Newstalk ZB smart meter discussion April 2016

There was a Newstalk ZB smart meter discussion in April 2016.

One of the hosts for the talkback radio station Newstalk ZB had a discussion of smart meters on air on April 5, 2016.

You can hear some of the discussion at the links below, along with some commentary.  There are a lot of different perspectives expressed by people who call in to speak to the host, Marcus Lush.

Newstalk ZB on smart meters April 2016

 

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FErPRZ5QKQs&nohtml5=False
Part 2: https://youtu.be/Q9X4_dEq7VU
Part 3: https://youtu.be/B0ovuRO1rtI
Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYW1BvJH5TI
Part 5: https://youtu.be/ADu6RAaCW0M

Please note that if you want to keep up to date with the smart meter news in NZ, you can join the free email list at www.stopsmartmeter.org.nz

Ferraris analogue meter installed at new home

Ferraris analogue meter installed at new home

For all of you out there who are building new homes and want to be smart meter free, there is a good news.

It was recently reported to www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz that Nova installed a genuine analogue (Ferraris) meter at a new home for a customer. (Update to this story:  The company that installed the new meter for Nova was Legacy Metering Group which offers alternatives to smart meters.  You can read about the types of meters available from this company at this link http://legacymetering.nz/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/LMG-Introduction-and-Meter-Models.pdf)

A Ferraris meter is a type of electricity meter that cannot produce microwave radiation and as it has no electronics and therefore no data storage capacity, Time of Use tariffs (see below) cannot be applied to electricity metered through a Ferraris meter.

 

Below is a photo of the Ferraris analogue meter

 

Ferraris meter installed at new home

 

TOU tariffs and YOU

One good reason for refusing a smart meter is that the “‘time of use” (TOU) pricing plans that a smart meter installation can facilitate can make electricity more expensive.  Please see the link below for details.

 

Smart Meters “Time of Use” pricing “punishes” families

Smart meters are NOT compulsory in NZ

Please note that while staff from some electricity companies have been telling their customers that smart meters are compulsory or are some sort of government requirement, this is NOT true.  (There is more information about this issue at this link )  If you do not want a smart meter because you are concerned about the higher bills that could follow a smart meter installation, or Time of Use pricing, many people in NZ are successfully refusing to have a smart meter installed using the techniques described at this link

 

If you would like to keep up to date with information about electromagnetic radiation and health, including the “smart” meter issue in NZ, please sign up to the free email list at www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz. Thank you

Whangarei residents report higher bills after smart meter installation

If you have experienced a significant increase in your electricity bill with no change in your electricity usage after a smart meter installation, you are not alone.

In mid-2015, the Northern Advocate reported on the experience of Whangarei residents who had much higher bills after a smart meter installation.  You can read the story at this link http://www.nzherald.co.nz/northern-advocate/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503450&objectid=11460616

 

Update:  The reason for the higher bill in the case of Alan Graf (who is featured in the story at the link above) has turned out to be that he had been incorrectly charged at a for three phase power (via the smart meter) for his residential home that uses only single phase power.

Since the story about Mr Graf, a news item on Maori TV reported on a greatly increased bill faced by another Whangarei customer as well as another Whangarei woman who has suffered health problems since a smart meter was installed at her home. The story is at this link:  http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/maori-tv-news-te-kaea-covers-the-smart-meter-story/

 

Have you had higher bills after a smart meter installation?

NB: If you are in the situation of having had a large bill increase after a smart meter installation, it could possibly be due to a faulty meter or perhaps your tariff may have been changed around the time that  the smart meter was installed.  If your bill increase does not appear to relate to increased electricity use,  you have the option of first complaining to your electricity retailer, and if that does not solve the problem, complaining to the Electricity and Gas Complaints Commissioner Scheme.

 

Smart meters are NOT compulsory in NZ

Please note that while staff from some electricity companies have been telling their customers that smart meters are compulsory or are some sort of government requirement, this is NOT true.  (There is more information about this issue at this link )

If you do not want a smart meter because you are concerned about the higher bills that could follow a smart meter installation, or Time of Use pricing, many people in NZ are successfully refusing to have a smart meter installed using the techniques described at this link

 

NB: If you would like to keep up to date with information about the “smart” meter issue in NZ, please sign up to the free email list at www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz. Thank you

UK Institute of Directors – will Smart Meters be the next Government IT Disaster?

 

On 27 March 2015, the Institute of Directors (IoD) released the following:

 

IoD calls for Smart Meters scheme to be ‘halted, altered or scrapped’ to avoid ‘unjustified, over-engineered and expensive mistake’

The Government’s rollout of Smart Meters, digital energy meters designed to provide real-time usage statistics, should be “halted, altered or scrapped” to avoid a potentially catastrophic government IT disaster, the Institute of Directors warns today.

In a major new report entitled “Not too clever: will Smart Meters be the next Government IT disaster?” the IoD brands the £11bn scheme, the largest government IT project in history, “unwanted by consumers, devoid of credibility and mind-blowingly expensive”. The business group calls on an incoming government to review the project and “consider a fresh start”.

The Smart Meter programme, which has the hugely ambitious target of installing 100 million new pieces of kit in homes and business by 2020, was initiated by Ed Miliband as energy secretary in 2008, following an EU Directive, and confirmed by the Coalition Agreement in 2010.  The report’s author, Dan Lewis, Senior Infrastructure Advisor at the IoD, calls the political consensus “a conspiracy of silence among politicians in thrall to big ideas and even bigger budgets”.

Lewis continues:

“The professed aims of the Smart Meter programme are laudable, and we all recognise the benefits of reducing consumption and increasing energy awareness. But there is little credible evidence to suggest that a scheme of this size and complexity will achieve those goals.”

The IoD report highlights a number of key concerns:

  • Despite the EU Directive, 11 nations have ruled out electricity smart meters and only 5 are pushing ahead with the 2020 target for gas meters. In contrast, as is so often is the case, the UK has gold-plated the Directive.
  • The government refuses to publish any of the reports on the programme by the Major Projects Authority.
  • The cost-benefit analysis conducted by the Department for Energy and Climate Change is so heavily redacted as to be almost unreadable.
  • The Smart Meter network would be vulnerable to cyber-attack and disruption.
  • Introducing time-of-day pricing to shift consumer demand will only work with price increases that are not politically realistic. Retail consumers really can’t change their energy consumption that much.

The report places the rollout of Smart Meters within the context of previous large-scale IT fiascos, including the infamous NHS National Programme for IT, the eBorders Programme and the BBC’s disastrous Digital Media Initiative.  Furthermore, a recent survey shows that 80 per cent of IoD members rate the ability of government to manage large IT projects as “poor or very poor”.

Dan Lewis adds:

“This scheme is far from smart. The dishonourable roll call of government IT projects that have haemorrhaged vast amounts of taxpayers’ money to no discernible effect needs no further additions. Consumers will not forgive the already unpopular energy companies for a costly programme which fails to deliver and ends up making them poorer. Without a change of direction, whoever wins the general election is at risk of overseeing a spectacular failure in the next parliament. They would be well-advised to consider a fresh start.

“Consumers do not want the meters, they have proved a costly mistake in countries where they have been rolled out, and the Government is withholding key details about their costs and benefits. This makes for a programme which is devoid of credibility, over-engineered and mind-blowingly expensive. Perhaps the only reason why the cost and ambition of this project has not become a national scandal already is because of a conspiracy of silence among politicians in thrall to big ideas and even bigger budgets.”

A key area of concern outlined in the report is that the technology behind the scheme is untested and some parts will likely be obsolete by the scheduled switch-on date of 2020. The new wireless standard, ZigBee, which is being developed for Smart Meters is complex and expensive compared to the better-known Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Each property will also get an in home display, but there is scant evidence of consumer demand. British Gas found that only 60% of customers looked at their displays even once a month a year after installation.

Recommendations

An incoming government should consider the following changes:

  • Stop the smart gas meter deployment – only a handful of EU nations are planning to deploy gas smart meters by 2020. This would save billions of pounds.
  • Remove the requirement for an in home display – expected to cost £800m in total, the displays will be out of date in a few years. Far better to connect smart meters to people’s phones, tablets and PCs
  • Limit the rollout to homes with high energy usage – those who use more than 5,100 kWh of electricity, and 23,000 kWh of gas a year have much more to gain. This would reduce the scale of the rollout by 80%.
  • Abandon attempts to stretch  the rollout to tower blocks – the most technically challenging aspect of the project with the lowest potential returns. This would remove seven million homes from the scheme.
  • Make the programme genuinely voluntary – offered to customers at their own expense, not subsidised by all.
  • Abandon the whole programme and develop a smart phone app instead – look into developing a smart app which would convert a photo of their current mechanical meter into a meaningful number for the suppliers. This would cost tens of thousands of pounds rather than billions.

Lewis added:

“We know that an incoming government will be under intense financial pressure, having to find further cuts to public spending. This does not fit well with increasing energy bills for a project that has such unrealistic targets, such large costs and such uncertain benefits.”

Read the full report here.

Source: http://www.iod.com/influencing/press-office/press-releases/smart-meters-a-government-it-disaster-waiting-to-happen

If you are interested in the smart meter issue, please sign up for the email list at www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz.  This link also includes a search facility to allow you to search the website for topics of interest.

Smart meters, the “Internet of Things” and your privacy

What impact could smart meters and the “Internet of Things” have on your privacy? This topic is explored on the link below:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/digital-electronic-internet-of-things-and-smart-grid-technologies-to-fully-eviscerate-privacy/5428595  

In the meantime, if you want to retain control of the appliances in your home (rather than cede it to your electricity retailer and/or lines company) you may wish to consider doing the following:

1)  Refuse to get a smart meter or getting an existing smart meter removed

2) Making sure that any appliances that you may purchase or already have in your home are not s0-called smart appliances.

Please see the link below for information on how a smart meter may allow your electricity company to take control over your heat pump or air conditioner – and how to choose a model that should not be vulnerable to this type of corporate hijacking:

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/smart-meters-heat-pumps-and-demand-response-functionality/

NB:  If you are interested in the smart meter issue, please sign up to the free email list on www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz  Thank you.

Commissioner’s private emails show he knew smart meters were causing harm but did not act to protect the public

The website of the award-winning smart meter documentary Take Back Your Power (www.takebackyourpower.net) has reported on how emails of the former president of the California Public Utilities Commission show that he was aware of adverse health effects from smart meters from as early as 2010 but chose not to do anything to protect public health. He was similarly aware of the problems with high bills after smart meter installations but did nothing to stop the smart meter roll out from going ahead.

You can read excerpts from key emails at this link:

http://www.takebackyourpower.net/news/2015/02/13/utility-commissioners-private-emails-reveal-conspiracy/

 

NB:  If you are interested in the smart meter issue, please sign up to the free email list on www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz  Thank you.

Hamilton City Council has been considering water meters, including smart water meters since 2012 – documents obtained under Official Information Act

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act show that Hamilton City Council has been considering installing water meters, including smart water meters, since 2012.

Below you can read the reply I received when I made a request under the Local Government Official Information Act for information regarding the Hamilton City Council’s plans regarding water meters, and supporting documentation is attached below the text of the email.

If you live in Hamilton and do not want water meters in general or smart water meters in particular you may wish to make your views known to the Council.  The water meters that have been trialled to date in NZ produce pulses of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) in the microwave range every 8 seconds.  This radiation has been classified as a possible carcinogen.  (You can read about the health and environmental concerns with smart water meters at this link:

If smart water meters were installed in Hamilton they could add considerably to the “EMR” smog in the city.

It appears likely that the WEL Network Ltd so-called “smart box” (actually a smart meter) may be able to be teamed up with “smart” water meters to collect the data from “smart” water meters.  (See this link for a discussion of this issue.)  It is NOT compulsory to have a smart box if you do not want one.  Please see these links for information on the smart box issue:

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/is-the-wel-smart-box-a-health-hazard/

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/did-you-agree-to-have-a-wel-networks-smart-box-installed-because-you-thought-it-was-compulsory/

 

 

Email received in response to request for information on water meters, including smart water meters

Sent: Friday, 19 September 2014 2:50 p.m.
To: Katherine Smith
Subject: FW: OFFICIAL INFORMATION REQUEST RESPONSE – KATHERINE SMITH – WATER METER BOXES IN FAIRFIELD

 

Dear Katherine,

 

Please find below Hamilton City Council’s (HCC) response to your Official Information request, dated 6th August 2014, in respect of the water meter boxes installed in Fairfield.

 

Request 1)

Regarding the recently installed water meter boxes in Fairfield, Hamilton

  1. i)                    What are the names of the streets in which these boxes were installed
  2. ii)                   What is the total number of water meter boxes installed?

iii)                 Were the boxes installed by staff employed directly by the Council?

  1. iv)                 If yes, what was the cost of the actual water meter boxes? 
  2. v)                  If yes, what was the estimated cost of the Council staff labour used in installing the water meter boxes?
  3. vi)                 If the Council contracted out the installation of the water meter boxes to another party what is the name of the company to which this contract was awarded?

vii)               What is the total value of this contract?

viii)              Please supply a copy of the contract for the installation of the water meter boxes.

 

Toby Boxes, which can be utilised to house water meters, have been installed in Sare Cresent, Fairfield. There were a total of 51 boxes installed. The installation was completed by HCC staff at an estimated labour cost of $11.25 per box. HCC did not contract out the installation of water meter boxes in Fairfield.

 

HCC is unable to disclose the cost of the Toby boxes, as these were supplied under contract and the cost is considered commercially sensitive.  Consequently, the Information in respect of the cost of the Toby Boxes is withheld under Section 7(2)(b)(ii) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987  – in that release would be likely to unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of a person who supplied or is the subject of the information.

 

Request 2)

Please supply copies of all other documents including but not limited to, email correspondence, minutes of meetings, internal memos, advice received, etc. relating to the installation of the water meter boxes in Fairfield.

 

The only correspondence Council has on record is your Official Information Request.

 

Request 3)

Please supply copies of all correspondence between Council staff and/or councillors with WEL Networks Ltd, or their agents, regarding possible integration of WEL Networks Ltd “smart boxes” with Council infrastructure.

 

Request 4)

Please supply copies of all Council documents (including but not limited to, minutes of meetings, internal memos, advice received, etc.) regarding possible integration of WEL Networks Ltd “smart boxes” with Council infrastructure.

 

Please find attached copies of information, as requested, which HCC considers can be made available to you in accordance with the purposes of LGOIMA and the principle of availability.

 

Copies of some information has been withheld under the following sections of the of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 as follows:

 

Section 7(2)(b)(i)  – in that release would disclose a trade secret.  The information is withheld on the grounds that providing this information would disclose a trade secret belonging to WEL.

 

Section 7(2)(b)(ii) – in that release would be likely to unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of a person who supplied or is the subject of the information. The information is withheld on the grounds that it would unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of WEL.

 

Please be advised that the withheld information is in the form of a proposed MOU and confidentiality agreement that WEL has put to HCC relating to HCC being an observer and having the opportunity to learn from a technology trial with Smart Metering.

 

If you have any concerns with the decisions referred to in this letter, you have the right to request an investigation and review by the Ombudsman under section 27(3) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987. For your information, the Ombudsman’s contact details are:

 

Email: info@ombudsman.parliament.nz

Post: PO Box 10152, Wellington 6143

Telephone:0800 802 602

 

I must apologise that there was a delay in replying to your request.

 

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

On Behalf of the Privacy Officer

Other documentation supplied by the Hamilton City Council

In addition to the email above, the following document was supplied by Hamilton City Council.

Communications between HCC and WEL (3)

Smart meters, heat pumps and “demand response functionality”

Smart meters, heat pumps and “demand response functionality”

An earlier post on this website (since corrected) erroneously stated that having a smart meter could mean that householders could have their heat pump turned off remotely by their electricity company.  (In actual fact, some smart meters may be able to turn down heat pumps down to their lowest setting, but they should not be able to turn them off  altogether… please read on for more details and to learn whether you may be affected if you have a heat pump that may be able to be controlled via a smart meter.)

My initial error (in stating that a smart meter with a ZigBee chip* could potentially be used to remotely turn off a heat pump) was kindly pointed out to me by Graeme Purches from Trustpower.  In an email he wrote:

“There are probably less than 20 meters in NZ that are equipped for this [turning off  heat pumps and other devices remotely], and they are installed as part of field trials to test their capabilities.”

He added:

“At the end of the day, the direction the industry is headed is that people will in the future be able to determine at which price point they want their appliances to start and stop. The control will be in the hands of the consumer, unlike controlled hot water, which is a network load issue and can legitimately be controlled in return for lower price because those using the option have hot water storage. You can’t  ‘store’ the heat from a heat pump so the industry would never want to control those.”

I decided to investigate the issue of how smart meters may be used to remotely control heat pumps (without the householder’s consent) in more detail.

My initial (and as it turned out, incorrect) information about heat pumps having mandatory “demand response functionality”  came from the website of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

In following up on this issue, I first tried to access the current  standard for heat pumps and found that while there was one in existence, I could not access it unless I either went to the central library in Auckland (not very practical) or paid a couple of  hundred dollars (not feasible either).

I therefore sought the advice of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Agency (EECA). 

A helpful staff member wrote an email that explained the following:

1)  That having “demand response functionality” is not currently mandatory in NZ.

2)  That some of the heat pumps on the NZ market do have “demand response functionality”.  This “demand response functionality” cannot be used to turn the heat pump off altogether but it can be used to turn the heat pump down to its lowest setting.

3)  That manufacturers can choose to show that their heat pump has demand response functionality on the label on their heat pump.  You can click on the image to make it larger.  The tick mark which is circled in red indicates that the appliance has “demand response functionality”.

Photo of labelling showing demand response functionality

Presumably heat pumps that have “demand response functionality” will contain a ZigBee and/or some other radiofrequency radiation (RFR) producing device to allow the appliance to communicate with a smart meter.   I have no idea whether appliances which have “demand response functionality” will be producing RFR all the time or intermittently or whether the default setting for the appliance will have the “demand response functionality” switched off.

However, if you do not want extra RFR in your environment and/or you do not want to risk your electricity company being able to control your heat pump via a smart meter in your home,  it would seem prudent to avoid buying items with “demand response functionality” indicated by the label.

Please note that I do not know whether it is mandatory for manufactures that make appliances that have “demand response functionality” to declare this capability on the label.  For this reason it would be prudent to ask the retailer whether any appliance you would like to buy has any “demand response functionality”, regardless of the label.  If you already have a heat pump and it not longer has its label, please see the info at the bottom of this post.

Conclusion

So there you have it.  It does appear that some smart meters in NZ (those than contain ZigBee chips*) may have the capacity to remotely control some heat pumps, although this feature may not yet be active.  It also appears that there are heat pumps on the NZ market which have “demand response functionality” which could allow them to be controlled via a smart meter.

 

*In NZ,  smart meters that contain ZigBee chips include:

WEL Networks Ltd “smart box” (actually a Landis+Gyr smart meter) and the Landis+Gyr smart meters being installed by Network Tasman Ltd  and Counties Power in South Auckland/Franklin.  These contain a “silver spring” brand “network interface card” which includes a  modem and a ZigBee.  The default mode for the ZigBee on the “silver spring” brand “network interface card” has been stated to be inactive, so these ZigBee chips, may not yet be functional.  (Presumably they could be activated remotely by a power or lines company should the company with an active link to the smart meter modem decide to do this.)

It is possible other smart meters contain ZigBee chips; some EDMI smart meters which are very common in NZ have the potential to include a ZigBee chip. 

If  you are in any doubt about whether the smart meter at your home has a ZigBee chip,  your electricity retailer should be able to tell y0u.

 

If your heat pump no longer has its label you can find out about its “demand response functionality” through the following procedure:

 

1)  Go to this link: 

http://www.energyrating.gov.au/for-industry/regulation-information-for-industry/meps/

 2) Scroll down the link above until you come to this text:

Next steps for households and businesses

3) Click on the word “Compare energy ratings”…as above and you will get to this link:

http://reg.energyrating.gov.au/comparator/product_types/

 

4) At the link above you will see a list…pick “Air Conditioners” by clicking on this link Air Conditioners – AS/NZS 3823.2 and you will get through to this link:

http://reg.energyrating.gov.au/comparator/product_types/64/search/

 

At the link above you will see a row of black buttons…one is Download CSV. 

Click on this and you will get an Excel file. Open the file.

The field that indicates whether a heat pump has “demand response functionality” is labelled “BE” at the top of the column. The word “TRUE” in the “BE” column indicates the heat pump has “demand response functionality”.  The word “FALSE” in the “BE” column indicates that a heat pump does not have “demand response functionality” .

 

 

October 16, Take Back Your Power Marton!

Just a reminder that there will be a second community screening of the award-winning smart meter documentary Take Back Your Power in Marton on October 16.  Full details are at this link:

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/october-16-take-back-your-power-marton/

Please let family and friends in this area know about this screening.

Also:  If you are on Facebook you may like to visit this new group and let your friends know about it.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rangitikei-Smart-Meter-Watch/1472539493022803

Thank you!

 

 

Waikato District Council vote on water meters and smart water meters

Waikato District Council vote on water meters and smart water meters

In mid-August 2014 I found out that the Waikato District Council was planning to vote on adopting water meters in Huntly, Ngaruwahia and Raglan and that the Council also would also vote on whether to  continue to monitor smart water meters in NZ “with a view to implement when the technology when it becomes cost effective and proven in NZ.”

I subsequently wrote to the Council to inform the Mayor and Councillors about the potential health risks from wireless “smart” water meters, and encouraged other people to write as well.

Please see these links for details:

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/letter-sent-to-mayor-and-councillors-of-the-waikato-district-council/

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/some-ideas-to-help-you-write-to-the-mayor-and-councillors-of-waikato-district-council/

 

Unfortunately, the Council voted in favour of the resolution, as you can see from the document below.  Two Councillors did not support the motion. (Click on the image to make it bigger.)

NB: If you live in the Waikato District Council area and are concerned about this issue, please contact me through this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/contact-us/

 

Waikato District Council decision on water meters

Some ideas to help you write to the Mayor and Councillors of Waikato District Council

URGENT: The Waikato District Council is having an extraordinary meeting on August 19 during which they will decide (among other things) whether to accept a resolution relating to “smart” water meters.  (See this post for details: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/urgent-smart-water-meter-alert-for-waikato-district-council-area/.)

 

If you oppose the introduction of “smart”  water meters to  the area served by Waikato District Council (and/or oppose the introduction of water meters in general, here are some ideas you may like to use when emailing the Mayor and Councillors to express your opposition.

Please share this link and encourage everyone you know to do likewise. Thank you.

 

The email adresses for the Mayor and Councillors are at this link:
http://www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/Your-Council/Mayor-and-councillors.aspx

 

A suggested format for the letter will be detailed below.

 

REASONS TO OPPOSE THE INTRODUCTION OF WATER METERS (REGARDLESS OF TYPE)

If you oppose the introduction of water meters in general, you may want to express one or more of the following reasons for your opposition:

* Cost to Council:  You may think that the money spent buying and installing water meters could be better spent by the Council in other areas (please give examples, if you know of a local Council service which has not been funded or is under-funded where the money could be better spent.)

*  Cost to Rate Payers:  You may wish to express concern that spending money on water meters will be reflected in your rates bill, in terms of increased charges for water and/or a general increase in rates to cover the capital expenditure involved in installing water meters.  If any rates increase may adversely affect your personal budget and/or viability of your business (if it is one that uses a lot of water, for example, a cafe or other business that provides toilet facilities for the public) you may wish to discuss this.

*  Public health reasons:  You may wish to express opposition to water meters as this increases the cost of living for everyone and low income families may be adversely affected by having to cut back on water use, and consequently being more at risk of developing impetigo, scabies and other communicable skin conditions as a consequence of being  unable to afford to pay for sufficient water to bathe and to wash clothes, towels, bedding etc. as often as necessary.  (If you work in an early childhood centre or school or other provider of education and care to children which may be adversely affected by changes in families’ water use patterns, you may wish to add this.)

*  Impact on home gardening: Installing water meters and making water expensive may reduce people’s ability to enjoy planting flowers to beautify their neighbourhood and also restricts people’s ability to  grow their own fresh fruit and vegetables, potentially reducing their nutrition and impacting adversely on their general health.

*  Impact on education and community facilities:  If you work in an early childhood centre, school or tertiary education provider that is already on a tight budget how will having to pay extra for water impact on the services that you offer? Will it mean cut-backs in terms of what you can offer chidlren and/or students?  or increased fees?  Or both?

* Other reasons:  You may have other reasons for opposing the introduction of water meters, for example that once water meters are instlled it may be easier for future Councils to privatise the water supply:  Please express these in any email you may write.

 

REASONS TO OPPOSE THE INTRODUCTION OF  “SMART” WATER METERS SPECIFICALLY

* Health reasons:

1) “Smart” water meters use radiofrequency radiation (RFR) in the microwave range to send information about water use and this radiation is considered a “possible carcinogen” by the International Agency on Cancer. (See: http://microwavenews.com/short-takes-archive/iarc-publishes-rf-cancer-review.)

2)  People who are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation may suffer from increased symptoms if “smart” water  meters are introduced given that these meters produce RFR.  For more information about how people who are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation and the challenges they face, please see these links:

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/what-is-it-like-to-live-with-electrohypersensitivity-ehs-one-womans-story/

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/electrohypersensitivity-a-short-film-by-time-magazine-free-to-watch-online/

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/retired-ceo-speaks-out-on-electrosensitivity/

http://www.scribd.com/doc/87308119/Guideline-of-the-Austrian-Medical-Association-for-the-diagnosis-and-treatment-of-EMF-related-health-problems-and-illnesses-EMF-syndrome

NB:  There is no information on how many people are affected in NZ because NZ does not keep statistics.  However, in Sweden where good statistics are kept, three percent of the adult population is known to be affected by sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation, also variously known as EHS, ES or EMS.  As you will see from the links above, life is very difficult for people who are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation and they certainly do not deserve to be further burdened with extra EMR from “smart” water meters when analogue meters are available, if the Council wants to introduce water meters.

 

* Potential adverse impacts on wildlife: 

The US Department of the Interior has cited substantial research that shows RFR has an adverse effect on wildlife and that current US standards (which, like the comparable National Standard in NZ are designed to protect ONLY against thermal injuries and shocks) provide in inadequate protection for wildlife. (Please see this link for details: http://www.takebackyourpower.net/news/2014/03/27/us-department-of-interior-attacks-fccs-exposure-standards-out-of-date-and-inapplicable/

If the Waikato District Council plans to link up “smart” water meters with WEL Network Ltd’s “smart boxes” there will likely be an increase in the use of 900 MHz frequencies that have been cited by the US Dept of the Interior as harming birds.

 

GENERAL ADVICE FOR WRITING AN EMAIL

1)  Start with your name and address

(If you are not in the Waikato District Council but are writing, for example,  because you are concerned about friends or family in the area, or because you are a health professional with an interest in public health issues or you or your environmental group are concerned about adverse effects on wildlife, etc. please specify, this when you introduce yourself at the beginning of the email.)

 

Suggested format for rest of email:

 

 

Dear Sirs/Madams, [if you are writing the same email to everyone]

I am a resident of [your town] OR I am writing on behalf of [your business/community organisation]

I am writing to ask you to vote against any proposal to introduce water meters and/or smart water meters because

[List your reasons]

[Add any other comments you may want to make;  bearing in mind that short emails are more likely to be read than long emails.]

Thank you for taking the time to read this email.

 

Yours sincerely/ Naku noa, na,

 

[Your name]

[Your organisation, if writing on behalf of an organisation]

 

URGENT: Smart water meter alert for Waikato District Council area

September 25, 2014: An update on this issue is at this link:  www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/waikato-district-council-vote-on-water-meters-and-smart-water-meters/

 

URGENT: The Waikato District Council is having an extraordinary meeting on August 19 during which they will decide (among other things) whether to accept a resolution relating to “smart” water meters.

 

The wording of the relevant portion of the item on the agenda is “that the Council continue to monitor the progression of smart water metering technology with a view to implement the technol0gy when it becomes cost effective and proven in NZ.”*

 

Given that there has already been a trial of “smart” water meters in Tauranga (see this link:http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/smart-water-meters-in-nz-the-situation-so-far/

and a trial is ongoing in Tairua (see this link:  http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/tairua-smart-water-meter-update/    ) it may not be long before the Council may consider that the technology is proven for NZ – and the Council may consider it cost effective, given that “smart” water meters can potentially be integrated with the so-called “smart boxes” (actually  Landis+Gyr smart meters) being installed by Waikato  lines company WEL Networks Ltd.

(Please see this link http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/is-the-wel-smart-box-a-way-to-facilitate-smart-water-metering/ for how “smart” water meters may be integrated with “smart boxes”.

The Council will also be discussing whether to pass a resolution regarding the installation of water meters in Ngaruwahia, Huntly and Raglan.

Water meters of any type are controversial because they usually result in an increase in the amount of money home and businesses end up paying to their Council each year.

Charging for water potentially has public health impacts, especially for low income families who may have to cut back on water use and consequently be more vulnerable health problems associated with poorer hygiene such as impetigo, scabies and other communicable conditions that can be spread via towels, clothing and bedding that are not washed sufficiently regularly.

 

If you would like to do something to help:

 

* Please email the mayor and Councillors stating your opposition to “smart” water meters

You can find their emails here  http://www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/Your-Council/Mayor-and-councillors.aspx and I will be posting template letters to make this easy to do later; please check back at this site later.

 

*  Please alert all your friends and family in the Waikato region to this issue by sharing this post.

 

Please tell all friends and family in the Waikato region that it is NOT compulsory to have a WEL smart box installed and to refuse its installation.  Without WEL smart box installations to collect the data from “smart” water meters, it may not be economically feasible to install “smart” water meters.  (Please see this link for information on  WEL smart boxes and how they are NOT compulsory:  http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/shame-on-you-wel-networks-ltd/

Also please see this link on potential health impacts of the WEL Networks Ltd “smart box”:  http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/is-the-wel-smart-box-a-health-hazard/

(If this link is not working when you click on it, please copy and paste it into your browser. Thank you.)

 

*You can read the full text of the agenda of the meeting at the link below.

 

http://www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/CMSFiles/cc/cc56a109-0520-4526-b8ce-8b844c31a43d.pdf

 

An update on this issue is at this link:  www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/waikato-district-council-vote-on-water-meters-and-smart-water-meters/

Who controls your heat pump? You? Or your electricity company?

SITE EDITOR’S NOTE August 20: I have received some feedback on this article, which stated, in part, that most “smart” meters in NZ do not contain ZigBee chips. (See below.) The post below in its original version did state that “not all” smart meters in NZ contain ZigBees;  however, for the sake of clarity I have re-edited the post to make it clear that most smart meters in NZ do not contain ZigBees.

I will write a follow-up post in response to other comments as soon as I can.

SITE EDITOR’S NOTE August 28:  I have followed up on other criticisms of this post and found out that it is not mandatory for heat pumps to have ZigBees or “demand response functionality”  in NZ (despite the statements on the website of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment; see below for the reference.)  However, there are heat pumps that are registered as being for suitable for use in NZ and Australia that do have “demand response functionality”.  This “demand response functionality” allows for the heat pumps to be turned down to their lowest setting, rather than be turned off. 

I will be writing a new post that explores these issues and give references so that you can find out whether your heat pump is one that may be able to be controlled remotely by your electricity company in a new post as as soon as I have time.  In the meantime, I have added Editor’s notes to the post below to correct the errors. If you would like to be notified when the new post has been written, please join the email list at www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz.

 

Who controls your heat pump…You?…Or your electricity company?

Do you have a heat pump in your home? I bet you appreciate its reliable warmth, especially when NZ is in the grip of a southerly that has come straight up from the Antarctic.

However, if you have a “smart meter” in or on your home, don’t count on always being able to enjoy that wonderful warmth….even if you always pay your bill on time.

Why not? Because your electricity or lines company may be able to turn off your heat pump remotely. [Ed note:  Actually the electricity or lines company may be able to turn your heat pump down, rather than shut it off altogether.  See Ed note of August 28, above.]

Smart meters which are fitted with a ZigBee communications chip have the ability to “talk” to “smart” appliances – and since 2011, according to a document on the website of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment heat pumps in NZ have been required to be “smart”.* [Ed note:  There is actually no such requirement at this stage, despite the statement on the website of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment; see Ed note of August 28, above].

Not all smart meters in NZ contain ZigBee chips at this point;  in fact, to the best of my knowledge most smart meters that have been installed to date here do not contain ZigBee chips.

However, the “smart boxes” being rolled out by WEL Networks Ltd in the Waikato and the Landis+Gyr E350 series smart meters being rolled out by Network Tasman Ltd, Counties Power and some other companies that are part of the SmartCo consortium do contain ZigBees.  (The ZigBees are part of the Silver Spring model 454 Network Interface Card (NIC) which the meters use to send information back to the lines company and/or electricity retailer. The default setting of the ZigBee part of the Network Interface Card is claimed to be “off”.  However, it may only be a matter of time before the ZigBee is turned on.  I have no information regarding how the ZigBee can be turned on;  it is possible this may be able to be done remotely.)

The Labour party would like to see all smart meters fitted with ZigBees: see http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/labour-party-2014-election-questionnaire/

(Please note that the Labour party is one of many parties that support smart meters in general;  see the 2014 Election Questionnaire from www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz if you want to learn about other parties  that support smart meters http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/category/2014-election-questionnaire/.

If you have a smart meter that contains a ZigBee, your power or lines company may therefore potentially be able to switch off your heat pump remotely. [Ed note:  Actually the electricity or lines company may be able to turn your heat pump down, rather than shut it off altogether. See Ed note of August 28, above.] Of course it’s done in the name of managing energy better, of course; but what may be great for your lines company may not be so wonderful for you. (Goodbye cosy warmth.)

If you do not yet have a smart meter, count yourself lucky;  you control your appliances; your lines or electricity company cannot switch them off  [or otherwise interfere with their operation] when you least expect it – or most need them.

 

 

Please see this link for information on how to keep your home “smart meter”-free.  http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/faqs/how-to-avoid-getting-a-smart-meter/ )

 

PS: Interested in learning how smart meters can affect your electricity bills?  Read this post:

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/faqs/how-to-avoid-getting-a-smart-meter/

 

*According to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s  “Analysis of submissions on Smart meters: How households and the environment can benefit Briefing for Commerce Committee: “From 2011 in New Zealand, all new heat-pumps will be “smart”. New heat pumps will be required by the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) to have “demand response functionality”. This means they will be able to “talk to” a HAN. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) is looking at extending this requirement to more appliances.”

SOURCE LINK:  http://www.pce.parliament.nz/assets/Uploads/Reports/pdf/Smart_meters_submission_web.pdf

(NB: Even if there is no “smart meter” in the home, appliances which contain the ZigBee communications unit may still produce microwave radiation at  in an attempt to communicate with a non-existent “smart meter”, so if buying new appliances, it is prudent to avoid those that are marketed as being “smart” if you do not want to unnecessarily expose yourself to RFR in the microwave range.)

 

2014 Election Questionnaire: General Discussion

The purpose of this post is to discuss some of the issues raised in the responses to the 2014 Election Questionnaire.

It is intended to give an overview of the issues with “smart meters” for readers who are new to this subject and/or this website.  (Please note that if you would like updates on the “smart meter” issue you are welcome to sign up for the free email newsletter at www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz.)

The list of questions in the www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz Election Questionnaire were designed to help educate politicians about the “smart meter” issue, including the fact that the meters produce radiofrequency radiation in the microwave range which is considered a possible carcinogen (class 2B)  to transmit information about electricity use (see: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/health-issues/ )   and also have adverse effects on people’s privacy, for example: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/network-tasman-there-are-no-privacy-concerns-with-smart-meters-yeah-right/ .

Another important issue is that electricity companies have reportedly been bullying customers to try to make people who do not want “smart meters” to accept them (see:  www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/is-your-electricity-company-bullying-you/     .  Moreover some companies are  trying to use Terms and Conditions to try to intimidate customers into accepting “smart meters” – with the stated or implied threat that their power could be cut off if they do not agree to a “smart meter” installation. (See:www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/smart-meter-installed-without-permission-headaches-result-smart-meter-removed-headaches-disappear/ )

It is also of concern that it can be a very difficult and time consuming process for customers to get rid of “smart meters” once they have been installed, even if they are causing health problems. (Personal communications.) A lot of meters in NZ are on bedroom walls and this site has potential to cause substantial exposure to EMR from a “smart meter”.

There are a lot of myths being promulgated about “smart meters” by the electricity industry. These include  claims that “smart meters” help people save money. While this may be true in some cases, many people have higher bills after a “smart meter” installations (see:  http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/huge-bill-increase-after-smart-meter-installed/ ) and if time-of-use pricing is widely introduced higher bills are likely to become a fact of life for everyone – see: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/how-smart-meters-can-lead-to-higher-bills/ and   www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/the-advantages-of-smart-meters/ )

Another myth been pushed by the electricity industry is that “smart meters” are a safe technology even though they produce  non-ionising radiation which has been classed as a possible carcinogen.  The electricity industry frequently refers customers who express concern about the safety of “smart meters” to a document produced by the Electrical Power Engineering Centre (EPEC) at the University of Canterbury.  You can read a critique of this document at this link: www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/report-on-health-and-safety-aspects-of-electricity-smart-meters-debunked/

Some political parties also support the introduction of “smart” water meters which i a concern given that the “smart” water meters which are being trialled in NZ produce a radiofrequency radiation pulse every eight seconds.  See http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/smart-water-meters-in-nz-the-situation-so-far/

The answers (or public statements) made by the representatives of some political parties suggest that some politicians have bought the corporate line that “smart meters” will help people save money and are somehow a safe technology – even though they produce possibly carcinogenic radiation, and all over the world where wireless “smart meters” have been installed, people have been reporting a variety of adverse health effects. (For some examples of common “smart meter”-associated symptoms please see: www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/survey-of-people-adversely-affected-by-smart-meters/ )

 

Please bear these thoughts in mind when you read the responses from the different political parties to the www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz Election Questionnaire. Thank you.

The text of the 2014 Election Questionnaire and links to all political parties’ replies may be found at this link:

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/2014-election-questionnaire-2/

 

 

 

“Smart” water meters in NZ: The situation so far

Some NZ local authorities are beginning to investigate using “smart” meters to measure water consumption.

A trial was recently conducted in Tauranga (See: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/bay-of-plenty-times/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503343&objectid=11106076 and http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/smart-water-meters-being-considered-for-tauranga/), and there was a  trial of “smart” water meters proposed for Raglan* (which according to Council, did not go ahead).  Another trial of “smart” water meters is due to begin in Tairua, on the Coromandel Peninsula, in May 2014.  According to the Thames-Coromandel Council website about a quarter of the homes and businesses in Tairua will have their existing analogue meters replaced with “smart meters” as part of the trial.

The Thames-Coromandel Council has put very little information about the specifics of the trial on its website, in terms of information about the meters and their capabilities.

Information obtained under the Official Information Act regarding the Tauranga trial has shown that the meters trialled (Sappel IZAR CP R3.5  868 MHz) use a battery to produce a radiofrequency pulse every eight seconds. While the meters are battery powered which means that the pulse will likely be lower power than emissions from the “smart meters” being introduced for electricity, the “smart” water meters trialled in Tauranga transmit at 868MHz while electricity “smart meters” in NZ typically use the 900MHz or 1800MHz frequency brands, according to the NZ Electricity Authorrty.) The Tauranga trial tested the function of the meters in transmitting to a hand-held or drive-by receiver.

Technical specs for the Sappel IZAR CP R3.5 meter indicate that its transmission range is up to 500 metres “depending on the environment”.  While the trial in Tauranga assessed a system where data was collected by a hand-held device or a device in a vehicle being driven down the road, the type of meter tested is compatible with a fixed “IZAR RECEIVER GPRS/LAN” system which is capable of collecting all the data from the meters, storing it and then transferring it to a central computer system.  This potentially raises privacy concerns, since if the meters transmit data every eight seconds, it should be theoretically possible to use the data to work out patterns of activity in a household, based on patterns of water consumption, in a similar way in which patterns of activity in a household can be inferred from electricity use.  (See the graphic at this link http://www.smartmeterpowerstruggle.wordpress.com/  for an example of how electricity “smart meters” can compromise privacy, and for a discussion of privacy and home security issues please see these links: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/network-tasman-there-are-no-privacy-concerns-with-smart-meters-yeah-right/ and www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/how-smart-meters-can-help-burglars/.)

The French multinational company Veolia has the contract to supply water services for the Thames-Coromandel Council.  It seems likely that if the trial in Tairua is successful “smart” water meters could be rolled out in Tairua and other towns in the Coromandel area.

Regardless of the technical specifications of the meters in the Tairua trial, the trial will increase the ambient level of radiofrequency radiation in the town (which would increase still further should the council decide to allow “smart” water meters to be installed in the entire town.)  The trial (and any eventual roll-out of the “smart” water meters in the town) could adversely affect people who are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation, such as those who have EHS.  (For an example of what it is like to live with EHS, please see this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/what-is-it-like-to-live-with-electrohypersensitivity-ehs-one-womans-story/

If you are in Tairua and do not want a “smart” water meter monitoring water use at your home or business, an email to the Council refusing consent for entry to your property for the purposes of removal of  your analogue meter may be a good first step.  You may also want to state that you do not consent to radiofrequency radiation to be broadcast over your property by your water provider, including to or from any of your neighbour’s properties.

 

 

*According to www.stuff.co.nz: “In September last year, Mr Ninnes briefed Mr Allen on WEL Networks’ progress rolling out its electricity smart meter technology, and expectations that every property in Hamilton will be connected to the company’s new network through a fully functioning WEL Networks smart box by the middle of this year.

“Mr Ninnes then told Mr Allen he had just brought together a specialist team to develop a smart water meter “proof of concept” to demonstrate the smart boxes could also support water meters, feeding information directly to WEL.

“He discussed a small field trial of smart water meters connected to Raglan properties already hooked up to WEL Networks’ completed smart network.”

 

SOURCE: http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/9282623/Water-meters-may-be-closer-than-you-think