Smart meter opponents argue to overturn Maine PUC decision

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PORTLAND — For the second time in three years, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments about the alleged health risks of “smart” electric meters.

At issue Tuesday was whether the Public Utilities Commission, the state agency that regulates utilities, incorrectly deemed the meters safe.

Central Maine Power Co., the utility serving the majority of western Maine, began installing smart meters in 2009, aided by $96 million from the federal Economic Stimulus Act.

Unlike traditional electric meters, smart meters convey usage data wirelessly throughout the day, allowing the utility to “optimize” its service, according to a CMP representative.

CMP has installed more than 600,000 smart meters in its coverage area, serving nearly all of its customers.

Opponents have argued that the radio frequency emitted by the wireless meters causes a range of health effects, from nausea to cancer.

They point to studies, including findings from the World Health Organization and International Agency for Research on Cancer, that say such radiation is “possibly carcinogenic” at some levels.

The high court ordered the PUC to reopen a health investigation in 2012 into the risks of smart meters. After a 2 1/2-year review, the agency concluded there is “(no) credible threat to the health and safety of CMP’s customers.”

Opponents, led by Ed Friedman and the Maine Coalition to Stop Smart Meters, appealed that decision to the state supreme court in May.

On Tuesday at the Cumberland County Courthouse, appellants’ attorney Bruce McGlauflin argued that PUC Commissioner David Littell recognized many of the studies cited by opponents in his written opinion, saying there was “credible evidence” of potential harm. These findings in the record, he argued, conflict with the final ruling of no threat of harm.

“There are multiple reasons … (this ruling) must be vacated,” McGlauflin said. The decision, he argued, lacked a rational basis, exhibited multiple errors of law, such as shifting the burden of proof to the complainants, and was not supported by substantial evidence.

The justices, however, pressed McGlauflin about whether the issue is preempted by federal law. The Federal Communications Commission sets exposure limits for RF radiation, and the Maine PUC found in its investigation that smart meter emissions fall under the federal threshold.

McGlauflin argued that in doing a safety investigation that lasted more than two years, the PUC itself made the decision that preemption did not apply. And, he added, Littell said the FCC exposure levels, set in 1996, were “outdated.”

But “FCC regulations are valid, they are the law,” Justice Jeffrey Hjelm responded.

Later, attorneys for the PUC argued the body’s ruling was in “complete accord” with the FCC and “every other state and federal agency” that has addressed the question.

But justices pressed PUC counsel on whether there was substantial evidence supporting the decision of safety. In measuring RF emissions from CMP’s smart meters, “do we know that in fact that the threat of harm is less?,” Chief Justice Leigh Saufley asked.

After the 30-minute oral arguments concluded, more than a dozen members of the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters gathered outside the courthouse.

Some of them said they suffer from a condition called electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or EHS, which the WHO characterizes as “a variety of non-specific symptoms, which afflicted individuals attribute to exposure to (electromagnetic fields).” One woman in the assembled group wore a head-to-toe blue suit, which she said was lined with silver and aluminum mesh to deflect electromagnetic waves.

As the afternoon light faded, the group unfurled a banner urging recall of smart meters before dispersing.

McGlauflin, the group’s attorney, said they would have to wait anywhere from two weeks to a year for a court ruling, although, in his experience, a couple months is “fairly typical.”

He added that he thought it would be “odd” to see a decision of federal preemption, after the court ordered the PUC take up the issue of health risks in 2012.

 “We’d have wasted the last 2 1/2 years,” he said. “Otherwise, why do it?”

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann

Members of the Maine Coalition to Stop Smart Meters gather outside the Cumberland County Courthouse Tuesday, Nov. 3, after the state Supreme Judicial Court heard oral arguments on the alleged health risks of smart meters.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.
  • I am a x-Maniac living in Atlanta. Lots of epidemiology maps on my blog pointing to a problem with electromagnetic radiation and increased diseases in humans and wildlife

    • Halt MAsmartmeters

      great blog ChemE Stewart. I just shared some of your articles on facebook. Please message me if you can….

  • Derek Ward

    How many of these frivolous lawsuits are going to be allowed? All this angst (and expense) for a simple safe technology upgrade to utility owned equipment.

    • s80t6

      I’m shocked none of those in the photo aren’t wearing aluminum foil hats. My only gripe with the meters is that on my road CMP still shows up every month to take a reading.

      • Ted

        I’m not saying these meters are harmful or not (I have one on my house), but there is mounting epigenetic science that equates the accumulation of insults to the body (chemical, physical, emotional, and radiation) and the increasing numbers of chronic and deadly diseases in the USA.

        I haven’t complained about my meter (yet) because I have bigger fish to fry, however, I don’t close my eyes to new science because I wish things were different.

    • Chris Turner, Esq.

      What is your definition of safe?

      “IN JUNE 2010, Shirley Bayliff was sitting at the piano in her suburban Illinois home, giving music lessons to a student, when she heard a “pop” outside the house before the power went out.

      When she and her husband looked out the window, they saw five-foot flames shooting out from a new General Electric smart meter their utility company had installed as part of a pilot project. “Very, very scary,” she told Crain’s Chicago Business newspaper.

      Apparently Bayliff isn’t the only who got a surprise from her smart meter…”

      • Derek Ward

        Electrical fires happened before smart meters and will happen after smart meters. The fire you mentioned was minor and caused by the meter base not the meter itself. The smart meter had been installed 71 days before – how long after installation does it have to be before the smart meter is not to blame?

        • Chris Turner, Esq.

, not-so-smart-meters-overbilling-californians

          “The utility, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, admitted
          yesterday that about 1,600 so-called “smart meters” had
          charged customers for phantom power. The meters, manufactured by Landis+Gyr, malfunctioned when they get too hot…”

          • Derek Ward

            Yes 1600 out of 8 million installed (0.02 percent) and PG&E refunded the affected customers with a $40 refund on average and a $25 customer inconvenience payment. This is obviously not a gigantic problem.

          • Frederique Zug

            Smart meter will bill customers for any rate they put in.
            Smart meters will measure power at any rate they are told to measure at.
            Do you think that is why Derek Ward never complains about his power bill?

        • Frederique Zug

          How about the RCMP member on Vancouver Island? BC Hydro burnt down his home and almost killed him and his family. Now that was a smart meter fire.

  • Chew H Bird

    One Engineer, one lawyer, and one economist are the commissioners. I accept the engineer, but a lawyer and an economist (in my opinion) are not qualified to be on the PUC.


      Since the PUC is a quasi-judicial body regulating utility rates; these people represent the exact mix of qualifications you should expect see!!!

  • SciGuy2

    It’s interesting that the World Health Organization’s ICNIRP warned governments in 2002 that some people are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation below the outdated 1996 FCC heating limits, and that governments should adopt non-thermal limits, but the federal agencies have not yet done so over a decade later. Maine could join other groups in giving equality and health rights to those people known to be affected by this radiation.

    • Derek Ward

      Where did you get that information from? In 2006 the WHO said that electromagnetic radiation did not cause electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) – google WHO EHS. Many double blind tests have been performed and no correlation between exposure and symptoms has been found.

      • Chris Turner, Esq.

        Conflict of Interest at the World Health Organisation – Leading Expert Anders Ahlbom Linked to the Telecom Industry, 23.05.2011

        “The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has removed Anders Ahlbom of the Karolinska Institute from its panel of experts which is set to evaluate the cancer risks posed by mobile phones. The committee will meet in Lyon, France, for a week beginning this coming Tuesday, May 24. In an e-mail sent out earlier today, Ahlbom wrote, “IARC has excluded me from the RF Working Group because of ‘possible perception of conflict of interest’.”

        IARC moved quickly after learning that Ahlbom is a director of his brother’s consulting firm, Gunnar Ahlbom AB. The company, which is based in Brussels, was established to help clients on telecom issues, with an emphasis on environmental and energy regulations…”

  • Scott Harriman

    I’ve got one of these stupid things on my house because I couldn’t afford the extortionate fees CMP wanted in order to keep the old (perfectly fine) meter.

    When I redo my siding next year I was thinking about installing metal flashing several feet in each direction behind where the meter sits. I wonder if that would actually deflect radiation away from the house?

    • jbacus

      You could try a tinfoil hat.

      • Scott Harriman

        The hat works well — the problem is that my tinfoil briefs keep chafing.

        • Derek Ward

          Actually, At least one fear mongering site sells metal mesh underwear among their many questionable products.

          • Frederique Zug

            Tin Foil Hat
            Definition: A defunct derogatory phrase used by power company
            managers with limited mental ability to try to insult or degrade
            unfortunate people who have to use unshielded medical implants to try
            and keep an acceptable degree of life…

      • Frederique Zug

        Tin Foil Hat
        Definition: A defunct derogatory phrase used by power company
        managers with limited mental ability to try to insult or degrade
        unfortunate people who have to use unshielded medical implants to try
        and keep an acceptable degree of life.

    • Chris Turner, Esq., Are Smart Meters Causing Fires?

      According to a paper published in July 2010 by Cindy Sage of Sage Associates and James J. Biergiel, EMF Electrical Consultant, the new meters may be contributing to electrical fires where there is a weak spot such as older wiring, undersized neutrals for the electric load, poor grounding, or use of aluminum conductors. The use of Smart Meters according to the authors places an entirely new and significantly increased burden on existing electrical wiring because of the very short, very high intensity wireless emissions (radio frequency bursts) that the meters produce to signal the utility about energy uses. According to the authors, the typical gauge electrical wiring that provides electricity to buildings (60 Hz power) is not constructed or intended to carry high frequency harmonics that are increasingly present on normal electrical wiring. The exponential increase in use of appliances, variable speed motors, office and computer equipment and wireless technologies has greatly increased these harmonics in community electrical grids and the buildings they serve with electricity. Harmonics are high frequencies than 60 Hz that carry more energy, and ride along on the electrical wiring in bursts. Radio frequency (RF) is an unattended by product of this electrical wiring according to the paper.

      • Derek Ward

        You complain about conflict of interest in the IARC yet you cite Cindy Sage the biased editor of the Bioinitiative Report (dismissed by heath bodies wrldwide) and the owner of Sage Associates who make money by instilling fear of EMR in gullible people. The other autor of the paper is of the same ilk.

        Funny that the paper only seems to be on anti smart meter websites and can’t find any peer review.

        • Chris Turner, Esq.

          Mr. Ward, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

          I found this post after googling you? Is this you?

          “Derek Ward” is clearly an industry paid troll/bot, even though he
          denies it, he even insisted that there was no evidence that that smart
          meter fires in Saskatchewan were caused by the meters themselves. Then
          after Sask Power and the Saskatchewan government announced that they
          were cancelling the program and pulling the Sensus built firebombs,
          insisted that only that make and model of not so smart meter caused
          fires. In spite of the fact that there have been multiple incidents of
          fires involving just about every of make and model of not so smart
          meter, from G.E, to Landis and Gyr, to Itron. Now he’s denying that
          those very same Sensus meters used in Saskatchewan are causing fires in
          Nevada, lets just say that moral integrity is not one of this troll’s
          strong suits.

          This person, and I used that is the sense of the route word, persona,
          posts anywhere and everywhere online whenever the subject of not so
          smart meters comes up. Just type that name into google with the words
          “Smart Meter” and that name will pop up in at least a half dozen
          results. If there is as newspaper article about not so smart meters,
          there’s “Derek Ward” like a Johnny on the spot in the comments,
          belittling opponents and skeptics, whilst passionately defending and
          praising the industry. But whenever “he” is buttonholed about these
          activities insists he’s just some ordinary Joe “trying to get the truth
          out”. This does not pass the credibility test, a random, passively
          interested, “ordinary Joe” on the street would never comment on an issue
          that much, especially a position defending an industry that a real
          ordinary Joe couldn’t care less about.

          It’s a curious thing though, even though he insists that he lives on a

          coastal island on West coast no amount of searches reveals any letters

          to the editor

          submitted under that name. Well I think I know why, in order to submit a

          letter to the editor to a newspaper you need to give your name,

          address, telephone number, and sometimes email. It’s been like that
          since Paul Reitsma, a B.C Liberal MLA, was caught writing letters under
          an assumed name back in the 90s.

          You can’t give a name, address, and telephone number for someone who
          does not exist, they check on that before they will publish the letter.
          So it’s pretty clear, “Derek Ward” is a paid industry/politically
          connected troll/bot/hack, operating out of a boiler room, spewing his
          vitriol and B.S everywhere through a fake facebook account.

          • Derek Ward

            Too funny – didn’t know I was that well known. It is mostly nonsense and exaggeration though especially the paid shill part, the old shill argument is so bogus. Just google Derek Ward Hornby Island and you will see I really do live there, and I also play duplicate bridge, testified in an Islands Trust court case , etc. It is also funny you would believe someone called “Fritz” commenting on an anti smart meter blog known for its misinformation, exaggeration and outright lies.

          • Frederique Zug

            Derek Ward is wll know for shooting the messenger and shutting up when asked about BC Hydro smart meter fires.

          • Frederique Zug

            Can you name one LIE Derek Ward? How about BC Hydro and the BCCDC report of June 9th 2011. Is that the kind of LIE you are talking about???


            No deficiency was found with the meters mentioned here.

            “SaskPower hired UL in August for independent testing on the model of smart meter installed on residential homes in Saskatchewan. UL is a world-leading body in testing, certifying and validating electrical meters. Its standards for meters have been adopted as leading specifications for meter use in North America.

            The meters were subjected to the performance requirements in the newest industry standard: the UL 2735 Standard for Safety
            for Electric Utility Meters, which was released May 30, 2013, and the meters were found to comply.”


        • Frederique Zug

          Found you again Derek Ward.. How did BC Hydro test a 4 watt smart meter and get ZERO for results?


        Cindy Sage!! Is this an attempt at humor?

        Peddling snake oil does not qualify someone as an expert in electrical safety or smart meter operations.

    • Frederique Zug

      Put your meter base inside of an aluminum box. That way the radiation stays inside and the rain stays outside.

  • Chris Turner, Esq.

    Biological Effects of Wireless Technology,

    “In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the regulatory body for radio frequency/microwave (RF/MW) radiation. This includes radiation from cell phones, pagers and their transmitting antennas, TV and radio towers, wireless computer networks, etc. The current standards only took into account the effect of microwaves to heat up tissue (so called thermal effect), while ignoring a large body of scientific evidence pointing to non-thermal effects on living organisms.

    According to this position letter from US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “The FCC’s current (radio frequency/microwave) exposure guidelines … are thermally based, and do not apply to chronic, nonthermal exposure situations. They are believed to protect against injury that may be caused by acute exposures that result in tissue heating or electric shock and burn.” “The FCC’s exposure guideline is considered protective of effects arising from a thermal mechanism but not from all possible mechanisms. Therefore, the generalization by many that the guidelines protect human beings from harm by any or all mechanisms is not justified”. “Federal health and safety agencies have not yet developed policies concerning possible risk from long-term, nonthermal exposures”. …”


      As usual, you are mistaken. The FCC guidelines for human exposure to RF electromagnetic fields were derived from the recommendations of two expert organizations, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Both the NCRP exposure criteria and the IEEE standard were developed by expert scientists and engineers after extensive reviews of all peer-reviewed scientific literature related to any potential effects of RF exposure – which includes thermal, non-thermal and biological effects – and employ a weight-of-evidence approach.

      The exposure guidelines are based on thresholds for known adverse effects, and they incorporate appropriate margins of safety. In adopting the most recent RF exposure guidelines, the FCC consulted with the EPA, FDA, OSHA and NIOSH, and obtained their support for the guidelines that the FCC is now using.

      • Chris Turner, Esq.

        If the United States Environmental Protection Agency Writes the below then what do you mean that I or they are mistaken? What is your point? That the EPA was wrong in 2002? There is no doubt that the FCC exposure limit is very high and it is thermally based. What is wrong with you? (July 16th, 2002 letter written by the US UPS)

        According to this position
        letter from US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “The FCC’s
        current (radio frequency/microwave) exposure guidelines … are thermally
        based, and do not apply to chronic, nonthermal exposure situations. They
        are believed to protect against injury that may be caused by acute exposures
        that result in tissue heating or electric shock and burn.” “The
        FCC’s exposure guideline is considered protective of effects arising from a
        thermal mechanism but not from all possible mechanisms. Therefore, the
        generalization by many that the guidelines protect human beings from harm by
        any or all mechanisms is not justified”. “Federal health and safety
        agencies have not yet developed policies concerning possible risk from
        long-term, nonthermal exposures”.


          The thermal health effects of RF-EMF are well understood, and are the current basis for regulatory exposure limits. These limits are sufficient to prevent thermal health effects.

          Non-thermal health effects have been widely studied, but are still theoretical and have not been recognized by experts as a basis for changing regulatory exposure limits.

          The MPE limit is designed to prevent thermal effects, and scientific panels reviewed hundreds of research studies to
          arrive at a consensus. The MPE limit is not based on any non-thermal effects. Nevertheless, the committees making the recommendations for the MPE limits evaluated health effects and other research that focused on possible non-thermal effects. Members of NCRP Committee 53, which prepared NCRP Report 86. Biological Effects and Exposure Criteria for Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields considered numerous laboratory studies of cells, whole animals and humans as well as numerous epidemiological studies of human populations exposed in occupational and public settings which sought to quantify an association of RFR exposure with effects that are not related to temperature change. The IEEE Standards Coordinating Committee 28 did the same for its IEEE C95.1-1999 publication IEEE Standard for Safety Levels with Respect to Human Exposure to Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Fields, 3 kHz to 300 GHz.

  • Derek Ward

    I see “Frederique Zug” has joined the conversation. He is a well known troll who uses various aliases and copies and pastes the same nonsense about any story about smart meters, Wifi, cell phones and cell towers.

    • Frederique Zug

      Name one thing that you have proved to be nonsense Derek Ward.

      Joint Statement on Pregnancy and Wireless Radiation.
      We join together as physicians, scientists and educators to express our concern about the risk that wireless radiation poses to pregnancy and
      to urge pregnant women to limit their exposures.

  • Kevin McCarthy

    Smart meters definitely do have an affect on mental health. Just look at this comment section.

  • Chris Turner, Esq.

    In February of 2014 teh Department of the Interior wrote:

    The second significant issue associated with communication towers
    involves impacts from non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation
    emitted by these structures. Radiation studies at
    cellular communication towers were begun circa 2000 in Europe
    and continue today on wild nesting birds. Study results
    have documented nest and site abandonment, plumage deterioration, locomotion problems, reduced survivorship, and
    death… the electromagnetic radiation standards used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continue to be based on thermal heating, a criterion now nearly 30 years out
    of date and inapplicable today.


      These are talking points from a Wildlife Biologist. Where are the Physics and Engineering conclusions from peer-reviewed and replicated studies published in reputable science journals? That’s what exposure limits are based on. And, while non-thermal health effects have been widely studied, they are still just theoretical, and have not been recognized by experts as a basis for changing regulatory exposure limits. Regardless of their age, the current FCC limits are still valid and very much up to date. Science trumps speculation and rhetoric.

  • Chris Turner, Esq.

    Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.19). 07/2015; DOI: 10.3109/15368378.2015.1043557

    Source: PubMed ABSTRACT

    This review aims to cover experimental data on oxidative effects of
    low-intensity radiofrequency radiation (RFR) in living cells. Analysis
    of the currently available peer-reviewed scientific literature reveals
    molecular effects induced by low-intensity RFR in living cells; this
    includes significant activation of key pathways generating reactive
    oxygen species (ROS), activation of peroxidation, oxidative damage of
    DNA and changes in the activity of antioxidant enzymes. It indicates
    that among 100 currently available peer-reviewed studies dealing with
    oxidative effects of low-intensity RFR, in general, 93 confirmed that
    RFR induces oxidative effects in biological systems. A wide pathogenic
    potential of the induced ROS and their involvement in cell signaling
    pathways explains a range of biological/health effects of low-intensity
    RFR, which include both cancer and non-cancer pathologies. In
    conclusion, our analysis demonstrates that low-intensity RFR is an
    expressive oxidative agent for living cells with a high pathogenic
    potential and that the oxidative stress induced by RFR exposure should
    be recognized as one of the primary mechanisms of the biological
    activity of this kind of radiation.

    Oxidative mechanisms of biological activity of low-intensity radiofrequency radiation – ResearchGate. Available from: [accessed Oct 30, 2015].

  • Chris Turner, Esq.

    Frequency of “Smart” Meter Emissions higher than PEPCO Claims, Bank of 32 Smart Meters measured:,

  • Chris Turner, Esq.

    The PG&E Silver Springs Network “smart” meter operates in the
    902-928 MHz range, near the range of most cell phones, and in the
    radio-frequency microwave range (300 MHz to 3 GHz). The 2-millisecond
    spikes of RF (radio-frequency) it emits are randomly assigned to a
    pattern of alternating frequencies—the pulses keep shifting which
    frequency they are using. At least 90% of the pulses are not your data,
    but the “mesh network” talking to itself—also known as network
    The spiked pulses are like a strobe light, which also emits spiked
    pulses, about 1/2 millisecond each.

    The “smart” meter pulses can go off
    at a rate of 2 to 20 per second. Strobe lights are known to have
    neurological effects, and are not allowed to be sold if they strobe at a
    rate above 10 pulses per second. Some people cannot be around strobe
    lights, they set off visually triggered seizures. The “smart” meter RF
    emissions constitute an all-new, bizarre pattern, unlike the pattern of
    emissions from your cell phone or any other RF-emitting device. And to
    date there have been no studies published on the effects of ‘smart’
    meter radiation on animals, plants or humans. However, some research
    indicates that pulsed radiation induces a greater biological effect than
    constant radiation. Based on countless firsthand reports it is clear that some people are vulnerable to serious ill effects.

  • Chris Turner, Esq.

    Living Nightmare: How SDG&E Smart Meter Led to Headaches, Hearing Loss, how
    SDG&E’s radiation-emitting smart meters impacted one woman’s health.

    “… While seeing the doctor, I was shocked to learn more about the new
    SDG&E meters, that they emitted pulsed RF radiation, something
    experts warn about, and that many other people in California had the
    same symptoms after installations of the meters. Further, my electric
    meter was right near the place where my head lay on the pillow, less
    than a foot, on the exterior wall. That was very unsettling…”–living-nightmare-how-sdge-smart-meter-led-to-head47462fcd8c

    • RealityCheckk

      I can really relate to the lady in this article. We are SDG&E customers that were negatively effected by our Smartmeter. I was suffering tremendously with throbbing headaches, loss of balance, brain fog and several other health problems. My wife experienced “restless leg syndrome”. My wife’s problem cleared up completely and my symptoms diminished significantly after having an analog meter put back on our house. I noticed a verifiable difference the very evening I came home on the day the SM was replaced.
      What is bothering me is the focus on the RF aspect causing the health problems. From my research it could be the switch mode power supply creating dirty electricity that is transmitted throughout your house wiring. The basic issue here is that thousands of people around the world have experienced health problems due to SM installations. The “why” needs to be properly evaluated through testing that is specific to SM’s, and approval not just based on scientific presumptions based on generic calculations of former testing procedures.
      I have flat refused to pay the opt-out fees to SDG&E. After over a year, they have sent me a Past Due bill notice with a threat to cut our power. I filed a complaint with the CPUC who responded with a letter reiterating their policy for opt-out fees. I am in the process of responding to them with facts, partly informing them of the corruption surrounding their opt-out policy decision and I’m contemplating suing SDG&E in small claims court to compensate me for the fees they are charging. There have been a couple of successful legal challenges to the opt-out fees in California. Are you in the San Diego area?