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February 04, 2021

Smart Meters Coming to All Islands in Hawai`i!

by Debra Greene, PhD of KeepYourPower.org

Action Needed Now on Smart Meters in Hawai`i!

Hawaiian Electric (HEI) has broken their promise of a voluntary opt-in and proposes to install smart meters throughout the islands (except for Kauai, which is already saturated).

Submit comments NOW to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to stop this deception and hold HEI accountable

The comment window could close at any moment, so please ACT NOW!  

Sample Testimony and backstory below…. 

Quietly and without public notice HEI submitted their smart meter opt-out proposal to the PUC on September 30, 2020, which effectively reverses their voluntary opt-in currently in place. 

In early October 2020, a KeepYourPower [KYP] Oahu Co-Leader contacted Wilfred Lum, supervisor of HEI’s Meter Division, and was told HEI would not be switching to smart meters, and “had no plans” to switch to smart meters. This, despite that the opt-out proposal had already been submitted in September! In his position, he must have known. Why did he give false information? 

The proposal, at a cost of over $2.5 million, is just Phase 1 of HEI’s Grid Modernization Plan. Guess who’s footing the bill? 

Despite that the PUC has not yet ruled on their proposal, HEI already sent out notices stating they will deploy smart meters (now called “advanced” meters) beginning in 2021. 

Here’s the link to HEI’s opt-out proposal to the PUC: https://dms.puc.hawaii.gov/dms/DocumentViewer?pid=A1001001A20I30B42401J01426

SAMPLE TESTIMONY:  

Email To: [email protected] and [email protected] and [email protected]

Subject Line: Comments for Docket No. 2018-0141 

Include your name and the docket number.

Sample testimony:

Please choose from the following points. Mix and match and ADD YOUR COMMENTS. Please DO NOT copy/paste the entire list! 

State that you OPPOSE HEI’s proposed switch from opt-in to opt-out for advanced meters for one (or more) of the following reasons….

  1.  Mystery fees. Under their proposed plan, customers who opt-out can be charged fees, including recovery costs and an opt-out fee, at a later date without knowing what the fees will be or when they may be imposed! This is unacceptable. HEI says they are concerned about customers who are financially vulnerable. How, then, does an open ended fee proposal, in which customers may be caught off guard by huge surprise fees at some future undetermined date, align with this alleged concern? 
  2. Opt-out is not an opt-out. Customers who opt-out are not guaranteed they will not get a smart meter. In the proposal Hawaiian Electric states customers will have the choice to defer installation (“the deferral does not reflect a final determination by Hawaiian Electric regarding advanced meter installations”). In other words, I can opt-out (and be charged fees) and still be stuck with a smart meter. This is not right. 
  3. Low income customers targeted. Low to medium income customers are identified in the HEI proposal as those who would especially benefit from smart meters. Is this because low income customers are known to be computer savvy and would log-in to the advanced meter interface online, study the charts and graphs (this being the only way customers could possibly save money from a smart meter), and purchase new, expensive energy efficient appliances after determining that their affordable, older model appliances are energy hogs?
  4. Smart meters are not safe. The proposal claims that “The Companies will also deploy advanced meters for safety purposes”. This is a joke. Hundreds of fires, multiple explosions and several deaths have been linked to smart meters.The increased fire hazard of advanced meters forced on customers and/or installed at neighbors’ residences is a violation of human rights. http://emfsafetynetwork.org/smart-meters/smart-meter-fires-and-explosions
  5. No customer choice. The proposal says, “The Companies plan a robust customer communication program to encourage participation, accelerate deployment of advanced meters and emphasize customer choice.” In reality, the proposed switch to opt-out from opt-in amounts to coercion instead of customer choice. The current opt-in approach gives customers choice. A customer-oriented plan would always be an opt-in, never on an opt-out basis. Worse yet, under the proposal “opting-out” does not even mean “opting-out” but “deferring,” which means no choice. Where is customer choice when Hawaiian Electric is forcing smart meters on customers?
  6. Irresponsible business practice. COVID-19, which is referenced in the proposal, has caused massive layoffs and closing of businesses on all islands. The unemployment rate in the state of Hawaii is extremely high. Now is the time to be employing more utility meter readers, putting people to work, not depriving those who are left of their gainful employment. If Hawaiian Electric really cared about people and our economy they would not be proposing to replace employees with technology at this time. Instead, they would be hiring more meter readers and actively looking for ways to put more people to work and boost the economy. 
  7. Smart meters are energy hogs and are incompatible with Hawaii’s energy goals. They are not clean or green. Advanced meter mesh networks consume large amounts of electricity as part of their normal operation, much more than mechanical meters. The HEI proposal is not about saving energy, it’s about collecting data through advanced metering and selling that data, providing a new, lucrative income stream for HEI at the expense of customers who have no choice, since HEI is a monopoly.  
  8. Advanced meters are a health hazard. If ever there was a question about the harm of wireless radiation from wireless devices, such as smart meters, that question has been answered. After the FCC last month found no evidence of harm caused by wireless technology, the Children’s Health Defense and other groups sued – and included 11,000 pages of evidence refuting the FCC’s conclusion. Read the story and the mountain of evidence here: https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/landmark-5g-case-against-fcc-hearing-set-jan-25/ If ever there was a question about the FCC shirking its duty to protect the citizens of the United States against the onslaught of wireless radiation, that question has been answered. FCC guidelines will be changed. Smart meters will become another  stranded asset. It’s not worth the health risk, the financial risk, nor the liability. 
  9. ADA provisions are missing. Electro-sensitivity is a recognized disability. The HEI proposal contains ADA no provisions for people with electro-sensitivity whose bodies cannot tolerate the wireless radiation emitted by smart meters. Smart meters cannot be moved, nor can they be shut-off. People with electro-sensitivity must be accommodated the same way wheelchair users are. The latter don’t have to pay a fee for wheelchair access. 
  10. Smart meters are a public health hazard. There are over 2000 scientific studies documenting the negative health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) such as those emitted by smart meters (www.BioInitiative.org). The World Health organization has declared EMFs a Class 2-B carcinogen – the same category as lead, car exhaust, diesel fuel and chloroform. Why should our monopolistic utility be allowed to impose this on us? 
  11. Advanced meters are a liability. Swiss RE, the  second largest insurance provider in the world, lists “unforeseen consequences of electromagnetic fields” as the highest risk category and devices that emit wireless radiation, such as smart meters, are excluded (i.e., not insured) across markets. This is too much liability for the state of Hawaii to take on and should not be allowed.
  12. Smart meters will not make for faster grid restoration, contrary to what the HEI proposal claims. According to the BRIDGE 2015 Outage & Restoration Management Survey Results Summary, 81% of the surveyed utilities had installed “smart” meters, but only 16% use smart meters as their primary source of power failure alerts. Customer calls come first.  
  13. Advanced meters are obsolete. In an official report, one of New England’s largest utilities, Northeast Utilities, criticized smart meters in detail, saying there was “no rational basis” for their implementation, and that advanced meters did not reduce outages or “modernize” the electricity grid. A report by the National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy (NISLPP), Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid, states that smart meters are obsolete and will not lead to sustainability. We, the rate payers, would foot the bill for an unnecessary and dangerous technology.  
  14. Smart meters violate privacy. Data collection by advanced meters violates privacy and constitutes in-home surveillance. The Hawaii Civil Liberties Union has cautioned against use of smart meters due to the potential violation of our Fourth Amendment Right to Privacy. 
  15. Smart meters make our electrical grid vulnerable to hacking by petty thieves and rogue nations. The FBI warns that smart meter hacking may cost utilities $400 million per year. Former CIA Director James Woolsey says: “It’s a really, really stupid grid”. When governments, global corporations and nuclear power plants are regularly hacked, a smart grid poses a massive security risk. 
  16. Power bills increase with advanced metering. In one study on 10,000 homes, 80% saw their rates go up after smart meters were installed. Smart meters cost customers more with spikes in billing, inflated bills and by forcing people to pay higher prices through time-of-use billing. So many customers saw their bills inflate after smart meter deployments in Texas and California that class action lawsuits were filed. 

 

Here’s a link to the backstory: http://mauiindependent.org/smart-meter-victory-maui-utility-consumers/

Here’s the link to Docket No. 2018-0141. Type in the docket number (with dash) and click on “Documents” tab to see all the documents related to Phase 1 of HEI’s Grid Modernization Strategy: https://dms.puc.hawaii.gov/dms/dockets?action=search

 

Thank you for all you do! Together we are stronger.

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