Hi, friends! This post is going to appeal to a very specific group of people... so it's okay you're looking at the title thinking, "What is this? I don't care about this!" You have permission to stop reading!
But maybe you're like me. Maybe you're concerned about smart meters (or are curious about what they are and why they might be a health concern). Maybe you don't have one and don't want one. Maybe you even live in Northeastern Pennsylvania like myself. Read on!
I'm not going to make this an in-depth post about the "WHY" of smart meters. There are plenty of people who think I'm crazy for having any concerns at all about them. But I do. If you're completely confused by what smart meters even are, here's a quick explanation: the analog meters that used to be the norm for measuring electricity usage (and gas usage and water usage)- the ones that required a meter reader to come record the numbers on them- are being replaced with smart meters that use radio frequencies to automatically send the information about your electrical usage to whomever needs that information (and maybe even some people who don't "need" it). This is a very basic description!
I first heard of smart meters about a year ago when I became interested in electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) and started reading about them and their impact on human health. At the time I didn't know anyone who had a smart meter but it became clear after a little research online that the plan was to eventually install them in my area. First my in-laws got one... then I noticed my parents got one... and finally I received the dreaded letter in my mailbox: smart meters were coming to my area.
I received a follow-up letter not too long afterwards informing me that within the next few weeks, someone would be in my neighborhood to replace my analog electrical meter with a smart meter. The letter informed me that I didn't need to be home for the switch to be made... which freaked me out because how would I talk to the installer and inform him or her that I didn't want a smart meter if they came to install it when I wasn't home?! My solution was to post a sign next to my meter. I simply wrote, "STOP! Please talk to the residents of this property before installing a smart meter." But I was also on HIGH ALERT for any activity involving the electrical company (like I had a neighborhood watch station going on from my living room) and alas, one Tuesday morning (4/11/17 to be exactly) I noticed a small white truck labeled with some electrical company names I recognized driving around the town and I knew the fateful day had come after doing a little spying on him from my front door.
In what research I was able to conduct regarding NOT getting a smart meter in PA, one thing was clear: there was no official "opt out." A lot of states allow residents to not get a smart meter. It usually involves an extra process and cost, but the legal option exists. As of right now, there is no such program in PA. You're legally required to have a smart meter if you want to get electricity in your home. So I was nervous. Really nervous. I've spent nights worrying about this... I've spent a lot of time praying about this, desperate for some calm and maybe some answers. I know it might sound ridiculous but it's really hard to swallow that I have no choice but to have a radio frequency transmitter installed on the side of my house. As long as the World Health Organization continues to consider radio frequencies possible carcinogens, I give myself permission to want to reduce my exposure to them, especially as a pregnant woman living in a house with two young children!
Anyway. The truck eventually pulled up to my house. I got my kids dressed for outside play and hurried my pregnant self out the door after them. First the man doing the installations walked up to my neighbor's house. They have a dog- it's a nice dog but he was understandably cautious to approach their porch where the dog was sitting. I tried to make friends and called over, "It's a nice dog. I can't promise anything but I've never seen her be mean!" He seemed friendly and said something about coming over to my place next when I said, "I actually wanted to talk to you about the smart meter installation. I'm one of those crazy people who doesn't want one. What are my options?" He first tried to assure me of their safety by explaining to me the the signals the meter used were similar to a walkie talkie. Eventually we got to the important stuff. He said he didn't have to install one today. He said he could note that I had asked not to have one installed on my property. He shared that he personally thought there was no reason not to get one and gave me some information about them and I listened patiently and thanked him. He said the system wasn't entirely set up yet anyway so someone was still coming around to read all the meters. I asked if he was the only one who serviced this area and he told me there were a handful of people who did. He said he knew of other people who sent in their own readings but said I'd eventually have to talk to Penelec about it because under Act 129 smart meters are required or electricity can't be provided... which I was aware of but my plan was and still is to stall for as long as possible until there is *hopefully* a legal option to opt out!
So today, we survived round one of the smart meter attempt. I'm so thankful. I could have done I happy dance. I thanked the man who didn't install it but instead nicely talked to me profusely. I've read horror stories about people getting arrested because they didn't want smart meters and had the police called on them when they tried to confront the installer about it. Thank you Lord for a little more time!
Is this going to be the most informational and helpful post on smart meters that exists? Nope! But it is a story of hope- until this morning I had no idea what to expect. I honestly thought someone would come and say I had no choice. I certainly didn't want the cops called on me! I will try to update and I have updated but for now I'm leaving a sign ON or RIGHT NEXT TO my analog meter saying that we do not consent to the installation of a smart meter just as a small protection.
Please share any additional information you might have in the comments below! It's so hard to find information on this topic and I think we can start to help each other out by sharing our knowledge and experiences.
UPDATE AS OF 6/13/17
After initially declining the installation of a smart meter on my home as described above, I received a phone call and several letters from my electric company (utility? I don't know who's who) with requests for me to contact them to "discuss my concerns" and "arrange for the installation of a smart meter at my residence." There were eventually threats that our power "could" or "would" be disconnected. So it is with great sadness that I am sharing that we now have a smart meter. It was installed 5 days ago. My husband "gave permission" but really, our hands were forced! Like what kind of choice is that? Smart meter or no electricity? How disappointing!!! To be honest, I'm trying not to think too much about it. It makes me sick with worry and I already have enough anxiety going on right now with postpartum hormones/lack of sleep. If anyone has ANY inkling of hope or suggestions on how to have it removed... please share in the comment section below. Pretty please! Even support groups are appreciated, so I know there are other people out there just as opposed as I am.