The President's Message

MARCH 2012

Jim Brown

I thought that for this month’s column I would write about an issue that may be a concern to many of us. This has to do with the installation by our power company of "Smart Meters," which would replace the current electrical meter connected to the outside of your house. You should have received a letter from Southern California Edison giving you advance warning that it is going to replace your current electrical meter with a modern meter. This meter will send information about your electrical use many times during each hour. Edison says this gives the company real-time and more accurate information on your electricity use via Wi-Fi and you will have an easier way to see your usage and make adjustments as to when and what appliances you leave on in your home. The electrical company is doing this so that it will connect to the "Smart Grid." I do not know if the federal government will give the electric company a monetary incentive, but I would not doubt it. Eventually, every new appliance you purchase for your home will contain a chip that will send information to the meter describing an identification of the appliance -- washer, toaster etc.

This information will allow the electric company to know your habits: Are you on vacation? What appliances are you using and when are they used? So there is a privacy issue.

In the northwestern states and western Canada, this installation process has preceded us in Southern California. But it is planned that the process will begin here within the next month. There have been reports of many people who have had the meter installed complaining of new health issues -- headaches, vision problems, feelings of being foggy headed, and sinus problems where none existed before.

Compound this issue with the following: Once the meter is installed you will not be able to have it uninstalled. The cavalier attitude of the power companies want to charge you a tax (penalty) if you do not install. Southern California Edison wants to charge a onetime fee of $75 and a monthly fee of $10. Unknown to you, a law was passed in 2005 that allows you to decline the installation of the meter -- in fact, the power company can install themeter only upon your request. Northern California power companies are charging a one-time fee of $160 and $25 a month extra. I find all of this very disturbing.

If you also are concerned, call your power company. Ask for the phone number to delay or opt out of the installation of the Smart Meter.

I understand that Ventura and Santa Barbara counties are petitioning the Public Utilities Commission to eliminate the fees for those who do not want the "Smart Meter" installed. Visit the following web sites:

There is a site about a coming documentary which I don’t have information about; I am including the link from a local paper and the letter that started me looking into this: detail/ say_no_to_smart_meters_and_yes_to_fre e_energy/9637/ My issue is safety and privacy.

* * * Craig Ladd, our vice-president and program chairman, has an interesting program for our April meeting. Hope to see your there -- and bring a guest.

Remember to bring a guest, and give them a copy of TOE.

Happy computing!