Protests against the rollout of smart meters in California are reaching new levels of insanity. In this video, from last Wednesday, members of West Marin Citizens Against Smart Meters literally block the road to the small town of Inverness to prevent contractors from installing smart meters in homes there. A local sheriff shows up and eventually arrests two protesters who refuse to let trucks pass.
Katharina Sandizell-Smith, one of the two women who gets arrested in this video, told SF Weekly the residents are worried about three things:
Privacy—I don't want to be watched all the time; health—I want to see the peak pulse emissions from PG&E; and the under-the radar rollout—they're installing them in our homes.
The privacy concern is that, because the smart meters record near real-time data about home energy use, PG&E might, in theory, be able to tell when residents are home and even what they're doing. That worry just doesn't get me very exercised, but I might feel differently if I had a bunch of grow lights running in a closet.
The health concern is that electromagnetic waves from the wireless smart meters might cause everything from headaches to sleep problems to malignant tumors. You can find some of the evidence for this worry at EMF Safety Network.
Thirty-one experiments testing 725 "electromagnetically hypersensitive" participants were identified. Twenty-four of these found no evidence to support the existence of a biophysical hypersensitivity, whereas 7 reported some supporting evidence. For 2 of these 7, the same research groups subsequently tried and failed to replicate their findings. In 3 more, the positive results appear to be statistical artefacts. The final 2 studies gave mutually incompatible results. Our metaanalyses found no evidence of an improved ability to detect EMF in "hypersensitive" participants.
Indeed, at minute 2:05 in the video above you can see one of the protesters using a cell phone—another device that produces an electromagnetic field—without any apparent qualms.
These protests are a shame because smart meters are a necessary component of a modern energy grid. They will let us price energy according to demand, make it easier to prevent blackouts, and provide people with real-time information about how much energy they're using so they can conserve.
I admire the West Marin residents for their skepticism and willingness to defend their community against perceived health risks. Those are good qualities in general. But this just isn't the right cause. Smart meters are part of the solution, people.