Susan Foster worries that radio waves from new smart meters may aggravate her heart condition.
  • Susan Foster worries that radio waves from new smart meters may aggravate her heart condition.
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When a San Diego Gas and Electric technician asked Susan Foster how the company could allay her concerns about smart meters, her reply left him speechless.

“Can you get me a new heart?” Foster stood at her front door in her bathrobe one morning last spring, wondering why the utility company had sent an employee out after it had agreed not to install a smart meter on her Rancho Santa Fe home.

Foster has a cardiac condition and fears that electromagnetic waves emitted by the devices, which use radio signals to transmit information about customer energy use to utilities — and which do away with the need to send meter readers — “could severely compound” her health problems.

According to San Diego Gas and Electric’s website, the wireless electric and gas meters operate at frequencies similar to baby monitors and portable phones and fully comply with federal guidelines for human exposure to radio frequency.

But Foster isn’t reassured. And she’s not the only one worrying about the invisible waves. A growing number of utility customers cite health issues for opposing smart meters. What sets her apart: she lives in San Diego.

The greatest opposition to wireless meters has occurred in Northern and Central California, where Pacific Gas and Electric customers may soon be offered a choice about having a smart meter.

In March, the Monterey town of Seaside and Lake County in Northern California banned smart meters. Statewide, 38 governments oppose them in one form or another, according to a report from

An SDG&E worker installs a gas meter with a smart-meter module.

An SDG&E worker installs a gas meter with a smart-meter module.

On March 10, the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates utility companies, requested that Pacific Gas and Electric present a proposal that would allow customers to opt out of a wireless smart meter.

The utility’s proposal, delivered on March 24, calls for added costs for customers who want to turn off radios within the devices. If the commission approves the plan, the company said it will soon make the option available.

San Diegans won‘t be given the option because officials say consumers here haven’t objected as strongly.

But that might be because Pacific Gas and Electric, which was first to begin deployment in 2006, also has far more customers. It will have the most meters — 9.8 million, according to a press release. In contrast, San Diego Gas and Electric began deployment in 2008, with a projected total of 1.4 million electric meters and 900,000 gas meters, according to the company’s website.

By July 31, state regulators had received 4169 complaints about smart meters from Pacific Gas and Electric customers, while the San Diego utility’s customers filed just 78 complaints.

However, many more complaints were lodged with San Diego Gas and Electric, according to company documents. As of January 12, 2011, the utility had received over 2600 complaints about the installation of smart meters, along with 240 customer refusals and 13 requests to have one removed. Foster is one of 32 customers who refused a meter for medical reasons.

Although she prevailed in keeping her old analog meter, Foster says it entailed a struggle with the company.

By the end of 2011, San Diego Gas and Electric plans to have transitioned all customers, both homes and businesses, to the wireless meters as part of what it calls on its website “a mandatory service upgrade.”

According to a utility customer service representative, “Angela,” who says she can provide only her first name, per company rules, “You can do nothing to opt out. It’s mandatory. The majority of them have been set.”

Foster considers the involuntary nature of the program one of the biggest flaws in the nationwide rollout of an energy-monitoring “smart grid,” of which the meters are a key element.

“If I had a smart meter on my home, I would not be able to control my exposure,” she says. “I would relinquish the freedom to at least attempt to control my own health.”

On March 21, three days before Pacific Gas and Electric issued its opt-out proposal, the San Diego–based Utility Consumers’ Action Network petitioned the state commission “asking that [San Diego Gas and Electric] not be permitted to impose smart meters upon customers who don’t want to use them,” its website states. Such customers should be given “the ability to opt out.”

The consumers’ network, however, has long promoted the rollout of smart meters as part of an energy action plan. According to its website, the group “has been actively engaged in Smart Grid issues since 2004.”

A 2006 University of San Diego study, funded by the San Diego utility and consumer group, found that the technology overhaul would yield up to $3 billion in benefits “divided almost equally between the community and the utility.”

Supporters argue that the technology will enable better monitoring of consumption, allowing users to take advantage of off-peak rates and run appliances when electricity is cheapest. It can also reduce the need to build new power plants.

To offer the same benefits to the grid using wired technology would cost considerably more, utility companies say, but Foster — a medical social worker — thinks it would save money in the long run on health-care costs.

Foster is now collaborating on a book about cancer victims who attribute their illness to cell-phone use. Her coauthor, Ellie Marks, prompted San Francisco last summer to become the first city in the United States to require that cell-phone retailers post their phones’ radiation levels prominently in stores. Marks became an activist after her husband was sickened by a brain tumor that developed after 20 years of cell-phone use.

According to the National Cancer Institute, studies have not shown a consistent link between cell-phone use and cancer. But a new study by the National Institutes of Health has reignited one main argument cited by smart-meter foes — that there’s more than one way the devices may cause harm.

The federal standards that utility companies rely on for smart-meter safety assurances overlook the fact that people are exposed to more radio-frequency sources than ever, like Wi-Fi networks and cellular antennas.

“Our level of ambient exposure to radio-frequency radiation is increasing,” Foster says, often beyond federal limits.

The Federal Communications Commission guidelines are based on standards developed by nongovernment organizations, such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, as well as input from other federal agencies, according to commission’s website.

Those guidelines specify exposure limits for handheld wireless devices in terms of the rate that radio-frequency energy is absorbed by the body. That is, the ability of radio frequency to heat tissue. But they don’t cover all potential health effects, which Foster says is also the case with cell phones.

“What we’re concerned about at the smart-meter level is the effect of the wave short of cooking us.”

A study released in February by researchers from the National Institutes of Health is among the first and largest to document such effects, showing that the weak radiation emitted by cell phones can alter brain activity. The researchers found that less than an hour of cell-phone use can speed up brain activity in the area closest to the antenna.

While the study doesn’t prove that the increase causes health effects, critics of wireless meters are citing it to support their claims that federal guidelines are insufficient.

The commission’s “Consumer Facts” webpage, “Wireless Devices and Health Concerns,” confirms that while many federal agencies have addressed the issue, “… there is no federally developed national standard for safe levels of exposure to radiofrequency energy….”

San Diego Gas and Electric claims that smart meters transmit data less than one minute per day and emit no more radio frequency than other common household items like portable phones.

Opponents say that until science can prove them safe under actual living conditions, people should have a choice, as they do with other household appliances that emit radio frequency.

The arguments haven’t gone unheard.

Months ahead of the California Public Utilities Commission asking Pacific Gas and Electric to draft an opt-out proposal, California assemblyman Jared Huffman introduced a bill that would require the state commission to determine smart-meter alternatives by January 2012.

Assembly Bill 37 also requires utilities to disclose information about smart meters, including the magnitude, frequency, and duration of radio-frequency emissions.

Unlike the current proposal, which would extend the option to Pacific Gas and Electric customers only, the bill applies to every major California investor-owned utility that is regulated by the state commission, according to Lawrence Cooper, Huffman’s legislative aide in Sacramento. The “big three” include Southern California Edison Company, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and San Diego Gas and Electric Company.

The bill is now working its way through committees. In the meantime, it’s all about the details, like who will pay for a wired option that Huffman’s bill requires to provide the same smart-grid benefits? Or to deactivate a device already installed?

Or what happens when customers still feel as though they have no choice because their neighbors, maybe on the other side of the wall, choose to have a smart meter?

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RobertW April 27, 2011 @ 1:29 p.m.


People that repeat what they were told can't rationally assure others.


And Insurance companies don't sacrifice insurance premiums ($$$) for no reason.

TV NEWS VIDEO - Insurance Companies Won't Insure Wireless Device Health Risks (3 minutes, 13 seconds)

  1. WIRELESS SMART METERS TRANSMIT RADIATION APPROXIMATELY 25,000 TIMES PER DAY, 24/7, not seconds per day as claimed by SDG&E.

VIDEO - Radiation Measured From Smart Meter Mounted On A Home (6 minutes, 21 seconds)

  1. CELL DAMAGE, DNA BREAKS & BREACHES IN THE BLOOD-BRAIN BARRIER observed in laboratory tests from low levels of pulsed RF signal radiation as emitted by Wireless smart meters - reported by Top Wireless radiation scientists in the world at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco Nov 18, 2010: VIDEO -


...AND in the U.S. & UK and other countries where Wireless smart meters are being installed, energy use is NOT decreasing, customer UTILITY BILLS ARE INCREASING, there are additional PROBLEMS & COSTS incurred from increased SECURITY & HACKING PROBLEMS and the Wireless meters are creating ELECTRICAL INTERFERENCE PROBLEMS.

Wireless smart meters are NOT mandated by the US Federal Energy Program, as SDG&E pretends.

The Utility companies are salivating over eliminating the jobs of the full-time-with-benefit meter reader employees and replacing them with phone operators in India and the Philippines who read scripts to customers over the phone for $4 per day and NO Benefits.

The monetary transfers from customers to utility companies are huge, the problems are real, but the advertised benefits are NOT occurring.


SmartMeterDangers April 27, 2011 @ 9:33 p.m.

Robert, all of the above is true, I have researched these areas. Thank you for posting this information. San Diego County residents have no idea how dangerous these meters are - who would think that a utility would make such bad decisions? But actually, considering the movie Erin Brokovich, I do recall another CA utility doing so.

I want to warn people that they have to also worry about their water districts, as those utility companies are jumping on the smart meter bandwagon, too, adding more rf radiation to your front yards and house. They can be stopped. Use this information with your ELECTED city council, county supervisors, and water district officials : Reasons to Say No to Smart MetersEducational Packet The packet is for speakers to use to fight smart meters and was helpful when confronting Helix Water District about their pilot project using 322 smart meters in the Mt. Helix area (still in place now) and plans for expansion. When exposed in the media, they quickly dropped the plan citing financial reasons. This editorial helped: New Smart Meters Aren't So Smart: The Utility Company's Silent Killer also can be read. Helix Water Decides New Meters Not Smart for Now and are two more stories. Please read the comments, they are very revealing. We need to fight the smart meters and end this new, quite unnecessary public health threat to our children and families.


steve333 April 27, 2011 @ 4:19 p.m.

I have been ill since September, 2010, which is when 4 Smart Meters were installed on my apartment building right outside my bedroom wall. I pleaded with SDGE to remove them or shut them off and even with doctor's notes attesting to the damage they are doing to my heart and the chronic insomnia they refused to do anything about it. Besides having more customers, Northern California is more activist than San Diego. Everyone I know is against the recent fluoridation of our water but nobody said boo about it to the corrupt morons on our City Council. These meters are damaging every person, animal and plant in San Diego. Those of us who are most sensitive to EMF's have an early warning system. Just because you may not feel the effects strongly does not mean that they are not doing damage. This is an outrage, and we can thank President Obama for foisting this on us without doing any research. This is in addition to Obama putting Monsanto in charge of his corrupt administration and getting more GMO's approved in 2 years than Bush had approved in his 8 years. Fight CPUC to get these Meters removed or made wireless and vote out OFrauda in 2012.


SmartMeterDangers April 27, 2011 @ 9:12 p.m.

We do not need more harmful radiation in our homes or neighborhoods, brought to us involuntarily by our local utilities.

I am a resident of La Mesa. I have studied the smart meter problem extensively. Our local media has not covered this topic even though 42 California municipalities have banned or taken a formal position against smart meters, including 8 counties, in Northern and Central California, to date. I commend the Reader and ask for a full article - even a series, as there is much the public needs to know immediately. The danger is great now and will get much worse when and if San Diego Gas & Electric turns up the signals, sending data in real time, every minute or more. I expect even more severe injuries and deaths, then. They must be prevented from doing this. Right now, the injuries are occurring with sending the data every 15-30 minutes, so the results will be exponential. This harm could happen at any time, whenever SDG&E goes to real time mode. Right now, people are being injured and some, very few, know it. Not all the injuries can be felt, for instance, damage to DNA or the blood brain barrier, or inflammation.
The two smart meters installed last May have given me at least fifteen separate health effects that are intolerable and include ringing of the ears, pain in ears, hearing loss, severe headaches that last for days, dizziness, cognitive issues, development of emf and radiation sensitivities, skin cancer, headaches daily, and more. I cannot use the master bedroom where the electrical meter was installed on the exterior side. In fact, I cannot enter the bedroom and cannot use that end of the house anymore. I am sleeping in the living room. I cannot go near the electrical meter, must stay at least 12 feet away at all times. Loss of the yard on that side, too. This is an absolute outrage that cannot and should not be tolerated in this country, state, county, and city. I have established Smart Meter Dangers, located at, where I have placed much of the science and proofs that these meters are harmful, with links to other related sites of interest. There is basic information, including the list of symptoms people may wish to review. Please visit that site and review all that is on it.

The bottomline is, these meters, for a variety of reasons, some not all understood fully, are making people ill and harming them. Over 5,000 people had complained to the CPUC by August, 2010. We have asked the utilities to remove the meters. They refuse. San Diego Gas & Electric told me they were unable to do so, which I was told was untrue by CPUC. They can and should allow people sick from the meters or concerned about them to immediately opt out. We need to organize in San Diego County to fight these meters and utilities, to get all these dangerous meters removed. Contact me at [email protected] if you want to organize opposition to this totally unprecedented and unacceptable environmental health threat.


Janis0066 April 27, 2011 @ 10:55 p.m.

I have never been so sick in my life since the DumbMeter was set in my house. Ringing in the ears, dizziness, headaches, sleeplessness, joint pains... the list keeps growing. I have also noticed birds and bees are disappearing from our backyard, which by the way I have it set as a wildlife habitat.


SmartMeterDangers April 28, 2011 @ 9:31 a.m.

ANYONE WITH ANY HEALTH EFFECTS THAT DEVELOPED AFTER SMART METERS WERE INSTALLED IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD OR HOME SHOULD FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE CPUC (California Public Utilities Regulatory Commission)go to and see Complaint section. Keep a copy and send it to, which is tracking these. CPUC says small number of claims filed, this is not necessarily true. They have a tendency to downplay and lose the claims. This is essential to opting out and dismantling of this dangerous smart meter program in Southern CA. Make all complaints in writing and include SDG&E in your written complaints.

Honeybee behavior & bio under electrosmog caused by electromagnetic radiations

The article above explains why. Our wildlife and the food chain is at stake here. This surpasses or is at least equal to the global warming threat. WE MUST NOT LET CORPORATE GREED DESTROY OUR COUNTY AND STATE WITH DANGEROUS SMART METERS. Please go to and email [email protected] if you or your organization wants to help fight these meters in our county.


I Am Stardirt April 28, 2011 @ 6:56 a.m.

I met a woman on Sunday who had her ninety-nine yr. old deaf mother in her car driving around La Mesa looking for a new place to live. She complained about the EMF making her sick. She said she could feel the pulses permeate her body, vibrating her teeth, her head and producing infection in her breasts and cracking the skin on her hands.She admitted that her mental state was none too stable at the moment.

Indeed my heart went out to her, but I had no advice to offer other than to say, "we're all in the same boat."

Our institutions are so corrupted by the drive for profit that there is no value in just the simple act of living.

On the flouridation issue, I've been taking the mineral boron for about six month now and have found relief from my bone crushing fatigue. Flouride bio-accumulates in the body and boron is the recommended detox for this condition.Flouride has been linked to fibromyalgia in cases of Gulf War Syndrome.


thisirradiatedlife April 28, 2011 @ 5:16 p.m.

I purchased a high frequency analyser to measure the RF emissions on smart meters, and I was shocked by how often and how high they pulsed. Here is a video:

Pulses of microwave radiation are considered by scientists who've studied the matter to exert greater effects than constant fields on biological organisms.


jmf April 28, 2011 @ 11:18 p.m.

This is a very interesting article. I have noticed in the last 8 months since my smart meter was installed that I have had horrible insomnia. Also, this may sound a little odd but my dog has at ony 9 years old, been displaying symptoms of being ill. I have taken him to the vet and they don't know what is going on. Could this be that emf/emr is affecting even our pets?


kimike April 29, 2011 @ 5:52 p.m.

My wife and I recently developed tinnitus (ringing in the ear) within weeks of each other and we're otherwise healthy people. No specialist (ENT) can tell us the cause as causes vary and treatment is limited. I am not going to go so far as to say that smart meters caused this, but I am now very curious as to know when the smart meters were turned on in our area. Are there ways of finding this out?


Fred Williams April 30, 2011 @ 6:57 a.m.

I don't know the merits of the biological affects described here, though I'm skeptical...

What I'm more concerned about is Fourth Amendment violations that can result from misuse of these meters.

Measuring information about energy usage, and then beaming that several times a day to a central data-collection and analysis system, means that whoever controls that system knows some interesting details about the residents.

Who controls that information? Who "owns" that information? Can it be re-sold? Can it be used by police without a warrant or probably cause to go on investigative fishing expeditions...say for indoor marijuana growers?

As long as the conversation is focused on the alleged health affects, most people are going to dismiss this as unimportant. I think the smart meter people are quite happy that this is the only opposition they seem to be facing.


Laurin April 30, 2011 @ 10:34 a.m.

Under certain conditions, don't the water the police have the authority take punitive action against those who engage in excessive water use or otherwise violate their rules? I believe long as your water use remains within your allocation, you're good, but if you use more than your allocation permits, you can face fines and penalties or even a disruption in water service. I'm sure that the electric police would claim it was in the best interests of the community to do the same thing. Perhaps one should be more fearful of some enterprising young software engineer, perhaps one who recently has lost his job to an H-1B visa holder, developing software that enables those less scrupulous than the rest of us to capture such information. With access to such information, it's not inconceivable one could use that data to determine patterns when homes are unoccupied, therefore making them vulnerable to break-ins. A basis for an injunction preventing further such installations, perhaps? On the other hand, those who have had these meters installed could simply consider either moving or going off grid as our late friend a2zresource did.


Fred Williams April 30, 2011 @ 11:55 p.m.

Coral, you got the picture.

It's the government mandating that everyone must have a trojan horse installed. Feel safer and more secure yet?

Seriously, for those who are fighting this on health grounds, please take a hard look at the technical and legal've got a better chance of prevailing.


SmartMeterDangers June 3, 2011 @ 11 a.m.

To all who asked questions above: 1. Yes, smart meters (radiation) can make humans and pets sick in the manner you have described. See Dr. Dan Harper ( in Solana Beach, CA, for more info on this. Insomnia, ringing of the ears is very common. My traditional doctor ENT (local in San Diego) diagnosed electromagnetic field exposure as cause of my ringing ears and resultant hearing LOSS. 2. Now that the World Health Organization has determined that rf radiation (same type as smart meters emit) is worthy of inclusion on the B2 list of carcinogens, we have a solid authoritative body that can back our claims of health effects. FYI, I developed a rapidly growing skin cancer that looked like a large pencil eraser, within five months of the installation of the two smart meters on my home. It grew on my face, on the side facing the meter at the same level, as I read in bed for many hours each week. The doctor who operated to remove it said YES it could have come from radiation exposure.




SmartMeterDangers Aug. 24, 2011 @ 10:07 a.m.

Did you know that as of August 23, 2011, 46 towns, cities, and counties have rejected smart meters and even criminalized their installation, due to the health effects and warnings of scientists?

Followup to the article above on smart meter problems in San Diego County, August, 2011, includes smart meter laws and the CPUC (public regulatory commission) Smart Meter Opt-out Workshop in San Francisco where SDGE may be ordered to let people get rid of these dangerous meters: (Please read and leave your comments on these articles below)

Open Letter to the La Mesa City Council: Tell SDG&E to Stop the Smart Meters -43 Comments

Living Nightmare: How SDG&E Smart Meter Led to Headaches, Hearing Loss - 154 comments

Message for SDG&E: Allow Opt-outs from Smart Meters -

Smart Meter Nightmare #2: San Diego man sick from bank of smart meters

Visit and JOIN Center for Electrosmog Prevention,, a La Mesa nonprofit fighting smart meters for the public health


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