SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Smart electric meters are being installed in homes across the Southwest. The meters are smart because they are digital and have a wireless connection to the utility. Homeowners can also track their own electricity use. So power regulators and the electric industry love them because they save money and can save electricity.
But there is a growing concern that the smart meters’ low-level radio frequency is somehow causing health problems –- and some say the smart meters are part of a plan to take over the country.
Smart meters would seem like a smart idea -- save money, save power -- but some people like Dr. William J. Rea are convinced the meters are making people sick.
“I’ve seen an increase in upsweep of people who are damaged by smart meters. I just had one -- a fellow came in from Grayson -- he and his family came into their home and immediately got sick. Somebody had placed, without telling them, a smart meter right under their bedroom,” Rea said.
Rae explained his views to the Texas Senate Committee on Business and Commerce on Oct. 9.
He’s a former heart surgeon and the founder of a controversial clinic called the Environmental Health Center-Dallas. Rea’s testimony was refuted by Dr. Edward Gelmann an oncologist at Columbia University Medical Center.
“The smart meters are devices that do use radio frequencies. They are widely available and used in household devices such as the old cordless phones and in baby monitors -- they really don’t have the ability to interact with people and animals and cause adverse health effects,” Gelmann said.
Gelmann was paid by Oncor, a private energy utility, to testify before the committee. In an exchange with the committee he said we should not worry about smart meters since cell phones emit much higher levels of radio waves.
“I’m waiting for everyone to be walking down the street and have seizures, but it’s not happening, it’s not happening. But seriously cell phones have been studied because there have been concerns and in fact there’s no, in careful studies, there’s no adverse effects that are attributed to cell phones. Thank you that’s all I need to know,” Gelmann said.
The issue of smart meters which seemed so innocuous years ago has blossomed into a crusade not just for health activists but also for the conservative movement and the Tea Party.
They are say the mandatory installation of the meters is a violation of personal liberty, privacy and property rights.
Pam Colquitt is a Dallas resident and told the committee, “I don’t want the government or a creative monopoly telling me how to use my electricity or what kind of devices I use. This is America the land of the free and liberty and I should have a choice -- and I’m imploring senators and legislatures to put a complete halt to the government’s forced deployment of smart meters.”
Another witness, John Marler of the group Texans United Against Smart Meters, told the senators that the smart meters are actually part of a sinister United Nations plan called Agenda 21.
“There’s an initiative called Agenda 21 that wants to have the ability to control the resources of all nations of the world and part of that is that it can be done best through the smart meters,” Marler said.
The UN Agenda 21 really does exist. It’s a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan for sustainable development. The "21" in Agenda 21 refers to the 21st century. But it’s become a favorite fixation for radio talk shows hosts like Glenn Beck.
“The United Nations Earth Summit Agenda 21! That kinda sounds like Fahrenheit 451. I don’t think that ended well. Agenda 21 -- they refer to it as sustainable development. Well that sounds good. Gee Wally, that sure sounds great to me, who’s against development, especially the sustainable kind?” said Beck on his now-cancelled Fox News television program.
Several state and local governments have considered or passed motions and legislation opposing Agenda 21. Last May, Arizona tried to pass a law that would prohibit the state from cooperating with Agenda 21. It passed the state senate but failed to become law.
In Texas there are about six million smart meters installed so far, but a growing resistance. Wayne Richards, a Republican political strategist, told the committee about a San Antonio woman who took up arms to keep the smart meter installer away.
“So she went in the house, got her gun, came back and he bee-lined it out of there over the fence,” Richards said.
The opponents urged the lawmakers to enact a moratorium on installations or an opt-out clause. Industry officials say it would be difficult for a utility to reap the benefits of smart meters if they are not installed uniformly throughout the system.
And even though the mainstream may not take seriously theories of global conquest through home electronics, the Tea Party does have serious political influence, which could be enough to dumb down the smart meters.