by J. D. Heyes
As experts and Americans familiar with smart meters know, they represent a huge privacy violation. They are also inherently unsafe, yet you won’t hear much about that in the mainstream media.
Smart meters began to spread to homes and businesses some years ago, with power companies claiming that they were much more efficient, despite the fact that they monitor electric usage and send it via wireless transmission multiple times an hour to power companies. More on that in a moment.
They are also dangerous, as one Kansas City, Mo., resident learned recently. Waverly Galbreath’s home was in danger of burning down, thanks to a malfunctioning smart meter that caught fire and scarred the side of Galbreath’s house in July. He wasn’t at home when the fire started.
“I got a call from my neighbor and he said my house was on fire,” Galbreath told KSBH-TV. “But when I arrived, I found out the meter had exploded.”
A spokeswoman for Kansas City Power and Light (KCP&L) said that the company investigated the incident, but added the obligatory “this doesn’t happen very often” excuse. The utility’s vice president, Chuck Caisley, added that out of some 700,000 meters KCP&L has installed, just “a handful of meter malfunctions” have occurred. KSBH-TV reported further that there are multiple smart meter manufacturers and models.
But the models that KCP&L uses have been plagued with problems around the country, and Galbreath is far from being the only victim. While problems in the Kansas City area may be few and far between, hundreds of thousands of smart meters across North America have been recalled during the last several years. Also, there have been hundreds of fires – in California, Texas, Florida, Illinois and Nevada, as well as throughout Canada.
Curtis Bennett, a Canadian electrician professor, called it “a very dangerous issue,” and said that it ought to be considered a “real unprecedented emergency” wherever you live. Bennett has been engaged in an ongoing legal battle in his country over the use of smart meters.
He sent KSBH-TV investigative reporters thermal images that showed a dangerous smart meter connection that was running far too hot, as well as one that was operating normally. He said, “You’ve got this plastic piece of junk” on your property that is “actually what’s burning inside that meter base with the wires.”
Caisley said that the Kansas City utility has only had a half-dozen problems among the 700,000 meters it has installed. He did say, however, that the company has sent some smart meters back to the supplier after they overheated.
Norman Lambe, an insurance adjuster in California, has seven open smart meter fire claims at present sitting on his desk. And of the dozens of fire-related meter incidents he has investigated, overheating is the primary cause. He said that they spark and make too much heat when they operate, and that materials within the meters are flammable in the right heat conditions.
But the situation doesn’t look as though it will improve anytime soon; U.S. utility companies are spending billions of dollars on installing smart meters in all homes and businesses. Old “analog” meters with dials only record electric usage and have to be read, but smart meters transmit that information to the power company effortlessly. Besides sending information that most homeowners want kept private – such as when they get up in the morning, when they’re gone, any activity in the middle of the night, or a prolonged absence such as a vacation – the transmissions are what, in part, is causing the overheating, says Lambe.
Brian Thiesen, another Canadian, has spent hundreds of hours over the past five years looking into smart meters. He has even made a video about fires that have occurred thanks to overheated smart meters.
“These fires are going to continue to happen because again, the basic laws of electricity are being violated,” Thiesen said.
Fires, yes – and massive violations of our privacy.
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