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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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10/11/2013 12:22:00 PM
APS smart meters worry residents
Sedona Smart Meter Awareness spokesman Warren Woodward delivers a presentation to the Clarkdale council that explained the potential dangers of APS smart meters. VVN/Yvonne Gonzalez
Sedona Smart Meter Awareness spokesman Warren Woodward delivers a presentation to the Clarkdale council that explained the potential dangers of APS smart meters. VVN/Yvonne Gonzalez

Yvonne Gonzalez
Staff Reporter


The Clarkdale Town Council heard a presentation Tuesday night from Sedona Smart Meter Awareness, a group that advocates against the widespread deployment of smart meters and their possible negative health effects in communities.

In preparation for a larger-than-average crowd, Clarkdale held the meeting in a larger space with about a dozen rows of chairs. About 30 members of the community attended the council meeting, more than half of them speaking out against smart meters and the fees APS plans to charge customers who opt out.

Mayor Doug Von Gausig said the town of Clarkdale really has nothing to say about APS issues regulated by the Arizona Corporation Commission.

"In Clarkdale, we don't have a utility, so we rely on APS," Von Gausig said. "They are solely regulated by the ACC -- the ACC is currently considering how it wants to talk about and regulate smart meters, and the way they are administered in the state of Arizona."

APS has installed about 1.1 million smart meters in Arizona since 2005, but have yet to reach the Verde Valley. They have replaced analog meters that require readers to travel from home to home, collecting data on each home's energy use to generate a monthly bill.

In contrast, smart meters contain a 900-MHz radio that transmits usage data to APS throughout the day. These radios meet FCC guidelines for safety, and several studies show they emit radio frequencies no stronger than a baby monitor and several times weaker than a cell phone.

Councilman Reynold Radoccia, a solar user who lives off the power grid, invited SSMA to speak at the council meeting.

SSMA was part of the push that resulted in the Sedona council sending a letter this summer to the FCC citing concerns over health effects and the high opt-out fees APS wants to charge. Clarkdale resident Patrice Rohmer is one of a few members who formed a similar group, known unofficially as Clarkdale Smart Meter Awareness.

"We became activists because nobody knows about smart meters and we want people to have the option of refusing," Rohmer said.

APS Director of Customer Operations Michael Goguen said studies that show smart readers are dangerous are often conducted in open spaces, where any number of wirelessly transmitting devices can interfere and make readings seem higher than they are.

"We built a room that doesn't let in any type of (radio frequency) so that we could test these meters," Goguen said. "Out in the environment, you don't know when you're testing where the RF is coming from."

SSMA spokesman Warren Woodward presented independent research to the council showing much higher possible levels of microwave emissions from pulsing radio frequencies the smart meters emit.

He said these emissions are hazardous to residents, causing a range of maladies from headaches to cancer. The amount of information APS collects from each customer was also a cause for concern. Woodward said through smart meters, the utility company can create a detailed picture of everything a customer does using energy, creating a privacy issue.

Woodward himself spent time collecting emission levels from smart meters in areas like Prescott and Phoenix where they have been deployed. He said the levels were comparable to, if not higher than, those emitted by a cell tower.

He read accounts from people who experienced the negative effects of smart meters.

"On the other side of the coin, there are no studies that conclude smart meters are safe," he said to the council.

The meeting was punctuated by gasps, scoffs and shouts from some of the audience, especially when members of the council questioned Woodward's facts or reigned in public comments that went over their time limit.

Clarkdale residents gave accounts of how wireless transmissions impacted their lives, some pointing to the headaches they'd gotten just by sitting in the council meeting surrounded by microphones and wires.

One woman told the council she was concerned for her 4-year-old daughter, whose bed would sit just a few feet from a smart meter on the other side of the wall.

Many said there was no added benefit to customers from having smart meters installed, and that this was simply a cost-cutting measure by APS that would generate millions in opt-out fees.

The ACC is considering a proposal from APS that would require individuals who choose to opt out to pay a $75 fee up front, and an additional $30 for each month after that. The regulatory body requested an independent study be conducted by the Arizona Department of Health Services to test the effects of smart meters. This is expected to take about a year.

APS asserts these opt-out fees are in line with the actual cost of meter readers, vehicles and fuel that would be needed to read the analog meters currently being requested by about half a percent of their customers.

SSMA claims the only way to truly protect a community is to have everyone as a whole opt out, and these fees are akin to "extortion." People should be able to self report, possibly by taking a picture of the meter reading and emailing it to APS.

Goguen said smart meters allow a number of alternative rate programs for customers, like prepaid energy in order to avoid a large deposit to start service. Through smart meters, residents can also pick a due date so that they can pay their bill on a day they choose.

This also allows APS to see when a transformer may be about to fail so that the utility can send someone out to replace it and avoid an outage.

APS expects the rest of its smart meters to be installed by April 2014.

At the end of the public comments, Councilman Bill Regner said he has challenged APS on issues like net metering for solar customers, and that he will send a letter to the ACC expressing his concerns as an independent citizen.

"We can't prohibit smart meters from coming to Clarkdale," Regner said.

Woodward interjected here, shouting from his seat in the audience, "Yes, you can," at which point other members of the audience chimed in.

Regner said that was part of the problem.

"This is where your argument loses people," Regner said. "This is where you lose me."

Radoccia said the opt-out fees are unrealistic and a burden on the people. There isn't enough information out there about the effects of smart meters, and alternatives that make financial and health sense should be considered.

"This is something that we need to address as a community, and I would like to see it addressed on a future council agenda," Radoccia said. "I respect Sedona's opinion on this."

Councilman Richard Dehnert said nobody in council or at the meeting has the scientific knowledge to decide which set of research is right and which is wrong.

"It worries me that people are afraid of their worlds to the extent that we've heard tonight," he said. "The town council will no doubt have it on our agenda."

He also pointed out that Clarkdale is a sustainable community, and the council could have easily gone online to access the 200 pages of one-sided, printed information SSMA provided to each member. Dehnert asked for consistency in the future.

Councilman Curtiss Bohall said he spent 20 years in the Navy surrounded by all kinds of equipment, and at 80 he is still healthy.

"Why didn't it nail me to the wall?" he said, at which point a member of the audience shouted ... "genetics."

Taylor Waste

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Article comment by: nutso fasst

I think the blame on APS is misplaced. Federal regulations place both restrictions and demands on APS that result in their doing what they do for self-preservation.

Posted: Sunday, October 25, 2015
Article comment by: Donald Slater

Lets spend all our energy fighting the APS as
we drink our Arsenic in the coffee,showers etc
sneak some windmills in with 12volt generators and a fan belt.Only use on 12 lights and they'll recharge overnight especially in march,April monsoon etc.Get propane for
other lights,kerosene lanters are good but leave a window cracked..
Just kidding,you wouldn't get it anyway.


Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2014
Article comment by: Joann Boyd

Oh YA!! Cottonwood did again! People are released of jobs. I live in Verde Village, with in the next 3 days I get Smart Meter and of course, I get to pay more.
We need strength in leadership!! Our beautiful Valley is being sold to the highest bidder.


Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2014
Article comment by: MISSING THE POINT

Granted the installation of "smart meters" will save APS a substantial amount of money but most of the people commenting here really don’t have a clue why APS is doing this. If you water users have seen your bills go through the roof, get ready to see your electric bills do the same thing.
APS is installing the “smart meters” to start charging their customers on a tier rate basis. You will pay one rate if you keep your usage below the baseline and another rate if you exceed it. In other terms, they are going to FORCE you to do what they have been begging you to do for years, which is use the most electricity during the “off” hours. If for example your refrigerator and freezer is running, you are drying a load of clothes and your air conditioning unit kicks on, you have just pegged the demand and the smart meter will signal APS and you will pay the higher rate for the whole period even though your demand well decrease as you dryer cycle is over and the a/c unit kicks off.

Welcome to the real world. APS is hoping everybody stays on the safety bandwagon so they don't have to tell you the TRUTH.


Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2014
Article comment by: Hannah Brandeis

Here in Hawaii, my friend told me that her 8 year old grandson was discovered to have bone cancer this past January. He lives in Arizona. This is a rare condition for anyone so young and my first reaction was the availability of smart meters in Arizona which I admit may or may not be the cause of his cancer, but it could be the case since I understand a number of children in Spain came down with bone cancer after exposure to smart meter microwaves in the same area. In any case, a child with bone cancer should be no longer exposed to the potential hazard of smart meter microwave radiation. Give the kid a break for God's sake!

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: @ Confused:

The water meters...
...are typically on city-controlled property in Clarkdale.
...communicate at extremely low power over short distances.
...communicate only when requested by the reader, not every five minutes 24/7.
...are not programmable.
...reduce paperwork without putting readers out of a job.

There may be more, but that should tell you why the electric meters are of greater concern.


Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: Confused Here

Did not Clarkdale install smart meters to read the water usage from homes? I watched them in stall meters so their staff does not have to get out the car, they just drive by. How is the APS device different than the water device?

Posted: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Article comment by: N. Baer

Microwave radiation at any level is harmful and dangerous and has been proven thousands of times. Wake-up and learn some science.

Posted: Monday, October 14, 2013
Article comment by: Niki Gonzalez

As a retiree of Sempra Energy, I see the smart meter as simply a way to cut the work force and save $ for the companies with no reduction in energy costs to consumers. I opted out of the smart meter the charges proposed are extortion!! Just say NO to the change!!

Posted: Monday, October 14, 2013
Article comment by: Charles Franklin

I hope these people protect themselves by not having a cellphone, not having a WiFi network in their home, not having a computer, not having a television, not having anything with a motor inside their home, in fact, not having any electrical appliances at all, nor a car built after 1980 or with power windows or a heater or AC with a fan to circulate the air, for all of these appliances emit electromagnetic radiation--as does the Sun, and as do electric lights, for that matter. They should draw their water from the well manually and heat it on a non-electric stove. You can recognize them by the delicate odor of human body as they walk down the other side of the street, because they’ll only bathe once a week, or maybe once a year like the people in Renaissance Europe did.

Posted: Sunday, October 13, 2013
Article comment by: Do Not Shoot The Messanger

Kudos to the person in the audience who recommended that the city of Clarkdale to send out a letter to inform their own people that they have the rights to refuse Smart Meters without having to pay any unapproved opt out fees proposed by APS. This can prevent Smart Meters from coming to Clarkdale. Knowledge is power. Why would any council member be upset if someone empowered him to do the right thing especially none of the council members are qualified to prove that Smart Meters are safe.

Posted: Sunday, October 13, 2013
Article comment by: dog bone

We had the smart meter for awhile, had to have it taken out. My sister has a heart pacer and the meter reacted to it and she was constantly sick. Had it taken out and she is okay. I constantly had a headache with it in and once out my headaches went away.

Posted: Sunday, October 13, 2013
Article comment by: Slater slater

Get out of the truck and earn your money,also
you will get the much needed exercise.


Posted: Sunday, October 13, 2013
Article comment by: Curtis Bohall Indicates...

he was exposed to all kinds of electromagnetic
radiation 24/7 for 20 years in the Navy. His point
in the discussion is very important. By the way in
his total of 80 years he and all of us have been
and still are exposed to all kinds of EM.

But the shout-out from a member of the audience
of a single word "GENETICS" is also very
important and may very well be factual!

The good news in the above new item is that ACC
is having a "Health" study done.

The best options at this time is hold off for the
"Health" report...and then go from there.

Thanks and Good Luck,
Frank Henry
fmhenry4@netzero.com



Posted: Sunday, October 13, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Confused

Conspiracy theorists fear anything that is smart.

But... long before there were low energy smart meters, we had 10,000 volt power lines oscillating at 60 times per second all around us. We all got used to our electric AC, microwave ovens, vacuum cleaners, coffee makers, etc.




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