RE: smart meter opt-in, seller disclosure statement etc. – Kathy Ging public input to EWEB board 11.5.13

Kathy Ging public input to EWEB board 11.5.13

The theme of my remarks is the phrase _rules of thumb_ used by former EWEB General Manager Randy Berggren 3.23.10 at EWEB’s annual retreat responding to a question by Commissioner John Brown as to whether the community might show opposition to smart meters which Randy discussed taking off the shelf when the economy improves.

Free Dictionary defines rule of thumbs as: A useful principle having wide application but not intended to be strictly accurate or reliable in every situation.

It is this tone that dominated EWEB’s smart meter indoctrination style campaign often denying public requests for more balanced information on its website and in public releases. As a result, most of the public is still uninformed about differences between wired and wireless smart meters and the advantages and disadvantages of each and of smart meters in general.

EWEB AMI engineer Greg Armstead’s letter at the introduction to Good Company’s triple bottom line smart meter analysis August, 2011, sets the intention stating that the study was to assure the success of smart meter implementation. (EWEB paid for the study.)

_EWEB wanted to conduct this analysis early in the planning process, to help shape the ultimate – and successful – outcome of the project. We purposefully asked The Good Company to take an outside-in community perspective of the potential impact of this technology. The Good Company looked at three potential AMI scenarios that range from a “bare bones” AMI system to one that provides a much higher potential for integrating “smart grid,” demand-response and other initiatives that will benefit the community, EWEB and its customers._

Smart meters have opened a seller disclosure statement new Pandora box for Realtors, sellers and buyers of residential property.

I have been in discussion with legal counsel at Oregon Association of Realtors alerting them to the fact that since smart meters have been the subject of recalls, settlements and litigation (Oregon Sellers Disclosure Statement required by state law, page 3, item 6 asks if any product in the house has been subject to any of the above three problems), they now may need to consider adding information about smart meter manufacturer and model number including antenna to seller disclosure statements and add transparent information about smart meter liabilities to requirements for initial and continuing Realtor education.

I am not familiar with the smart meter vendor or installer potentially culpable in the settlement of Larry Nikkel in Vacaville, CA, who died in a house fire the day after a smart meter was installed, but an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed amount of money was awarded to his family in 2012, two years later, a warning to those who accept smart meters on their homes or other buildings and fail to disclose this issue if a fire or explosion occurs (or even health issue develops after property sale). Sellers have a duty to disclose any potential material defects exists in transferring real estate.

Litigation has been filed in several states (some lawsuits have been won by litigants) and countries regarding smart meters and recall of thousands of Sensus-USA meters in the PECO, Philadelphia, PA, utility district is documented in press items. News items report dozens of fires triggered also in Texas, California, Florida, Canada and elsewhere from smart meters

A seller’s disclosure statement is required to be completed in Oregon by sellers in all residential sales transaction with certain exceptions. Not informing sellers and Realtors about potential liability in neglecting due diligence and standard of care in advising their principal about issues can create liability for sellers and Realtors who are assumed to be professionals trained in the problems and possible material defects in the built environment.

As documented in affidavits and filings, FCC proceeding 13-84, a new class of refugees sensitive to electromagnetic fields has resulted from proliferation of wireless technology. It could be that a publicly available list of buildings with wired meters should be mandated and that this should be an essential part of EWEB’s opt-in plan. The exact model number and name of the manufacturer and installer should be provided to homeowners by EWEB for their permanent files so that they can disclose this information on seller disclosure statements.

Your erroneous decision to allow an OPT IN instead of a 10 year zero option or a real zero option – indefinite moratorium which many informed ratepayers wanted – now creates another complexity in real estate sales.

About your annual survey indicating about half of the respondents supporting and half not supporting smart meters: more significant is that as people learned about smart meter problems and controversies, there was a 340% increase of those opposing EWEB’s planned AMI program from 2011 to 2013.

If you read the comments on one the TV channel Facebook postings after 10.1, all were opposed to smart meters except for one woman who thought she had a smart meter but since wireless meters cannot be used in rural areas, she may not have known that her meter probably was NOT wireless and may have been a digital AMR or ETR not a smart meter.

If it had not been for Families for SAFE Meters and medical, scientific, engineering and education professionals who diligently attempted to educate EWEB staff and board in the last 2.25 years, ratepayers would have not been as well informed as to wireless meter technology and liabilities.

It is puzzling why EWEB General Manager Roger Gray denied the role Families… played in the 10.2.13 RG article. Three staff and one board member commented to me that without Families… involvement, a wireless radio mesh net probably would have been installed.

It is difficult especially for a manager to admit mistakes, but the public deserves better treatment by Oregon’s largest publicly owned utility leader. Ratepayers also have great consternation about misrepresentations in Gray’s responses to board inquiries about smart meter fires and explosions – over 1,000 worldwide -, health consequences, Fourth Amendment privacy rights violations and other issues that should dictate to a prudent person to approve at least a 10 year moratorium.

One totally veracious statement Gray made confirmed that the smart grid is not hack-proof, adding that he would attend a conference on the topic! For cyber-security concerns alone, EWEB should not have approved smart meters. The public was appalled that they were not given the opportunity to rebut and rectify Gray’s numerous mistakes and the Board made a hasty decision on distorted information and disinformation inadequately researched by the General Manager and the staff.

If you as a Board allow the staff to adopt incentives for smart meter installation, it would be further anomalous public policy.

There is still time to reverse your decision approving the opt-in smart meter plan before legal action or a petition drive that could cause more dissension and acrimony in the community.

Thank you for your public service and for your careful consideration of the information provided here.

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Kathy Ging, M.A., G.R.I.