Earlier this year 92014) electropollution consultant Paul Waddell from www.safespace.net.nz gave a lecture on electropollution. Thank you for Vinny Eastwood for filming the lecture and making its available to everyone on youtube.
You can access part one of the presentation at this link and part two will be added when it is available.
NB: If you would like to get updates on the smart meter issue in New Zealand please join the free email list at www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz. There is also a search option at www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz to allow you to find articles about other topics of interest on this website
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.”
“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”.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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” .
Just a reminder that there will be a free community screening of the documentary Beings of Frequency which explores EMR and health in Auckland on the evening of Tuesday September 23. Full details are at this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/free-community-screening-of-beings-of-frequency-september-23/
Just a reminder that there will be a talk on smart meters at WellFest in Auckland on September 20…full details at this link:
Just a reminder that a special community screening of the award-winning smart meter documentary Take Back Your Power will take place in Marton on September 13. Full details are at this link: www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/award-winning-smart-meter-documentary-to-screen-in-marton-on-september-13/
If you are not in this area, you can stream or purchase the documentary from www.takebackyourpower.net
The WellFest expos http://wellfest.co.nz/ feature a large variety of health-related exhibitors, plus food court, free seminars and a special Kids Zone with entertainers. The WellFest events are high quality events and very enjoyable.
This year’s Auckland WellFest event takes place on September 20-21.
On Saturday September 20 from 2.15 to 2.45 pm, Katherine Smith, founder of www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz will speak at WellFest’s Seminar Room 5 about smart meters and health and share vital information to help you to protect yourself and your family.
Beings of Frequency, the documentary that covers electromagnetic radiation and health will screen at St Heliers Community Centre, 100St Heliers Bay Rd in Auckland on September 23 at 7pm.
Bookings are essential due to limited seating so please phone 575 6098 to book your place.
The screening is free and refreshments will be served. The event has been organised by Paul Waddell from www.safespace.ne.nz who will be available to answer questions after the movie.
Please let family and friends in Auckland know about this event. Thank you.
You can download a poster to put up to advertise this event from the link below:
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:
*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.)
Given that this is an election year, in May 2014, I prepared a formal Election Questionnaire on behalf of www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz and sent it to all the parties I knew to be contesting the 2014 general election.
For the record, I am neither a member of any political party, nor a donor to any political party.
Below is the response from the Labour Party (http://campaign.labour.org.nz/). For a more general discussion of the 2014 Election Questionnaire and links to replies from other parties contesting the 2014 general election, please see this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/2014-election-questionnaire-2/
A general discussion of the responses from the political parties may be found at this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/2014-election-questionnaire-general-discussion/ (Reading this link is recommended for people who are new to the “smart meter” issue as it helps to put the statements made in some of the party responses into the overall context of the “smart meter” situation in NZ.)
The Labour Party did not respond to www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz 2014 Election Questionnaire.
However, based on the fact that Labour’s Energy spokesman, David Shearer has called for compulsory (“ZigBee”) monitoring chips to be installed in “smart meters”, it seems fair to assume that the party is pro-“smart meters”. (ZigBee chips are designed to emit higher frequency microwave radiation to communicate with any “smart appliances” in a home and may also be used to send information to an in-home energy monitor. The microwave radiation produced by a ZigBee chip (also called a ZigeBee unit) is in addition to the microwave radiation produced to send information about electricity consumption back to the electricity company.)
Labour’s press release may be read here:
A TVNZ story on the issue may be read here: http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/real-time-electricity-monitoring-chip-complusory-under-labour-6024403
I am not aware of any other publicly-available information on the party’s position on “smart meters”. If anyone is aware of information regarding the party’s position, please email me through the Contact form at this link http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/contact-us/
Special note to any representatives of the Labour party reading this post: If you would like to complete the questionnaire, please email me through http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/contact-us/ and I will send the questionnaire to you. Thank you.
Links to other political parties’ responses to the 2014 Election Questionnaire may be found at this link:
The text of the 2014 election questionnaire sent to each political party was the following:
Political Parties’ Questionnaire (2014)
The new “smart meters” being introduced to measure electricity and water consumption use radiofrequency radiation (RFR) in the microwave range to transmit information to electricity and water suppliers. The RFR used has been classified by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a “possible carcinogen” (Type 2b.)
The website www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz provides New Zealanders with a local source of information about “smart meters” in NZ. It covers health, privacy and other “smart-meter”-related issues that are important to families and businesses.
The www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz questionnaire will be sent to all political parties and the results will be posted on www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz and will also be featured in the regular newsletters sent to the email list.
Please reply to this questionnaire by June 15, 2014. Thank you.
Replies may be emailed to [email address was here but has been removed from this online posting to prevent spamming]
Name of political party:
Name of person completing the form:
Position in political party: Email:
Question 1: Does your party have a formal policy on “smart meters”. YES NO [Please circle/highlight]
If YES, is your party’s policy on “smart meters” available online at your party’s website? YES NO
If YES, please put URL where this information may be accessed:
Question 2: Does your party support the introduction of “smart” meters for electricity?
YES NO [Please circle/ highlight]
Why or Why not?
Question 3: The current legislation only stipulates the electricity meters must have a current certificate of accuracy, yet some power companies are using this legislation to force people to have “smart meters”. Does your party support the right of people to retain a functioning analogue (Ferraris) meter if they do not want a microwave-radiation emitting “smart meter” measuring electricity consumption at their home?
YES NO [Please circle/ highlight]
Why or Why not?
Question 4: Some electricity companies are trying to coerce customers into accepting “smart meters” by including in their Terms and Conditions clauses to the effect that the customer must accept a “smart meter” (the inference being that their electricity could be cut off if they do not accept a “smart meter”.) Will your party change the relevant legislation/regulations to make it illegal for companies to try to intimidate customers to accept “smart meters” through such means?
YES NO [Please circle/ highlight]
Why or Why not?
Question 5: Members of the public have reported to www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz that once a “smart meter” has been installed it can be very difficult to get it removed, even when it is causing health issues. Will your party make changes to the relevant legislation/regulations so that companies are legally obliged to remove “smart meters” promptly (and replace them with either a modern analogue – Ferraris – meter or another non-smart meter of the customer’s choice) when a customer makes a request for the removal of a “smart meter”?
YES NO [Please circle/highlight]
Why or Why not?
Question 6: In their Terms and Conditions, some electricity companies claim to own all data gathered by “smart meters” and the right to disclose it to other parties. We believe that this is a significant breach of privacy. Will your party change the legislation/regulations governing the electricity industry so that data gathered by “smart meters” may be used only for billing purposes and make it an offence to supply this information to any other party (with the exception of the account holder and the police if there is cause to believe that there is/was criminal activity at a home or other building.)
YES NO [Please circle/highlight]
Question 7: Given that the RFR produced by “smart meters” is a possible type 2 carcinogen, does your party support a moratorium on further “smart meter” installations until comprehensive research has been conducted into “smart meter” health effects?
YES NO [Please circle/highlight]
Question 8: Given that the EPEC Report states that “a sensible approach” is to site “smart meters” somewhere where people are “unlikely to spend longer than a few minutes per day at a distance of less than 1 metre from them,” does your party support a ban on placing “smart meters” on bedroom walls?
YES NO [Please circle/highlight]
Question 9: Does your party support the introduction of “smart” meters for water?
YES NO [Please circle/highlight]
Thank you for your time.
If you live in Hamilton or elsewhere in the Waikato you may be offered a “smart box” by WEL.
This so-called “smart box” is actually a Landis+Gyr E350 “smart meter”, which like all the “smart meters” in use in NZ, produces radio frequency radiation (RFR) in the microwave range which has been classified as a type 2B possible carcinogen.
A document from WEL’s website purporting to show that the WEL “smart box” is safe because its emissions are lower than the NZ government standard for radiofrequency radiation has now been de-bunked by electropollution consultant Paul Waddell from www.safespace.net.nz.
The document which reports on testing of the WEL “smart box” uses two techniques commonly used by industry to make “smart meter” emissions seem lower than they actually are.
The first technique used involves averaging of the brief pulses of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) over a longer time period, rather than reporting the strength of each pulse in real time.
The second technique used in the document is to report on the strength of the RFR as a percentage of New Zealand’s National Standard for RFR, rather than using the actual figure for RFR in standard units (such as microwatts per square metre or microwatts per square centimetre, for example.)
NZ’s national standard NZS 2772.1:1999 is designed to protect against thermal injury caused by RFR in the microwave range, not any other possible adverse effects. Thus, a report that presents data about “smart meter” emissions as percentage of this standard, without disclosing that the NZS2772.1 : 1999 is designed to prevent shocks and thermal injury rather than assure protection from other adverse effects, may be interpreted by readers to mean that emission from the “smart meter” do not pose any risk to health.
Paul Waddell has used the information provided by the person who tested the WEL “smart box” and annotated the document with the actual values of the RFR pulses produced by this device.
You will notice that the non time-averaged values for the pulses of RFR produced by the WEL “smart box” are very high; up to 599,950 microwatts per square metre in a worst case scenario, although other values were lower.
To put this into context, the upper limit for exposure to RFR suggested by the scientists who collaborated on the BioInitiative Report (www.bioinititative.org) is 1,000 microwatts per square metre.
The guidelines used by people trained in Building Biology* considers any exposure to RFR over 1,000 microwatts per square meter to be of “extreme concern”. (See http://www.emfacts.com/2008/07/910-building-biology-evaluation-guidelines/)
The document may be downloaded here:
RF fields from a WEL Networks Smart Meter with comments by PW.
NB: Although WEL’s website suggest that there is a government requirement to have a “smart box” there is no law or regulation which forces you to accept a “smart box” if you do not want one. Other people have successfully refused a WEL “smart box” and you can, too.
Please see this link for more information: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/wel-smart-box-installation-prevented/
*Building Biology is a discipline which aims to create homes and other buildings that foster good health, through the use of non-toxic building materials, design that minimises occupants’ exposure to EMF/EMF levels etc.