to have smart meters,” Wishnik said. “Concerns that it was causing harm. The Environment Committee felt that if people feel a device is causing harm that they should have a right to not have it.”


The Ulster Legislature cited many concerned citizens, and similar issues found throughout the country as well as the fact that “this Legislative Body believes there is sufficient concern expressed that consumers should be given a choice to “opt-out” of being forced to utilize “Smart Meters” rather than go without electricity”, as their reasons for passing the resolution.


The Ulster County Legislature does not have jurisdiction over the utility company’s smart meter installation policy. This authority rests with the NY Public Service Commission (NYSPSC), which has declined to change course. However, the NY State Legislature can direct the actions of the PSC and it making headway into doing so with the bills that have been introduced in the Senate and the Assembly to provide for an “opt-out” opportunity for any utility customer, according to Wishnick.


Members of the Ulster County Environmental, Energy and Technology Committee met with representatives of Central Hudson to discuss the issue of ‘Smart Meters’ in the weeks before the vote. “Representatives from Central Hudson, including myself, met with the Environmental, Energy and Technology Committee,” John Maserjian, Spokesperson for Central Hudson, said. “It was a very productive meeting. We exchanged good  information. We spoke with some residents after the meeting.”


Maserjian explained that the digital meters use low power radio to transmit usage information. The new digital meters works very much like the old analog meters, in that it records cumulative energy use and provides a meter reader index number that’s compared with reading from previous cycle to determine energy use for that period.


Meter readers must still be in the vicinity and use a hand held devise to read the signal. The radio signals are approved for use by the NYSPSC and they meet FCC and American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a private institution, which measures radio signal safety.

“We are finding that the signals for the transmitters are below the standards set by the FCC,” Maserjian said. The NYSPSC sets a requirement that meters be checked regularly.


“We are changing meters according to requirements for time tests. At the time of the test we are replacing old meters with one of these newer meters,” Maserjian said. “Right now we don’t have an alternative to that meter. We removed the analog meters from use because they are no longer manufactured and we no longer have manufacture’s support.”
In terms of the people’s complaints of injury Maserjian replied that they are exploring options.


“We are looking into the possibly of working with the Public Service Commission on finding an alternative for those customers who prefer a different type of meter. Not just to Ulster but the entire service area.”


Hertz said Central Hudson has removed the ‘smart meter’ from her home and her symptoms have faded. “Oh my god I’m so grateful that these Legislatures took such bold and swift action. They heard their constituents. I commend Ken Whistick, Carl Belfiglio (Town of Esopus), Tracey A. Bartels (Town of Gardiner, Town of Shawangunk) and the entire Environmental, Energy and Technology Committee of the Board of Legislators for this.


Ulster County residents should be proud of their Legislators’ leadership in addressing the injurious radiation emissions from ‘smart meters’. I hope their colleagues in Albany will follow their example,” Hertz said in response to the passage of Resolution 315.

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