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Hawaii: Summons for Federal Injunction Helps Kauai Re-think Smart Meters and Democracy

 

By Penny Apay, Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii March 28, 2012

 

Nataan Kauakahi

No aloha for smart meters.

Sparks are flying on the island paradise of Kauai, Hawaii, with yesterday's serving of summons to appear in Federal Court for possible injunction to halt smart meter installation, received by the Board Directors of the local electric utility, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, (KIUC).

The purpose of new wireless ‘smart meters' on all homes and businesses, to replace the existing electric meters, is unclear, because the efficiency has not been demonstrated, while problems with higher rates and sickness have brought protests and lawsuits in many communities.

51 local governments in California alone have issued official statements to delay or criminalize ‘smart meters'. Connecticut Attorney General George Jepson urged his state to reject ‘smart meters' in 2009 because the pilot project showed no savings.

Nataan Kauakahi of Lihue, Kauai is watching the progress of the smart meter injunction here closely. Behind the wall in his HUD apartment is a bank of 8 new wireless ‘smart meters', installed without the account holders' consent . They will be turned on soon, if the injunction against them is not upheld in court.

“These wireless meters emit pulsed microwave radiation many thousand to 190,000 times a day”, Kauakahi said. “But our utility only told us about the 6 daily transmissions back to their base to deliver data. I'm disabled and home all the time. With 8 ‘smart meters' a few feet away, together sending maybe a million pulses every day, year after year, what are chances my health will not be effected?”

In 2007, the Bioinitiative Report was published in which health symptoms appearing in public from exposure to radio frequency (RF), far below FCC safety guidelines, was cataloged. The European Parliament adopted the reccomendations of Bioinitiative.org .

The number of emissions mentioned by Kauakahi, is for the Landys Company ‘smart meter'. This number was hidden from the world's public until California Judge Amy C. Yip-Kikugawa, ordered a report Oct 18, 2011.  For years, the incomplete story of only 6 data packages per day has been used by utilities nationally to convince public that ‘smart meters' are benign.  

“Somehow there is an agreement between industry and the Dept. of Energy to not share the whole truth” said Ray Songtree of KauaiTruth.com.   “The roll out of smart meters is actually global and is not due to demand for an excellent proven technology, as it has never been tested.  So who organized and pushed this and why have they hidden health risks in all their literature?”

Kauai Resident Marilyn Axtell told the utility Board yesterday, “I am electro-sensitive. Electro-sensitivity is not anecdotal as you have stated.”

Kauakahi told the utility, “ You say, what if you are right and they are harmless? I say, what if you are wrong?”

The health concerns of Radio Frequency (RF) was underscored by the May 31, 2011 World Health Organization classification of RF as a possible class 2b carcinogen along with lead, engine exhaust and chloroform.

However, the injunction served at same meeting where Axtell and Kauikahi testifed yesterday was not based on health concern. Privacy and security are the focus.

The plaintiff  for the federal injunction prefers not to publicize his name. “I feel threatened by your statements”, he told the Board, moments before his federal lawsuit was served.

 According to KauaiEclectic blog, the plaintiff said,  “All I want, is for KIUC to honor the sanctity of my home and never attempt to install a ‘smart meter' without my written permission. If the utility agrees to that, the lawsuit will be over.”

Kauai Island Electric Cooperative (KIUC) has changed their policy statements on “opting-out” several times in the past few months. At a December 3, 2011 Board meeting, a unanimous vote supported an “opt-out”, but residents who sent in opt out letters were denied. Then on Feb 15, 2012, KIUC used new words ‘deferred installation'. A month later, at a March 15, 2011 meeting in Kapaa, the coop's CEO David Bissell said that “eventually people who don't want a ‘smart meter' may have their power turned off.” Four days later in a press release he used the words “indefinite deferred installation.”

“The utility is playing word games to trick the public. What they refuse to do is offer a permanent opt-out choice up front,” said Songtree. “Unfortunately our Board is hiding behind many confidentiality agreements so there is isolation and a lack of communication. Remember, this is supposed to be a member owned coop.”

The Kauai Island Utility Coop signed an $11 million federal contract on Sept 28, 2010  for the wireless ‘smart meters'. $5.5 million would come from Federal grant, and $5.5 million from owner/members, but the owner/members of the electric coop have never been shown the terms of contract.  

"According to the second principle of our coop, we owner/ members are supposed to have active participation in setting our policies and making decisions.” Says Janet Ashkenazy, another concerned Kauaian.

KIUC Counsel David Proudfoot was asked about how the Coop Principles effect legal status of decisions by Board. He said, “The principles are aspirations, not binding by law.”

Ashkenazy said, “Since the KIUC Board of Directors has never honored the Second Principle of member active participation or other co-op values such as equality, solidarity, and openness, it appears that KIUC is not entitled to its co-op status.”

Christopher Schaefer of Kapaa, Kauai asks, “I wonder what the IRS would think of an electric coop which takes tax breaks but does not function like a coop?”

“Additionally” Ashkenazy said, “KIUC has violated the Cooperative Principle of Education which mandates that it provide necessary information to its members to reach satisfactory decisions.  KIUC has failed to provide accurate information about health and privacy problems connected with ‘smart meters', claiming for instance that ‘smart meters' are harmless and do not invade privacy.”

The federal injunction here is all about privacy. The plaintiff has said, “Change the words ‘smart meter' to ‘camera',  and it will make it easier to understand where I'm coming from.”

According to 2009 Colorado Report by Elias Leake Quinn , software already now exists to identify any individual home appliance, because every electric device has a unique signature in the way it consumes power.  New “smart” appliances with RF chips are coming soon and then, identifying all usage patterns in home with a ‘smart meter' will be automatic.  According to Quinn research, some Public Utility Comissions have already given permission and encouraged utilities to share customer information with third parties. Combined with an erosion of constitutional protections, ‘smart meters' appears to some to be a dangerous threat to freedom.

“On Kauai we don't have an anti-smart meter group,” said Songtree. “What we have is very independent people who question ‘smart meters' for health, or privacy, or democratic reasons, and are in touch with each other. The knowledge base takes expression as individual efforts, like this court action, or new websites, or new Facebook pages and many letters to local newspaper.”

“I could be silent no more” said native Hawaiian, Mark Naea, a retired network engineer, who started StopKIUC.com .

Smart Meters are touching off constitutional sparks in other places besides Kauai. In Napersville Illinois, a similar request for federal injunction against the utility has awakened that community to property rights.

Asked about what they hoped from the federal injunction request for Kauai, Ashkenazy said, “No smart meter roll out and a real Coop.”

Kauakahi said, “Freedom of choice.”

 

1. Municipalities http://stopsmartmeters.org/how-you-can-stop-smart-meters/sample-letter-to-local-government/ca-local-governments-on-board/

2. HUD, without consent http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/green-energy-means-higher-rent-for-seniors/article_2e369cac-6514-11e1-99b5-001871e3ce6c.html

3. California Judge 190,000 emissions/day http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=6030