Resident: Smart meters pose ‘dangers’

Published 5:08 pm Wednesday, March 16, 2022

BY NIC MILLER
STAR STAFF
nic.miller@elizabethton.com
At least one Elizabethton resident is concerned about the new electronic meters being installed by the Elizabethton Electric Department.
Fred Usack raised his concerns to city council last week.
“I don’t know if anyone is aware of the dangers of these smart meters, but there are many,” Usack said. “These meters are supposed to be something that benefits the consumer, something that these products do the opposite of.
“When I signed up for power, I gave the electric department access to property 24/7 to install, monitor, or change equipment. What I did not give them access to do was install something that is going to cause harm to me, my family, and my animals,” Usack said.
The electric department is in the process of installing 28,000 “radio read” meters for customers. These meters contain a radio transmitter that broadcasts the reading to the meter reader’s handheld device. The meters can be read from several hundred yards away, saving the meter readers time. The meters also have an electronic read-out for monitoring usages.
Usack said that the problem with the meters is the radio frequency, something that can be harmful for human health if too high.
“There is no safe level of RF radiation that the human body can absorb without having a detrimental effect on that person,” Usack said. “There have been reports of numerous fires caused by these products and these meters also pulse for a short duration, flooding your house with radiation while also using the wiring in your home as an antenna.”
City officials said the meters are safe. “I do not want to dismiss the concern if there is a legitimate concern, but I would also like to address what we know about these meters and the research we have done on these devices,” said City Manager Daniel Estes.
Councilman Jeff Treadway also responded to concerns. “There are standards for how much radio frequency you can have, and there are ways to measure that and see if it is too much,” he said. “If I was Honeywell and we were producing meters with a high level of radio frequency, I would discontinue the products.”
Usack said he believes the smart meter initiative was one that comes from the federal government and is passed down through the TVA and to local municipalities, a claim disputed by Elizabethton Electric Department General Manager Brandon Shell, who added “I would love it if they gave us money for that.”

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