Response to Register Guard story 10.2.13 on EWEB board meeting 10.1.13

Response to R-G story, Voluntary ‘smart’ meter option is adopted by Josephine Woolington, Oct 2, 2013

http://www.registerguard.com/rg/news/local/30540231-75/smart-meters-customers-eweb-meter.html.csp


By Jack Dresser, PhD, Oct 3, 2013

It is noteworthy that the reporter confined her description of Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) boardroom on 10.1.13 packed with opponents of smart meters who provided extensive, comprehensive, data-based testimony to two words – “rowdy crowd.”   She focused most of her story on the canned, re-heated, routinely scripted Q&A interchange between Roger Gray, General Manager, and the five (volunteer) Commissioners  who seemed to overlook the fact that they are stewards mandated and entrusted with our representation.

After Roger Gray assumed his position as GM a little over three years ago, staff had reported to members of the public that he had had a difficult time in learning how to work in a PUBLICLY OWNED utility – having been an independent consultant for nine years and prior to that, employee of PG&E in California for 19 years – ending up as a vice-president.  Local EWEB fans questioned why EWEB Board hired him instead of an in-house applicant or an employee of the 2,000 publicly owned utilities in the US, part of the American Public Power Assn.

We owner-ratepayers of EWEB, Oregon’s largest publicly owned utility, need to remind Roger Gray that he works for US – THE PEOPLE not for his own agenda colored by old investor owned utility (IOU) motivations.

Not one of our many stated concerns was described accurately:

(1) the many risks of RadioFrequency/MICROWAVE radiation documented by the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (ASEMonline.org), BioInitiative Report and many other world class research scientists including medical professionals;

(2) class-action lawsuits against other utilities installing smart meters charging “fraud and deceit,” “negligence” and “product liability;”

(3) the inevitable vulnerability of the smart grid to hacking or even complete grid shut-down predicted by cyber-security professionals.  Smart Grid INsecurity is one area where Roger Gray was more candid, commenting that anything digital CAN BE HACKED iindicating that he would soon attend a conference on grid cyber security problems;

(4) data harvesting – theft of personal electric or water usage data – and electricity theft from individual customers or from the utility have been described in professional journalistic articles.   (Articles in 2009 describe an FBI investigation of a Puerto Rican utility that had MILLIONS of dollars of electricity stolen from it PROBABLY, they said, due to smart meter technology – and rogue employees. The article stated that although utility industry insiders were aware of the potential for theft, etc., they did not want to alarm the public by advertising this risk!);

(5) electronic intrusion and data capture in violation of our Fourth Amendment protection against search and seizure without court authorization. To disregard the gravity of this topic, Privacy and the Modern Grid, subject of  an entire issue of the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, Fall, 2011, showed a lack of diligence and standard of care in alerting the Board to probable future litigious issues;

(6) the prediction by ex-CIA director David Petraeus that the government will use smart meters to spy on citizens, and

(7) potential control by the burgeoning security and surveillance state of our water and power supplies – in addition to the granular information that can be accumulated to profile lifestyles and target individuals.

Were we a rowdy crowd?   No: in reality an EWEB staff member complemented our group (including many persons whom we did not know) on our good behavior and lauding our partial success in our goal of slowing down or preventing smart meters.

Wake up and pay attention, Ms. Woolington! Did you fail to understand what you heard or its importance?

You missed the REAL story – highlights of the 28 testimonies questioning smart meters – wired or wireless – and EWEB’s whole process including a supercilious heavy handed know it all attitude to providing public information from the start of their propaganda campaign. The inability of staff including two former journalists and one trained in public policy to integrate valid public concerns into staff recommendations indicates a need for a shake up in the utility from the top down.

EWEB failed to engage this highly educated community and instead hired the wrong consultants so not only was EWEB not guided by an unbiased discovery including medical, journalistic reviews and scholarly research tapping local institutions of higher education, they also were not guided most importantly by the health, social equity and best interests of the PEOPLE WHOM THEY SERVE!

It was revealing that EWEB GM Roger Gray, in a moment of appalling hubris, stated that this abundant and highly salient information Families for SAFE Meters and friends have provided EWEB for two+  years “was not a factor at all” in their decision!  This warped statement certainly was not reflected in the memorandum he distributed to the board prior to this decision point, or in the options he proposed and has caused indignation in the community in which he is a relative newcomer.

Mr.Gray has demonstrated a lack of accountability, fiduciary responsibility and respect for the public he presumably serves.  Neither the management nor the EWEB board have searched out and made available to owner-ratepayers comprehensive and circumferential information, including disadvantages, of smart meters and the smart grid. We have had to discover it ourselves. To have our discovery, including considerable research involving contacting original information sources, dismissively described in EWEB’s internal correspondence as “alleged” but unspecified problems, demonstrates a miscreant and petulant attitude.

Mr. Gray’s performance must be thoroughly reviewed and his record of disinformation to the Board and the public uncovered.  Owner-ratepayers should consider new candidates for the EWEB Board.  In 2014 two positions will be open – those of John Simpson, the only city-wide Commissioner, and John Brown, North Eugene representative.

The future of EWEB is in your hands.